Landmark Anti-Lab Leak Paper Was Covertly Influenced By Compromised Scientists

(Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
Font Size:

One of the most influential papers arguing against the COVID-19 lab-leak theory was covertly crafted by three scientists with substantial histories of conducting gain-of-function research, an investigation by U.S. Right To Know revealed.

The paper in question, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” was published in March 2020 in “Nature Medicine” by five notable researchers specializing in microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases. Three individuals who were not listed as authors — Dr. Marion Koopmans, Dr. Ron Fouchier and Dr. Christian Drosten — were significant influences on its contents, according to USRTK.

Koopmans, Fouchier and Drosten all have glaring conflicts of interest that call into question their ability to be impartial regarding the possibility that a lab accident released a genetically engineered virus that went on to cause the global pandemic. Koopmans is the head of virology at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, and Fouchier is her deputy. Erasmus is a collaborator with EcoHealth Alliance, a now-infamous non-profit responsible for funneling U.S. taxpayer money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, according to Science.

As for Drosten, he conducts gain-of-function (GoF) research funded by the German government. GoF research involves genetically modifying pathogens to make them more dangerous by enhancing their infectiousness or lethality.

The source of the trio’s influence on the Proximal Origin paper dates back to a phone call with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Four of the five authors of the paper had participated in a call with Fauci and National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins to discuss the origins of COVID-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic.

The paper’s authors had joined the call to argue that COVID-19 may have, in fact, come from a lab, emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) revealed. Koopmans, Fouchier and Drosten were brought on to asses their arguments and counter them. Those arguments were ultimately the same ones used in the Proximal Origin paper, emails show and sources told USRTK.

The Proximal Origin paper was arguably the most notable argument presented by scientists during the pandemic against the lab-leak theory. According to Altmetric, the paper was the most influential to be published in all of medical science in the year 2020. It has been cited by thousands of other scientists, journalists and authors as evidence against the lab-leak theory.

The credibility of the paper could have been called into question had the influence of Koopmans, Fouchier and Drosten been known, given their conflicts of interest. Fouchier is a particularly conflicted figure, having made waves a decade before the pandemic for designing an avian flu strain with a 60% fatality rate. The New York Times described the highly-controversial experiment an “engineered doomsday.” (RELATED: 7 Dem Reps Join Republicans, Promise To Investigate Lab-Leak Theory)

Proponents of the lab-leak theory hypothesize that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) accidentally released COVID-19 into the population while conducting dangerous GoF research on bat-based coronaviruses. It is not in dispute that researchers at the WIV were conducting that research, and lab-leaks have occurred in the past, but due to a lack of cooperation from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) it has been impossible to complete a thorough investigation into the matter.

Defenders of GoF research, including those involved with the Proximal Origin paper, often argue against the lab-leak theory, claiming that the pandemic originated naturally from a spillover event between animals and humans. But their critics point to the fact that the initial outbreak occurred just blocks from the WIV as a coincidence too large to ignore.

Koopmans, Fouchier and Drosten are just the latest experts who have spent some portion of their career on GoF research only to go on to downplay the lab-leak theory, a convenient coincidence, according to Rutgers University microbiologist Dr. Richard Ebright.

“For persons who had argued strenuously that the probability that a GOF-research-related accident could cause a pandemic is nearly zero over the time scale of the five to ten decades, it is difficult to acknowledge the possibility that a GOF-research-related accident already may have caused a pandemic in the present decade,” he told USRTK. “For persons who make their living performing GOF research — particularly those who participated in the specific GOF research project that may have caused the pandemic — it is even harder.”