China thought it had “closed the lid” on the Wuhan lab leak theory, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph. In February a team of visiting World Health Organisation scientists declared a lab leak “very unlikely”. Only now they’re changing their tune. The mission’s leader, Danish scientist Peter Ben Embarek, has said he thinks it “likely” that a staffer at the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control did contract the virus. Why the change? First, “the politics was always in the room”. Embarek faced up to 60 Chinese Communist Party officials, many of whom were not scientists. His team was vetted by Beijing. Important files were withheld.
Embarek also faced his own boss, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus, who gained his position “through Chinese backing”. No wonder he declared himself “impressed” by China. Imagine the international scrutiny if Covid-19 had first appeared in, say, Oxford or Chapel Hill. “The fear totalitarianism inspires can be very effective. More dismaying, in a way, is the discovery that it works abroad, too.” Nevertheless, a plague that has killed almost 4.5 million people should have provoked “the most rigorous inquiry”. We upbraid the CCP for its “hidden persecution” of the Uighurs, its plot against Hong Kong’s democracy and worse. Why are we reluctant to do so when it comes to the thing “that affects us all – the global pandemic”?