Facebook will allow users to claim on its platform that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan,
‘In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured from our apps,’ the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
‘We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.’
The social network’s about-face comes on the same day that President
Last year, claims by the Trump administration that the coronavirus may have originated in a lab in Wuhan were met with skepticism from mainstream media, which appeared to adopt the view that pathogen was transmitted from bats to humans.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured above in January 2020. Facebook on Wednesday announced that it would not ban comments suggesting that COVID-19 originated in a lab
‘In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured from our apps,’ the company said in a blog post on Wednesday
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that workers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with an illness that resembled COVID-19 – weeks before the coronavirus would begin ravaging China and the world. Researchers at the lab are seen in this February 2017 file photo
Democrats and anti-Trump commentators in the press accused the then-president and his administration of advancing a theory about China deliberately creating the coronavirus in order to deflect attention away from its handling of efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease in the US.
But recent reports that have surfaced in the media about an apparent cover-up of the origins of the virus have prompted a re-examination of the issue.
That report, while circumstantial in nature and lacking details on what became of the scientists and detailed information on their illness, has ignited new focus for the potential of the theory.
DailyMail.com has sought comment from Facebook.
In April of last year, Facebook announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’.
In February of this year, the company announced that it was expanding its crackdown to include claims that the virus was man-made.
In a blog post, Facebook said that it would not allow conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines.
Claims that vaccines are not effective against preventing disease and that it is safer to get the disease than to get a vaccine have also been banned from the platform.
Posts making such claims will be removed from the website, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, the company said in the post that came with a list of ‘misinformation’ it was banning from its platforms.
Earlier this week, Project Veritas claimed that it obtained leaked documents from whistleblowers inside the company which prove that the social network is testing an algorithm that would rate users’ comments according to a ‘vaccine hesitancy score.’
Those comments which discourage others from taking the vaccine would be demoted, according to the documents obtained by Project Veritas.
After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off GOP complaints the president has not been tough enough as well as to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.
Biden asked US intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days.
He directed US national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government.
He called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.
Republicans, including former President Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory accident rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China.
Biden in a statement said the majority of the intelligence community had ‘coalesced’ around those two scenarios but ‘do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.’
He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and ‘one leans more toward’ the lab theory, ‘each with low or moderate confidence.’
‘The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,’ said Biden.
His statement came after weeks of the administration endeavoring to avoid public discussion of the lab leak theory and privately suggesting it was farfetched.
In another sign of shifting attitudes, the Senate approved two Wuhan lab-related amendments without opposition, attaching them to a largely unrelated bill to increase US investments in innovation.
One of the amendments, from Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, would block US funding of Chinese ‘gain of function’ research on enhancing the severity or transmissibility of a virus.
Paul has been critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, and aggressively questioned him at a recent Senate hearing over the work in China.
The other amendment was from GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and it would prevent any funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Both were approved without roll call votes as part of the broader bill that is still under debate in the Senate.
As for the origin of pandemic, Fauci, a White House coronavirus adviser, said Wednesday that he and most others in the scientific community ‘believe that the most likely scenario is that this was a natural occurrence, but no one knows that 100 percent for sure.’
‘And since there’s a lot of concern, a lot of speculation and since no one absolutely knows that, I believe we do need the kind of investigation where there’s open transparency and all the information that’s available, to be made available, to scrutinize,’ Fauci said at a Senate hearing.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the White House supports a new World Health Organization investigation in China, but she added that an effective probe ‘would require China finally stepping up and allowing access needed to determine the origins.’
Biden still held out the possibility that a firm conclusion may never be reached, given the Chinese government’s refusal to fully cooperate with international investigations.
‘The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19,’ he said.
Pictured: The Wuhan lab where some have claimed Covid-19 originated from, which was disputed by WHO researchers on February 9
Pictured: The Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, China, long believed to have been the site where the pandemic began
Administration officials continue to harbor strong doubts about the lab leak theory.
Rather, they view China’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation — particularly on something of such magnitude — as emblematic of other irresponsible actions on the world stage.
Privately, administration officials say the end result, if ever known, won’t change anything, but note China’s stonewalling is now on display for the world to see.
The State Department, which ended one Trump-era probe into the Chinese lab theory this spring, said it was continuing to cooperate with other government agencies and pressed China to cooperate with the world.
‘China’s position that their part in this investigation is complete is disappointing and at odds with the rest of the international community that is working collaboratively across the board to bring an end to this pandemic and improve global health security,’ said spokesman Ned Price.
Research into the origins of the virus is critically important, said Arinjay Banerjee, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatchewan, Canada, because: ‘If you don’t know where it came from, how are you going to stop it from spreading it again?’
‘The great probability is still that this virus came from a wildlife reservoir,’ he said, pointing to the fact that spillover events – when viruses jump from animals to humans – are common in nature, and that scientists already know of two similar beta coronaviruses that evolved in bats and caused epidemics when humans were infected, SARS1 and MERS.
‘The evidence we so far have suggests that this virus came from wildlife,’ he said
However, the case is not completely closed.
‘There are probabilities, and there are possibilities,’ said Banerjee.
‘Because nobody has identified a virus that’s 100 per cent identical to SARS-CoV-2 in any animal, there is still room for researchers to ask about other possibilities.’
Andy Slavitt, Biden’s senior adviser for the coronavirus, said Tuesday that the world needs to ‘get to the bottom … whatever the answer may be.’
‘We need a completely transparent process from China; we need the WHO to assist in that matter,’ Slavitt said.
‘We don’t feel like we have that now.’
Daily Mail has been asking if the virus stemmed from a Wuhan lab since April 2020
The Daily Mail has consistently questioned the consensus that COVID-19 was transmitted from humans to animals.
Our reporters have dug into the details and challenged the assumptions about how the pandemic originated.
APRIL 4, 2020:
Ministers fear that the coronavirus pandemic might have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Senior Government sources say that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ is still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city is ‘no longer being discounted’.
One member of Cobra, the emergency committee led by Boris Johnson, said last night that while the latest intelligence did not dispute the virus was ‘zoonotic’ – originating in animals – it did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory.
APRIL 15, 2020:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that China ‘come clean’ following reports that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, not as a bioweapon, but as part of bungling experiments to prove that Chinese scientists were superior to Americans in identifying emerging virus threats.
It comes after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. is trying to determine whether the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.
After word of the outbreak finally became public, Chinese leaders were quick to blame Wuhan’s ‘wet market’ where wild animals — though not bats — are sold for consumption, leading one source to tell Fox News the debacle is the ‘costliest government coverup of all time.’
MAY 2, 2020:
Pictures which appear to show slack safety standards at the Chinese laboratory at the centre of international suspicion over
During the past month, Wuhan’s Institute of Virology has removed photographs of scientists working in its laboratories and edited out references to visits by US diplomats who subsequently raised the alarm about the laboratory’s work on bats.
US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had seen intelligence that gave him a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the global crisis had its origins in the institute – a month after The Mail on Sunday first revealed that British Cabinet Ministers had received classified briefings raising the possibility of a leak from the institute.
MAY 30, 2020:
China has become used to public confessions on television. But this time the words came from one of the nation’s top officials and had seismic global implications.
‘At first, we assumed the seafood market might have the virus, but now the market is more like a victim,’ said Gao Fu, director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gao’s initial analysis had made sense after previous outbreaks of zoonotic viruses (diseases that jump from animals to humans). Yet suspicion grew over the Chinese government’s failure to share data from animals sampled in the market following its early cover-ups.
JANUARY 2, 2021:
Matthew Pottinger, who is President
Mr Pottinger said that the latest intelligence points to the virus leaking from the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology, 11 miles from the market, saying: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus.’
JANUARY 9, 2021:
The Chinese government is facing fresh accusations of a cover-up after officials deleted crucial online data about the laboratory suspected of being the source of Covid-19.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of pages of information relating to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped.
Details of more than 300 studies, including many investigating diseases that pass from animals to humans, published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are no longer available.
APRIL 24, 2021:
Scientists studying bat diseases at
Documents obtained by
US liberal media’s Covid U-turn: A year after TRASHING theory that COVID originated from a Wuhan lab because Trump supported the suggestion – America’s woke mainstream news outlets suddenly start asking if it’s true!
The liberal media have finally conceded that
The first fatality from COVID-19 was
Within a week, on January 26, 2020, the first article blaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the outbreak was published, in The Washington Times. Yet most mainstream media disputed the claims, dismissing them outright or even decrying them as racist.
When Donald Trump, on May 1, 2020, said he had ‘a high degree of confidence’ that the virus escaped from a lab, the New York Times, CNN, and NPR were quick to mock his comments.
CNN, which by the end of the Trump administration was brazen in its hostility to the president and his advisors, was almost gleeful in its mockery of the idea that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
The Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR were equally dismissive of suggestions that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
Some outlets, such as the Huffington Post, even branded any suggestion the virus could have stemmed from a lab as a ‘toxic conspiracy theory.’
The Washington Post published a fact checker piece on May 25 saying the theory had ‘suddenly’ become credible after it was repeatedly brought up. It came after a year of naysaying from the liberal media who never accepted that it might be true
There is outrage over the fact that for the last year, the theory has been widely discredited by the media in America when it may explain the entire pandemic
Few were able to suggest that COVID-19 could have stemmed from a research facility without backlash but that didn’t stop some media, including the Daily Mail, from questioning the narrative.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was also clear in demanding an investigation into whether it could have escaped from the lab.
Finally, in the past few months, came the first signs that opinion was beginning to change.
In January, a World Health Organization (WHO) report only served to raise more questions after Beijing strictly controlled an on-site visit and who the researchers compiling the report spoke to. The WHO team was only allowed three hours inside the Wuhan lab and was unable to examine any of the Wuhan institute’s safety logs or records of testing on its staff.
China’s actions led to Biden’s White House calling for greater transparency.
Even Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said that the visit was inconclusive, adding that ‘all hypotheses are open’ and warranted future study.
By May 11, Fauci, had accepted that the idea of the virus escaping from a lab had been too quickly dismissed.
Asked whether the virus originated naturally, Fauci replied that he wants to look closer into the matter.
‘I am not convinced about that,’
‘Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.’
Fauci’s revelation came as a shock to many on the left who have accepted China’s narrative that coronavirus spread from a wet market since the virus first emerged.
Of course, China continues to insist that COVID-19 did not originate in the Wuhan lab.
‘The U.S. keeps concocting inconsistent claims and clamoring to investigate labs in Wuhan,’ China’s foreign ministry said in a written statement on May 24. This fully shows that some people in the U.S. don’t care about facts and truth.’
On May 1, 2020, CNN reported that Trump had ‘contradicted’ the intel community by claiming to have seen evidence the virus came from a lab.
‘President Donald Trump contradicted a rare on-the-record statement from his own intelligence community by claiming Thursday that he has seen evidence that gives him a ‘high degree of confidence’ the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, but declined to provide details to back up his assertion.
‘The comments undercut a public statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued just hours earlier which stated no such assessment has been made and continues to ‘rigorously examine’ whether the outbreak ‘began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.’
‘Yes, I have,’ Trump said when asked whether he’s seen evidence that would suggest the virus originated in the lab. Later, asked why he was confident in that assessment, Trump demurred.
MAY 1 2020: On May 1, 2020, CNN reported that Trump had ‘contradicted’ the intel community by claiming to have seen evidence the virus came from a lab. They pointed to how rare it was for the intelligence community to make a statement
MAY 5 2020: Chris Cillizza wrote an opinion piece saying Fauci had ‘crushed Trump’s theory’ about the origins of the virus
‘I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that,’ the report read.
Then on May 5, 2020, their editor-at-large Chris Cillizza wrote a scathing attack on the suggestion, entitled: Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump’s theory on the origins of the coronavirus.
‘Before we play the game of ‘he said, he said’ remember this: Only one of these two people is a world-renowned infectious disease expert. And it’s not Donald Trump,’ Cillizza wrote.
‘In short, Fauci’s view on the origins of the disease matters a whole lot more than Trump’s opinion about where it came from.
‘Especially because, outside of Trump and his immediate inner circle, most people in a position to know are very, very skeptical of the Trump narrative that the virus came out of a lab – whether accidentally or on purpose.’
Cillizza’s article followed on from one four days earlier, headlined: ‘Trump contradicts US intel community by claiming he’s seen evidence coronavirus originated in Chinese lab’.
Yet fast forward almost a year, and the tone had greatly changed.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, spoke on March 26 this year to Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
Redfield said that he had concluded the virus escaped from a lab.
‘I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped,’ he said.
‘Now, other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out.
OCTOBER 2020: CNN published another report about how the theory came from a ‘shoddy’ paper that was backed by Bannon. It claimed there was no proof whatsoever behind the theory
MARCH 2021: The former CDC head, Dr Robert Redfield, on CNN in March 2021, saying he believes the virus came from a lab. He told the reporter: ‘I am of the point of view, I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine, science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.’ CNN called it ‘controversial’
MAY 2021: On May 24, a new report was which said US intelligence had found there was some evidence the virus came from a Wuhan lab
‘It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in the laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.’
On May 23,
The following day the paper
Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were called in to investigate and, after taking samples from bats in the mine, identified several new coronaviruses. Yet they were not forthcoming with their information.
On May 24, CNN admitted that there may be more to the Wuhan lab than initially believed. They published an update: New information on Wuhan researchers’ illness furthers debate on pandemic origins
But Cilizza is still standing by his earlier claims it isn’t.
He wrote an opinion piece on why Dr. Fauci was ‘hedging’ on the subject, and said just because Fauci said he was no longer ‘convinced’ of the origins, it didn’t mean he thought it came from a lab.
New York Times
When any Trump-supporting lawmakers said that the Wuhan lab theory merited further exploration, the New York Times was quick to dismiss their claim.
In the first month of the pandemic they seized on questions raised by Tom Cotton, the Republican senator for Arkansas.
‘We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there,’ Cotton said.
‘But because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all.’
His words, on February 17, 2020, would prove prescient – yet the New York Times headlined its coverage: Senator Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins.
By April 30, 2020, the paper was describing the efforts from the Trump administration to get to the bottom of the virus’ origins as a political witch hunt.
FEBRUARY 2020: The New York Times was initially adamant (left) that the Wuhan lab leak theory was a nonsense invented by Trump, but by 2021 was accepting that opinions varied (right)
APRIL 2020: Another NYT report which said Trump officials had been pushing spies to find evidence behind the theory
‘Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials,’ the paper reported.
‘The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.’
Yet this month two former science reporters at the paper – Nicholas Wade, who retired in 2012, and Donald McNeil, who left earlier this year amid a row about his language while guiding a tour of Peru – both said they now felt it was possible, indeed perhaps likely, that the virus came from a lab.
‘In early spring 2020, I reported an article for The New York Times on which I put the tentative headline: ‘New Coronavirus Is ‘Clearly Not a Lab Leak,’ Scientists Say,” McNeil wrote on Medium.
‘It never ran.’
He said that the paper was sharply divided over whether to believe the Trump officials saying it was a lab leak, or the scientists saying it wasn’t.
‘We still do not know the source of this awful pandemic. We may never know,’ he wrote.
‘But the argument that it could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or a sister lab in Wuhan has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.
McNeil, who left The New York Times earlier this year, said that China’s ‘lack of candor’ was ‘disturbing’. McNeil was fired by the Times after it emerged he’d used the N-word during a conversation with students on a NYT-run trip. He published an article on May 17 about the subject. He said he’d been told ‘overwhelmingly’ by scientists that it did not come from a lab
MAY 2021: Now the Times is repeating scientists’ calls for an open mind on the theory
‘And China’s lack of candor is disturbing.’
Wade came to the same conclusion.
‘Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached,’ he wrote.
‘That said, the available evidence leans more strongly in one direction than the other. Readers will form their own opinion.
‘But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.’
Reporters for an article published on April 30, 2020, provided a nuanced and in-depth analysis of the Wuhan laboratory’s work, and emphasized the risks involved.
Yet their headline read: Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release.
The following day, the dismissive tone continued: Was the new coronavirus accidentally released from a Wuhan lab? It’s doubtful.
In May 2020 The Washington Post said it was ‘doubtful’ that the virus came from a lab in a story from its Fact Checker section
Now the Washington Post is urging WHO to carry out an investigation into what happened to determine if it did come from a lab
MAY 2021: Journalist Aaron Blake wrote that it is ‘vexing’ as a subject. He said: ‘It has become evident that some corners of the mainstream media overcorrected when it came to one particular theory from Trump and his allies: that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than naturally. It’s also true that many criticisms of the coverage are overwrought and that Trump’s and his allies’ claims invited and deserved skepticism.’
By May 24 this year, the paper was very close to admitting that they had been blinkered.
‘Given everything we know about how Trump handled such things, caution and skepticism were invited,’ wrote Aaron Blake, a senior political reporter at the paper.
‘That (very much warranted) caution and skepticism spilled over into some oversimplification, particularly when it came to summarizing the often more circumspect reporting.’
He admitted: ‘We might never truly know the truth.’
As concern was mounting about the virus in the spring of 2020, The Huffington Post was rapidly ridiculing all question of its origins.
‘A Toxic ‘Infodemic’: The Viral Spread Of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories,’ they headlined a story on April 7, 2020.
APRIL 2020: The Huffington Post was initially skeptical (left) about alternative ideas surrounding COVID and called it an ‘infodemic’
MAY 2021: Now, like every other outlet, Huff Po is broadening its reporting on the theory
Yet a little over a year later, on May 24 of this year, the site followed up on the Wall Street Journal’s report into the hospitalization of the Wuhan lab workers in 2019, and the issues that this raised.
‘Wuhan Researchers Were Hospitalized With COVID-19 Symptoms Pre-Pandemic: Reports,’ they wrote.
On April 23, 2020, NPR stated: ‘Virus researchers say there is virtually no chance that the new coronavirus was released as result of a laboratory accident in China or anywhere else.’
The radio news network was determined to prove that there was no credibility to the Wuhan lab leak theory, and produced a series of ‘explainers’ insisting that COVID-19 was transmitted from animals to humans.
‘Where Did This Coronavirus Originate? Virus Hunters Find Genetic Clues In Bats,’ they
Yet a little over a year later, NPR was following the WHO’s report – and its worrying conclusions – with interest.
‘Theory That COVID Came From A Chinese Lab Takes On New Life In Wake Of WHO Report,’ they concluded.
APRIL 2020: NPR was initially dismissive of suggestions that the virus leaked from a lab (left), but by May 2021 was covering the increasing speculation
MARCH 2021: After a WHO report said the theory was gathering more steam, the headlines became more open minded
On March 31, they
Among those watching the evolving news lines was Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state.
‘Over a year ago, I told @MarthaRaddatz that the Wuhan Virus most likely came from a lab leak,’ he tweeted on May 20.
‘She stopped just short of offering me a tin hat. The CCP said I was an enemy of mankind,’ he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
‘And now? Well, now, the Left wing media is scrambling to get on the side of the truth.’