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The Lab Leak Deception

Journalists and scientists routinely dismissed the lab leak hypothesis as a crackpot theory and even as "racist," up until the summer of 2021 when science journalist Nicholas Wade published an influential article, and a viral rant by Jon Stewart pushed it into the mainstream. Until that point, social media platforms had been removing or throttling posts that took it seriously. Anthony Fauci, who didn't respond to our interview request, said it wasn't worth even considering the possibility that COVID could have originated in a lab.

More recently, emails made public through the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that Fauci, National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins, and other prominent public officials took the possibility of a lab origin far more seriously than they were letting on.

"Top virologists, sort of giants in this field, were looking at the genome and freaking out, basically," says health reporter Emily Kopp, who works at the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know, an organization that has obtained thousands of pages of official documents and correspondence, some of which reveal an orchestrated effort by scientists to downplay the lab leak theory.