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Paper Critical of ‘Lab Leak Theory’ Cribbed Ideas From Controversial Gain-of-Function Virologist

The virologist behind the most notorious lab-generated virus in history played an undisclosed role in persuading the world that the COVID-19 pandemic did not emerge from similar research, according to several sources.

The new revelations concern a correspondence in Nature Medicine called “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” that argued it was improbable for the novel coronavirus to have emerged from research.

Though the letter was published online in March 2020, its legacy endures. It has been cited by thousands of news articles and Wikipedia pages declaring the lab leak theory — the theory that COVID-19 emerged from a research related incident at a coronavirus lab at the pandemic’s epicenter — to be false and a conspiracy theory. The letter made the highest impact of any paper published about medical science in 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic burst onto the globe, according to Altmetric.