Jeremy Farrar is a former professor at Oxford University and the head of the Wellcome Trust, an extremely influential non-government funder of medical research in the UK and a big investor within vaccine companies.
Some people respect Farrar as the UK’s Anthony Fauci. He had much to do with the pandemic response, including the lockdowns and mandates in the UK. For the entire pandemic ordeal, he has been in touch with his colleagues around the world. He has written a book (it appeared July 2021 but was probably written within the Spring) on his experience with the pandemic.
In general, the book is chaotic, strongly backing lockdowns without ever presenting an obvious rationale for why, a lot less a road map for how to get out of lockdowns. I claim you could read this book thoroughly front to back and not know anything more about pandemics and their course than you had at the beginning. In this sense, the book is an abysmal failure, which probably explains why it is so little talked about.
That said, the guide is revealing in other ways, some of which I did not protect in my review. He cautiously presents the scene at the start of the pandemic, including the great fear that he, Fauci, yet others had that the virus was not of natural origin. It may have been created in a laboratory and leaked, accidentally or deliberately. This awesome prospect is behind some of the oddest sentences in the book, which I estimate here:
By the second week of January, I was beginning to realise the scale of the thing that was happening. I was also obtaining the uncomfortable feeling that some of the information needed by scientists all around the world to identify and fight this new disease was not being revealed as fast as it could be. I did not really know it then, but the fraught few weeks lay ahead.
In those weeks, I became worn out and scared. I felt as if I was living a different person’s life. During that period, I would do things I had certainly not done before: acquire a burning phone, hold clandestine meetings, keep difficult secrets. I might have surreal conversations with my wife, Christiane, who confident me we should let the individuals closest to us understand what was going on. I called my brother and best friend to give them my temporary amount. In hushed conversations, We sketched out the possibility of a looming global health problems that had the potential to become read as bioterrorism.
‘ If something happens to me in the next couple weeks, ‘ I told them nervously, ‘ this is what you need to know. ‘
Sounds like a thriller movie! A burner phone? Clandestine meetings? What the heck is being conducted here? If there really was a virus on the loose and a looming crisis of public health, why might your first impulse be, like a famous guy and so on, to publish about it, tell the public everything you know, inform every public health official, open up and prepare people, and get to work finding therapeutics that can save lives? Why would you not really immediately investigate the demographics of risk and notify people and institutions from the best-possible response?
What the heck is all this cloak-and-dagger about? Seems like a poor start for a responsible general public policy.
The next chapter reveals some of the background to all this high dudgeon:
In the last week of January 2020, I saw email chatter from scientists in the US recommending the virus looked almost manufactured to infect human cellular material. These were credible scientists proposing an incredible, and terrifying, chance of either an accidental leak from a laboratory or a planned release….
This seemed a huge coincidence to get a coronavirus to crop up in Wuhan, a city with a superlab. Could the new corona-virus be anything to perform with ‘ gain associated with function’ (GOF) studies? These are studies in which viruses are deliberately genetically engineered to get more contagious and then utilized to infect mammals like ferrets, to track how the modified trojan spreads. They are carried out within top-grade containment labs such as the one in Wuhan. Viruses that infect ferrets can also infect humans, precisely the cause ferrets are a good design for studying human illness in the first place. But GOF research always carry a tiny risk of something going wrong: the virus leaking out of the lab, or a virus infecting the lab researcher who after that goes home and spreads it….
The novel coronavirus might not actually be that novel whatsoever. It might have been engineered years back, put in a freezer, and after that taken out more recently by someone that decided to work on it once again. And then, maybe, there was … an accident? Labs can function for decades and often store samples for just as long. In 2014, 6 old vials of freeze-dried variola virus, which causes smallpox, were uncovered in a laboratory in Maryland, US; though the samples dated back to the particular 1950s, they still tested positive for variola GENETICS. Some viruses and microorganisms are disturbingly resilient. It sounded crazy but when you get into a mindset it becomes easy to connect things that are unrelated. You begin to see a design that is only there due to your own starting bias. And my starting bias is that it was odd for a spillover event, from animals to humans, to take off in people so immediately and spectacularly – in a city with a biolab. One standout molecular feature of the virus was obviously a region in the genome series called a furin cleavage site, which enhances infectivity. This novel virus, spreading like wildfire, seemed almost designed to infect human cells….
The idea that a good unnatural, highly contagious pathogen could have been unleashed, either by accident or design, catapulted me into a world that I got barely navigated before. This issue needed urgent attention from scientists – but it was also the territory of the security and intelligence services….
When I told Eliza about the suspicions over the origins of the new coronavirus, the girl advised that everyone involved in the delicate conversations should raise our guard, security-wise. We ought to use different phones; avoid putting things in emails; and ditch our regular email addresses and phone connections.
Remember, we are talking here in regards to the last week of January. The top experts in the world were residing in fear that this was in fact a lab leak and perhaps a deliberate one. This particular consumed them completely, knowing full well that if this were true, we could discover something close to a world battle developing. And then the question pops up concerning responsibility.
Let’s move to the following chapter:
The next day, I contacted Tony Fauci about the rumours on the origins of the virus and asked him to speak with Kristian Andersen at Scripps. We agreed that a bunch of specialists needed to urgently look into it. We needed to understand if this virus came from character or was a product of deliberate nurture, followed by either accidental or intentional release from the BSL-4 lab dependent at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Depending on what the experts believed, Tony added, the FBI and MI5 would need to be told. I remember becoming a little nervous about my own personal safety around this time. I don’t understand what I was scared of. Yet extreme stress is not favorable to thinking rationally or even behaving logically. I was worn out from living in two parallel universes – my daily life at Wellcome in London, and then going back home to Oxford and having these clandestine conversations at night with people on opposite sides of the world.
Eddie in Sydney would be working when Kristian in California was asleep, and vice versa. I failed to just feel as if I was working a 24-hour day – I seriously was. On top of that, we were getting phonecalls through the night from around the globe. Christiane was loosely keeping a diary and documented 17 calls in one evening. It’s hard to come off nocturnal calls about the possibility of the lab leak and return to bed.
I’d never had sleep problems before, something that comes from spending a career working as a physician in critical care and medicine. But the situation with this new virus and the dark question marks over the origins felt emotionally mind-boggling. None of us knew the thing that was going to happen but matters had already escalated straight into an international emergency. On top of that, just some of us – Eddie, Kristian, Tony and I – had been now privy to sensitive details that, if proved to be correct, might set off a whole number of events that would be far bigger than any of us. It felt as if a storm was gathering, of forces beyond anything I had experienced and that none of us had any kind of control.
Well, there we go. Was there ever a doubt that Fauci and so on had been consumed by fear this was a lab leak from their own colleagues and buddies in Wuhan? Has he denied this? I’m not sure but this account from Farrar is pretty extraordinary evidence that discovering the virus’s origins was the major concern from these official and important scientists for the last part of January through February. Rather than thinking of things such as “ How can we all help doctors deal with patients? ” and “ Who is vulnerable to this virus and what should we say about that? ”, they were consumed simply by discovering the origin of the malware and hiding from the public what they were doing.
Again, I am not interpreting things here. I’m only quoting exactly what Farrar says in his own book. He reports how the experts he consulted had been 80% sure it got come from a lab. They all scheduled an online meeting for February 1, 2020.
Meat Vallance informed the cleverness agencies of the suspicions; Eddie did the same in Australia. Tony Fauci copied in Francis Collins, who heads the united states National Institutes of Health (the National Institute associated with Allergy and Infectious Illness, which Tony heads, is part of the NIH). Tony and Francis understood the intense sensitivity of what was becoming suggested, …
The next day I gathered everybody’s thoughts, including people like Michael Farzan, and e-mailed Tony and Francis: “ On a spectrum if 0 is nature and 100 is release – We are honestly at 50! My prediction is that this will remain gray, unless there is access to the Wuhan lab – and I suspect that is unlikely! ”
These types of discussions and investigations keep on for the whole month of Feb. This explains so much about why health officials in so many countries were entering into panic mode rather than calmly addressing an emerging issue in public health. They invested all their energies on discerning the origin of the virus. Were they worried that they would be implicated due to financial connections? I don’t really understand and Farrar doesn’t go into that.
Regardless, it took them a full month before this particular small group finally turned out with what appeared to be a conclusive paper appearing in Nature : The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2 . The day it appeared was March 17, 2020. That was the afternoon following the announcement of lockdowns in the US. We right now know that the paper was written as early as Feb 4, and went through a lot of drafts over the coming days, including edits by Anthony Fauci himself. That document has since been debated very extensively. It was hardly the last word.
What strikes me many in retrospect concerning the concept of the lab leak is the following. During the most critical weeks leading up to the obvious spread from the virus all over the Northeast from the U. S., leading to amazing carnage in nursing homes because of egregious policies that failed to protect the vulnerable as well as deliberately infected them, community health officials in the US and UK were consumed not with a proper health response but with fear of dealing with the probability that this virus had been man-made in China.
They deliberated in secret. They utilized burner phones. They spoke only to their trusted co-workers. This went on for more than the usual month from late The month of january 2020 to early March. Whether this virus came from as a lab leak delete word in this case is not so much the matter; there is no question that Farrar, Collins, Fauci, and company all believed that it was most likely and even probable, and they spent their time and powers plotting the spin. This fear consumed them entirely at the very moment whenever their job was to be thinking of the best public-health response.
Probably their time should have already been about telling the truth because they knew it? Explaining the best way to deal rationally with the arriving virus? Helping people who are vulnerable protect themselves while explaining to everyone else that there is no stage in panicking?
Instead, in the midst of the particular panic they both sensed and then projected to the open public, they urged and obtained lockdowns of the world’s economy, a policy response never before attempted on this scale in response to the virus.
Herpes did what the virus does, and all we are left along with are the breathtaking results of the particular pandemic response: economic carnage, cultural destruction, large amounts associated with unnecessary death, and an incredible paper trail of inefficiencies, fear, secrecy, plotting, and neglect of genuine health concerns.