It’s not difficult to determine exactly why Fox News, OANN, Newsmax, Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, and a cast of thousands of AM talkers should be fixated on a point that seems so esoteric. Even so, it was nice on Wednesday when Lindsey Graham said it straight out: “If Trump was right about the lab leak, it would change the image the public had of President Trump regarding the Coronavirus.”
Only … would it? Because the problem the public has with Trump’s handling of COVID-19 isn’t whether he could finger the first source of human infection. It’s more to do with the stacks and stacks of dead people.
That the virus may have escaped from a lab in Wuhan has been known from the outset, and while the on-site team from the WHO and other researchers who have examined the virus continue to find the possibility unlikely, no one is ruling it out completely. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may have first infected humans at the Wuhan lab. However, it remains more likely—according to the experts who have visited the region and examined the evidence in person—that the virus entered the human population through direct infection by an animal source.
When it comes to the evidence that the virus was somehow created through “gain of function” research, that evidence does not exist. An international team of coronavirus experts examined the genetic sequence of the virus in the early months of the pandemic and determined that there was no evidence that the virus was engineered in any way.
After more than a year of pandemic all day, every day, there are no shortages of armchair experts. But the people best positioned to make this call remain convinced that the most likely source of COVID-19 was animal-to-human transmission and that the virus evolved naturally from an existing zoonotic coronavirus.
On the other hand, that story in The Wall Street Journal turned out to be authored by the same person who promoted the invasion of Iraq by spreading fall stories about “aluminum tubes.” And one of the most-cited articles given as “scientific evidence” of the lab escape theory turns out to be a from a team of unqualified scam artists whose work was filled with racist memes and whose previous claims included the idea that COVID-19 had originated at a lab in North Carolina.
The lab escape theory may ultimately turn out to be correct, but at the moment the evidence is decidedly not there. Not even close.
More importantly … why does it matter? Pretend for a moment that SARS-CoV-2 did trundle out of the Wuhan lab in the body of a coughing researcher. In terms of helping to evaluate lab safety, that may be useful. Otherwise, it doesn’t mean a thing.
At the moment, over 900,000 Americans are estimated to have died from COVID-19. Of those, at least 400,000 died completely unnecessarily because of decisions made directly by Donald Trump. The biggest reason for this was because Trump deliberately decided not to institute a national system of testing and case management because he thought it would give him a political advantage. Even though Trump had made a huge public announcement about an extensive system of testing stations to be created in the parking lots of big box stores across the country, he cancelled that plan after becoming convinced that COVID-19 would kill more people in blue states.
On top of that, Trump: promoted an ineffective treatment as a “miracle cure” without evidence, promised every American they would receive antibody treatments that never arrived, repeatedly disputed the value of masks even after he had been made aware that his actions were costing lives.
And that’s why Donald Trump is detested for his response to COVID-19. It’s not his guess about the virus’ origin that’s the problem. It’s the genocide.