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Trust science, not scientists, is the lesson from doubt over Wuhan wet market theory: Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama said Wuhan lab-leak theory points to American complicity in the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.

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New Delhi: American author and political scientist Francis Fukuyama has said one should not trust scientists but the constantly evolving scientific method underlying their work.

In an essay published in an online magazine American Purpose on various theories about the origin of the coronavirus, Fukuyama also said that the WHO report which dismissed the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus accidentally escaped from Wuhan Institute of Virology had been written with input from Chinese scientists following a visit to China, where access to sources in Wuhan was severely restricted.

“The wet market theory appears very shaky: after more than a year of searching, a Covid virus precursor has not been found in any animal population, nor is there evidence of transmission through intermediate species. The lab theory, on the other hand, is supported by a lot of circumstantial evidence. Some of this comes from the nature of the virus itself, whose spike proteins do not exist in nature but could have been added as a result of so-called “gain-of-function” research that deliberately increased the human transmissibility of an existing virus”, Fukuyama wrote.

He also said that such a research was being conducted in Wuhan led by scientist Shi Zheng-liwhich, which may have been funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the unit headed by Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to US President Joe Biden.

The Chinese researchers had been working with Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit based in New York, who was also one of the organisers of the medical journal Lancet letter denying the possibility of the lab-leak theory.

“The conflict of interest here was obvious, since that theory would have pointed a finger of responsibility for the global pandemic directly back at him and his project. Looking into the lab-origins theory is thus not an exercise in anti-Chinese hysteria; rather, the theory points to American complicity in outbreak of the disease”, Fukuyama stated.

Also read: Covid-19 has no ‘credible natural ancestor’, was created in Wuhan lab, claims new study

‘Trust scientific method, not scientists’

In his essay, Fukuyama also said science doesn’t speak in “one voice” on what the truth is.

“This sentiment is understandable in light of the egregious behavior of former President Trump and his allies, who pushed ridiculous theories about hydroxychloroquine and injecting bleach as a matter of short-term political self-interest. There is no question that blaming China for the pandemic was a convenient way of deflecting attention from the administration’s own failures, and this overtly political strategy has indeed stoked anti-Chinese hysteria”, he added.

Fukuyama said “trusting science” is a simplistic and misleading sentiment.

“Science does not speak with one voice, or offer authoritative conclusions about what the truth is. Individual scientists like Peter Daszak are human beings with their own self-interests, and looking into their motives is fair game for honest investigative reporting. What we should trust is not scientists, but the scientific method underlying their work, which is constantly evolving and never offers more than probabilistic judgments in its conclusions.”

Also read: Before Wuhan row, how US-China created SARS-like virus in 2015 to show its pandemic potential


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