The lab origin theory of COVID-19 is receiving renewed interest and credibility among scientists – but it wasn’t too long ago that outlets like CBC News, the Toronto Star and Canada’s National Observer published articles dismissing the lab leak theory outright without waiting for a scientific consensus on the matter.
From the outset of the pandemic, True North has covered all of the competing theories regarding COVID-19, including the potential lab origin of the virus.
Soon after the world became aware of the existence of COVID-19, True North founder Candice Malcolm asked on her show why nobody in the mainstream media was questioning whether the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.�
For the crime of simply investigating unanswered questions, Malcolm faced repeated attacks by freelance reporter Justin Ling who followed China’s lead and claimed the theory was baseless.
In an article published by Foreign Policy, Ling attacked the lab leak theory as “nonsense” and a conspiracy theory.
Ling continued his claims into 2021, saying there had been no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that COVID-19 came from a lab and that the theory was “dangerous misinformation.”
Even Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC News, published a report that called the lab leak hypothesis a “conspiracy theory” and “disinformation.”
“One of the most persistent and widespread pieces of disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus that causes the disease was created in a lab — and was let loose either by accident or on purpose by some nefarious actor,” wrote CBC journalist Andrea Bellemare on March 24, 2020.
“The theory not only lives on social media and internet message boards pushing conspiracy theories but has been publicly floated by politicians.”
Bellemare continued to dismiss the theory on social media implying that the theory was debunked, as if the science was settled.
Outlets like the Toronto Star joined in on spreading the baseless claim that the COVID-19 lab theory was an instance of misinformation.
The National Observer’s “disinformation researcher” Caroline Orr claimed that the lab theory was part of a number of “shared hoaxes and rumours” about the virus.
Despite these false claims by Canadian mainstream media outlets and journalists, more experts around the world are increasingly skeptical of China’s dismissal of the lab origin theory and consider it to be a possibility among other competing theories.
Recently, a group of highly qualified experts advocated in Science Magazine for the world to take the lab origin theory seriously as a possible source for COVID-19 while also criticizing the World Health Organization for being too dismissive of the theory.
“Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable. Knowing how COVID-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks,” the researchers wrote.
Additionally, a US public health researcher admitted this week that political attitudes towards former US President Donald Trump were behind the reason scientists initially dismissed the COVID-19 lab hypothesis.
According to the director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center J Stephen Morrison, the lab hypothesis “got jumbled up together with some of the more crazy aspects of Trump, and scientists recoiled against that and went in favor of the theory that COVID-19 had emerged out of a natural process versus a lab escape.”