The GuardianThe Guardian

‘It’s just gotten crazy’: How the origins of Covid became a toxic US political debate

By David Smith

28 Feb 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

The Guardian reports on how the lab leak theory became entangled in America's highly polarized culture wars, muddying the scientific search for the still-unknown origins of Covid-19.

White House official John Kirby, standing at the podium where Donald Trump once railed against the “China virus” and praised the healing powers of bleach, faced questions on Monday about the origins of Covid-19. He had no choice but humility. “There is not a consensus right now in the US government about exactly how Covid started,” Kirby admitted. “There is just not an intelligence community consensus.”

The renewed interest in a genuine scientific mystery followed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the US Department of Energy had determined the coronavirus most likely leaked by accident from a Chinese laboratory.

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