The New York TimesThe New York Times

Lab leak or not? How politics shaped the battle over Covid's origin

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Benjamin Mueller

19 Mar 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

It has been over 3 years since Europe began to lockdown due to the spread of Covid-19. The origin of the virus is still heavily disputed. The NYT explains the influence of politics on this debate.

WASHINGTON — In the spring of 2021, with studies of the coronavirus pandemic’s origins going nowhere and the issue embroiled in bitter partisan politics, David Relman, a microbiologist at Stanford, quietly made a request of his congresswoman.

He told his representative, Anna Eshoo, that he was organizing a letter from leading scientists calling for an open and independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including into whether it had come from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. He wanted to know if she would publicly endorse the idea.

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