Lab Leak Likely
We already have WP:NOLABLEAK, which argues that Covid did not come from a lab leak. This essay argues that it did. However, if you are editing Wikipedia, you have to be aware of the difference between reality and Wikipedia policy. As of today (May 6, 2021), they lead to opposite conclusions.
China refused to give WHO critical information, including the specific list of early cases, failed to release research records of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, taken offline a WIV database of coronaviruses, and clamped down on Covid research. Yet China loudly insists that Covid did not come from its lab. By releasing the evidence, they could allow this to be proved one way or the other. Yet they don't. The strong suspicion is that they are not releasing the evidence because they would not like the conclusion it supports.
When Covid appeared, it was already adapted to infect humans:
In a side-by-side comparison of evolutionary dynamics between the 2019/2020 SARS-CoV-2 and the 2003 SARS-CoV, we were surprised to find that SARS-CoV-2 resembles SARS-CoV in the late phase of the 2003 epidemic after SARS-CoV had developed several advantageous adaptations for human transmission. Our observations suggest that by the time SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in late 2019, it was already pre-adapted to human transmission to an extent similar to late epidemic SARS-CoV. However, no precursors or branches of evolution stemming from a less human-adapted SARS-CoV-2-like virus have been detected.
preprint by Shing Hei Zhan, Benjamin E. Deverman, and Yujia Alina Chan
If Covid were a Zoonosis, it would have initially been better-adapted to an animal, not to humans. Therefore, when jumping to humans, it would have evolved rapidly. The case is put together by retired NYT reporter Nicholas Wade.
Time and place evidence
The WIV has a published record of research on RaTG13, the natural bat coronavirus most similar to covid, and also of research that involved engineering RaTG13 to infect human cells. This research was ongoing in Wuhan, China, as of 2019.
Reality vs. Wikipedia
The above argument is based on logic and reason. But logic and reason are not Wikipedia policy. The inference "China is hiding information, therefore China has something to hide" is logical, but this logic is not something that Wikipedia policy supports. The fact that the lab leak hypothesis fits the evidence better than the zoonotic-transfer hypothesis is not something that Wikipedia policy considers. According to Wikipedia policy, preprints and Medium pieces by retired NYT reporters are not WP:RS, regardless of the strength of their evidence or arguments. As of today (May 5, 2021), following Wikipedia policy, the zoonotic-transfer hypothesis should be given greater prominence in article space than should the lab leak hypothesis.
If truth and logic are on the losing side of the policy argument, don't fight it! Walls of text on talk pages won't make you any better-supported from a policy standpoint.
Wikipedia can't be trusted on controversial topics, particularly where powerful interests are at stake. In this case, the most directly-interested party is the Government of China. However US interests are also involved, particularly the interests National Institutes of Health, which funded research that may have caused the pandemic. Furthermore, virologists don't want to be seen as being at fault. The lab-leak-versus-zoonosis question is surely one of the most important questions of our time. Wikipedia policy leads us to publish the wrong answer. It is what it is.
- Hernández, Javier C.; Gorman, James (February 12, 2021). "On W.H.O. Trip, China Refused to Hand Over Important Data" – via NYTimes.com.
- "Covid-19 pandemic: China 'refused to give data' to WHO team". February 14, 2021 – via www.bbc.com.
- Hinshaw, Jeremy Page and Drew (February 12, 2021). "WSJ News Exclusive | China Refuses to Give WHO Raw Data on Early Covid-19 Cases" – via www.wsj.com.
- "U.S. intel agencies still haven't ruled out lab accident origin for Covid". NBC News.
- "China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins". AP NEWS.
- "China insists U.S. "doesn't have any" evidence virus came from lab". www.cbsnews.com.
- Zhan, Shing Hei; Deverman, Benjamin E.; Chan, Yujia Alina (May 2, 2020). "SARS-CoV-2 is well adapted for humans. What does this mean for re-emergence?". bioRxiv: 2020.05.01.073262. doi:10.1101/2020.05.01.073262 – via www.biorxiv.org.
- Wade, Nicholas. "Origin of Covid — Following the Clues". Retrieved May 6, 2021.
- "Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology". United States Department of State. January 15, 2021. Retrieved May 6, 2021.