To The Guardian:
Politicised science: how Johnson put ideology before evidence in face of the Coronavirus threat
Your correspondent, Carol Ferguson, (letters, 16 April) asks plaintively: why has the government got this( its response strategy to the Coronacrisis) so wrong?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The answer is partly given on the facing page by Professor Helen Ward (“We scientists said lock down. No one listened”; https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/15/uk-government-coronavirus-science-who-advice).
She points out that ministers constantly repeat the mantra “ we are following the science” as if the interpretation of scientific data is uncontested. Thankfully it is not.
What Prime Minister Johnson clearly did was follow the non-scientific Ideological advice of his chief Policy advisor, Dominic Cummings- trained at Oxford University as a medievalist- to create conditions for Herd Immunity, despite the fact that the WHO had its own opposite mantra “ test, test, test!”.
Most other governments followed WHO advice.
For as yet unexplained reasons, the chief medical advisor and chief scientific advisor, Johnson’s wingmen at the Downing Street lecturns in media briefings, agreed with a medieval historian rather than the global experts at the WHO, which incidentally is significantly funded by U.K. taxpayers.
The inescapable conclusion is the Johnson-led government has been following “politicised science.”
To The Morning Star:Your correspondents John McKenzie (31 March) and Jenny Clegg (1 April) responding to my original letter of 28-29 March (“Questions remain about source of virus outbreak,” 28-29 March ) make a number of assumptions about my scope of knowledge and my apparent motivations for writing that are both unfounded and unjustifiable.
Morning Star readers should know that although my published letter was quite long, it was still substantially shortened at the request of the editor.
Some of the material redacted would have answered some points raised by your correspondents.
For example, I had included details of other biosafety level four labs; I also gave details of collaboration between, and training of, Chinese virologists with US, French and Australian biosafety experts – under the auspices of WHO - which Jenny Clegg assumes I did not know.
John McKenzie might be right that the received narrative was live bats in the wet live food market in Wuhan infected other creatures - perhaps pangolins ( hard backed anteaters)- in the market, and the fugitive virus literally went viral from there.
If so, it still begs two questions:
Firstly, should not China now ban the live market practices common in small communities across China, brought to mega-cities like the 12m populated Wuhan because of some many agricultural workers migrating to big mega-cities for industrial and manufacturing jobs ( Wuhan is a textiles centre) now fueling the Chinese economic boom?
And secondly, is it really a coincidence that such a ‘zoonose‘ transfer- animal to human- happened only in Wuhan, when hundreds of wet live markets exist across China and SE Asia? (And Wuhan is the only city in China with both a virology lab and a nearby military bio-weapons research facility.)
It is possible to make analytical assessments of the causes of such a pandemic in China, without making racist overtones (as Trump and some of his nasty henchmen have done).
I try sticking to asking intelligent questions, something Trump rarely - if ever - does!
And in a remarkable twist, The Washington Post – no fan of Trump - revealed on 15 April, in an extraordinary investigation, that they had uncovered secret cables from US diplomats who had, starting in January 2018 ,visited the Wuhan Virology Institute, raising serious safety questions.
(“State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruseshttps://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?next_url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2fopinions%2f2020%2f04%2f14%2fstate-department-cables-warned-safety-issues-wuhan-lab-studying-bat-coronaviruses%2f)
The article reported that “In January 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) [which] issued a news release in English about the last of these visits, which occurred on March 27, 2018. The U.S. delegation was led by Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan, and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment, science, technology and health.”
One secret cable warned: “that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.”
I think MS readers would be very interested in these new revelations