One of the 18 scientists who recently published a letter acknowledging the plausibility of the coronavirus lab-leak theory said she and her colleauges didn’t speak out sooner because President Trump promoted that possibility for the origin of the pandemic.
“At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump and to become a tool for racists, so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins,”said Alina Chan in an interview with NBC News.
Chan is a postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University who specializes in genetic engineering.
On its website, NBC titled its Wednesday story about the interview “The science around the lab leak theory hasn’t changed. But here’s why some scientists have.”
Chan said there had been trepidation among some scientists about publicly discussing the lab leak hypothesis for fear that their words could be misconstrued or used to support racist rhetoric about how the coronavirus emerged. Trump fueled accusations that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research lab in the city where the first Covid-19 cases were reported, was connected to the outbreak, and on numerous occasions he called the pathogen the “Wuhan virus” or “kung flu.”