tv Alina Chan and Matt Ridley Viral CSPAN February 24, 2022 12:33am-1:15am EST
john walters president ceo of hudson institute. i'm very very happy to be joined today by the authors of this new book viral the search for the origin of covid-19 if you are interested as i think we all have suffered through this topic in where this pathogen came from, i believe this is the best book that has been written to date is thorough it is explains the science and it it tells you something about the the actors
that have been a part of the of the search for the origin and also gives you a chance to think about what the factors are that would would help us understand that origin more thoroughly. we are very pleased and and happy to be joined by the authors. i want to say something briefly about them elena chan is a postdoctoral researcher at the broad institute of mit and harvard university. i'm going to ask the authors a little bit to come tell us a little about how this started but let me first introduce matt ridley who is a author businessman a biologist and a member of the house of lords of the united kingdom. so but that's that's i think that's as close to a renaissance man as you get in this day and age, so i want to thank him for joining us and my colleague david asher who's a senior fellow here at hudson who some of the people who've seen our broadcast before and read the newspaper know was involved in the trump administration at the end in the state department. it's a contractor looking at the question of origins and has
testified before congress. i'm going to ask him at the end to make some comments about the author's presentation. so thank you all for joining us. thank you all for the work you've done on this important issue. i'm g so thank you all for joining us. thank you for the work you have done on this important issue. going right to the substance of this, just to begin we had briefly that starting with the origins of this book. why did the two of you undertake this investigation and how did you become co-authors? >> i was writing for the wall street journal. and i came across her work in a found it to be very insightful with her comments of t increasingly penetrating about this topic. because i felt that book
length project was necessary and while i have written books before i thought it was important to have someone who could be a true expert on this topic and was way ahead of me on understanding some of the issues. i think we both felt that it needed treatments the different strands of evidence and arguments that were developing that needed to be properly examined at length. we did not know where it would and. >> how did you start writing about this? >> . >> about the topic and then how did you decide to join in this effort quick.st >> for me it is a striking
observation to look pretty adapted in 17 and over the next year i started to look into a lot of the mysterious find into virology and then at the end of 20 speaking with other investigators the origin of covid for several months and i realized social media and the use even if he treats 10000 times it is washed away with time so i know that it's for the book to be written on this topic and it's important that wouldho be written by an amazing writer as well as scientist tuners these
techniques. >> thank you. >> and went to makeen sure you explain the basis of your conclusions you are very careful for alternative explanations and discussed ways of them. you talk about the movement of the burden of proof with different patterns of analysis and conclusion. let me just ask you, what are the possible origins areas for covid-19 and where do you think the evidence currently point? i think we can rule out a number of scenarios. probably that it came from frozen food from a different
content. we can probably rule out a deliberate by a weapon we think there is very little evidence for that. none at all. but there are two strong theories. equally plausible. there's no reason to decide that one is definitely more likely than the other. we know it came from a bat. it is a bat virus naturally how i got from bats to humans is a question one is through the food chain. catching of wildlife to serve in markets to customers and the other possibility is through research through extensive research program that was happening in china focused on the will hand institute of virology think collecting viruses from back
to me in the back to wuhan for study so the two obvious routes any looking out on —- looking at. and then to say the burden of proof is on your side and he said no it'ss on your side of the bed but in this case a lot of people assumed and still assume that the default is set one —- assumption is it is a market event unless we find evidence otherwise we thought that was possible and possible and should be treated equally. >> and they already know the burden is on their side.
and according to the o chinese authorities with those animal samples and wuhan they have yet to find any sign of this virus originally on animals. and with the freedom of information act obtained documents that was quite expensive with manipulation at the institute of virology and then in one document they proposed the horn on a horse and then at the end the unicorn appears in the city. [laughter] it is on the natural origin side. and with tens of thousands of high risk across eight
countries and that modification did not lead to that resurgence. >> one way to follow that does that require a forensic investigation or is this more like what we think about in terms of the way that detectives investigate activities i don't want to say a crime but we are more comfortable that type of investigative technique what would that look like who should play a leading role? and with open cooperation in the future? >> t so that the beginning of
the pandemic everyone sound we knew there was a cover-up coming whenever the symptoms appear that was very delayed. for those chinesehe authorities resigned the rest of the world actually got it two weeks later so that learning the diagnostics and learning about the virus. but in early 2020 a lot of scientists rushed to say this is a natural virus and they said that is a conspiracy period everybody ran with that. they last a lot of time but it was possible to t find it so we need a real investigation from earlier this year speak you
are right to drive a scientific investigation and the border sense of the term which we did describe in the book with the piecing together of which samples were collected from which sites at which time mostly found the open source analyst. and at the same time there is a genome of the virus and that is the scientific enterprise you can have surprising things and then genome is a piece of digital linear information. just like finding an enemy code or code work.
so there are things that can be learned from the genome on this virus in a scientific analysis that are additional to the forensic world of who did what and how and when. >> what do you think the experience of covid-19 to teach us about the future or research oversight regarding international protocols? >> it is showing us the level of shortcomings that can be explained in the research community in the publishing community including general listen so - - general^ism.
even though scientifically there is a lot of the gatekeeping and censorship like in "the new york times" and other places editors weree telling writers that even the top journalist had a lot of pushback against anyone suggesting of that origin. we have to fix those shortcomings and it's not a guarantee each would emerge because increasing match on —- national risk because that proliferation around the world engaging in this type of virus hunting and manipulation work at happen in the next two years. we don't know. >> in that regard it seems that you are saying for institutions behaves as t they intend to behave or scientific that are journalistic, even
the institutions of government , we would have had a much less dangerous situation arrive in much less confusion. but it's not so much a gaffe but as a failure to act as people have committed themselves to act in that way. is that fair? >> yes. i think it is. so to start those chinese authorities covered up and delayed the release of vital information. and so on. but then they mounted an investigation along with the chinese that took a very long time to organize. frankly rather superficial and
had poor results in terms ofxi investigating the outcomes. but it prevented other organizations managing their own inquiries. than the us government has stopped being is forthcoming with information as they must have because they funded relevant research and no space. but the institutions have not been as transparent as they should b be in those documents that claim to have no conflict for any conflicts of interest that were prematurely right ruling out the hypothesis on the basis of what seems to have been a political preference. and journalism shows they have surprising little curiosity
and even forbiddenen conversations about the hypotheses. facebook made it impossible for anybody to discuss the leaks at all but on all sorts of levels there has been a surprising lack of transparency and lack of a accountability. and so just to go to the heart of the matter, they exist in wuhan and those samples and those come back to the bats and then that baseline was lined up just before the pandemic. we don't have any idea what is in it. it can tell us a lot of the viruses they were working on in that institution that now we know nothing. it may prove there is nothing
there or of any use. it is quite extraordinary to develop a large database as part off an effort to bring for when it comes along. >> was struck me as your book brought home the account the failure of the established institutions to have inquiry, protection, the sharing of criticals, information, that the resiliency of individuals privately at considerable risk in some cases as you know, so then to overcome this. in a certain way institutional failure is in contrast to the heroism and dedication including yourself to put your own reputation because that we
are source of reticule but i am struck by a. i don't know it's hard to think with multiple institutions fail how to form that. it's not creating just something but it's more of a moral issue then it is institutional. rest of the but that allows us to do this in ways that never would have been possible before with less open connectivity even in the environment that we face. host: one last question. you rightly pointed out that
without modification and creation the danger issi increasing. so given what happened here and where we are now and you know more about this than i do, how or what are the first steps we should do to better detect and prepare for for these dangers in the future? and not fail to learn from this experience it has been so terrible? >> and then to have that pandemic treaty to make it better but thent i want to
emphasize the but then it was what will people think of me? but then in these large institutions you would devote a lot of time to what is an uncomfortable story. do rely and come to dependent heavily on and consistentwh and looking for sources of information that are going to piece together that information we value. it does seem like a case where
the well-funded institutions are not direct much effort to find out the answer to this question. where these d individuals and then to improve those aspects. >> i want to talk about the pandemic treaty but first the search for the origin was corrupted pretty early in 2020. it was called anti- science to ask and it put a lot of burden on —- citizens and scientists because we had to push back against all of these accusations to be anti- scientific. >> if it was. so then so then being unable
to ask this question or get the evidence to have a discussion of analysis. in the face of all this abuse anyone who questions if it can trigger from latin or asia must be racist and we must not jump to these conclusions. that i can be investigated anything that comes fromr the path of asia or africa or south america cannot be investigated because it would be considered racist. so that has to be solved. but it's just from a complete lack of preparation so what happens when a' outbreak occurs? you cannot just go into the country and find out but when
covid-19 occurs for those that went viral on social media. so that wasn't the chinese authority but through those elite messages. and with allmi of that critical information about transmission adand symptoms that also had to be meet. this cannot be in the future there has to be a pandemic treaty that they can nominate and then pick a new person and they go straight into gather evidence because the fake science is extremely high here we've see 50 or 60 million deaths and hundreds of infections. so there is no space and then it's the time for what we want to tell you.
>> david? why did you say about your observations? >> i just cannot think you guys enough sufficiently for what you have done. and they look like an indictment that to me it is not with the government of china but it is a global indictment of how that with that amount of information to public disclosure, it is almost inexplicable to me as a person in thed government with cyberand then ino the financial community to make money. but as a capitalist i cannot understand the degree for
understanding a situation that is literally the biggest disaster in all of our country and the world since world war ii so if you look at the economic impact of covid-19 it's about 20 percent of gdp. so the question is really what is going on with our community interest? and what happened on february 1t of last year with those curious e-mail exchanges enable become very public sin between doctor fauci who i have great respect for. he unearthed the aides
epidemic. but what is going on at the national institute of health and allergy diseases? i really don't know. so we have a situation of an adequate disclosure. a cover-up mentality. said we're basically dealingo with another global disaster. it needs certainly the people of china. and then for failure to understand what is going on. and now we need to have some truth telling. so these things are feasible. you can create a bio weapon.
but you can do it very easily. so thank you for your book. it is important and i will stop there. >> can i pick up on what you said? >> it's an interesting story. it became apparent to us partly through another block they strongly suspect that the virus showed signs of being genetically them manipulated. they showed concerns an e-mail for several days.
and then a phone call was organized trans-atlantic we and then waking up with grouchy another virologist mainly in the us. and what they decided at that meeting must have dramatically changed their lives because of in a few days they were drafting the letter for the lancet and for major medicine whichul not just genetic manipulation of the virus but any lab -based scenario. and we are very confident in doing so to maintain arguments as to why they were so confident. something change these people's minds to the powerpoint think that they can rule out as a conspiracy
period was a that was like the a few days before. we would like als full transcript of that meeting we would like to see the e-mails they exchange before and after the meeting. the freedom of information request for these e-mails have resulted in them being published. with almost total redaction on both sides of the atlantic. there are lots but as you say we have millions dead but they are pouring in like they happened for a century and it is extraordinary to us and the vital insights into what people think might have happened in an early stage are not properly shared with the public.
>> from this relief is that they are withholding information in deciding what is best for the public to know. so scientists should not be hiding information to tell them to act it just helps to believe and then to spread through the services and then there would have been a can have racism but yes think of what happens when the public find out you have like to them. and the long-term effects of that. so i think it was a mistake
for the scientist to do that those e-mails released because now they v have been published to the freedom of information act so it's now disappointing to see these top virologist speculating and say more likely to come from the lab than the market. host: two points. and we did some great work in certain areas ofs the book but i want people to know how careful the book is to go through each and every one of the bits of evidence and how they are related or distorted. and hower critical parts were missing. we talked in more general terms because of the circumstance of a conversation like this.
but if you want to understand what just happened to you in sophisticated detail, this is the book to read. you can read it. you canin read it electronically and it is also available as an audiobook and i am not part of the publisher but the story that you tell that the whole part of this is just do what we tell you don't ask a question and give people the two oh then they can come sort out come sort out what really happened and then sort out a lot of malfeasance and from the risks you have already taken that multiple institutions if you have touched on with scientific
publishing as well as journalists have really joined the chorus shut upol and sit down. to say it's not the crime it's the cover-up that i really think that because you are careful this is not released intentionally. okay. you make a strong case the evidence is not there for that. but the real problem is that why is there a massive cover-up that some who are connected and those in the united states and in china the real outrage here the unwillingness to come forward and not a just claiming that
information to help save lives sooner to contain spread andvi help us prepare for variations. and it's something we should insist on being more demanding about in the future it is shocking now and looking and origins that the book shows is so important i know there has been efforts to create a commission to do that in the united states that is nonpartisan and subject to distortion itself but a global issue in the unwillingness of countries to come forward. my only question is who will be honest this time? so how do we know we will get people who will keep their word and carry out
responsibilities? do you have any thoughts on what should happen next? >> the first is that you are kind enough to say nice things about the book we hope that sells a huge number of copies we are not trying to make a fortune in factually will b already give away half of the proceeds to charity but with a commercial publisher is we want people to engage in this conversation we want the story widely known and to open it up and it has been frustrating to us that so much of the debate has not been allowed to happen there is a parallel i like to
draw to make sure we learned lessons from every crash it's not as much about blame but in that way what you get out of the black box and that is shared with everybody. 's everybody designing and operating can make sure anywhere in the world should be the same in this case whether it is a market spillover or laboratory leak we cannot pin down the lessons the world has to learn to show them as widely as possible. there are markets that are wet and dry selling animals all over and there are
laboratories doing research on highly dangerous animal viruses asia africa in europe and north america and so on. we are playing russian let but we don't know which but something has to be learned. >> there was some collaborators at the institute of virology and they checked it would have realized they were looking at several of the closest viruses and putting in the unique modifications and then collecting thousands of samples even a southeast asian countries including laos and concentrating all of these
from wuhan city so we are only finding that almost 20 years so thek lack of transparency just leads people to the perception on the entire scientific community and these two involve negligence so moving forward there are many ways to introduce structural chat on —- changes in that has to do with the database managers a say i will not publish anything for more than two years, no i will not publisher papers because theat same time and again it has to be before the next pandemic
happens we cannot make statements again and again. and it's easy to do with congress. and it is the holiday season. get out your copy of dickens christmas carol and watch it is a wonderful life and for the sake of being a betterqu citizen by the book and read it because this is the question among institutions we need people who are good citizens. that if you don't know enoughrn about to support your own government officials who do the right thing. at the end of the day our democracybe is based on the strength of those are the members of the democracy and this also allows you to be a