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tv   Alina Chan and Matt Ridley Viral  CSPAN  April 15, 2022 12:40am-1:23am EDT

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john walters president ceo of hudson institute. i'm very very happy to be joined today by the authors of this new i'm 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 we all suffer to the topic this is the best book written to date and explain the science and tells you something about the actors who have been a part so
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we are pleased and happy to be joined by the authors of want to say something briefly about them at postdoctoral research from mit harvard university and asked the authors to talk about how this started but to first introduce the author and businessman and biologist andha the house of the united kingdom that is as close to a renaissance man as you get in this day and age. thank you for joining us and to my colleague some of those have seen our broadcast before from the trump administration in the state department and looking at the question of
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origins so thank you all for joining us and for the work you have done. >> so to begin i ask briefly starting with the origins of the book viral, why did the two of you undertake this investigation how did you become co-authors quick. >> i was writing for "the wall street journal" and they came across the work to find it be very insightful and increasingly penetrating about the topic so i had to cheat because i felt that was
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necessary the thought it washo important to have someone to be an expert on this topic and to understand theth issues and and then number of different strands of evidence that were developing to bewe examined at length we didn't know how the story would end. >> how do you start writing about this? >> . >> and then how did you decide to join in that effort? >> it is a striking observation to be well adapted for human transmission and
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then over the next year and a half in may 2020 looking into these mysterious findings so that when they reached out to me at the end of 2020 speaking with him and many other investigators. and with the origin of covid for several months so social media and the news is quite thick also even if you treat to be washed away with time so that but to be written on the topic and then to be and what had been.
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>> i want to be sure that with the basis of the conclusions you are very careful to set forth the argument to discuss the weight of them. and also with the movement of the burden of proof. and then in conclusion. >> so let me ask you what are the possible origin scenarios for covid-19? >> jumped and if i talk too much. but we can rule out a number of scenarios. but it probably came from frozen food but it is a deliberate bio weapon.
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so that leads to strong theoriesal that are equally plausible. there is a reason to decide one isn't more likely than the other. but wee knew it came from a batch. it is a bat virus naturallyd but how it gets to humans is the question. one is through the food chain. or catching of wildlife to serve in the markets to customers. or possibly the other possibility is through research and extensive research for what was happening in china focusing on the wuhan institute of virology collecting viruses from. bats and bring them back to study. so these are the two obvious
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groups. so wonderful phrase that came from the philosopher. to say the burden of proof is on your side. and we found that in this case and off a lot of people assumed and still assume that the default assumption must be in the markets because that's what happened before. and we don't think that's fair. and then to be treated equally. >> and then to say that burden at least a year and a half searching for the virus and they found nothing.
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so the chinese authorities tens of thousands of animals samples and tracked people and then in wuhan prior they have yet to find any sign of earlier circulation of the virus. so with the freedom of information act documents that were quite expensive for the manipulation from the institute of virology. but in one o document they propose at the end of 2019 a unicorn appears in the city after they talk to pat horn on a horse. [laughter] so this is a collection of tens of thousands of high risk animals across eight countries and doing these experiments
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with thedi multiplication of covid to. >> so i guess one way to follow that is does that search require a scientific investigation or an analysis or assessment we think about in terms away and detectives investigate activity we are more familiar with that type of investigativen technique. so who should play a leading role in the investigation what is the pandemic treaty look like? >> do you want to take that first? >> so we knew there was a
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cover-up going on and then the symptoms appeared so we know the chinese authorities on december 27 and 2019 and then january 10 or january 11 therere were two weeks making vaccines. so in early 2020. and with that conspiracy theory. so very delayed but it is possible to find this not what the who did earlier this year.
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>> and to draw that distinction between the forensic investigation. and the which samples were putting in from which sites at which time.s so at the same time in the unusual situation there are genomes and comparing those to a scientific enterprise you can read surprising things when you think about it a genome is a piece of digital many are information. so there are things that can be learned from the genomes of
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this virus with a scientific analysis that are additional to the forensic work of who what when where and when. research oversight with international protocols. >> it is the shortcomings that can be exploited in the research and in the publishing community so we see that tightknit of community so
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there's a lot of gatekeeping and censorship like "the new york times" like they were selling writers they could not touch. so there was pushback so we have to fix those shortcomings before the next pandemic happens and there's no guarantee they will emerge. so increasing natural risk because of the proliferation if it happens the next two years. >> and it seems to me if the institutions behave as they claim they intend to behave the scientific ones andve that journalistic even the institutions of government, we
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went have had a much less dangerous situation arrive and much less confusion but it's not so much a gap as a failure to act as people have committed themselves in these segments. is that fair? >> yes. i think it is. the various actors have let down the public. so for a start the chinese authorities effectively covered have been released on —- delay the release of information. but then the organization took a very longan time to organize and was rather superficial
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with poor results in terms of investigating the outcomes which the existence has had others mounting inquiries. in the us government has not been as forthcoming with information that to find relevant research in this space. and the institutions of scientific publishing have not been as transparent as they should be in the documents which in fact have conflicts emof interest and were prematurely ruling out the hypothesis on the basis of what seems to have been political efforts and mainstream media has shown surprising curiosity and the conversations and facebook
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made it possible —- impossible to discuss at all. so on all sorts of levels there has been a surprising lack of transparency and lack of accountability. and just to go to the heart of the matter theref exist in wuhan a database of samples most of which are from bats in that database just went off-line before the pandemic it's never been back online we don't have any idea it could tell us a lot of information they were working on and that can't institution after 2016. it may be irrelevant or approved but it is quite
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extraordinary to develop a large database to prevent pandemics and then not release it when a pandemic comes along. >> one of the things that struck me at your book brought home to me is the failure of establish institutions for protection, the sharing of critical information that the resiliency of individuals to communicate privately and as you know the institutional failure with a source of ridicule and it's hard to
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think if you have multiple institutions they'll how to reformat. and and that it seems that the challenge allow individual questions and in some ways but they allow them to do that. with less open conductivity in the environment that we face. >> so one last question. >> youer rightly pointed out and as you have noted the
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synthetic biology is growing very rapidly with them more naturally occurring pathogens but also the modification and creation and the danger is increasing. given what happened here and where we are now you know more about this than we do, what are the first steps we should do to better detect and prepare for these dangers in the future and not fail to learn from this experience? >> and i jump in? she can answer that question because she's been thinking very hard about moving forward to research but i do want to emphasize the preamble to that question which is the
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importance of create on —- courageous individuals i don't worry about what people think of me that is very brave when someone of her starts at the start of her scientific career and devote a lot of time to what is an uncomfortable story. and we did rely to come depend heavily on a few extraordinarily brave and persistent individuals who look into sources of information not secret that hard to find to piece together information of great value. but it does seem like quite an interesting case citizen science or the well-funded institutions do not devote
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much effort to finding out the answer to this question whereas these individuals i just think that's an important aspect and then to talk about where we go from here. >> ' want to talk about the pandemic treaty and with this search for the origin was corrupted early in 2020 and it put a lot of the burden on the citizen journalist because we had to push back against all of these accusations of racism even the scientist were calling me racist so it became
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corrupted. and then to gather evidence and discuss then analysis. and those that must be racist. and then to jump to the conclusions. and that only those that can be investigated. with africa or south america to be investigated because they are racist or anti- scientific. so that has to be solved but that is a complete lack of preparation that there are no whistleblower channels so when covid-19 occurred when it went
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viral on social media so it wasn't the chinese authorities for us with that obvious critical information to spread without symptoms it also had to be leaked this cannot be in the future has to be a pandemic treaty for the moment of the outbreak and then go straight to gather evidence. the stakes are5 extremely high and we see an estimated 60 million death. so there is no space to say it is a private matter. >> . >> and what you said about the book in any other observations
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you want to make. >> and it really reads of the indictment of the government of china. but then that indictment of how they raise evidence and then tore cover up amazing amounts of information it's almost inexplicable to me and then to make money but as a capitalist i cannot understand the degree of animus for understandingg and that is the
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biggest disaster from our country in the world that 20 percent gdp. soso the question is really what is going on with our community interest in the national health authorities? where they acting like this and what happened february 1st em of last year there were a series of e-mail exchanges? between doctor fauci who i have great respect for. and to unearth the eighth epidemic of what was causing
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it. and with those diseases i really don't know. and then to s have an adequate disclosure. and with the global disaster and needs to be confronted squarely. and we didn't blame ourselves fors that and now we need to have the truth telling. and as you know now you can create aou bio weapon. it is. but you could do it very
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easily. thank you for your book it's very important for people to read and i will stop there. >> can i pick up on what you said? it's an interesting story. it became apparent that the senior virologist in january 2020 strongly suspected that the virus showed sizes to be manipulated. and a shared consent about this an e-mail over several days and then the phone call was organized trans-atlantic
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and and what we decided at that meeting must change their minds because within a few days they were drafting the major medicine which ruled out not just genetic manipulation of the virus but any lab -based scenario. and to be very confident in doing so to put a very tenuous arguments why they were so confident. something change these people's minds to the point they thought they could rule something out which was likely a few days before. we would like to know what
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happened in that meeting? we have a transcript of it and to see the e-mails they exchange before and after the meeting. and the information request for the e-mails have resulted in them being published with almost total reduction from the other side of the atlantic. and it just is not good enough because ason you say there are millions dead and not like we've seen in a century it is quite extraordinary to us. that the vital insights into what people think may have happened at an early stage are not properly shared with the public. >> i will add to that because it speaks of public trust and
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how it can be jeopardized withholding information for what the public to know so they should not be hiding information to persuade them to act in a particular way becauset if they tell of the masks don't work and how can they believe you? if they so much is spread to the services? so similarly those that were talking about lab origin they thought they would panic and there would be racism yes these things happened but think what happens when they find out that you into them. - - lied to them. that'se a mistake and now the
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e-mails are released because of the freedom of information act and it's very discouraging to see them speculating saying even more likely came from the lab. >> i want to make two points in the first is you have done a great job. but i want to emphasize to people who watch this how important it is inne healthcare for the book is to go throughme each and every bit of evidence how they were distorted and critical parts were missing. we talk in more general terms because of the circumstances of a conversation like this but if you want to understand what just happened to you you
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can read it electronically. it is available as a single book and also as an audiobook. i am not part of the publisher but i do think the story that you tell is that the whole part of this was to tell the publicic just do what we tell you listen to what we say and don't ask questions give people the tools in more detail then they will be able to sort out. and also sort out a lot of malfeasance. but there are multiple institutions not only scientific ones but as well as journalist that are joining
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the chorus of shut up and sit down there iss a thing in washington that is not the crime it's a cover-up but again you are careful this is not a bio weapon released intentionally. okay. t strong case. the evidence is not there for that but the real problem is okay. but why is there a massive cover up? from scientist who are not even connected with this but some are in the institutions in the united states and in china there is a real outrage and it seemed willingness to come forward and not just blaming that information to helpta save lives to contain
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spread to help us prepare for variation but that is something we should insist being more demanding in the future but it's kind of shocking now and looking for origins and i know there is efforts to create a commission to do that in the united states that is not partisan are subject to distortion. but it is a global issue and the unwillingness of countries to come forward but my only question is who will be honest this f time? so how do we know that will teach there were and carry out their responsibility? it's always a problem. >> do you have any thoughts of
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what should happen next? >> a couple of points. and then natalie to say nice things about theau book but and we already agreed we would give proceeds to charity. but thehe reason we went for a commercial publisher versus applet on —- academic we want people to engage in this conversation and we want the story widely known andnd to open it up and has been frustrating to us that so much of this debate has not been allowed to happen and it needs to happen. and there is a parallel what the airline industry has done is to make sure we learned lessons from every crash.
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is not about blame but learning.t what you get out of a black box every play must have one. it is shared with everybody to everyone designing and operating that they can learn from anywhere in the world but in this case mother it is a market spillover or a laboratory leak we want to pin down the lessons the world has to learn. because there are wildlife markets selling animals all over southeast asia and there are laboratories doing research on highly dangerous animal viruses all over asia
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and africa and europe and north america. we are playing russian roulette. we don't know which of those two but something has to be learned. >> there were some collaborative collaborate on —- collaborators when it was first detected they would have realized institute of virology was working with several related to fossil fuel at the time and those to put in the type of the unique modifications and that have been collecting thousands of samples not just china but those including laos and concentrating on the animals and wuhan city but you only
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find that out in the following 2021. in two years since the virus emerged. so that lack of transparency just leads people to this perception that they are hiding things even though wishes to handful of individuals of negligence and self-preservation. so moving forwardrd there are many ways to introduce structural changes and that has to do with the database managers so now i will not publish anything for more than two years know because again when you are publishing data when it doesn't exist but hasly to be solved before the next pandemic. >> i want to thank you both
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for the book and thank you to david for the work he has done for our government. and i want to say to our audience. it is the holiday season getting a copy of the christmas carol and watch it's a wonderful life but for the sake of the better citizen, by the book and read it so many people who were good citizens you don't know enough to be an informed citizen to ask officials to do the right thing and at the end of the day our democracy is based on the strength of the people of our democracy and this thank you for joining us and thank you for t your work thank you
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for joining us as well i hope the book is a great bestseller and i hope you have a follow-on to help us structure in the future. thank you all
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