Origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the controversy surrounding the Proximal Origin article of March 2020

This page contains, amongst other things, in the 2023-07-23 section below, versions of the PDFs of emails and Slack messages released on 2023-07-21 at:

which have been OCRed, so there is a searchable text layer.  This text can be selected, copied to the clipboard and so pasted into other programs.

This page is organised chronologically. The section from 2023-07-15/16 is of little significance now that the just-mentioned PDFs have been released.  However, my analysis might be of interest.

Please see this 2023-07-31 companion article on my Nutrition Matters Substack concerning the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the debate over the authorship and veracity of the Proximal Origins article of March 2020.  Comments are enabled:

The Origins of SARS-CoV-2
Virology is a rogue profession which has killed tens or millions of people and harmed billions

Please also see Alex Washburne's 2023-07-28 article:

A short history of SARS-CoV-2

Robin Whittle   2023-07-15  Last update 2023-08-04.

To the main page of this site:  ../

Be sure to read the research articles concerning vitamin D and the immune system which are cited and discussed at:

If everyone supplemented vitamin D3 properly, so they attained the 50 ng/L their immune systems need to function properly (2 to 10 times what most people have), then there would be no COVID-19 pandemic.

The Proximal Origin article of March 2020

This is the article which has had such an influence on the whole debate about the origins of SARS-CoV2, the virus which causes COVID-19:

The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2
Kristian G. Andersen, Andrew Rambaut, W. Ian Lipkin, Edward C. Holmes and Robert F. Garry
Nature Medicine 2020-03-17  (26, pages 450–452 (2020))

2023-07-15 stats: 5.84 million accesses 2860 citations.

I think the most striking weakness of their argument against lab release is that they only consider serial passage of a virus through cell culture or non-human animals as a way of encouraging a naturally occurring virus to mutate into something more likely to infect humans.  They ignore the other possibility: chimeric engineering in which two or more viral genomes are split and then recombined in various ways, including with directly synthesised genetic patterns of up to 100 or 200 base pairs (above that, it gets tricky to sort the correct DNA/RNA from those with errors). Sigma Aldrich DNA Oligos.

Peer review is worth nothing if it allows an article to pretend to have such a strong case without even mentioning all the practical ways the virus could be engineered.

There is very strong - I think conclusive - evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 genome is the product of such chimeric engineering:

Endonuclease fingerprint indicates a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2
Valentin Bruttel, Alex Washburne and Antonius VanDongen
bioRxiv preprint 2023-04-11

See and other articles at Alex Washburne's Substack for further observations and arguments.  For instance, the original SARS (SARS-CoV) was shown by multiple lines of evidence to have arisen by zoonotic transfer, as was MERS.  That could not have been expected for SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020, but now, over three and a half years later, the complete lack of direct evidence for zoonotic transfer, and huge body of evidence for lab release (April 2023 report, below)  should make it untenable for anyone to seriously argue that the virus arose from zoonotic transfer.  However, it seems that most virologists and those who trust their judgment do exactly this.

For a detailed treatise on the molecular and mechanical functions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein:

Mechanisms of SARS- CoV-2 entry into cells
Cody B. Jackson, Michael Farzan, Bing Chen and Hyeryun Choe
Nature Reviews, Molecular Cell Biology 2021-10-05

Here is a 300 page, April 2023, report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2:

This is the work of a team of Republicans, who formed the minority of a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions .  The subcommittee (link to description page) was the "Subcommittee on Primary Health & Retirement".  At the time (and still in July 2023) the ranking member was Senator Roger Marshall M.D.  The ranking member is the leader of the minority group on the subcommittee.   Senator Marshall led the Republican minority on this subcommittee, and their staff, to produce this extraordinarily detailed and extensive report, which shows beyond reasonable doubt that SARS-CoV-2 resulted from work in a laboratory, and not from a natural process of zoonotic transfer, in which a virus which replicates in a non-human animal changes in ways which enables it, once it infects a human, to be transmitted from one human to another.

US Right to Know, who has done a tremendous amount of work, including with The Intercept, on COVID-19, has a timeline of the creation of the Proximal Origin article, and with further items going into 2023:

2023-07-11 The United States Congressional Inquiry into the veracity and the background to the Proximal Origin article, July 2023

There was a highly significant report from the Republican majority of a subcommittee of the powerful and extraordinarily busy United States House Committee on Oversight and Accountability (the House Oversight Committee  The name of the sub-committee is the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic:

The Republicans have the majority in the House Oversight committee and in this subcommittee, with the chairman being Brad Wenstrup M.D. and the ranking member, who leads the Democrat minority, Paul Ruiz M.D.

11 July 2023 the Republican majority of this subcommittee and their staff released an important interim report on the background and failings of the Proximal Origin article:

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Chairman Bard Wenstrup
The Proximal Origin of a Cover-Up:  Did the “Bethesda Boys” Downplay a Lab Leak:
Interim Majority Staff Report July 11, 2023

The original version of this PDF file was at:

Archived here:  2023.07.11-SSCP-Interim-Staff-Report-Re.-Proximal-Origin_FINAL.pdf
This was replaced by:

Archived here: Final-Report-7.pdf

after events described in the following box.  The press release for the above report is:

2023-07-15/16  emails and Slack messages hidden in the original PDF

The information in this section is primarily of historical interest . The emails and Slack messages which were found in the original PDF were all freely available in the files mentioned below which were released by on 2023-07-20.

The original PDF file was replaced following a a Daily Mail article, linked to by an Epoch Times article, which quoted messages other than those which were visible in the original PDF of the report, but were nonetheless present in the PDF file.

When I read that some of the text frames in the original PDF showed only a subset of full page images, which were actually contained in the PDF file, I figured out a way of extracting those images, and made a PDF which contained instructions on how to do this, and the images themselves, all OCRed (optical character recognition) so that my PDF contained an invisible, searchable, select-copy-paste-able, text layer derived from the characters in the underlying page images:

I also made this page with the images themselves: images/ - 31.5 megabytes.  

Here is my analysis of of the emails and Slack messages contained in these previously only partly visible images, with direct quotes of the parts which I think are of most interest.  These further show that at least two of the authors believed, at the time, that the lab release hypothesis (with the virus arising from serial passaging and/or direct engineering) could not be ruled out.   These beliefs are at odds with the final article's statement "we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible".

I later found out who, in DRASTIC figured out there were full page images in the PDF.  Please email me if you want to know the details.

A press release, from the Republican majority, with highlights of the subcommittee's  hearing on 2023-07-11 in which they examining Robert F. Gerry and Kristian G. Andersen:

Here is the C-SPAN video of that hearing:

This report and hearing are extraordinarily significant in the investigation of the Proximal Origin article.  The Oversight Committee has a page for the hearing, with witness statements and a link to a YouTube video.

Another item of interest is that the Democratic side of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic published a minority report on 2023-07-11, which defends US government scientist-administrators Tony Fauci (NIAID) and Francis Collins (NIH) against allegations that they partly wrote or had any other role in the creation of the Proximal Origins article:

Select Subcommittee Republicans' Own Investigation Disproves
Allegations That Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins Suppressed the Lab
Leak Theory Through the "Proximal Origin" Paper

Here is their PDF with hyphens instead of spaces in its file name:


However, they thoroughly implicate Jeremy Farrar in the UK - who was then the head of the Wellcome Trust,  which doles out billions of dollars in research funding - as being involved in the editing of the Proximal Origin article.  The Republican members of this subcommittee agree on this.  Jeremy Farrar is now WHO Chief Scientist.

Theres lots of details here which show that Jeremy Farrar was in all important respects one of the authors.  Not only did he initiate the conference call (not Zoom) in which he, with Tony Fauci and Francis Collins tried to organise the others to write the Proximal Origin article, he also chose the participants, including Fauci and Collins, and read drafts of the article, provided feedback and made one know change to it.  On 2020-02-16, Robert Garry wrote: "Jeremy has been amazing leader - should be author".

This does not preclude the possibility that Farrar's reviewing also involved Fauci and Collins.  There are multiple references to the "higher ups" - plural - and one to the Bethesda boys (Fauci and Collins) which the acknowledge authors were working under the guidance of.

So the article is fraudulent in that the acknowledge authors conspired to hide the real details of who wrote the article, and so the power relationships between them, with Farrar - and his compatriots Fauci and Collins - all managing organisations which hand out the billions of dollars a year in funding which all research depends.

There's an article which links to a tweet from a DRASTIC member, from which I was able to figure out who first found that the original PDF had embedded images which were only partly visible:

The images (as far as I know, the same as what I extracted) were made available here:

2023-07-19 - Three Substack articles based on a fuller body of emails and Slack messages - which were then made public

Until this date, public discussion on the Proximal Origin article relied largely upon:
On 20th July 2023, there were three related articles, all based on a body of email and Slack messages (which were made public by way of links in the second article) which somehow became available to the people who write the Public substack, and the Racket News substack, though this has its own domain name.  Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger work together on both these sites, and do great work. 

I assume that these people approached the Republican majority of the Select Subcommittee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, and were given the subcommittee's full body of email and Slack message material.  This material had already been through an FOI process and so had various redactions, implemented as black rectangles.

 I have numbered the articles to aid discussion below:

(1) Top Scientists Misled Congress About Covid Origins, Newly Released Emails And Messages Show
Top advisor to Anthony Fauci still thought a lab leak was possible in April 2020, one month after claiming publicly that it wasn’t
Alex Gutentag, Leighton Woodhouse, Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi
Public  2023-07-19

(2) "So Friggin' Likely": New Covid Documents Reveal Unparalleled Media Deception
Newly released chats and emails between the authors of a crucial scientific paper leave no doubt: an unprecedented official disinformation campaign accompanied the arrival of Covid-19
Matt Taibbi, Leighton Woodhouse, Alex Gutentag and Michael Shellenberger
Racket News 2023-07-19

(3) "In Their Labs": Fifteen Illuminating Passages in The Proximal Origin Chats and Emails
Communications between officials and scientists who wrote the key paper promoting a natural origin for Covid-19 show doubts, interference, politicized science, and more
Matt Taibbi
Racket News 2023-07-19

Article 1 is the longest.  It refers to "recently released" emails and chat messages, but gives no source.  It links to a spreadsheet containing some of the quotes the article refers to, and others.  For ease of reading, perhaps, here is an A3 PDF of that spreadsheet: Covid-Files-Scientists-Quotes-Public-vs-Private-quotes.pdf.

Article 2 gives some information about the source of this "recently released" information. This was "released" to and Racket News, not to the public.  More on this in the 2023-07-21 section below.

Article 3 mentions some of the quotes.  The 12th quote cites Follis et al. 2006, above.

I read these articles carefully.  There was no mention of the rebuttal letter to Nature, protesting the rejection of their article, which was un entirely unscientific grounds.  The rejection, from the editor, was on the basis that their first draft (the preprint mentioned above) did not completely reject the possibility of a lab release, and  “whether such a piece would feed or quash the conspiracy theories” (being, I think, accidental or perhaps deliberate lab release or the virus being made as a bioweapon).  This is item 5 in article 3:

Article 2 mentions the source of the newly released material:

Last week, House members investigating origins of Covid-19 accidentally released a trove of Slack chats and emails between the authors of Nature’s seminal paper from March 17, 2020, The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2. The Proximal Origin paper delivered a single line that for years helped authorities slam a lid on theories of human intervention in Covid-19: “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation.”

Chats showing Proximal Origins authors saying things like “The truth will never come out (if lab escape is the truth)” were published first == by independent researcher Francisco Del Asis of the independent investigatory group DRASTIC ==,   after which the story was picked up by Ryan Grim of The Intercept ==

This describes the larger images of which only part of each image was visible in the PDF.

Please see the 2023-07-23 section below for the links to the big email and Slack message PDFs.

2023-07-20 - Preprint vs. final versions of the Proximal Origin article

I made a PDF:

Word-comparison-for-A4-print-showing-changes-to preprint-to-arrive-at-final-version.pdf

showing how the original 2020--02-17 preprint, at

had material deleted and added to arrive at the final version published in Nature Medicine, a month later:   My notes:

Ref 10 in the preprint and 14 in the final version is to:

Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry
Kathryn E. Follis, Joanne York and Jack H. Nunberg
Virology 350 , 358–369  2006-07-05

In which researchers performed Gain of Function (GoF) genetic engineering on a SARS virus, adding a furin cleavage site which causes the S1 and S2 sections of the spike protein to be broken in a particular stage of the virus entering the cell.  (See Jackson et al. 2021 above for all the fascinating mechanical details of the spike protein.)  This did not seem to affect infectivity, but it increased the rate at which the infected cells fused together, which increases disease severity.  (I recall the the Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 were less likely to fuse the infected cells together.)

This was a deliberate, engineering, approach to making a virus with new properties.  The five recognised authors of the Proximal Origin article (or at least the three or four who were communicating via Slack) were  fully aware of such approaches, which are a widely used approach to researching viruses, along with chimeric approaches in which the genomes of two or closely related viruses are are broken into pieces and the pieces reassembled to make a complete, novel, virus genome.   However, these authors do not consider this method by which SARS-CoV-2 could have been made, except by inference, in their faulty logic to the effect that the SARS-CoV-2 genome could not have been created in such a way, from a previously existing viral "backbone" (most of the genome, apart from what they wanted to change) because no such genome had been published.  This is a blatantly false argument, since everyone knows that not every genome which is researched or manipulated in some way is published.

They strengthen there conclusion against laboratory manipulation, though their arguments are obviously inadequate, from shows to irrefutably show:

2023-07-21 - releases, to the public, the two big PDFs of emails and Slack messages

This article:

Covid Origins Scientist Denounces Reporting On His Messages As A “Conspiracy Theory”
We release full cache of messages :: Plus, why Public and Racket keep scooping the mainstream media
Alex Gutentag, Leighton Woodhouse and Michael Shellenberger  2023-07-21

contains further reporting and analysis, and the links to the two big PDF files.  These URLs may not work from this page - they may require special keys which only work from the Substack article itself:

Proximal Origin Slack 47 MB PDF file

I archived it here: Proximal_Origin_Slack-from-Public-2023-07-21.pdf

Proximal Origin Emails 184MB PDF file

I archived it here: Proximal_Origin_Emails-from-Public-2023-07-21.pdf

Please see the next section for versions of these which have bee OCRed so they are searchable.

2023-07-23 - OCRed versions of the email and Slack messages PDFs

Here is my current understanding of all the publicly available material pertinent to investigating how the Proximal Origins article came to be written.

As noted above, the Republican majority on the subcommittee's report and the video of their hearings, plus the Democrat minority report, which tried to absolve Tony Fauci and Francis Collins from any responsibility for writing, or contributing to the writing of, the Proximal Origin article, but which fully concurs with the Republican position that Jeremy Farrar was indeed an (unacknowledged) author.

I found links to these PDFs from the subcommittee of the transcripts of interviews, via this tweet from the subcommittee:

In chronological order:

Also, I found these two statements for the hearing:

I have copies of these.  If they are not available from the above URLs please let me know and I will put my copies here.

The previous section has the big PDFs of emails and Slack messages.  Both these files are made of single page images.  These files do not have a searchable text layer, which also enables selecting text so it can be copied to the clipboard.

Here is a version of the Slack messages PDF, after I used OCR in PDF XChange Editor Plus to add a text layer.  Before I did so, I made three improvements:
  1. I replaced the larger black rectangles which were used for redactions with light grey, to save printer ink or toner.  I printed this out on A3 paper, since the text would be difficult to read on A4.

  2. On page 113 (2020-03-31) I added a clearer version of an image containing a Reddit comment, with source URLs. 

  3. On page 44 I added President Trump's analysis in larger text, since the original image is too blurred to read.
Proximal_Origin_Slack-for-printing-OCRed-searchable.pdf   (57,283,069 bytes)

Likewise, here is a version of the emails PDF with a searchable text layer:

Proximal_Origin_Emails-from-Public-2023-07-21-OCRed-searchable.pdf  (193,576,103 bytes)

I just found this 2022-07-21 article by Ryan Grim:

in which he cites the Slack messages of 2020-02-02 and some other documents to argue that Kristian Andersen was awaiting Tony Fauci's approval for a big research grant at the time he was writing the Proximal Origin article.   The research grant was only formally announced on 26 or 27th August 2021:


Alex Washburne is a co-author of the preprint (now being peer reviewed for publication) on the patterns of restriction sites found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome which show that it is the product of chimeric viral engineering:

Endonuclease fingerprint indicates a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2
Valentin Bruttel, Alex Washburne and Antonius VanDongen
bioRxiv preprint 2023-04-11

Please see his 2023-07-28  roundup of the major events regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2:

U.S. Right to Know has about 83 articles and pages of documents obtained by FOI (Freedom of Information) on the origins of COVID-19 and so SARS-CoV-2:

These include a 2023-06-21 article by Emily Kopp on heavily redacted U.S. State Department cables (defined at as diplomatic dispatches from or between embassies) which show that as early as 2020-08-04 the department was investigating and had information on Chinese military (PLA = People's Liberation Army) links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  The first of these cables, which are actually emails, is titled: "Probe PLA Links to Biotech Labs and Companies in Wuhan".

The FOIed documents are listed and linked to at:

The research grant (mentioned in the previous section, discussed in Ryan Grim's Intercept article was only formally announced on 26 or 27th August 2020:

A State Department cable of 2020-08-26: the day before the official announcement of 11 grants:
of which Kristian Anderson is the principal investigator of the second grant 1 U01 AI151812-01 in this series, and Peter Daszak, of the EcoHealth Alliance is principal investigator of the third: 1 U01 AI151797-01.

In the absence of arguments to the contrary, I think it is reasonable to assume that, as Ryan Grim points out, the USD$8.9M grant was formally decided by the NIAID well after the review board recommendation which Kristian Anderson says took place in late 2019 and, most likely after the February to early March 2020 period on which the Proximal Origin article was written:

“The main NIAID advisory Council must recommend an application for funding before we can award a grant, although the Institute makes the final funding decision,” the agency goes on.

So we can reasonably assume that Tony Fauci and Francis Collins did, at the time of writing the article, hold significant power over Kristian Anderson and his laboratory

A 2013-07-12 article in Nature reported on the Congressional hearing the day before:

There are many avoidant aspects to this article, as if to distract readers' attention from all the evidence for the lab origins of the virus.  The research community supposedly "isn't much closer" to understanding its origins.  A Stanford microbiologist bemoans the Chinese government's "stonewalling" efforts by investigators to collect crucial data, but pays no regard to Kristian Andersen and Robert Garry providing no help in understanding any legitimate reasons they might have had for concluding that the virus could not have escaped from a lab.

I listened to the whole hearing.  None of the Democrat members nor their staff lawyer who  spoke and questioned Kristian Andersen and Robert Garry took any interest in the origin of SARS-CoV-2.  They were criticizing the Republican members for their criticism of Tony Fauci's and Francis Collins' role in overseeing the Proximal Origin article, while agreeing that Jeremy Farrar, in the UK, did indeed do this.  All three "higher ups" did this.

Here is an article whose authors include four of the five acknowledged authors of the Proximal Origin article.  The exception is Ian Lipkin.  We can reasonably treat Jeremy Farrar as an unacknowledged author - probably the or a primary author - since he initiated the teleconference call, chose its participants, reviewed drafts of the article, made at least one change to it, as well as being one of the "higher ups" several of the acknowledged authors referred to.

The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2
Jonathan E. Pekar, Andrew Magee, Edyth Parker, Niema Moshiri, Katherine Izhikevich, Jennifer L. Havens, Karthik Gangavarapu, Lorena Mariana Malpica Serrano, Alexander Crits-Christoph, Nathaniel L. Matteson, Mark Zeller, Joshua I. Levy, Jade C. Wang,
Scott Hughes, Jungmin Lee1, Heedo Park, Man-Seong Park, Katherine Ching Zi Yan1, Raymond Tzer Pin Lin1, Mohd Noor Mat Isa1, Yusuf Muhammad Noor1, Tetyana I. Vasylyeva1, Robert F. Garry, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew Rambaut, Marc A. Suchard, Kristian G. Andersen, Michael Worobey an Joel O. Wertheim  (Corresponding authors' names in bold.)
Science 377, 960–966 2022-08-26

I will read this as part of reading all the material listed above.  This seems to be the fullest statement of the arguments for zoonotic transfer.  This 2023-07-12 preprint by some of the same people concerns bat viruses which are genetically close to SARS-CoV-2, as a starting point for what they believe was a zoonotic transfer, via an intermediate species, to humans:

The recency and geographical origins of the bat viruses ancestral to SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2
Jonathan E. Pekar, Spyros Lytras, Mahan Ghafari, Andrew F. Magee, Edyth Parker, Jennifer L. Havens, Aris Katzourakis, Tetyana I. Vasylyeva, Marc A. Suchard, Alice C. Hughes, Joseph Hughes, David L. Robertson, Simon Dellicour, Michael Worobey, Joel O. Wertheim and Philippe Lemey
bioRxiv preprint 2023-07-12

Matt Ridley (Twitter) and Alina Chan (Twitter) have a 2023-07-26 opinion / comment piece in the Wall Street Journal:
It is behind a paywall but the first part of the article, which is critical of the Proximal Origin article, can be heard via a robotic voice.

There is a Twitter hashtag #RetractProximalOrigins:

There is a petition to retract the Proximal Origin article:

This was launched by New Jersey based and   They also have a 2023-07-26 open letter to the editor of Nature Medicine calling for the retraction or withdrawal of the Proximal Origin article:

singed by 36 academics.  BiosafetyNow's 27 member team in includes Richard H Ebright, Professor of Chemistry at Rutger's University, New Jersey:

The open letter focuses on the numerous reasons we now have (thanks to the FOIed email and Slack messages becoming public) to conclude that the acknowledged authors of the Proximal Origin article did not believe its hardline conclusion, which rules out any possibility of laboratory origins of SARS-CoV-2.

I think it is also important to focus on the fraudulent, corrupt, nature of the authorship of the article:
  1. The instigating and contributing author Jeremy Farrar is not acknowledged as an author.

  2. On his own, he has immense influence on the acknowledged authors because they are researchers who depend on funding and he was head of the Wellcome Trust from 2013, which spent £771M (USD$964) on medical and biological scientific research in the 2019-2020 financial year.  Andrew Rambaut's funding by the Wellcome Trust is acknowledged at the end of the Proximal Origins article. 

  3. By involving Tony Fauci and Francis Collins in substantial, if informal, overview of the article, the acknowledged authors needed their article to meet the general approval of the administrators of current or potential funding from the three individuals who directly manage two of the three largest medical research funding bodies in the world.  Tony Fauci administer part - and Francis Collins all of -  NIH's 2020 USD$4.17B research funding program, most of which is directed to organizations outside the NIH itself, many of whom are outside the United States.

    This would have been a fundamental and pervasive problem for the acknowledged authors no matter how the two Bethesda boys (Fauci and Collins) and the UK-based Farrar conducted themselves.  It is a massive problem because all three were very strongly opposed to the lab leak theory.  None of them made any attempt to support the acknowledged authors write their article according to scientific observations and arguments. 

  4. As noted above, the fact that Kristian Anderson had a large NIH research grant in question at the time of writing the article.
Jeremy Farrar is arguable the most culpable person in this entire affair, since he orchestrated and lead the writing of the article, and he completely failed in his responsibility to acknowledge himself as an author and to support all the authors in working according to scientific principles, despite all the political pressure to deny the possibility of a lab leak.

Tony Fauci and Francis Collins, with even more experience than Jeremy Farrar, and who control four times the funding, are hardly any better.

The acknowledged authors themselves are fully responsible for caving in to this pressure and more broadly to the hopes and expectations of many other people, especially most virologists, that the virus originated from zoonotic transfer.  There has never been any evidence beyond circumstantial correlations for zoonotic transfer.  The same is true now, nearly 4 years after SARS-CoV-2 started infecting humans.

The first known case of SARS was found on 16 November 2002.  11 months later, 2003-10-31, a peer-reviewed article was published identifying nearly identical strains of viruses in Himalayan palm civets.

The first known cases of MERS were identified in June 2012.  A peer-reviewed article was published just over a year later, on 2013-09-05 identifying dromedary camels as the intermediate animal in a chain of transmission from bats, though the details of which bats were probably the source of this virus took several more years to elucidate.

There are many aspects of the harm caused by the faulty conclusions of the Proximal Origin article - and these faulty conclusions arose directly because of the corrupt and fraudulent authorship of the article.  Those with most power, who were not acknowledged as authors did the opposite of what they should have done to support robust, purely scientific, work by the acknowledged authors.   There is a very long list of harms, but these include:
So I think that a much stronger case can and should be made for the Proximal Origins article to be withdrawn / retracted.

Unherd has a 2023-07-28 article by Ian Birrell on the cover-up of the lab origins of SARS-CoV-2:

Twitter personage has a graphic timeline of the Proximal Origin article.  The tweet is: .

Timeline of the Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2 article by @RAEMKA1 at Twitter

Sources: (Slack) (email)

(Spike - The Virus Vs. the People - the Inside Story, Jeremy Farrar and Ajana Ahuja, 2021-07-22.  Goodreads: .)

A 2023-07-22 UK Telegraph (Murdoch press) article:

is paywalled, but here is a PDF:


It seems that The Telegraph approached the editor of Nature Medicine  regarding whether the Proximal Origin article would be retracted:

Nature Medicine said it would not be retracting the article, which is a Correspondence, an article type in which authors present a point of view on the issue rather than being a research study.

Dr Joao Montenegro, chief editor of Nature Medicine, said: "Concerns raised about any type of article in our journal are always considered carefully.

"However, when it comes to expressing opinions, it is our position that it is the authors' prerogative to balance their views in a way that reflects the body of robust scientific knowledge available at the time of publication, as well as the impact of their findings.

"Neither previous out-of-context remarks by the authors nor disagreements with the authors’ stated views, are, on their own, grounds for retraction. We have therefore concluded that retraction is not warranted at this time."


Rand Paul and Tony Fauci:

United States Senator Rand Paul, Republican, Kentucky, has written an "official criminal referral" to the U.S. Department of Justice.   Summit News has the details and a video:

Senator Rand Paul has filed a criminal referral to the Department of Justice, asserting that Anthony Fauci lied while under oath concerning gain of function research in Wuhan being funded by Fauci’s NIH.

The Australian - Murdoch Press national newspaper - reports Proximal Origin article controversy:

The Australian has always been a Murdoch Press national newspaper.  It continues to employ real journalists to write lots of material, which is printed and available all over Australia Monday to Friday, with a weekend edition with colour magazine on Saturday.  It has been a broadsheet since its inception in 1964:

The Australian has run articles (search) supporting the lab origin hypothesis since as early as April 2021.  However, it has also printed extremely biased articles berating large numbers of people protesting the Victorian lockdowns, such as on 2021-09-23.  (Click the image for a full size version.)

For a proper account of the people who attended this protest (a few were probably nutters, but the great majority were earnest people with very serious concerns) please see this video by highly regarded video  journalist Rukshan Fernando :

So it was remarkable and welcome that on 2023-07-28 the front page of The Weekend Australian was lead by an story on the Proximal Origin article:

This surely brought the matter to the attention of many Australians, since nothing was written about it, as far as I know, on mainstream media sites such as: and

These articles were written by award-winning Sydney Journalist Sharri Markson: who has been reporting on the lab origins of SARS-CoV-2 since at least 2020-05-04.  This Sydney Daily Telegraph article has a video of he reporting, as part of her Sharri Sky News news program, on 15 page dossier concerning Chinese government suppression of information about the outbreak of the pandemic:

The Sydney Morning Herald  reported on this article, on 2023-05-09, is highly critical of this reporting and of the lab leak hypothesis:

She wrote a book:

What Really Happened in Wuhan: The Cover-Ups, the Conspiracies and the Classified Research
Sharri Markson
Harper Collins 2021-09-28

which The Guardian reviewed rather dimly, without ever specifying faults in her argument, while quoting various experts who believed in the zoonotic transfer hypothesis.

Rebekah Barnett reports on this Weekend Australian lead article and others at:

The lead article is behind a paywall, but I found an archive of it:

Covid cover-up: how science was silenced
Sharri Markson 
The Weekend Australian 2023-07-28 (Paywalled.)

Text at: also

This is more than rehashing information mentioned above.  It contains quotes from a significant new interview The Australian conducted with Robert Kadlec M.D., ( who served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response from 2017-09-18 to 2021-01-20, during which he was responsible for establishing the USD$18B Project Warp Speed to create COVID-19 vaccines.  Here are some quotes from this article:

"I think Tony Fauci was trying to protect his institution and his own reputation from the possibility that his agency was funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers who, beyond the scope of the grants received from the National Institutes of Health, may have been working with People’s Liberation Army researchers on defensive coronavirus vaccines," Dr Kadlec said.

"I think it’s evident from his later released emails (obtained via Freedom of Information requests) that he had more sense of what his institute had funded at that moment. This was a reputational risk to him and his institute . . . "

Dr Kadlec, in his first ever media interview, added: "We think vaccine research resulted in the pandemic - that vaccine research was the proximate cause."

In an extraordinary admission, Dr Kadlec said they decided to try to encourage a group of leading international scientists to calm down speculation on the origins of the virus.

Dr Kadlec said Dr Fauci kept these suspicions, privately expressed by leading virologists that the virus had been engineered in a laboratory, mostly to himself.

Dr Kadlec chaired a committee to authorise whether gain-of-function could proceed.

Gain-of-function research was banned by the Obama administration but lifted during the Trump era. Dr Kadlec says this was at the best of the NIH. "Francis Collins and Fauci both had a similar world view which was scientists know best and there should be few restrictions on research," he said.

Dr Fauci has denied his agency funded gain-of-function research, but Dr Kadlec said this wasn’t true. "It’s evident NIH supported research that has the potential for, and it at least one case resulted in gain of function," he said.

Robert Malone has some background on Robert Kadlec:

There is a second article which starts on the front page of the Weekend Australian newspaper:

Who made virus? FBI has a name  (Short heading on front page.)

Covid-19 origins may be traced to Chinese military scientist Zhou Yusen
Sharri Markson 
The Weekend Australian 2023-07-28 (Paywalled.)

Text at:

US intelligence agencies are understood to be examining the possibility that Chinese military scientist Zhou Yusen’s research to develop a coronavirus vaccine led to the creation of Covid-19, and the first cluster of the pandemic.

The decorated Chinese scientist died about May 2020 in circumstances that Five Eyes intelligence agencies have long suspected was at the hands of the People’s Liberation Army. The Weekend Australian can reveal that the FBI has, on at least two occasions since mid-last year, spoken with a close relative of Zhou who is now residing in the US. The individual is understood to be a crucial new witness.

For the individual's safety and protection, The Weekend Australian has chosen not to name the relative, who is understood to be "nervous".

The family member did not respond to requests for comment in the weeks leading up to  publication of this article.

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI director Christopher Wray has said publicly that a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology led to the pandemic.

"The FBI has assessed for quite some time that the origins . . . are a potential lab incident in Wuhan," Mr Wray told Fox News in April.

"You're talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans."

In June 2021, The Australian revealed that Zhou was listed as the lead inventor on Chinese ­patent documents, translated by The Australian, for a Covid-19 vaccine. The patent was dated February 24, 2020.

Zhou died about three months later. Despite his illustrious career, there were no published mentions of this celebrated military scientists in the Chinese press.

Five Eyes intelligence agencies suspected he had been killed.

This links to a much earlier article, which links to other such articles:

US paid Chinese People’s Liberation Army to engineer coronaviruses
Sharri Markson 
The Australian 2021-06-04

Text at:

The article in the magazine which accompanies the Saturday newspaper is:

What really happened in Wuhan: new lab leak evidence over the origin of Covid-19
Sharri Markson 
Weekend Australian Magazine 2023-07-28 (Paywalled.)

Text at:

Matters discussed include:
Regarding the abovementioned DIA report, Sharri Markson's article states that this report stated:

that the Proximal Origins paper “does not prove that the virus arose naturally. In fact, the features of SARS-CoV-2 noted by Andersen et al. are consistent with another scenario: that SARS-CoV-2 was developed in a laboratory, by methods that leading coronavirus researchers commonly use to investigate how the viruses infect cells and cause ­disease, assess the potential for animal coronaviruses to jump to humans, and develop drugs and vaccines.”
Their paper concludes that the Proximal Origin authors’ arguments “are based not on scientific analysis, but on ­unwarranted assumptions”.
Rebekah Barnett pointed to a 2023-08-01 article:

Edward Holmes claims ‘bad memory’ for not declaring writing a paper with a Wuhan scientist
Sharri Markson
The Australian 2023-08-01 (Paywalled.)

Text at:

This quotes from a September 2022 online interview with Edward Holmes, in which he states that his bad memory was to blame for him not mentioning, in the Proximal Origin article, that he had previously worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  His name was listed in a 2018 draft article, which was never published - which probably means it was a preprint - which contained a partial sequence of RaTG13, the virus with the closest public sequence to SARS-CoV-2.  (To do: find this preprint.)

The 2023-05-16 Defense Intelligence Agency report:

This report with the above PDF file creation date was made public the next day as a PDF:  I was unable to find where DRASTIC announced or discussed this, but it is reported at:

The same file (with slightly different headers, but the same images of text) appears with a different file name at the page announcing the sub-committee on the COVID-19 pandemic's 2023-07-11 hearing:  There its name is: HHRG-118-VC00-20230711-SD005.pdf.  Both these files have images of pages of text, but no searchable and copy and pasteable text layer.  Here is a version of the DRASTIC file, OCRed to have such a layer:


Zoonotic transfer hypothesis virologist now heads the NIAID:

Tony Fauci's replacement as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is virologist Dr Jeanne Marazzo:

Here is a 2020-04-20 video of her explaining to children that pangolins were the intermediate non-human animal:

Li et al. 2020:

This article has been cited 466 times (2023-08-04):
Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 through recombination and strong purifying selection
Xiaojun Li et al.
Science Advances 2020-07-01
It argues for a natural source of SARS-CoV-2, by way of various viruses including some found in pangolins.  (This is my rough understanding, I haven't read it yet.)  It is complex article and I find it striking that it first appeared so early, 22 March 2020, as a preprint:

In a detailed comment to my Substack article: James Kringlee wrote that Li et al. 2020 describe possible natural pathways by which SARS-CoV-2 might, in principle, have evolved - but that they don't mention that such steps could also have been done in the lab. 

James Kringlee regards this article as part of the coverup.  I have only read the abstract so far, and I think it is too, simply because it tries to discount the lab leak hypothesis without proper consideration of all the arguments.  However, I think that James Kringlee is suggesting that it is a well-planned, deliberate, attempt to cover up the actual chimeric manipulation and other engineering which took place by mounting an elaborate account of how, in theory at least, evolution might have lead to SARS-CoV-2.

He mentions a supplemental spreadsheet concerning pangolins for the first preprint, which apparently disappeared.  I don't know if a copy exists, but that might be consistent with the idea that the article exists to distract from the actual engineering which took place and that this spreadsheet might have given some clue as to their efforts to create such a cover-up.

DRASTIC's list of scientific articles:

At this page:, DRASTIC list a number of web pages, preprints and peer-reviewed journal articles.  For future reference, here is a snapshot of that page, made on 2022-06-16, which looks the same as the page as at 2023-08-04:

At least some of these articles concern the real nature of the viral strain most widely know as RaTG13, widely thought to be the closest natural relative to SARS-CoV2.   Please see the next sub-section.

Various articles challenging the assumptions made in the Le et al. 2020 account of SARS-CoV-2 arising from zoonotic transfer:

I am skimming thinly over this stuff, but here goes.  As best I can tell, articles linked to by DRASTIC above and some or all of those listed next challenge the account of zoonotic transfer promoted by Lie et al. 2020, and I guess other subsequent articles.

According to the conventional, zoonotic, Li et a. 2020, account, as best I can tell, the genome of RaTG13 was derived from a virus found in bat feces.  However, RaTG13 is, according to some people, a deliberately chosen new name for such a strain of bat virus, given a new name to disguise something about its true origins.

Also, there is a challenge to the idea that this sequence came from a virus found in feces - indicating that it came from sequencing a live virus.  This would indicate that the WiV was working with this strain, experimentally, prior to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.

So I think that full due diligence on all this would involve looking closely at Li et al. 2020, whatever articles are critical of it, those which cite it supportively, the articles linked to by DRASTIC as just mentioned, and probably some or all of these articles which I have only glanced at:

The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin
SARS-COV-2 chimeric structure and furin cleavage site might be the result of genetic manipulation
Rossana Segreto and Yuri Deigin
BioEssays Problems and Paradigms 2020-11-17

SARS-CoV-2's closest relative, RaTG13, was generated from a bat transcriptome not a fecal swab: implications for the origin of COVID-19
Steven E Massey preprint v2 2021-11-18

Exploring the Natural Origins of SARS-CoV-2 in the Light of Recombination
Spyros Lytras, Joseph Hughes, Darren Martin, Phillip Swanepoel, Arné de Klerk, Rentia Lourens, Sergei L Kosakovsky Pond, Wei Xia, Xiaowei Jiang and David L Robertson
Genome Biology and Evolution 2022-02-08

Analysis of pangolin metagenomic datasets reveals significant contamination, raising concerns for pangolin CoV host attribution
Adrian Jones, Daoyu Zhang, Yuri Deigin and Steven C. Quay preprint v3 2022-05-01

Most Americans accept the lab leak theory - Economist-YouGov survey:

If you look in this page:

for an item named "Economist Tables July 24 2023" you will find a link to this PDF:

On page 94 is a table of results arising from a question 54, asked of 1500 U.S. adult citizens between 22 and 25 July 2023:

Regardless of whether or not the virus responsible for COVID-19 was created or naturally mutated, do you believe it is true or false that a laboratory in China was the origin of the virus?

The lab leak hypothesis is usually thought to equate to the virus havnig been engineered either in that lab or perhaps in another one from the one it escaped.

This analysis is really interesting - and encouraging: 32% of respondents believe the statement is definitely true and another 29% believe it is probably true.  This is 61% of the respondents believing in the laboratory origin, with only 15% believing in the zoonotic transfer hypothesis.

As far as I can tell, the majority of virologists support the zoonotic transfer hypothesis.  If this were not the case, then the majority would support the lab release hypothesis and would now be strongly protesting the Proximal Origin article, the promotion of Jeremy Farrar to W.H.O. Chief Scientist and of Jeanne Marazzo to NIAID Director.

I have highlighted the figures in pink which show a low rate of agreement with the statement that the origin of SARS-CoV-2 was a Chinese lab.

The under 30s, the Democrats, the Liberals and those who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 are the groups with the faultiest understanding of the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Update history

2023-07-15: Initial version of this page.  Added links to Alex Washburne's work and the Jackson article.

2023-07-16: Added analysis page, after posting, as comments, the quotes of interest to a Peter McCullough Substack article which discusses this Select Committee's 2023-07-11 report: .

2023-07-20: New section above.

2023-07-23:  I completely reorginised the page, putting the hidden images material in a box so it can more easily be ignored.  The sections above are by date, and so don't require update details here.

2023-07-31: Added links at the start to  and