A few weeks ago I was searching for an interview with RFK junior as I had heard that his views on the causes and course of the war in Ukraine were quite extraordinary for a mainstream politician. He is seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party  to run for US president in the 2024 election and is currently polling at about 15% – nowhere near enough to give him any realistic chance of gaining the nomination – but not to be sneezed at either.

I duly found a Tucker Carson interview (not my normal go to site for political commentary or analysis I grant you) in which RFK junior spoke at length about the war in Ukraine, watched without interruption by a clearly taken aback Carson. It was a hard listen, RFK junior was clearly excised by what he was talking about and about how so little of the reality of the situation had percolated through to the general population of the US. His delivery was fast, urgent and at times bordered on the manic. I would not recommend it to others (although apols to a couple of friends I did just that too!) and it was clear that his chances of gaining the Democratic nomination would be pretty poor. However, there was nothing in what he said that I disagreed with – nothing. It was one of the most comprehensive analyses of the power dynamics driving the war that I had come across – far too truthful for US mainstream politics!

As I mused on this Carson asked him to talk about Covid – which he duly did. I was only half listening as RFK junior has a reputation as a conspiracy theory peddler and I wasn’t that interested in the likely origins of Covid 19. I became aware however that he was suggesting that the virus originally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China through the hospitalization of two of the researchers and that no one made the link until it was too late. This is controversial as the received wisdom seems to be that it spread from mutations in a live animal market in the city. As I was closing the screen he further suggested that the virus had been genetically modified in a laboratory in the US before being transferred to Wuhan.

Apart from a little niggle ‘should I be dismissing his account so easily on the basis of his reputation when I found his analysis of the war in Ukraine so spot on,’ I moved on and let his allegations slip from my mind.

Recently my memory was triggered by an interview undertaken by Andrew Napolitano of Professor Jeffrey Sachs talking about the likely origins of the virus covid 19. Now Professor Sachs is a very different kettle of reputational fish to RFK junior. He is a renowned and respected economist who has advised many countries and their leaders over many years, including Russia, Ukraine and the USA. He is a respectable academic and mainstream policy advisor – he currently holds the Chair of Sustainable Development at Columbia University. So imagine my surprise when he kicks off with following statement:

‘The odds are that this was a virus that was genetically manipulated in the laboratory to increase its transmissibility (my emphasis) and that it escaped accidently from the laboratory.’

Pressed by Napolitano, Professor Sachs went on to say, ‘It probably escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but it may have been genetically modified in a US laboratory.’

It seems that there has been a long-standing research program looking at the transmissibility of SARS- Cov – 2 viruses (from whence covid 19 came) and that this was a joint program between the University of North Carolina and The Wuhan Institute of Virology. So far so messy, so irresponsible and so tragic if this was the original cause of around 18m deaths worldwide. But it gets worse, remember Professor Sachs is talking about deliberate intervention to increase transmissibility – what was going on?

Working on the rationale (apparently!) that potential vaccines needed to be tested against the most transmissible strains of viruses, researchers in the US (under a government funded program) modified viruses with a hitherto low level of transmissibility for use in their experiments. They did this by modifying the genetic code of the viruses to insert a ‘furin cleavage site’ which allows the virus to enter and divide within foreign cells. This turned SARS – Cov – 2 viruses with very low levels of transmissibility into highly transmissible, dangerous viruses that had the potential to run amok in a population.

Now you may be questioning, given all the attendant risks, why anybody could think this was a good idea. You may even think this is completely insane and wonder where the regulatory oversight of this research was …………………….

More prosaically you may be wondering how an economist with no experience of viral infections could make such statements with such a degree of certainty. Well, it transpired that Professor Sachs was invited to head up a commission set up by The Lancet to investigate the possible origins of covid 19. The work was undertaken by research scientists from the world of virus experimentation – except, in the view of Professor Sachs, they didn’t do the work. They focused entirely on the theory of ‘natural spill-over’ (that the mutant strain had spread from the live market in Wuhan) and were really reluctant to consider the possibility of an escape from a laboratory. Professor Sachs pushed back hard on this and even sought sight of research papers himself – but without any success. In the end, in frustration, Professor Sachs stood the commission down (and was inevitably criticized as acting outside of his professional competence).

Professor Sachs says that what he does know about the matter has come from leaks and whistleblowers, who have testified to a congressional committee of enquiry. It is now known that the program to increase the transmissibility of such viruses has been running in the US for a number of years, halted briefly by a moratorium between 2014 and 2017. It is worth noting that an application for funding to The Pentagon was turned down – presumably because the potentially high transmissibility and lack of controls on the spread of such a virus made it too blunt an instrument for effective military use.

For a full account of Professor Sach’s trials and tribulations in attempting to get information that might be relevant to the possibility of a laboratory leak see this interview by Nathan Robinson in Current Affairs on 02.08.22. Professor Sachs concludes by stating that ‘the possibility of laboratory leakage needs to be fully investigated – not dismissed without asking for and considering relevant evidence.’


However, things have moved on a bit since then. In the interview with Andrew Napolitano, Professor Sachs states that a whistleblower has alleged that members of a CIA panel of investigation were bribed – bribed!  to change their conclusions from asserting that a laboratory leak was the most likely explanation to one favouring that of ‘natural spillage.’ I will leave it to Napolitano to do the incredulity thing!

Professor Sachs is adamant that a cover up is being perpetrated here. When pressed by Napolitano as to why this should be the case Professor Sachs Responds with ‘Governments lie for a living, they deal in power not truth.’


Don’t be put off by Napolitano’s website ‘Judging Freedom’ which seems to push a right of centre libertarian line on things. He interviews many interesting people, many ex insiders – gamekeepers turned poachers. Also, you need to bear with 5 minutes of incomprehensibility in the middle when Professor Sachs attempts to explain the technical details of the genetic modifications that were taken.