By Anastasia Lin, November 18, 2022
Investors are anxious for China to get back to normal. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 7.7% on Nov. 11 after the Communist Party’s Standing Committee of the Political Bureau “called for actions to rectify superfluous policy steps and a one-size-fits-all approach,” as the state news agency Xinhua put it while asserting in the same breath that “necessary epidemic control measures must not be relaxed.”
Even if China eventually crawls out of the zero-Covid morass, a return to business as usual would be dangerous for the rest of the world. Beijing still owes us answers about the origins of Covid-19.
Western media largely dismissed the idea that the novel coronavirus came from a lab leak as a wild conspiracy theory, even a racist one. Some critics are now giving it a second look—including ProPublica and Vanity Fair, which last month published a joint report on the “complex and grave situation” at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the months before the pandemic.
Lab leaks happen in democratic countries too. The last known smallpox death occurred in the U.K. in 1978, when photographer Janet Parker, whose office was one floor above a lab at Birmingham Medical School, contracted the disease and died. The British government moved swiftly to contain the outbreak, quarantining and vaccinating hundreds who might have been exposed. The government then conducted a thorough investigation, which confirmed the leak. The casualty count was one.