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Ian Birrell is a contributing editor of The Mail on Sunday, has a weekly column in the i newspaper, and has written for a number of publications, including The Times, The Washington Post, the Daily Mail, and the Guardian. Over the course of his career, he has reported for more than 60 countries worldwide. In this episode, he shares what he knows about the origins of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 situation in general.

Press play to learn:

  • Who China’s ‘Bat Woman’ is and the significance of her role in the information and theories surrounding COVID-19
  • What characteristics of the virus are unusual
  • What evidence suggests that COVID-19 did not originate from a wet market in China as we’ve been told

Like most of us, Birrell began hearing about COVID-19 around February when stories began breaking in the media about a potential Chinese cover-up regarding the virus. Considering it a “potential” pandemic at the time, Birrell focused his investigative research on these allegations, including one which placed the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with China in cover-up efforts. He wrote a couple of pieces covering evidence which suggests that the infectious virus broke out earlier than claimed, and that the wet market theory of origin might not be true.

Birrell explains what’s wrong with the wet market theory of origin, citing the original Lancet paper on the wet market which showed that the very first cases identified were not linked to the wet market, a report in the South China Morning Post showing cases going back to mid-November which were not linked to the market, and several early investigative journalists who published articles which have since been censored and removed from most social media websites.

In particular, Birrell discusses evidence which suggests that Chinese officials knew by mid-December that human-to-human transmission was possible, and that the entire genetic code of the virus had been sequenced by January 2nd. That genetic sequencing data—data that would have allowed for earlier research on an effective treatment or a vaccine—was not shared until more than a week later, when it was posted on a public access site by an Australian scientist on behalf of a Shanghai professor, who had his lab shut down just two days later.

Birrell also discusses the potential of a laboratory leak of the virus, unusual characteristics of the virus, how different nations have responded to the virus, and the need to be wary of vested interests in journalism and science pushing particular narratives about what’s going on.

Learn more at and find Birrell on Twitter at @ianbirrell.

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