Scientific progress is intrinsically linked to freedom of expression. The reason is: all science at some point starts out as heresy. Consequently, only countries that encourage and celebrate heresy see a flourishing of the scientific revolution. Yet what COVID-19 has highlighted is, that the freedoms of the 1990s and early 2000s we took for granted, the freedoms that supported the information revolution and an unprecedented increase in global and Indian wealth, have now come full circle. Today, the suppression of dissent—especially scientific dissent—by the same players who benefitted from the information revolution have taken us back to the dark days of the suppression of Galileo and Copernicus.
The issue at hand is regarding what now seems as the deliberate scuttling of investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, and the full force of academic and institutional bullying, deplatforming, death threats and information suppression—not just of direct and circumstantial evidence, but also opinions based on said evidence. Normally, this would have merely been the subject of outrage, but we can now conclude that the said information suppression led to significant misdirection of medical efforts to contain the coronavirus. It definitely led to a lot of research, which could have contributed to an early solution up the garden path, and in so doing may have cost thousands if not millions of additional deaths.
Can India Lead the Probe?
Finding the exact source and nature of the leak was important for a variety of reasons—it had nothing to do with geopolitics and naming/shaming China or to focus international attention on its bio weapons programme. Far from it, the finding of “patient X” or the first person who contracted the virus is one of the key links in establishing the nature of the virus, its mutation and its virulence, all critical elements in finding the solution to it. Yet, it is at this same time that a global medical bureaucracy does everything in its power to suppress and divert the investigation.
From this point on, an investigation cannot merely have narrow terms of reference restricted just to the origins of the virus and the role of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
What we have seen over the last harrowing year is a global systemic failure, made worse by a cover-up, severe conflicts of interest at every stage of the global information, warning and response as well as the complete breakdown of the ability of dissenters and doctors to hold the powers to be to account. Thus, any global investigation has to cover the entirety of these in order to ensure there is no repeat.
India having managed this relatively well, and having the worst of the second wave behind it, can’t fall back on complacency. Far from it, India now needs to take a leadership role in forcing the international community to examine where things went wrong. Indeed, it is precisely the vast web of conflicted interests and institutional incest that led to the current situation that will do everything to stall such a comprehensive investigation. That is why state power— that too, a state that has been relatively untouched by the corrosive influence of the global health cartel—needs to be put behind this investigation. This would ensure both that the right questions are asked and that the terms of reference are not artificially skewed to ensure the exoneration of the transparently guilty.
Questions the World Must Ask
What would these questions and terms of reference look like? First up, there needs to be an investigation into the academic failure, corruption and research corrosion that happened. How is it that organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have through their distribution of grants been able to control and censor not just the publication of medical opinion but also the economic and remedial pathways?
How is it that the entire global public health ecosystem is a web of conflicting interests, where the man tasked by the WHO to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology was also the same man who had forwarded the US government funding to the institute for the Gain of Function research, who was simultaneously advising Dr Fauci to deny what we now know to be true, and who was engaged in a targeted campaign of academic harassment against those who questioned dogma, going so far as to both become a fact checker for social media giants and force editorial policy onto The Lancet?
Why was it that despite early evidence, the “5 micron” threshold for labelling a disease as airborne was rejected by the WHO; regardless of presentations from highly qualified physicists, who was responsible for the pushback; why was the information suppressed and who will pay the price for the rejected early warnings? Why were “eminent personalities” like Dr Fauci and Dr Tedros on record first discouraging the use of masks and then turning into mask fanatics, that too when all evidence points to the fact that both these people had access to the airborne nature of the disease in early 2020?
Ultimately the investigation must look at how every single check and balance across every single global health institution—be it medical, academic, policy, media and social media—got homogenised and drew from the same merry-go-round of medical-bureaucrats. We also need to ask how did China manage to work every single lever it could—from the WHO, to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to Dr Fauci, to an assorted set of allegedly diverse global heath NGOs—to deflect criticism away from it by providing the media and social media with talking points, ranging from racism to “misinformation”.
India has defied the global medical consensus frequently. Almost always it has been proven right—be it India’s defiance on generic drugs to taking a firm stand on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation when the opportunity arose, and similarly managing to kick Chinese apps and companies out. Uniquely, it is India’s frustrating resistance to market economics that has made it so willing to defy the global health cartels and China and take them both on. It is now time India utilised this magnificent legacy of resistance into a constructive leadership path and frame the terms of reference and scope of the international investigation into the COVID nightmare.