ROME — Pope Francis reminded scientists of their ethical responsibility to halt the production of biological weapons in a written address to a meeting focusing on the Wuhan coronavirus Wednesday.
You have devoted this meeting “to what is rightly a topic of profound concern for all humanity,” the pope said in a message Wednesday for the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, namely “the notion of science at the service of people for the survival of humanity in light of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic and other global issues.”
In his reflections, the pontiff made an intriguing reference to viruses that are created in “laboratories” and what they could mean for the future of humanity.
“The reflections of your Plenary Session on the sciences and the survival of humanity also raise the issue of similar scenarios that could originate in the most advanced laboratories of the physical and biological sciences,” the pope said. “May we remain quiet in the face of such prospects?”
Scientists are not “exempt” from their own ethical responsibilities to halt “the development of biological weapons, with their potential to devastate innocent civilians and indeed, entire peoples,” the pope added.
While never explicitly implying that the coronavirus was intentionally created in a laboratory, the pontiff’s words carry special weight in the light of recent revelations of possible origins of the coronavirus.
Last month, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a former virologist at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, declared on UK television that she is certain the Chinese coronavirus “is not from nature” but was, rather, artificially engineered at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
Dr. Li-Meng stated that in late 2019 she had been tasked with following the development of a novel coronavirus outbreak as the only one in her Hong Kong office fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
She later fled to the United States after receiving repeated warnings that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would “disappear” her, she said.
While the director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said in January that the origin of the coronavirus was “the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market,” in her interview, Li-Meng insisted that scientists had actually created the virus.
“The seafood market is a smokescreen,” she said, adding that the virus is “not from nature” and that scientists had modified a bat coronavirus, which became the Wuhan coronavirus.
“I have my intelligence from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] in China, from local doctors, from doctors and other people around China — also based on my evidence, I worked on vaccines and immunology,” Li-Meng said, “clearly show and now verified, [this is] the truth, all the other things are a cover-up. … It comes from the lab, the lab in Wuhan.”
Li-Meng similarly told Fox News host Tucker Carlson in September that Beijing was covering up evidence that the virus came from a Wuhan lab.
“They don’t want the people to know this truth,” she said. “Also, that’s why I got suspended, I got suppression [and] I am the target that China Communist Party wants to disappear.”
Dr. Li-Meng has published a paper with two co-authors claiming to demonstrate that “SARS-CoV-2 [coronavirus] shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus.”
Many others have also speculated that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a high-level laboratory that was studying coronaviruses at the time of the outbreak.
The U.S. government is currently investigating possible ties between the coronavirus outbreak and the laboratory, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared publicly that evidence exists linking the virus to the facility.