How former New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade shifted global opinion on the credibility of ‘farfetched’ Wuhan lab leak theory

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Nicholas Wade (left) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Nicholas Wade (left) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

From early 2020 onward, the mainstream narrative had been that the virus was completely natural, and anyone who suggested that it might be the man-made product of a laboratory was denounced as a “conspiracy theorist,”… But this situation has now entirely changed.

The triggering event for this remarkable reversal in American elite sentiment was a closely reasoned and persuasive 11,000 word article by journalist Nicholas Wade. Although the author had spent more than four decades as a top science reporter at the New York Times and other leading outlets, his work was quietly released May 2nd on the Medium blogging site, lacking any endorsements or prestigious imprimatur.

Despite such extremely inauspicious beginnings and the cautious and subdued tone of his text, the consequences were dramatic. Although nearly all the facts and evidence that Wade discussed had already been publicly available for most of the past year, his careful analysis and considerable journalistic credibility quickly transformed the intellectual landscape. He began his long article by explaining that from February 2020 onward a huge ideological bubble had been inflated by political propaganda masquerading as science. 

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Wade’s careful presentation immediately punctured that bubble, and upended the public discussion of an epidemic that had killed millions around the world. 

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