Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the world-famous Wellcome Trust, has condemned the policy failures of politicians in the pandemic while preaching a gospel of accountability so we learn the lessons of this public health catastrophe. His words have immense impact.
An expert in tropical diseases and adviser to the World Health Organisation, he is probably Britain’s most influential scientist as head of our biggest charity that put £1.2billion last year into medical and scientific research.
Farrar was also a member of the Sage advisory committee until he resigned last year shortly after publishing a rather self-aggrandising book entitled ‘Spike: The Virus v The People’.
‘Everyone needs to learn the lessons, scientists included,’ he wrote, attacking Boris Johnson for the ‘disgrace’ of delaying a public inquiry into the pandemic until it has ended. ‘We only honour the dead by pledging to learn from the mistakes that cost them their lives.’
Few would argue with such fine words. So how strange this same man now stands accused of playing a role in delaying investigations into the pandemic origins.
Science depends on sharing data, fierce debate and challenging evidence – and few scientific investigations are more important than discovering the origins of Covid to help guard against future disasters.
Yet Farrar agreed with other top British and US scientists to label as ‘conspiracy theory’ any suggestions the novel strain of coronavirus responsible might be linked to a laboratory incident in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it first emerged.
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