I FEAR FOR MY LIFE
THE WEEK|January 23, 2022
Interview ALINA CHAN, Researcher
POOJA BIRAIA JAISWAL

EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO, Alina Chan co-wrote an explosive paper that sought investigation of the possibility that Covid-19 was caused by a virus from a laboratory in China. Chan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. On Twitter she ignited a debate on the pandemic’s origin and received death threats. Last November, with biologist Matt Ridley, she wrote a book, Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19. Now, all she hopes to do is walk into obscurity and lead a normal life. Excerpts from an interview:

Q/ We still have no headway as to the origin of Covid-19.

A/ We are on the brink of having some real investigations. The China-WHO joint study cannot be called an investigation. Once a real and unbiased investigation begins, we will be able to see early papers, emails, documents being shared in the early days of the pandemic, or even in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Q/ You said you would change your name after the book is published and would go into obscurity. Do you fear for your life?

A/ Both Matt (co-author) and I are aware that this book would offend a lot of powerful people. The Chinese government surely does not like this book; nor do top scientists who do a lot of virus collection and gain-of-function research experiments that could potentially enhance viruses in the lab and cause them to become pandemic pathogens. They have consistently pushed back against the lab leak hypothesis since day one in January 2020 and called it a conspiracy theory. They bully and harass the scientists who don’t toe their line.

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