“That does seem to have been the reason why the scientists who thought a laboratory leak was plausible then sat down and wrote an article saying it wasn’t.
He said: “There was a motive among the people on this exchange to quash this theory because of the damage it might do to science in general and science in China.
“That is frankly upsetting for those of us who are champions of science to find that scientists are putting political convenience above the truth.”
The email from Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, on February 2, 2020, said that “a likely explanation” was that Covid had rapidly evolved from a Sars-like virus inside human tissue in a low-security lab.
But a leading scientist told Sir Jeremy that “further debate would do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular”.
The email, to Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Francis Collins of the US National Institutes of Health, went on to say that such evolution may have “accidentally created a virus primed for rapid transmission between humans”.
Dr Collins, the former director of the US National Institutes of Health, warned it could damage “international harmony”.
And Mr Ridley, who recently gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee on the Wuhan lab leak theory, said that there were a series of “harsh” actions taken by the Chinese state which also helped to crush proper investigation into Covid’s origins.
He told Express.co.uk: “Early in January, there were a series of harsh edicts issued by the Chinese Government to the health professionals and scientists in Wuhan and elsewhere in China forbidding in sharing any information at all with any form of media or social media about the pandemic.” Mr Ridley said that this is why the coronavirus pandemic got “out of control”.
READ MORE: Russian rocket part makes uncontrolled re-entry into Earth He said: “That meant that the virus got out of control because health professionals did not get timely information about how much they were at risk.
“Local government officials did not get information about how much risk they were running.” But Mr Ridley is not only worried about the Chinese clampdown on scientific openness.
“It is a concern that I have. We have seen the growth of an industry of senior scientists motivated by getting a preferred story out there rather than what they really think. “Science is about doubt, it is about investigating things we don’t know rather than what we do know.
He told Express.co.uk: “There is a growing problem in science of an increasing tendency to put political reasons above full transparency and openness. He is also “concerned” about the transparency of science in the West too.
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