Published on Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 by Independent Science News: “Did West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak of 2014 Have a Lab Origin?” written by Sam Husseini and Jonathan Latham, PhD

Synopsis: The Ebola outbreak of 2014 was a disaster for West Africa. Over 11,000 lives were lost amidst intense negative social and economic consequences. The 2014 outbreak of Zaire Ebola (as the species is known) is today commonly cited as a bona fide example of a natural zoonosis that began in the country of Guinea. However, the 2014 outbreak was puzzling on multiple levels. The greatest of these puzzles is that all previous Zaire Ebola virus outbreaks occurred in the Congo basin, which is thousands of miles away. Additionally, to this day and despite extensive sampling, no animal source of Zaire Ebola virus in West Africa has ever been identified. At the same time, in Sierra-Leone, not far from the border with Guinea, is the town of Kenema which hosts a US-funded virus research facility. The research focus of this lab, which is run by the US-based Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Consortium, are the viral haemorrhagic fevers of which Ebola is one.

We now disclose the results of our scientific investigation into the origin of that outbreak. What we have uncovered are fundamental logical and scientific weaknesses in the orthodox outbreak story and, as well, strong evidence that supports an origin in Sierra Leone. First, we show that the orthodox story of patient zero–the Guinean child who played with bats is simply speculation and unsupported by clinical or documentary evidence. Second, the epidemiological links from this child to the first confirmed cases, which were months later, are also highly speculative. Thirdly, we have reanalysed the phylogeny of the Ebola genomes published during the outbreak and find no support for an origin in Guinea. Rather, phylogenetics strongly supports assertions made at the time by MSF (Doctors without Borders) that, though identified first, the Guinea outbreak actually spread from Sierra-Leone. In line with this supposition, we lay out the compelling phylogenetic evidence that the Sierra Leone outbreak began well before its official date of first detection. Lastly, our investigation revealed a cover-up. Although there are clear and obvious inconsistencies between the phylogenetic evidence and the orthodox narrative of a Guinean origin, western researchers, many of them from the lab in Kenema, or closely connected to it, chose to overlook these weaknesses to promote a false and misleading Guinean origin story.

The authors are Sam Husseini – an independent journalist and Jonathan Latham – a virologist.

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