The ‘Lab Leak’ Debate Matters — But Not for the Reasons You Think | MedPage Today

by Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH

~Open discussion in science is a necessity~

I want to talk about the real lesson of “lab leak,” which in my mind is the way in which the idea moved from a taboo subject — a conspiracy theory — to a perfectly acceptable topic of discussion. In fact, last week, Facebook removed its ban on posts discussing the laboratory escape of the virus as a possibility. How could this happen? What was misinformation yesterday is something that needs investigating today?

” “Lab leak” isn’t the only topic that has undergone massive swings in opinion. In early March 2020, for example, experts advised against mask wearing. A few weeks later the pendulum swung the other way, and the U.S. and CDC went beyond World Health Organization (WHO) guidance and recommended cloth masks to kids as young as 2 years old (WHO said 5 and up). With time, we may still see more shifts on this topic, as at least two cluster randomized trials are ongoing. In January of this year, I wrote two columns arguing that 14 days after the second dose of vaccination, people can ditch the mask or hug a loved one. There was fierce pushback on Twitter. A few months later, CDC guidance fell in line with my perspective.”

“Recently, a Tweet from an anonymous cardiologist was flagged as misleading for arguing that mRNA vaccines may have a stronger link to myocarditis than asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2. The jury is still out, but since that warning, based on early Israeli data, the CDC has announced an investigation into the link between mRNA vaccines and myocarditis. Finally, I continue to believe the pendulum on school closures is going to swing so far the other way it will make your head spin — prolonged closure will someday be seen as a crime against kids with negligible impact on viral spread.”

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