The internet has become a massive force of decentralisation impacting several facets of human life. DeFi or Decentralised Finance is hogging the limelight for attempting to take money and everything related to money away from the authorities’ influence. But there are many other areas not obvious to us which are being swept by the force of decentralisation. One such area is investigative intelligence, as shown by this thrilling story of how a motley crew of curious individuals from across the world (including a 20-something Indian), took it upon themselves to get to the bottom of the truth about the natural origins of Covid. Some of them were scientists and journalists but many others were simply inquisitive human beings in pursuit of the truth. And as ever in research, the perseverance of these individuals shines through, alongside the power that the internet bestows upon the common man. The group which organised itself by the name DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19), pooled in their efforts to come up with crucial evidence that points to the possibility that the coronavirus may have indeed leaked from a lab in Wuhan (not necessarily intentional though). This finding has now forced the authorities to initiate fresh investigations into the origins of Covid which might prove crucial in reinforcing safety in research labs and prevent future pandemics.
“For a long time, DRASTIC’s discoveries stayed confined to the strange world of Twitter, known only to a few nerdy followers. The sleuths ran into a fair number of dead ends, got into the occasional spat with scientists who disagreed with their interpretations, and produced a firehose of reporting. Gradually, the quality of their research and the rigor of their thinking drew a larger following, including many professional scientists and journalists.
Thanks to DRASTIC, we now know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had an extensive collection of coronaviruses gathered over many years of foraging in the bat caves, and that many of them—including the closest known relative to the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2—came from a mineshaft where three men died from a suspected SARS-like disease in 2012. We know that the WIV was actively working with these viruses, using inadequate safety protocols, in ways that could have triggered the pandemic, and that the lab and Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to conceal these activities. We know that the first cases appeared weeks before the outbreak at the Huanan wet market that was once thought to be ground zero.
None of this proves that the pandemic started in the Wuhan lab, of course: it’s entirely possible that it did not. But the evidence assembled by DRASTIC amounts to what prosecutors call probable cause—a strong, evidence-based case for a full investigation. It’s not clear that the best efforts of the U.S. and other nations to investigate the lab-leak hypothesis will ever turn up unequivocal evidence one way or another, at least without the full cooperation of China, which is unlikely.”
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