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Watch > Episode > Matt Ridley - Viral: The Search For The Origin Of COVID-19

Matt Ridley - Viral: The Search For The Origin Of COVID-19

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Biologist & Science Writer

Three years ago, the vast majority of us paid little notice to a news story emerging from China of a mysterious virus that had seemingly manifested in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei Province. Not long after, as videos circulated online of people collapsing in the streets, attention grew. However, few could have imagined the events that would follow.

In the background, some of the planet’s leading epidemiologists and scientific minds were hurriedly trying to figure out exactly what threat was posed, as many grew increasingly concerned that this was something much more serious than was first suspected.


Fast forward to today and it’s safe to say every person on the planet has been impacted by what we now know as SARS-CoV-2. Many people lost their lives, their jobs, loved ones, opportunity, education and as we continue to sift through the rubble, the world sits on the brink of a financial meltdown, and things will never return to what we once called normal.

Yet despite the passage of time, and the enormous consequences, we still know very little about how this outbreak happened, where it came from and what was responsible, other than rumour and hearsay.

Today’s guest has made it his mission to find out exactly how the pandemic began, and is urging governments and policymakers to bring together those best placed to engage in rigorous discussion and formulate a plan that will ensure the world never suffers a similar outcome.

Matt Ridley is a biologist, journalist, businessman and author, who spent nine years as science editor at The Economist. As a member of the House of Lords between 2013 and 2021, Matt served on both the science and technology and artificial intelligence committees.

He writes a weekly column in The Times and regularly contributes his thoughts for the Wall Street Journal, while his TED talkWhen Ideas Have Sex” has been viewed well over two million times.

Alongside this, Matt is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the honorary president of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.

As an author, Matt’s books including The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, Genome, Nature via Nurture, Francis Crick, The Rational Optimist, The Evolution of Everything, and How Innovation Works, have sold over a million copies, and been translated into 31 languages, winning numerous awards.

His latest book, and something I can’t wait to take a deep dive into on today’s episode is called “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19”.

“How the Covid-19 pandemic started may be the keenest mystery of our lifetime… If we do not find out how this pandemic began, we are ill-equipped to know when, where and how the next pandemic may start.”

Matt believes it is vitally important we understand how the pandemic began and that this issue requires urgent investigation, something mainstream scientists, journalists and politicians have been reluctant to do.

Alongside his co-author, genetic engineering expert Dr Alina Chan, the book scrutinises every conceivable trace of evidence while analysing the data to formulate a hypothesis on how, why and where the outbreak began.

It is an incredible piece of work, that leaves no stone unturned as Matt and Alina weigh up the odds, oddities and outcomes – and call upon professional minds and amateur sleuths alike in their quest to uncover the truth.

Matt is a fantastic writer and an absolute expert when it comes to deciphering and furthermore explaining what to most of us would be considered complex ideas and specialist subjects. He is an expert in his understanding of viruses and the human body and I can’t wait to get stuck into the nuances of a topic we’ve debated for many hours here on London Real.

“This saga will forever punctuate the history of humanity. It has led to the deaths of millions of people, sickened hundreds of millions and dramatically changed the lives of almost every person on the planet.”

Download clips

A number of clips from this exclusive interview are now available to download, share and repost. Spread the word: grab these clips today!

  1. Did the virus come out of a lab?
  2. A lab leak is very probable
  3. Was this a coincidence?
  4. They won’t tell us what viruses they had in the lab
  5. Did the lab leak happen earlier than we think?
  6. Could the virus be contained to China
  7. This is why the WHO doesn’t take the lab leak seriously
  8. Were they doing gain of function experiments in Wuhan?
  9. Are virology labs capable of bioterrorism?
  10. Is Anthony Fauci hiding something?
  11. If this was a lab leak, who benefits from it?
  12. Is big pharma doing anything for malicious reasons?
  13. Bill Gates is not properly briefed on the lab leak scenario
  14. The pandemic has oversold and damaged the reputation of vaccines
  15. Self-censoring in the science community
  16. We must find out the truth whatever the consequences
  17. The good and bad of religion
  18. Why people misread China
  19. Getting things done and politics
  20. Truth people unless you have a reason not to
  21. A.I. will augment humans, not replace them

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