Jeremy Farrar, the chief scientist, was credited in one message with helping guide the paper about the origin of COVID-19, according to one email released by the U.S. House select subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic on March 5. In the early 2020 paper, Lipkin and four co-authors claimed that it was improbable for SARS-CoV-2 to have emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The British scientist was, at the time of the messages, at the helm of the Wellcome Trust, which controls millions of dollars in funding for research in the UK. The WHO announced on Dec. 13, 2022, that Farrar would be the next new chief scientist and that he would start in the second quarter of 2023. Wellcome, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, has stated that Farrar was due to leave in 2023.
Farrar helped arrange a secret Feb. 1, 2020, teleconference with Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to discuss the origin of COVID-19, previously released emails show. Some of the participants said details of SARS-CoV-2 indicated it didn’t originate from nature, though others favoured the natural origin theory.