“Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19”: In Conversation with Lord Ridley

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“Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19”: In Conversation with Lord Ridley

13th December 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Two years in, there is no doubt the pandemic began in the city of Wuhan in China. But there is also little doubt that the bat that carried the progenitor of the virus lived somewhere else. The only known link between Wuhan and the natural range of such viruses in Yunnan and Laos is that scientists were travelling to those areas, sampling bats and bringing the samples back to a Wuhan laboratory to run experiments infecting human cells and humanised mice. Meanwhile, despite superior testing technology than in 2002, no link to infected animals in markets or to infected food handlers has emerged as it did with SARS. The possibility that a researcher became infected in the field or in the lab cannot be ruled out and has significant implications for geopolitics as well as scientific research.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to this timely talk where Lord Ridley will discuss the growing evidence for a laboratory leak as the source of the pandemic and the shrinking evidence for a natural spillover event.



Matt Ridley’s books have sold over a million copies, been translated into 31 languages and won several awards. His books include The Red Queen, Genome, The Rational Optimist  and How Innovation Works. His new book, co-authored with Alina Chan, is “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19”.

He is a member of the House of Lords, was founding chairman of the International Centre for Life in Newcastle and has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the Times. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Alan Mendoza is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, Britain’s leading thinktank fighting for the principles and alliances which keep societies free. He directs strategy for the organisation as well as acting as its main public face in mediums as diverse as the BBC, Sky, CNBC, Al-Jazeera. Bloomberg, LBC and TalkRadio. On the print side, Alan is a columnist for City AM, London’s business newspaper, and has contributed to The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sun and a host of international newspapers and magazines.

Having obtained a B.A. (Hons.) and M.Phil in history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Alan completed a Ph.D. at the same institution. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was the Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party in the Brent Central Constituency for the 2015 General Election. He is also a Trustee of the President Reagan Memorial Fund Trust.




On the 13th of December 2021, Alan Mendoza, the Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, and Viscount Ridley, a member of the house of Lords and co-author of Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19, discussed growing evidence that the source of Covid-19 emerged from a laboratory leak in Wuhan and not from a natural spill over event. Matt spoke briefly about how the book came to be written and what he and the co-author, Alina Chan, hoped to achieve. He highlighted the difficulties faced in identifying Covid-19s origins in comparison to other coronaviruses and attempts by the Chinese government to obfuscate investigations into Covid-19. Alan and Matt continued to emphasize the need for a stronger investigation into the origins of the virus, why this was important, and the obstacles this could face. 


13th December 2021
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm




Lord Ridley


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