Jeremy Farrar, on Februar 2, 2020 (linking to his book):
On a spectrum if 0 is nature and 100 is release – I am honestly at 50! My guess is that this will remain grey, unless there is access to the Wuhan lab – and I suspect that is unlikely!
Jeremy Farrar, on Februar 2, 2020 in a email summarizing a phone conversation to the head of the WHO:
Critical that responsible, respected scientists and agencies get ahead of the science and the narrative of this and are not reacting to reports which could be very damaging.
Ralph Baric, on Februar 6, 2020:
Jim Hughes, Linda Saif, Hume Field, and I believe Rita Cowell will sign it, then I'll send it round some other key people tonight. We'll then put it out in a way that doesn't link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice.
While the full post is long, it gives many details about how they collaborated to suppress the lab leak theory.
Would you care to summarize the main claim of that article and outline the evidence (similar to an "abstract" in a scientific article")? I've read a chunk of the article (and several of the linked articles), and despite seeing lots of insinuations I don't really see anything nefarious in the timeline so far. The worst accusation seems to be that Andersen et al received a crash course on coronavirus physiology from a couple of experts who were not included or acknowledged in the final paper; at worst, this is mildly scummy, but there's a good chance it is totally above-board. Other than that, all I see is the suggestion that various people have conflicts of interest due to friend-of-a-friend type relationships ... where these "friend" relationships amount to about 1% of an institution's budget.
There's a saying that if you want to get away with fraud, you have to make things so complicated that nobody understands what you did. There are journalists, whose job it is to create narratives that are easy to digest for a large audience. This article isn't written like this. It concentrates more on the actual facts than on spinning a narrative.
But let me try to summarize it as an accessible narrative:
It's the story of how they made the lab leak theory perceived by the public as a conspiracy theory even when they internally thought that there was a significant chance it was true.
They thought they had to get "ahead of the science", meaning make statements ruling out the lab leak even when the science did not warrant them because otherwise, people would start taking the lab leak seriously.
The EcoHealth Alliance which funded the gain of function research in Wuhan and who would therefore deserve a lot of blame if it was a lab leak, organized a paper to call the lab leak a conspiracy theory. They deliberately hid from the public that they were responsible for the letter to make the letter sound independent instead of it being seen as self-serving.
So your/their assertion is that the 'lab leak' claims were always a reasonable exploration of the possible origins of COVID-19 (i.e. not a conspiracy theory)? If that's the claim, then the timeline I'd like to see is how the lab leak claims were being promoted at this time and what evidence was presented to support the claims to show that they weren't just baseless accusations.
Edit: I found a timeline of high-profile claims/accusations, published May 2020
Edit2: Some specific date:
Washington Times, Jan 26
"The deadly animal-borne coronavirus spreading globally may have originated in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan linked to China’s covert biological weapons program, said an Israeli biological warfare analyst."
Fox News, April 20
"There is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, though not as a bioweapon but as part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China's government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News."
The Wash Times article now has a 'retraction notice' of sorts, saying that it's clearly was not a biological weapons program. But that is the atmosphere within which Andersen et al were operating when they wrote the paper. The Fox News article is more reasonable, but vastly overstates the 'confidence' in the lab leak theory. To this day, evidence of the lab leak has not been released, and people just hang their hats on "well, we can't rule it out conclusively". It has never been the favored hypothesis among experts.
The assertion is that they believed that at the time internally.
Because they thought that it was important that the experts get ahead of the science and take public positions that aren't scientifically supported.
It was not favored because they believe it would damage "science" and relations with China.