Last night it was the first time in a long time that The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had an in-studio audience attending. Naturally the topic of focus for the evening was the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colbert's guest Jon Stewart had some strong opinions leaning in favor of the COVID-19 lab leak theory, which in itself caused a wave of social media attention.
Not everyone appreciated Stewart's jokes and comedy.
Dr. Hotez of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital responded to Stewart's Late Show segment. Speaking with TMZ, the doctor said:
"They're [Stewart] putting the entertainment value of this over and above what's reality. And it causes a lot of damage because a number of scientists who work on Coronaviruses including myself feel that we’re being under attack right now [...] The scientific community is open to the idea. But what I object to is the fact that they make it sound like it's fait accompli when in fact it's the less likely hypothesis of how COVID-19 originated, and it's tone-deaf to the collateral damage that it has on scientists and the scientific community."
This debate surrounding the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic reignited at the beginning of the month with the release of thousands of pages of Dr. Anthony Fauci's email communications. An accompanying in-depth piece for Vanity Fair outlined the path of investigations weaving in and out of taking the notion of COVID-19 having escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology seriously.
Hoetz's reaction reflects the political tensions held within the scientific community about publicly backing the lab leak theory.
For a stretch of time the interest died down because earlier on last year former President Donald Trump made remarks on the topic.