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Origin of COVID (hijack from Rand Paul Called Fauci a Liar)


Alex_Krycek
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Posted (edited)

No fan of Rand Paul, but his line of questioning was interesting.  There was a very comprehensive article recently examining the two origin theories featured in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, by Nicholas Wade.   Wade was the staff writer for the Science Times section of the NYT from 1982 to 2012.

His article here:  https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/

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Posted (edited)

There's been some additional dialogue over the past 2 weeks calling for a thorough investigation of the origins of COVID-19.

First, there was a letter published in Science magazine on May 14th calling for a complete investigation.

Excerpt from the Letter:

"On 30 December 2019, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases notified the world about a pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, China (1). Since then, scientists have made remarkable progress in understanding the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), its transmission, pathogenesis, and mitigation by vaccines, therapeutics, and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Yet more investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic. Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable. Knowing how COVID-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks."

They continue:

“We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data. A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest. Public health agencies and research laboratories alike need to open their records to the public. Investigators should document the veracity and provenance of data from which analyses are conducted and conclusions drawn, so that analyses are reproducible by independent experts.”

Source:  https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6543/694.1.full

Signatories of the Letter:  

  1. Jesse D. Bloom, Basic Sciences and Computational Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
  2. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA. 
  3. Yujia Alina Chan, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
  4. Ralph S. Baric, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
  5. Pamela J. Bjorkman, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
  6. Sarah Cobey, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
  7. Benjamin E. Deverman,  Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
  8. David N. Fisman, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada.
  9. Ravindra Gupta, Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease, Cambridge, UK.
  10. Akiko Iwasaki, Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.
  11. Marc Lipsitch, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  12. Ruslan Medzhitov, Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.
  13. Richard A. Neher,  Biozentrum, University of Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Basel, Switzerland.
  14. Rasmus Nielsen,  Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
  15. Nick Patterson,  Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
  16. Tim Stearns,  Department of Biology and Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
  17. Erik van Nimwegen,  Biozentrum, University of Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Basel, Switzerland.
  18. Michael Worobey,  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
  19. David A. Relman,  Department of Medicine and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. ; Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

------

There was also an article in Infection Control Today.

Excerpt from the Article:  

Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of Infection Control Today®’s Editorial Advisory Board, says that “the assertion that the virus was purposefully released is probably not valid since the epicenter of the epidemic was in a highly populated portion of China and the country did not have a workable vaccine.”

“There appears to be little doubt that, like the rest of the world, the Wuhan lab was experimenting on coronaviruses,” says Kavanagh. “On May 11 of this year Senator Rand Paul questioned the White House regarding 'gain of function' research, research which would be expected to make the viruses more dangerous and more transmissible. This research was also mentioned in a presidential Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the Trump administration which apparently has not yet been refuted by the Biden administration.”

Ghebreyesus’s ambivalence about this (the WHO's) conclusion seemed evident.

“Although the team [of WHO investigators] has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Ghebreyesus said in a statement on March 30.

“There appears to be little doubt that, like the rest of the world, the Wuhan lab was experimenting on coronaviruses,” says Kavanagh. “On May 11 of this year Senator Rand Paul questioned the White House regarding 'gain of function' research, research which would be expected to make the viruses more dangerous and more transmissible. This research was also mentioned in a presidential Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the Trump administration which apparently has not yet been refuted by the Biden administration.”

When the WHO report came out, Saskia v. Popescu, PHD, MPH, MA, CIC, another ICT® EAB member, agreed that more study needs to be done on the origin of COVID-19. She added, however, that “the truth is that the source of the pandemic does not change the poor response from so many countries, including the United States.”

The Science letter goes into a bit more detail as to why further research on the lab leak possibility needs to be examined. The letter notes that the two theories—lab leak and zoonotic spillover—“were not given balanced consideration. Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident.”

Kavanagh says that “this subject of research in the Wuhan Lab has been almost taboo in the mainstream media. However, the construction of man-made (pseudo) virus is presently an exact science, with single amino acid substitutions possible. Similar to vaccine production, you just need to be able to input the genetic code you desire and a vaccine or pseudo-virus can be made.”

Kavanagh refers to what he describes as a “chilling article” by authors affiliated with China's National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) and WHO Collaborating Center for Standardization and Evaluation of Biologicals.

“This article describes a plethora of single amino acid substitutions in the spike protein from 106 pseudo-virus which resulted in ‘ten mutations such as N234Q, L452R, A475V, and V483A was markedly resistant to some mAbs’ and that ‘the dominant D614G itself and combined with other mutations are more infectious.’”

The D614G variant was the dominant variant in the United States in 2020.

Source:  https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/weekly-rounds-with-infection-control-today

-----------

Finally, an article in Politico:  

“There are copious precedents of pathogens leaking from labs — the original 2003 SARS virus leaked up to six times from labs across three countries. Consider that the SARS research and animal infection experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, for more than 10 years, were all performed at relatively low biosafety levels. It is currently not possible to tell from the genetic evidence whether the virus ever passed through a laboratory or a lab personnel.

“The question is: How did a virus, whose lineage is found only in southern China, make its way into humans in the metropolitan city of Wuhan, more than a thousand miles away? We know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had possibly the greatest collection of SARS viruses from numerous trips across China. We know that they were working with a batch of viruses very closely related to SARS-CoV-2. Details of these viruses and the experiments performed with them have not been shared in a timely manner.” — Alina Chan, molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

“It is worthy of a careful, rigorous, unbiased, objective examination, based on relevant, verifiable data. There are a number of plausible scenarios embedded in this label, ‘lab leak,’ and importantly, they include an unrecognized infection of a well-intentioned lab worker attempting to recover or study new coronaviruses from bats. It does not imply malice or even necessarily awareness (of the accident). Lab accidents are much more common than any of us know, or would like to admit, and they occur worldwide and even in the most safe and secure labs. U.S. biosafety labs are by no means strangers to accidents; leaks of some of the most dangerous infectious agents have occurred at CDC and other U.S. government labs.” — David A. Relman, microbiologist at Stanford University

“The outbreak occurred in Wuhan, on the doorstep of the laboratory that conducts the world’s largest research project on horseshoe bat viruses and worked with the world’s closest sequenced relative of the outbreak virus. The laboratory actively searched for new horseshoe-bat viruses in horseshoe-bat colonies in caves in remote rural areas in Yunnan province, brought those new horseshoe-bat viruses to Wuhan, and then mass-produced, manipulated, and studied those new horseshoe-bat viruses, year-round, inside Wuhan.

“Documentary evidence establishes that the bat-SARS-related-coronavirus projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology used personal protective equipment (usually just gloves; sometimes not even gloves) and biosafety standards that would pose high risk of infection of field-collection, field-survey, or laboratory staff upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2.” — Richard Ebright, molecular biologist at Rutgers University

Source:  https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/05/19/experts-weigh-in-on-the-wuhan-lab-leak-hypothesis-492915

------------

Clearly many experts are seriously considering the lab leak theory as plausible.  I think this is something the general public has a lot of questions about, and should be investigated as thoroughly as possible.  As the world emerges from this pandemic, people are going to want answers.  

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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1 hour ago, Alex_Krycek said:

There's been some additional dialogue over the past 2 weeks calling for a thorough investigation of the origins of COVID-19.

First, there was a letter published in Science magazine on May 14th calling for a complete investigation.

Excerpt from the Letter:

"On 30 December 2019, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases notified the world about a pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, China (1). Since then, scientists have made remarkable progress in understanding the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), its transmission, pathogenesis, and mitigation by vaccines, therapeutics, and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Yet more investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic. Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable. Knowing how COVID-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks."

They continue:

“We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data. A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest. Public health agencies and research laboratories alike need to open their records to the public. Investigators should document the veracity and provenance of data from which analyses are conducted and conclusions drawn, so that analyses are reproducible by independent experts.”

Source:  https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6543/694.1.full

Signatories of the Letter:  

  1. Jesse D. Bloom, Basic Sciences and Computational Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.
  2. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA. 
  3. Yujia Alina Chan, Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
  4. Ralph S. Baric, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
  5. Pamela J. Bjorkman, Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
  6. Sarah Cobey, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
  7. Benjamin E. Deverman,  Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
  8. David N. Fisman, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada.
  9. Ravindra Gupta, Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease, Cambridge, UK.
  10. Akiko Iwasaki, Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.
  11. Marc Lipsitch, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  12. Ruslan Medzhitov, Department of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.
  13. Richard A. Neher,  Biozentrum, University of Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Basel, Switzerland.
  14. Rasmus Nielsen,  Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
  15. Nick Patterson,  Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
  16. Tim Stearns,  Department of Biology and Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
  17. Erik van Nimwegen,  Biozentrum, University of Basel and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Basel, Switzerland.
  18. Michael Worobey,  Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
  19. David A. Relman,  Department of Medicine and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. ; Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

------

There was also an article in Infection Control Today.

Excerpt from the Article:  

Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of Infection Control Today®’s Editorial Advisory Board, says that “the assertion that the virus was purposefully released is probably not valid since the epicenter of the epidemic was in a highly populated portion of China and the country did not have a workable vaccine.”

“There appears to be little doubt that, like the rest of the world, the Wuhan lab was experimenting on coronaviruses,” says Kavanagh. “On May 11 of this year Senator Rand Paul questioned the White House regarding 'gain of function' research, research which would be expected to make the viruses more dangerous and more transmissible. This research was also mentioned in a presidential Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the Trump administration which apparently has not yet been refuted by the Biden administration.”

Ghebreyesus’s ambivalence about this (the WHO's) conclusion seemed evident.

“Although the team [of WHO investigators] has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Ghebreyesus said in a statement on March 30.

“There appears to be little doubt that, like the rest of the world, the Wuhan lab was experimenting on coronaviruses,” says Kavanagh. “On May 11 of this year Senator Rand Paul questioned the White House regarding 'gain of function' research, research which would be expected to make the viruses more dangerous and more transmissible. This research was also mentioned in a presidential Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from the Trump administration which apparently has not yet been refuted by the Biden administration.”

When the WHO report came out, Saskia v. Popescu, PHD, MPH, MA, CIC, another ICT® EAB member, agreed that more study needs to be done on the origin of COVID-19. She added, however, that “the truth is that the source of the pandemic does not change the poor response from so many countries, including the United States.”

The Science letter goes into a bit more detail as to why further research on the lab leak possibility needs to be examined. The letter notes that the two theories—lab leak and zoonotic spillover—“were not given balanced consideration. Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident.”

Kavanagh says that “this subject of research in the Wuhan Lab has been almost taboo in the mainstream media. However, the construction of man-made (pseudo) virus is presently an exact science, with single amino acid substitutions possible. Similar to vaccine production, you just need to be able to input the genetic code you desire and a vaccine or pseudo-virus can be made.”

Kavanagh refers to what he describes as a “chilling article” by authors affiliated with China's National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) and WHO Collaborating Center for Standardization and Evaluation of Biologicals.

“This article describes a plethora of single amino acid substitutions in the spike protein from 106 pseudo-virus which resulted in ‘ten mutations such as N234Q, L452R, A475V, and V483A was markedly resistant to some mAbs’ and that ‘the dominant D614G itself and combined with other mutations are more infectious.’”

The D614G variant was the dominant variant in the United States in 2020.

Source:  https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/weekly-rounds-with-infection-control-today

-----------

Finally, an article in Politico:  

“There are copious precedents of pathogens leaking from labs — the original 2003 SARS virus leaked up to six times from labs across three countries. Consider that the SARS research and animal infection experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, for more than 10 years, were all performed at relatively low biosafety levels. It is currently not possible to tell from the genetic evidence whether the virus ever passed through a laboratory or a lab personnel.

“The question is: How did a virus, whose lineage is found only in southern China, make its way into humans in the metropolitan city of Wuhan, more than a thousand miles away? We know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had possibly the greatest collection of SARS viruses from numerous trips across China. We know that they were working with a batch of viruses very closely related to SARS-CoV-2. Details of these viruses and the experiments performed with them have not been shared in a timely manner.” — Alina Chan, molecular biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

“It is worthy of a careful, rigorous, unbiased, objective examination, based on relevant, verifiable data. There are a number of plausible scenarios embedded in this label, ‘lab leak,’ and importantly, they include an unrecognized infection of a well-intentioned lab worker attempting to recover or study new coronaviruses from bats. It does not imply malice or even necessarily awareness (of the accident). Lab accidents are much more common than any of us know, or would like to admit, and they occur worldwide and even in the most safe and secure labs. U.S. biosafety labs are by no means strangers to accidents; leaks of some of the most dangerous infectious agents have occurred at CDC and other U.S. government labs.” — David A. Relman, microbiologist at Stanford University

“The outbreak occurred in Wuhan, on the doorstep of the laboratory that conducts the world’s largest research project on horseshoe bat viruses and worked with the world’s closest sequenced relative of the outbreak virus. The laboratory actively searched for new horseshoe-bat viruses in horseshoe-bat colonies in caves in remote rural areas in Yunnan province, brought those new horseshoe-bat viruses to Wuhan, and then mass-produced, manipulated, and studied those new horseshoe-bat viruses, year-round, inside Wuhan.

“Documentary evidence establishes that the bat-SARS-related-coronavirus projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology used personal protective equipment (usually just gloves; sometimes not even gloves) and biosafety standards that would pose high risk of infection of field-collection, field-survey, or laboratory staff upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2.” — Richard Ebright, molecular biologist at Rutgers University

Source:  https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly/2021/05/19/experts-weigh-in-on-the-wuhan-lab-leak-hypothesis-492915

------------

Clearly many experts are seriously considering the lab leak theory as plausible.  I think this is something the general public has a lot of questions about, and should be investigated as thoroughly as possible.  As the world emerges from this pandemic, people are going to want answers.  

A leak of the virus from the Wuhan lab is certainly plausible. I don't believe I have read anything that rules that out. However this was not the "line of questioning" of Rand Paul. His "line of questioning" was a grandstanding attempt to "get" Fauci, for his own political gain, by means of a false claim that Fauci was implicated in funding gain-of-function research at Wuhan. 

Leaving that aside, yes, it would be valuable to get an impartial external body to conduct a thorough audit of the Wuhan lab and its records at the time, to see if any evidence of a leak can be found. But what do you think are the chances of the Chinese authorities agreeing to that?  

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59 minutes ago, exchemist said:

But what do you think are the chances of the Chinese authorities agreeing to that?  

Slim to none, unfortunately.  They have demonstrated a pattern of obfuscation since the beginning of this pandemic.  There was an excellent FRONTLINE episode recently called "China's COVID Secrets", which investigated the initial suppression of information regarding the outbreak. (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/chinas-covid-secrets/)

The authorities there will probably never allow a fully transparent investigation that might implicate them further, so the world may never know what went exactly wrong or if corrective action has been taken to prevent further outbreaks.  We're left with Peter Daszak's vague assurances that the WHO "asked tough questions", without ever having access to raw data.  Deeply troubling. 

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2 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Documentary evidence establishes that the bat-SARS-related-coronavirus projects at the Wuhan Institute of Virology used personal protective equipment (usually just gloves; sometimes not even gloves)

That's pretty close to proof that they were not working on"making" a virus that would affect people.

The virus may have escaped from a lab,but it wasn't "engineered" there.

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

That's pretty close to proof that they were not working on"making" a virus that would affect people.

It could also indicate substandard safety protocols.

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26 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Slim to none, unfortunately.  They have demonstrated a pattern of obfuscation since the beginning of this pandemic.  There was an excellent FRONTLINE episode recently called "China's COVID Secrets", which investigated the initial suppression of information regarding the outbreak. (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/chinas-covid-secrets/)

The authorities there will probably never allow a fully transparent investigation that might implicate them further, so the world may never know what went exactly wrong or if corrective action has been taken to prevent further outbreaks.  We're left with Peter Daszak's vague assurances that the WHO "asked tough questions", without ever having access to raw data.  Deeply troubling. 

The WHO is not a police organisation. It relies on cooperation between sovereign nations. So it is hardly surprising that their power to force China to allow investigators in is limited. This reliance on cooperation has been true of world affairs since the time of the League of Nations. It's not great but it's a fact of geopolitical reality. 

So we may never know for sure what the source of the outbreak really was. But there is a very good chance it was of completely natural origin. 

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49 minutes ago, exchemist said:

The WHO is not a police organisation. It relies on cooperation between sovereign nations. So it is hardly surprising that their power to force China to allow investigators in is limited. This reliance on cooperation has been true of world affairs since the time of the League of Nations

And I’d wager money Alex understands this quite well and would be even more outraged if the WHO tried to dictate any commands whatsoever to the United States, yet for some reason struggles to understand why China might act with equal sovereignty. 

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14 minutes ago, iNow said:

And I’d wager money Alex understands this quite well and would be even more outraged if the WHO tried to dictate any commands whatsoever to the United States, yet for some reason struggles to understand why China might act with equal sovereignty. 

By "acting with equal sovereignty", I take it you mean blocking a transparent and impartial investigation into one of the most consequential events in recent human history?  The WHO is an extension of the United Nations.  Any UN member state should be subject to certain standards; this case is no exception. 

Watch the PBS FRONTLINE documentary I referenced.  The WHO tried repeatedly to obtain crucial data early on and were stonewalled again and again.  China already had the genome sequenced in early 2020 after the first cases were recorded, and still wouldn't release it to the international community.  It took an act of disobedience to independently release the genome, at which point China officially followed suit.

So I reject your accusation of partisan bias.  The United States, had this pandemic begun on US soil, would have been obligated to fully participate in an independent investigation, as would any other country.  

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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, iNow said:

And I’d wager money Alex understands this quite well and would be even more outraged if the WHO tried to dictate any commands whatsoever to the United States, yet for some reason struggles to understand why China might act with equal sovereignty. 

There is certainly a kind of wilful asymmetry in thinking abroad at the moment that fails to recognise the emergence of China as a  - basically unfriendly - world power with a chip on its shoulder and something to prove. The US political Right seems far more interested in hunting for scapegoats than in dealing with the epidemic - in fact positively obstructing efforts to do so, by turning simple countermeasures into political totems. Blaming China, or blaming Fauci, or blaming the WHO is not going to get anything useful done. It will just make everyone angry, which is how cooperation is destroyed.   

6 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

By "acting with equal sovereignty", I take it you mean blocking a transparent and impartial investigation into one of the most consequential events in recent human history?  The WHO is an extension of the United Nations.  Any UN member state should be subject to certain standards; this case is no exception. 

Watch the PBS FRONTLINE documentary I referenced.  The WHO tried repeatedly to obtain crucial data early on and were stonewalled again and again.  China already had the genome sequenced in early 2020 after the first cases were recorded, and still wouldn't release it to the international community.  It took an act of disobedience to independently release the genome, at which point China officially followed suit.

So I reject your accusation of partisan bias.  The United States, had this pandemic begun on US soil, would have been obligated to fully participate in an independent investigation, as would any other country.  

What standards are you referring to? What is there in the UN charter about investigations into the source of epidemics? 

I share your frustration, but we need to be geopolitical realists. So far as I can see there is no way to force China to accept an independent investigation from the WHO or anyone else, especially when there is no evidence they were responsible for the outbreak. 

Edited by exchemist
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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, exchemist said:

What standards are you referring to? What is there in the UN charter about investigations into the source of epidemics? 

Well, to start with, being open and transparent with any data they possessed, not suppressing the fact there was a novel coronavirus outbreak, acting swiftly in concert with the WHO.  This was not the case, according to the WHO officials (example: Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid-19 technical lead) who were attempting to communicate with China on the ground as the situation emerged.  Audio is played from a conference call of WHO officials stating that "it's the same thing again and again, trying to request information and getting nowhere."

Additionally, and this point is made in the FRONTLINE documentary I referenced: failing to disclose an outbreak of a dangerous pathogen to the international community is a direct breach of international regulations. 

LAWRENCE GOSTIN:

"So let me tell you what international law requires. If the government knows about a novel infection that meets the criteria within the International Health Regulations, and a novel coronavirus by definition meets those criteria of a potential public health emergency of international concern, the government is obliged by law to report that to the World Health Organization within 24 hours.

So it was reportable. The failure to report clearly was a violation of the International Health Regulations."

If a country knows it has a dangerous outbreak - it must report it to the international community immediately.  Full stop.    

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2 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

It could also indicate substandard safety protocols.

There's no "could" about it. It does indicate substandard precautions.

However, my point is that you can't do research on human pathogens without suitable precautions for long- because you die.
Anyone involved in the field knows this.

So the fact that they were not even wearing gloves shows that they did not think they were working with anything "nasty".

So all the "gain of function" conspiracy theories are wrong.
 

 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

There's no "could" about it. It does indicate substandard precautions.

However, my point is that you can't do research on human pathogens without suitable precautions for long- because you die.
Anyone involved in the field knows this.

As you know, 80% of those who contract COVID-19 have no symptoms.  Those who do exhibit symptoms of a common cold.  Only a very small percentage progresses to a severe stage.  The staff could have been exposed numerous times with no outward sign of infection.  

Quote

So the fact that they were not even wearing gloves shows that they did not think they were working with anything "nasty".

So all the "gain of function" conspiracy theories are wrong.
 

It's possible they underestimated the nature of the pathogen they were working on, believing that the safety protocols they had in place were sufficient, and, seeing no overt consequences if someone did get infected, became complacent.    

----

Let's compare the difference between BSL-4 conditions and BSL-2 conditions (which were the alleged conditions at the WIV).  

BSL-4 Conditions

Biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) is the highest level of biosafety precautions, and is appropriate for work with agents that could easily be aerosol-transmitted within the laboratory and cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which there are no available vaccines or treatments. BSL-4 laboratories are generally set up to be either cabinet laboratories or protective-suit laboratories. In cabinet laboratories, all work must be done within a class III biosafety cabinet. Materials leaving the cabinet must be decontaminated by passing through an autoclave or a tank of disinfectant. The cabinets themselves are required to have seamless edges to allow for easy cleaning. Additionally the cabinet and all materials within must be free of sharp edges in order to reduce the risk of damage to the gloves. In a protective-suit laboratory, all work must be done in a class II biosafety cabinet by personnel wearing a positive pressure suit. In order to exit the BSL-4 laboratory, personnel must pass through a chemical shower for decontamination, then a room for removing the positive-pressure suit, followed by a personal shower. Entry into the BSL-4 laboratory is restricted to trained and authorized individuals, and all persons entering and exiting the laboratory must be recorded.[11]

As with BSL-3 laboratories, BSL-4 laboratories must be separated from areas that receive unrestricted traffic. Additionally airflow is tightly controlled to ensure that air always flows from "clean" areas of the lab to areas where work with infectious agents is being performed. The entrance to the BSL-4 lab must also employ airlocks to minimize the possibility that aerosols from the lab could be removed from the lab. All laboratory waste, including filtered air, water, and trash must also be decontaminated before it can leave the facility.[11]

Biosafety level 4 laboratories are used for diagnostic work and research on easily transmitted pathogens which can cause fatal disease. These include a number of viruses known to cause viral hemorrhagic fever such as Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa virus, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. Other pathogens handled at BSL-4 include Hendra virus, Nipah virus, and some flaviviruses. Additionally, poorly characterized pathogens which appear closely related to dangerous pathogens are often handled at this level until sufficient data are obtained either to confirm continued work at this level, or to permit working with them at a lower level.[15] This level is also used for work with Variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox, though this work is only performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, United States, and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo, Russia.[19]

BSL-2 Conditions

At this level, all precautions used at Biosafety Level 1 are followed, and some additional precautions are taken. BSL-2 differs from BSL-1 in that:

  • Laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic agents and are directed by scientists with advanced training.
  • Access to the laboratory is limited when work is being conducted.
  • Extreme precautions are taken with contaminated sharp items.
  • Certain procedures in which infectious aerosols or splashes may be created are conducted in biological safety cabinets or other physical containment equipment.[11]

Biosafety level 2 is suitable for work involving agents of moderate potential hazard to personnel and the environment.[12] This includes various microbes that cause mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting.[14] Examples include Hepatitis A, B, and C viruses, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), pathogenic strains of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Plasmodium falciparum, and Toxoplasma gondii.[14][15]

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If they were working on COVID-19 in BSL-2 conditions, it seems inevitable there would be a leak, given how easily transmissible it is and how long the virus survives on surfaces.  

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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1 hour ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Let's compare the difference between BSL-4 conditions and BSL-2 conditions (which were the alleged conditions at the WIV).  

We hardly need to. The existence of a level 3 in between tells us that that what they were doing was nothing  like what you would do if you were working on a bioweapon- as the daft conspiracies  suggest. Any "gain of function" stuff would be BSL4.

You seem to be missing my point; I'm not saying that the virus didn't "escape" from that lab.
I'm saying that it was outside the lab before it went into the lab.

And, because it was in the environment, the transfer to people and the growth to a pandemic was pretty much inevitable with or without the lab.

 

It may well be that some of the first humans infected worked in that lab.

But that's not the same as saying that they were, in any way, culpable beyond run of the mill ignorance. They were just monumentally unlucky.

They were doing what they thought was BLS2 work in a BSL2 lab.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Well, to start with, being open and transparent with any data they possessed, not suppressing the fact there was a novel coronavirus outbreak, acting swiftly in concert with the WHO.  This was not the case, according to the WHO officials (example: Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid-19 technical lead) who were attempting to communicate with China on the ground as the situation emerged.  Audio is played from a conference call of WHO officials stating that "it's the same thing again and again, trying to request information and getting nowhere."

Additionally, and this point is made in the FRONTLINE documentary I referenced: failing to disclose an outbreak of a dangerous pathogen to the international community is a direct breach of international regulations. 

LAWRENCE GOSTIN:

"So let me tell you what international law requires. If the government knows about a novel infection that meets the criteria within the International Health Regulations, and a novel coronavirus by definition meets those criteria of a potential public health emergency of international concern, the government is obliged by law to report that to the World Health Organization within 24 hours.

So it was reportable. The failure to report clearly was a violation of the International Health Regulations."

If a country knows it has a dangerous outbreak - it must report it to the international community immediately.  Full stop.    

Right, so nothing about investigating the source of epidemics, which is what I asked you. That was my point: the WHO can only investigate with cooperation.

Regarding your second point, there is no dispute that China was far too slow to report the outbreak - and you have quoted an international law they appear to have infringed. Now what? 

What do you propose to DO about that, given that the US has spent the last 4 years weakening and undermining just about every international institution, from the UN to NATO, to the WTO, the Paris Climate Agreement and, last but not least, the WHO?  The Chinese will just laugh.   

Edited by exchemist
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3 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Watch the PBS FRONTLINE documentary I referenced.

I already saw it when it first aired. 

3 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

The United States, had this pandemic begun on US soil, would have been obligated to fully participate in an independent investigation,

I’m unsure Trump would have agreed, but we’ll never know. 

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58 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

They were doing what they thought was BLS2 work in a BSL2 lab.

That is an excellent point. And just to support that point, the work on animal and most human coronavirus isolates is BSL-2. If they unknowingly isolated SARS-CoV-2 (which is considered BSL-3) then yes, it would be dramatically increase the risk of infection, but as John said, it would have to come from the outside. 

 

30 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Regarding your second point, there is no dispute that China was far too slow to report the outbreak - and you have quoted an international law they appear to have infringed. Now what? 

Perhaps somewhat ironically, they technically might have violated law before their system actually worked to a certain degree. The system they had was unfortunately specific to SARS so it did not trigger properly and while warnings were sent, they were ignored (mix of maliciousness and ineptness would be my guess). If they hadn't anything built up as a response to SARS, however, they would likely not have identified it in the first place (a situation that might have happened in Europe based on newer research).

I.e. in a way they would have been in compliance if they simply hadn't identified the clusters in the first place and could then have claimed ignorance. So in other words failing at monitoring diseases would allow folks not to run afoul of reporting requirements (and again, it seems that before the WHO rang the alarm bells there were already cases elsewhere which were not identified and where we generally do not assign maliciousness to their motives.

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2 hours ago, CharonY said:

That is an excellent point. And just to support that point, the work on animal and most human coronavirus isolates is BSL-2. If they unknowingly isolated SARS-CoV-2 (which is considered BSL-3) then yes, it would be dramatically increase the risk of infection, but as John said, it would have to come from the outside. 

 

Perhaps somewhat ironically, they technically might have violated law before their system actually worked to a certain degree. The system they had was unfortunately specific to SARS so it did not trigger properly and while warnings were sent, they were ignored (mix of maliciousness and ineptness would be my guess). If they hadn't anything built up as a response to SARS, however, they would likely not have identified it in the first place (a situation that might have happened in Europe based on newer research).

I.e. in a way they would have been in compliance if they simply hadn't identified the clusters in the first place and could then have claimed ignorance. So in other words failing at monitoring diseases would allow folks not to run afoul of reporting requirements (and again, it seems that before the WHO rang the alarm bells there were already cases elsewhere which were not identified and where we generally do not assign maliciousness to their motives.

That's interesting. Clearly even that part of it is more nuanced than what one reads in the papers - not surprisingly, I suppose.  

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  • 2 months later...
Posted (edited)

"China Refuses Further Inquiry Into Covid-19 Origins in Wuhan Lab"

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/22/china-refuses-further-inquiry-into-covid-19-origins-in-wuhan-lab

Nobody's surprised by this, I'm sure.  China has stonewalled from the beginning regarding any meaningful investigation into a possible lab accident.

The inevitable reality is that the world will never know for sure what caused the pandemic, nor will there be any possible chance to learn from this situation if there was in fact a lab leak. 

"Arrogance towards science" indeed.  That phrase sets a new precedent for disingenuous double-speak.  

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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On 5/22/2021 at 10:39 AM, Alex_Krycek said:

Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.

What's the difference?

In one option the people cutting up animals use a scalpel and in the other they use a cleaver.

So?

 

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8 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

What's the difference?

In one option the people cutting up animals use a scalpel and in the other they use a cleaver.

So?

 

Determining corrective action in response to a pandemic that has thus far killed over 4 million people, and seriously disrupted the lives of billions, requires that we know as accurately as possible what the cause was.  Dismissing the pandemic as inevitable, or as a matter of course, is a grossly negligent attitude. The mission of science should always be to seek the truth with the goal of reducing the risk that such an event will occur again. 

All too often these days we hear the pontificating "experts" on television musing how another pandemic will surely happen (it's just a matter of time, don't you know) and society should just accept it.  Fine, society must increase its readiness potential exponentially, that's a no brainer - but what is being done to understand how this pandemic arose in the first place?  At the very least there should be a serious dialogue about one of the most likely causes - an accident at the WIV - a dialogue which so far has been stifled and ignored.  Those select few with a conflict interest can forget and move on - the world will not.  

If there was gain of function research happening in Wuhan, what are the implications for future global policy?  What global policies (such as funding GOF) should be changed?   In May 25, 2021 the Senate passed an amendment to ban all funding of GOF research in China.  Should more steps be taken?  Were Chinese virologists following the proper safety protocols, or were there lapses in safety as have been reported?  If they in fact were following proper protocol, what lessons could be learned for other laboratories researching dangerous pathogens around the world?

These and a litany of other questions demand real answers.  Unfortunately it's not enough just to shrug one's shoulders and say "So what?".

 

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8 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

what is being done to understand how this pandemic arose in the first place?

Lots, but you seem to be implying nothing is. The problem is we’re already pretty confident about what happened and how this originated. It’s just that this probable origin is for various reasons insufficient for the conspiracy theorists to accept and to cease the social media disinformation spreaders from raking muck. 

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3 minutes ago, iNow said:

The problem is we’re already pretty confident about what happened and how this originated.

Actually, at this point there is no evidence that the virus arose naturally.  Has a species been found that carried Covid-19 that would suggest zoonotic spillover?  No.  Did any of the animals at the Huanan seafood market test positive for corona virus?  No.  You don't have any concrete evidence to support your case at this point. 

3 minutes ago, iNow said:

It’s just that this probable origin is for various reasons insufficient for the conspiracy theorists to accept and to cease the social media disinformation spreaders from raking muck. 

It's interesting you choose to dismiss the WIV Lab leak hypothesis as a "conspiracy theory", despite this being a plausible scenario based on the facts.  Based on everything we know about the WIV: the fact that bat coronaviruses were being studied there, the reported safety lapses, the fact that initial cases of Covid were detected in the city away from the Huanan market.

You're not thinking objectively.

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In parallel, you’re sort of proving my point. I get the very real impression that nothing would satisfy you OTHER THAN confirmation this was released intentionally from a Chinese lab. Maybe I’m wrong and that’s not your stance. Simply sharing how I perceive you. 

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