Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tsing Tao, Jun 2, 2021.
Wuhan lab leak dismissal driven by politics
It took four months to find the civet cat that caused SARS-CoV-1, a virus that spread to 29 countries in 2002 and killed more than 900 people.
It took about nine months to find the camel responsible for MERS, a coronavirus that emerged in the Middle East in 2012, so far killing about 850 people globally.
Yet 18 months since SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, an unprecedented search by health officials across 31 Chinese provinces has not found a single case of the virus in any animals.
This is the big problem for the “natural emergence” explanation of Covid-19: there isn’t any evidence for it.
But there is plenty of evidence for a rival explanation – that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
And it’s not only the lack of animal host, physician and scientist Steven Quay explained in his presentation at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC last week that demolished the natural emergence theory.
After the SARS and MERS epidemics, researchers went back and found traces of those viruses in samples from sick patients, illustrating how the viruses had been spreading and mutating randomly before becoming more infectious. But no trace of an early SARS-CoV-2 has been found in anyone, suggesting the virus emerged suddenly.
“Running the math on this, the probability (of SARS-CoV-2 emerging naturally) and having this result is literally less than one in a million,” Quay said.
Don’t trust his word for it, though. The Chinese scientist who oversaw the Wuhan lab, Shi Zhengli, often pictured in a hazmat suit, wrote in January last year that the new coronavirus was “probably a recent introduction into humans”. But, strangely, that sentence was removed from the final paper published a few months later.
SARS-CoV-2 is no ordinary virus either, being “highly adapted for infection of humans from the start”, Quay noted. It has a “double uniqueness” in its genetic material, an “immaculate insertion”.
Wuhan bat video shows much of pandemic origin information was ‘Chinese disinformation’
Sky News host Sharri Markson says exclusive footage she revealed which proves live bats were kept at the Wuhan Institute of Virology shows much of what the world has been told about the origin of the pandemic was “Chinese disinformation”.
The truth can be shockingly inconvenient. “Ignorance can deride it, panic may resent it, malice may destroy it, but there it is,” Winston Churchill once quipped.
The list of people and institutions who don’t want the lab leak theory to be true is a long and powerful one: the Chinese government, parts of the US government, virologists, people who dislike Donald Trump and most of the mainstream media.
The natural emergency explanation was a leap of faith from the start. The bat cave allegedly responsible for the virus is 1500km away from the first infection but only 3.5km away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “It’s like someone walking down the street in Manhattan and getting infected with a virus from the Everglades in Florida,” Quay said.
Moreover, leaks do happen. A Russian research lab accidentally leaked anthrax in 1979, killing dozens of people. A year earlier smallpox leaked in Britain, claiming its final victim in that country. And the original SARS leaked accidentally, twice, in 2004 from a Beijing virology lab, also killing someone, according to the World Health Organisation.
Yet the idea of natural emergence gained so much currency so quickly. Facts may determine scientific progress in the long run, but in the short run it’s politics.
The “proof” still cited by most scientists in favour of the natural emergence theory boils down to a couple of letters, not peer reviewed, published in Nature and The Lancet early last year, written by scientists who had a vested interest in dismissing the idea of a lab leak.
More than a year on and “we haven’t seen scientific evidence for natural emergence”, David Asher, a former US State Department official who was investigating the origin of SARS-CoV-2, tells The Australian. “And it befuddles the brain to try to understand why the Chinese government would not readily provide such evidence if it existed,” he says.
To be sure, a few weeks ago Shi dismissed the idea as baseless, in a telephone call with The New York Times, but she’s hardly impartial.
University of California, Berkeley, astrophysicist Richard Muller, speaking on the same panel as Quay, said even the most senior scientists in the US, those near or of Nobel prize rank, were too fearful to work on the lab leak theory in case they were associated with Trump or upset China, which is a big fish in virology research. “I’m not going to do anything that will help Trump get re-elected,” Muller recounted a senior colleague telling him.
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Footage proves bats were kept in Wuhan lab
The Wuhan Institute of Virology kept live bats in cages, new footage from inside the facility has revealed, disproving denials from World Health Organisation investigators who claimed the suggestion was a “conspiracy”.
If anything is a conspiracy in these Covid times, it’s not the idea of a lab leak, it’s how such an obvious possibility was trenchantly dismissed for so long. Mainstream journalists, with honourable exceptions, were too beholden to mainstream scientists to question their assertions and motives.
The reality is that groupthink is pervasive. Experts will parrot whatever they see other experts saying, given the potentially high career and even personal costs of flouting the “consensus”.
Indeed, it’s precisely this phenomenon that makes scientists such as Quay, 69, a successful chief executive of a Nasdaq-listed company, Muller, 77, a retired astrophysicist, and the growing group of aficionados who agree with them so valuable. They’re brilliant scientists but not virologists; they’re not in the early or mid stages of their careers. It’s about being right, not getting promoted to professor or picking up another research grant from the US or Chinese governments.
Few think the leak was deliberate; it would be a bizarre strategy to leak a virus, especially one that killed the frail almost exclusively, in your own country next to the virology lab that created it.
But the pandemic has illustrated the potential for deadlier manufactured viruses to wreak havoc, and not just from China, given similar virus research facilities in the US and Europe. Science isn’t always a force for good. If we’re going to thank science for the vaccines, we may have to condemn it for Covid-19, too.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan. Picture: AFP
An Australian scientist who was the only foreigner at the Wuhan virus lab says she never got COVID-19 and doesn't believe the center leaked it
Danielle Anderson worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology until late 2019.
She told Bloomberg she doesn't believe the novel coronavirus leaked from her old workplace.
The lab-leak theory has gained steam recently, and Biden has ordered a US intelligence report into it.
An Australian scientist who was the only remaining foreigner at the Wuhan Institute of Virology has said that she never contracted COVID-19 and doesn't believe the novel coronavirus leaked from the lab.
On Sunday, Bloomberg News published an interview with Danielle Anderson, a 42-year-old expert in bat-borne viruses, who worked at the institute's BSL-4 lab until November 2019.
As Anderson described her workplace: "It's not that it was boring, but it was a regular lab that worked in the same way as any other high-containment lab."
"What people are saying is just not how it is."
The theory that the novel coronavirus leaked from the lab has grown in popularity this year, after initially gaining support from Republican lawmakers like Sens. Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham.
"If people were sick, I assume that I would have been sick—and I wasn't," she said.
"I was tested for coronavirus in Singapore before I was vaccinated, and had never had it."
In late May, The Wall Street Journal uncovered a US intelligence report that said three researchers at the Wuhan lab were so sick in November 2019 — a month before the novel coronavirus was first found in Wuhan — that they had to go to the hospital.
Days later, President Joe Biden told US intelligence agencies they had 90 days to "double their efforts to collect and analyze information" about the origins of the coronavirus.
However, Anderson told Bloomberg that she was not aware of anyone at the Wuhan lab falling ill at that time.
In December, Anderson said, she was reunited with many of her colleagues from Wuhan at a conference in Singapore, and that that none of them reported anything out of the ordinary at the lab.
"There was no chatter," Anderson said. "Scientists are gossipy and excited. There was nothing strange from my point of view going on at that point that would make you think something is going on here."
Anderson also told Bloomberg that the lab had stringent safety protocols, and that she didn't believe the virus had leaked from there.
Anderson said that she and her colleagues had to complete 45 hours of "very, very extensive" training to be permitted to work alone in the lab, Bloomberg reported.
"The pandemic is something no one could have imagined on this scale," she said.
"The virus was in the right place at the right time and everything lined up to cause this disaster."
However, Anderson acknowledged that viruses can leak from laboratories when serious accidents occur.
"I'm not naive enough to say I absolutely write this off," she told Bloomberg.
World Health Organization officials previously said it was highly unlikely that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. But as Insider's Aylin Woodward reported, even if a leak did happen, that wouldn't necessarily mean it was engineered.
I get it. Fauci has no patience left for right wing morons, Rand Paul on the top of the list.
There comes a point where you just have to make these right wingers aware they are actually stupid and you have to do it in front of as many people as possible. Good for the good Dr.
Fauci should be indicted today. Fauci unequivocally lied today in the hearing.
Gain-of-function research refers to the serial passaging of microorganisms to increase their transmissibility, virulence, immunogenicity, and host tropism by applying selective pressure to a culture.
Senator Paul asked, "Do you with to retract your statement from May 11 where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?"
Fauci arrogantly stated, "Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress, and I do not retract that statement...this paper you're referring to was judged by qualified staff up and down the chain as not being gain of function."
"You take an animal virus and you increase it's transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain of function?"
Facui replied, "That's correct...and Sen. Paul, I want to say you do not know what you are talking about," Dr. Fauci replied. "I just want to say that officially."
Guess you don't know what Gain of Function is either.... and are making up your own non-scientific definition with the intention of making it seem like weaponization of a virus when the actual medical intent of this type of research is to better predict emerging infectious diseases and to develop vaccines and therapeutics.
The Wuhan Lab and the Gain-of-Function Disagreement
STOP POSTING LIES AND MISINFORMATION!
That article needs to be fact checked. It is pure unadulterated misinformation and propaganda.
From the article idiot.
You can't be this stupid.
“With an ultimate goal of better understanding disease pathways, gain-of-function studies aim to increase the ability of infectious agents to cause disease by enhancing its pathogenicity or by increasing its transmissibility.”
Apparently, you have a problem with reading comprehension.
I will post it again.
Paul asked, "You take an animal virus and you increase it's transmissibility to humans, you're saying that's not gain of function?"
Facui replied, "That's correct..."
So what do you exactly disagree with in the fact check? It basically defines the actual facts - none of it is disputable.
Separate names with a comma.