1. SARS-CoV-2 has a number of unique and unusual genetic features, when compared to close relatives, many of which explain its high virulence and infectivity among humans.
2. A series of research papers published by a group of virologists, dating back a little over a decade, demonstrate (1) a progressively increasing understanding of viral features which make coronaviruses more infectious and virulent in humans, and (2) laboratory capabilities for successfully creating chimeric viruses (e.g. moving one specific protein sequence from a bat SARS-like virus to human SARS virus) to test their hypotheses.
3. Each of the unique and unusual features of SARS-CoV-2 appears somewhere in this line of research.
4. Researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, located in the city where the outbreak began, were intimately involved this line of research.
Taken together, the publicly-available evidence indicates that a select group of virologists had the domain knowledge and laboratory capabilities to create chimeric viruses which possess each of the unusual features of SARS-CoV-2, and that select group of virologists was concentrated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology located at ground zero for the pandemic.
The authors feel that, in light of this preponderance of circumstantial evidence, the hypothesis that the biogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 involved human intervention should be seen as the leading (i.e. most likely) explanation.
They do not make any statement about how the virus first infected a live human and spread into a pandemic, but conditioned on their biogenesis hypothesis being true, one would then assume an accidental lab release from WIV as the most likely explanation.
For a virus that recently crossed the zoonotic barrier, and even moreso for one crossing from bats, it's virulence is actually astonishingly low.
Therefore, the hypothesis of a two-stage crossing to humans, from bats to a larger land based mammal and then to humans is much much more likely, because this would explain high transmissibility due to the necessity to infect despite small lung volumes, as well as much lower virulence.
Therefore, the pre-existing hypothesis seems to match reality more closely than an accidental release. A virus being engineered to be an order of magnitude less virulent seems unlikely to say the least.
From what I gathered it’s not suggesting specific genetic traits were engineered, but rather that they were experimenting and one of those experiments could have accidentally been released(?).
Why would a gain analysis try to find ways in which a virus could be made weaker? I don't doubt that an accidental release is feasible, though very very unlikely, but why would an experiment make a less severe virus in the first place?
To better understand the mechanisms that make it weak or strong?
Plus, why would it have to be "made weaker" as opposed, accidentally made weaker? If they were experimenting they would have all sorts of varieties/results... it's not like every experiment to make it stronger would make it stronger... surely some could fail and make it weaker!
(1) Millions disabled is far worse than millions dead.
(2) Attacks can come in multiple pieces. The first virus might do damage to make people especially vulnerable to the second virus. If I can protect my population against the first one /or/ the second, my people are safe.
My opinion is it's just a matter of time before we see bioweapons, and we should be ready. If not before COVID19, then now. Our vulnerability is very obvious.
We should treat this as an emergency prep drill, and make sure businesses can operate remotely, kids can learn remotely, we have PPE, and the infrastructure is in place for essential work. That also wouldn't collapse the economy.
It is an old-fashioned notion of a weapon that only made sense when there was little exchange between the citizens of states in opposition, like the U.S. and USSR.
China, for whom international trade is a crucial part of their strategy, would not work on an infectious disease weapon unless they simultaneously developed a vaccine to protect their own people. The fact they are not currently vaccinating their population, or even in the lead in developing a vaccine, is extremely strong proof that COVID-19 did not originate as a Chinese bioweapon candidate.
The fact that they’re not ahead is compelling proof that this virus was as new to Chinese medicine as it was to everyone else.
I appreciate your argument, but are you sure that they are not ahead? I don't have personal knowledge, but (for example) there was a Reuters article last week with a headline that included that claim "China leads COVID-19 vaccine race": https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-.... If somehow it was proved that they are indeed ahead, would you consider this compelling proof in the opposite direction? I think I'd consider both directions to be weak evidence, but neither to be anything near proof.
Why would a country that wanted to deploy a bio weapon started on it's own land? It's not like travel to other countries was restricted.
Also Russia is not a country that would have qualms about affecting own citizens. Putin get to power by coordinating bombings on apartment complexes and blaming Chechens for it.
(1) "Work on" is different from "release." If I were China, I would not release a bioweapon, but I might work on one. The US and USSR worked on nuclear weapons but did not release them. There are 200 nations. Some of them almost certainly have secret bioweapons programs.
(2) As China showed, they could handle a COVID19-level bioweapon attack while the US can't. US has several times as many /dead/ as China had /infected./ In a war, if I were China, I might release one too if I had one.
(3) If I were planning a sneak attack, as I said, a multipart bioweapon might make sense. If something like COVID19 damages the lungs, and makes people vulnerable to PICORNA21, and only 80,000 of my citizens caught COVID19, while millions of Americans did, it seems pretty safe. Especially if I know I can do another lockdown, and the US can't. Release PICORNA21, lock down, wait for millions of paralyzed Americans, and take my rightful spot back in the world.
(4) China is not the only player. Bioweapons are rapidly moving into the range of clever undergrad students, not to speak of terrorist organizations, rogue nations, etc.
I'm not trying to badmouth China here. I don't even think China is the major threat; just that the US should be ready for something like COVID19 intended as a weapon.
Also, as points of fact: (a) China is vaccinating its military already. (b) China has no reason to vaccinate its population yet; their lockdown has worked. If China did vaccinate their population already, as you point out, that would be clear proof this was engineered by China.
(This is why nobody has really used bioweapons in warfare to date, with the exception of some questionable reports that the USSR had a really lethal weaponized smallpox strain on some of their ICBM warheads, as a balance-of-terror multiplier.)
While this doesn't prove that COVID19 isn't a bioweapon, it strongly suggests that it got loose long before whoever designed it anticipated. Unless, of course, it was developed by the world-leading Vietnamese biological warfare institute (hey, look at their fatality figures)! (That was sarcasm, by the way.)
You must not know much about bioweapons, then. By any measure, SARS-CoV-2 is a very, very poor bioweapon.
Think about it... it infects everyone but for the most part younger people don't die from it or even become incapacitated. It's mostly killing the elderly or people who have pre-existing conditions.
Effectively, SARS-CoV-2 helps the nation that's infected with it prepare for conventional conflict... it leaves younger people able to fight in the military and with some immunity to the weapon, it greatly reduces the need to care for the elderly or those in poor physical condition, freeing up workers for weapons production or logistics.
It's easy to stop this supposed "weapon" from spreading, just social distance and wear a mask... if everyone does it, the attack is ineffective.
Any country that attacked another using SARS-CoV-2 as a weapon would be suiciding. All the virus would accomplish is making the youngest, most able portion of the target population very angry and reducing the number of non combat capable people they have to take care of.
But wait, you say... the US is having a much higher impact from the virus.
That's because our leadership has failed outright and continues to do so at many levels. Calling the virus a hoax, politically motivated re-openings, the support of ignorance instead of science, conspiracy theories... all due to poor leadership.
Which of course is the real reason this tinfoil hat theory that the virus is a weapon hasn't died yet. Convincing a large number of people that it's a weapon would remove responsibility from Trump and the GOP for failing so incredibly badly, or at least make them look better in the run-up to the election.
The truth is that SARS-CoV-2 isn't a weapon, it's a pandemic which the US could have quickly suppressed and defeated, but did not because our corrupt, inept government worships ignorance instead of enlightenment.
You're presuming it was for gain analysis. What if the intention was different? What if you were ultimately considering the virus for bio-warfare and wanted to hide that intention?
If we're going to explore theories this fits the evidence, or is at least possible.
maybe you can still arrive to the same conclusion, regardless of suppressing or amplifying a trait?
Wouldn't that make it seem safer to study?
Accidental releases of viruses from labs have happened quite regularly. It's a serious concern.
The UK was first introduced to the uselessness of Imperial College and their epidemiological modelling by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 amongst livestock. It resulted in mass killing (by humans) of animals. Eventually the epidemic disappeared, amongst great acrimony and disaster for farmers.
In 2007 foot and mouth appeared again. This time, the virus was traced to the source of the outbreak. It came from a lab in Pirbright where the virus had been stored for research. Two government orgs were connected by pipes, and the pipes had been allowed to rust due to a budget dispute over which org should pay for repairs:
There's a long history of biolabs leaking and being found to be dangerous. It's not at all unlikely given this shoddy history.
the New York Times (8/5/19) reported: “Deadly Germ Research Is Shut Down at Army Lab Over Safety Concerns”
"Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy"
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday they have identified 34 incident reports involving bioterror pathogens mishandled at CDC labs that were “inadvertently” not disclosed in 2014 to congressional investigators who had asked for the information
Oh and here's one from December 2019:
Chinese institutes investigate pathogen outbreaks in lab workers
There is no evidence for that AFAIK, and I don't understand why a lab would do a gain of function experiment and reduce function instead.
Also, it's not even clear that COVID-19 is that much more infectious (or at all) than SARS, it seems to me that its explained well enough by so many people brushing it off or not even realizing they have it because it's so much less severe.
You have the ability to use it to induce fear and therefore behavioral changes. Positive cases are valuable.
Testing (as parent pointed out).
Introducing feature X (regardless of effect) allows you to study X.
You do it to learn more about X, not because you particularly want to engineer something more virulent or lethal.
>Our key result is that hosts most closely related to humans harbour zoonoses of lower impact in terms of morbidity and mortality, while the most distantly related hosts—in particular, order Chiroptera (bats)—harbour highly virulent zoonoses with a lower capacity for endemic establishment in human hosts.
CoV-2 is way more virulent than SARS, as evidenced by the fact it's spread across the entire world. SARS might spread more easily from contact, and it does more damage once it's inside you, but that's only one component of virulence. MERS is also not really comparable - it's very difficult to transmit between humans.
I get what you're saying but practical effects just matter more than isolated metrics. Viruses that transmit asymptomatically are more likely to be virulent, because you can't isolate patients. If you're trying to engineer a virus, you want to make it transmit faster than it kills people and you want to make it hard to quarantine.
Can you provide sources for that? I thought it was the opposite.
1. the severity or harmfulness of a disease or poison.
COVID-19 - has an fatality rate of around 0.5-1%, according to the best methodologies we have, in various environments, with recent papers suggesting that it might be even less lethal in places where medical care is sufficient.
In comparison, the best data for SARS fatality rates is of around 11% (!).
This means that SARS-CoV-2 is around ten times less virulent than SARS. MERS is even worse than SARS.
Now, SARS-CoV-2 is likely even more infectious than SARS, but part of that is because it's less severe, meaning that you can spread it even without being sick.
The issue is the SARS had a lot less cases, and was more virulent. There is no evidence for asymptomatic spread of SARS, and almost every single infection was accounted for using contact tracing.
Therefore, it makes sense to use the best guess at IFR for both. The best guess for IFR for COVID-19 is around 0.3-0.9%, depending on the state of the healthcare system.
SARS however, seems to have a very low rate of asymptomatic carriers : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371799/ , of around 7%. Of those 7%, it is expected that the vast majority are detected, as there were very few cases of SARS of unknown origin (IE, no contact with an infected person). On the other hand, COVID19 is believed to have asymptomatic infection rates of as high as 50%, and even at the very beginning there were tons of cryptic transmission.
Therefore, it is likely that the CFR of SARS is very close the IFR. Using a high-estimate for the IFR of COVID19 and comparing it to the CFR of SARS should yield a very good comparison for virulence of the two viruses.
Therefore, SARS is indeed in the ballpark of 10x more virulent than COVID19.
The problem with this concept is it becomes impossible to detect false positives. In fact it makes the test the ground truth rather than actual observable clinical sickness. Any bug in the test thus creates a pseudo-epidemic:
If you look at that paper you can see it admits that other research studies found no asymptomatic infection at all. Others on the other hand said they saw it. So there's no real consensus that this phenomenon actually exists in this case, and the asymptomatic people didn't seem to transmit the virus at all (so why are we all wearing masks now then?).
The numbers involved are tiny. Their conclusions are based on the antibody test returning positive without symptoms for just 6 people. The amount of antibodies found in the asymptomatic cases was significantly lower than for other cases, leading to the question of whether they were picking up noise at the edge of the test's capabilities and whether they truly understand how the test works (given that there weren't many SARS-CoV-1 cases, there'd be limited cases on which to test or calibrate it).
See "A transmission-virulence evolutionary trade-off explains attenuation of HIV-1 in Uganda" https://elifesciences.org/articles/20492
Since evolution isn't involved in the proposed mechanism, I see no reason why such a trade-off would occur.
Similarly SARS and MERS were perhaps too virulent and could thus easily be controlled by screening for symptoms, while the new coronavirus can spread without symptoms, which could possibly be attributed to the lower virulence.
If thousands of deaths in China, a complete lockdown that hit the economy incredibly hard and perhaps more crucially, the total breakdown and potential reshaping of the global supply chain, which China has been benefitting from massively, is something that the Chinese gov wants to to achieve, then such conspiracy theories might hold water. I think it's plain to see how nonsensical they are.
Also, nobody made the US look bad but themselves. This is obvious if you compare COVID responses in countries like Germany with those in the US.
Excess deaths are the only accurate measure.
They're not a different species, they're people. If you give into the urge to treat them as "other", as inferior, or as a different "tribe" to be defeated you're not as different from them with their ridiculous beliefs as you might like to think.
You ignored the Q you responded to. "Which professional published best case death estimate did the US not beat?"
Like to be clear I don't think it was deliberately engineered to be optimal. If it's engineered at all I'd imagine it's an experiment that escaped.
Related to the origin hypotheses, the hypothesis of zoonotic outbreak from a wet market in mid-Dec no longer seems as relevant. It was first laid out in a widely disseminated paper in The Lancet [1, see Figure 1B], but since then retrospective wastewater analyses from Italy, Spain, Brazil and others have found it was circulating much earlier.
"The Italian National Institute of Health looked at 40 sewage samples collected from wastewater treatment plants in northern Italy between October 2019 and February 2020. An analysis released on Thursday said samples taken in Milan and Turin on Dec. 18 showed the presence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus." 
"Most COVID-19 cases show mild influenza-like symptoms (14) and it has been suggested that some uncharacterized influenza cases may have masked COVID-19 cases in the 2019-2020 season (11). This possibility prompted us to analyze some archival WWTP samples from January 2018 to December 2019 (Figure 2). All samples came out to be negative for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomes with the exception of March 12, 2019, in which both IP2 and IP4 target assays were positive. This striking finding indicates circulation of the virus in Barcelona long before the report of any COVID-19 case worldwide." 
Source? Definitely some experts think it is not impossible that it was brought to the wet market very early in the outbreak, that's not implausible at all. But the idea that it was circulating globally or widely at all before that is not backed by the evidence.
It will be interesting to see how that compares to a Wuhan sample and see if it had most of the novel features of COVID-19, but is maybe missing one thing like how it binds to ACE2 which is probably implicated in all the cardiovascular issues it causes.
There could have been a baseline level of the virus or a close brother of it in circulation early in 2019, but the conditions of the wet market ecosystem in late 2019 let it suddenly spiral out of control, or make a final evolution to its current high-transmissiveness form.
Sort of like how we can find, retrospectively, intermittent cases of HIV back to the early part of the 20th century, but it suddenly exploded in the 1980s.
This actually makes China a much better candidate than Europe for the place where the most important step in its evolution occurred. China has much more vibrant trade in wild animals for clothing, consumption, and traditional medicine. China also happens to be the place where the first reports of widespread hospitalisations occurred.
I don't think it's possible that Covid-19 in its current form could have floated around with its current high level of transmissivity or even the lower level of transmissibility of the Chinese strain without being detected for more than a month.
As we've seen from America's second wave (bumpy first wave?) the virus replicates exponentially (even with some social distancing), so tens of thousands of people can be infected within two weeks. So we ought to see pretty strong signal in ICU admissions within about 5 weeks of an outbreak (allowing ramp up time, incubation period, and time for symptoms to progress). We'd also expect to see all-cause mortality rates of people over 65 to increase significantly within about 7 to 8 weeks of the outbreak occurring as the average time to mortality is about 18 days.
I fail to see how it'd be possible for the health system of any developed nation to miss all that, but a developing country that has a culture of secrecy and suppressing information from both its own people and central authorities? Yeah I could believe that.
> Sort of like how we can find, retrospectively, intermittent cases of HIV back to the early part of the 20th century, but it suddenly exploded in the 1980s.
That's in large part because HIV collided with African urbanisation, significant international air travel deflation, an explosion of homosexual activity (unprotected sex), an industrialised blood transfer system, and a drug epidemic with administration using shared syringes. I can't think of a similar set of factors changing in our current society that could have allowed for the explosion of a coronavirus.
Some viruses lie dormant in our bodies for years, was someone at the lab infected with a bat SARs virus at some point, and all it needed was this other virus to come along for it to share some of its virulence?
Perhaps in your mind, but this is not at all a fair representation of the general scientific consensus - most still hold the weight of the evidence leans towards a November '19 origin in Wuhan
"However, two papers published in late January revealed that up to 45% of the first confirmed patients—including four of the five earliest cases—did not have any ties to the market, casting doubt on the theory that it was the origin. Shi agrees: “The Huanan seafood market may just be a crowded location where a cluster of early novel coronavirus patients were found.”
I have experience in academia, so it might be easier to parse because of that, but news articles are certainly not sufficient.
There are reports that the French team that traveled in
October in Wuhan for mil. sports games, got infected by it. So, that it was at circulating in Wuhan at least since October, even most probably: early september.
I haven't crunched these numbers, but a start in early September seems unlikely to me - call it a hunch, based on looking at the initial growth curves.
I'm not going to respond to the rest of the comment suggesting the Telegraph should be part of my consideration when judging the science.
In your poorly fit analogy, the scientific consensus would be the gun to the single, unreviewed paper's knife.
Until the others make it through peer review, I wouldn’t read anything into their results.
Read the article you are citing. There is convincing evidence that the virus developed via evolutionary mechanisms. That in no way refutes lab-origin and is entirely consistent with how most labs promote infectiousness (particularly airborn infectiousness) through gain-of-function research.
Er, yes. Not sure what you're saying here (the title is "..Covid-19 is not a naturally-evolved virus...')?
That is for all intents and purposes man-made, unless one is splitting hairs, which much of the politicized media is doing.
Yes, quite a lot of media have become politicised (the reason for which being quite well understood). None the less, the science is what it is - provisional. It is not surprising that commercial entities take particular positions to benefit from said politicisation.
In most countries at least, the science will ultimately give us the answer.
In 2015 the Wuhan team of virologists working with researchers from Chapel Hill, NC obtained a chimeric virus able to infect the human respiratory tract, while unexpectedly featuring an increased pathogenesis in the mouse. The dangerous outcome was briefly discussed in the original paper, and further experiments seemed to have been carried out only at the Wuhan lab, possibly because of a US gov ban on such experiments that existed at that time.
A slightly tangential question I'd love to get more perspective on is the impact of the virus being "man made" on our current predicament. Even assuming that the virus was not naturally evolved, and its characteristics are partly caused due to human interventions we're still stuck finding a vaccine, medication and ways of reducing transmission.
Is there still a thread here that this virus is evidence that humans can possibly create chimeric viruses? In my limited understanding, using protein sequences to modify viruses is generally believed to be possible.
To note, receptor affinity is not the only mechanism by which infectivity is modulated. You would already expect that a virus that is ten times less severe would spread more easily, and SARS was already able to spread efficiently through air at great distances, so it seems likely that me that receptor affinity is stronger but that other mechanism are weaker. This would explain the fact that it is less severe and not much more infectious.
Alternatively, they can inexpensively “print” entire virus genomes from scratch from a digital copy, but the “printer” is pricey.
(I’m being intentionally vague here, and skipped a few steps. I accidentally wrote a tutorial for starting your own biological weapons lab, then edited it down.)
One good aspect could be the lack of an animal reservoir would make it less likely to come back. So far minks seem to be the only animals to catch it in a major way.
All this leads me to believe it was created in a lab. Likely for altruistic purposes but still. When this escaped whoever knew that it was from a lab should have disclosed it ASAP to help the world prepare.
I have no experience in virology so don't trust me.
Another way of discovering what increases property X is testing that some change indeed increases property X, while also discovering it decreases property Y.
While attempting to increase both X and Y, they made an intermediate with increased X and decreased Y. Perhaps it seemed a promising starting point to also increase Y.
I don't get the surprise. This is all par for the course in research.
The person you're responding to didn't say anything different to what you've said.
> Honest hard work can sometimes look like evil plans, and not every coincidence is the result of conspiracy.
Why did you say that? It certainly isn't stated or even implied by the person you're replying to.
“The authors feel that, in light of this preponderance of circumstantial evidence, the hypothesis that the biogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 involved human intervention should be seen as the leading (i.e. most likely) explanation.”
So far, it also looks like mainland China was hit hard, while Taiwan got off easy. The CCP would most likely not strengthen a territory that they hope to eventually absorb.
And lastly, I would assume that with Trump, the CCP could just bribe their way into Washington.
So I see very little for them to be gained from starting this. And you yourself also conclude that India is benefiting more than China.
Hong Kong did not always belong to China, and was not leased to the UK - part of Hong Kong's area (the New Territories) was leased, but Kowloon and Hong Kong island were ceded in perpetuity.
China signed an international treaty with the UK regarding the handover of Hong Kong, a treaty which comes with certain rights and responsibilities. Sure, there's no real way to actually enforce such a treaty, but you can't really complain if other countries react to the breaking of a treaty with punitive measures, and don't trust the treaty-breaker not to break other treaties in future.
How about asking the people of Hong Kong what they want? There's about 7.5 million of us here, with a fairly unique history and culture, so maybe just being subsumed into another country wouldn't be the choice of the population?
What's racist about suggesting someone eats bats? Mammalian flesh is a common food source across human cultures.
The videos of people eating bats that surfaced following the beginning of Covid-19 were from Indonesia.
The way this misinformation has spread is indeed based on racism (Chinese are 'barbarians' who have 'barbarian' eating habits and they should change them and eat like 'normal' people).
Now, (fruit) bats eaten as food in West Africa is a major vector of the spread of Ebola.
And maybe one day we can conclusively say bats play no roles whatsoever in the spread of Covid-19, like we are able to say confidently about bats and Ebola. We aren't at that point yet, dismissing bats as a factor is a disservice to science.
Bringing racism up where it doesn't exist discourages, or at worst suppresses, a healthy discussion.
Now, this thread goes further by continuing to relay the conspiracy theory that the virus is man-made, not least when the paper concludes by claiming that the burden of proof is reversed and that it is the natural origin of the virus that must be proven.
5. Cui Bono?
There is a massive amount of misinformation around COVID-19. Check out this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misinformation_related_to_the_...
All the things that the article posits have been looked into and the conclusion from most of the scientific community is that it is extraordinarily unlikely that this came from a lab in Wuhan.
Who is this "scientific community" that you speak of, anyway? Modern science is conducted through published research papers. I read papers and decide for myself which arguments to believe. Do I understand everything? No, of course not, but I learn a helluva lot more than if I trust what a secondary source tells me about scientific research and leave it at that. You only have to read a few papers to realize that what is reported in the media is often radically different than what the authors actually claim in a paper.
But really, this is tackled head-on in the paper itself. There is basically one peer-reviewed paper that argues against the man-made theory, and the authors point out flaws in that paper. I also read it an did not come away thinking that they had made a particularly convincing argument. I encourage you to do the same; it's a very approachable paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7095063/
They even state that "More scientific data could swing the balance of evidence to favor one hypothesis over another." In other words, the jury is out, and the prosecution has brought more evidence. Time to reevaluate.
China was the first country to detect the existence of the coronavirus, but it does not mean the virus started in China. If a country announces the finding of a new virus, it makes that country a whistle-blower for the mankind, not the scapegoat.
Possibly in October..
as early as September?
I'm getting tired of Googling fake news
But conditional on being in a pandemic the chance that the virus that arises to cause it is like SARS-CoV-2 is super high!!
There’s no conspiracy, just statistics”
That said, the fact that the outbreak started so close to the Wuhan Institute of Virology is certainly suggestive that it escaped from the lab, though that doesn’t mean it was necessarily “man made.”
This statement obscures and oversimplifies, which is unfortunately what scientists sometimes do when speaking to the public because they assume people won't understand otherwise.
When she says "like SARS-CoV-2" she is not speaking about the physical structure of the virus, she is really just referring to general qualities that a virus would need to display in order to reach pandemic level: high infectivity, unusual disease progression for which proper treatment is poorly understood, frequent and unpredictable mutation, etc.
What the researchers in this paper have done is identify the unusual components of SARS-CoV-2, i.e. the proteins and their physical structure, which give it this pandemic potential. And then they describe a sequence of research papers, published by virologists from the WIV, which demonstrate awareness of the characteristics of these exact features as well as a laboratory capability to produce chimeric viruses with these exact features. And the epicenter of the pandemic is a stone's throw away from the laboratory where those virologists work.
If you're going to make a hand-wavy argument about real-world events using Bayesian inference, you need to be prepared to explain why certain evidence is independent of your prior. Or drop the argument.
The fact that researchers in Wuhan were studying (some of?) these features is stronger evidence when combined with the location. However, it also seems reasonable that features of viruses researchers study because of their likelihood to increase human transmission would show up in a naturally occurring virus with a lot of human transmission.
You are letting language get in the way here. Researchers at Wuhan weren't studying "features" of viruses, they were studying what happens exactly when you insert X amino acid at Y location and how that can affect the structure of Z protein. And that exact, one in a billion, never before seen mutation happens to occur randomly right next door to them?
You're also just making a straight up false claim anyway, since most of the virus samples discussed in their research come from distant regions (500+ miles away).
If China's BSL-4 virus laboratory was set off in the countryside in a "little" town of 50,000 and the outbreak started there, the paper's argument would be way more compelling. If we could even reliably trace a "patient zero" to a neighborhood near the WIV, then, again, maybe. But we can't. All we can say for sure is that a dangerous global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus started in a huge metro area (or its surrounding province) that's also the site of a BSL-4 lab specifically set up to study dangerous global pandemics caused by novel coronaviruses. The paper's conclusion is, well, pretty much the paper equivalent of archly intoning "that would sure be a weird, ironic coincidence" and staring meaningfully into the camera. I mean, yes, it would be, but that's a little short of a slam dunk.
If you read the actual paper, what they say is:
"These meet the criteria of means, timing, agent and place in this reconstructed historical aetiology to produce sufficient confidence in the account to reverse the burden of proof. Henceforth, those who would maintain that the Covid-19 pandemic arose from zoonotic transfer need to explain precisely why this more parsimonious account is wrong before asserting that their evidence is persuasive"
ie. Basically, there are enough red-flags here that the burden-of-proof is to show that it isn't artificial rather than that it is.
...and you could hear that argument.
On the other hand, it's not really rigorous.
You can't go and say, hey, look, I invented an EM drive; rather than proving that it generates thrust without any emissions by isolating it and measuring it, the burden of proof is on everyone else to "prove why this more parsimonious account is wrong before asserting that their evidence is persuasive".
Ie. Before you go and measure anything, first you have to come tell us why we're wrong.
Now, rather than putting the EM drive in an isolated box and measuring the thrust it produces, you have 50 different people who have to go out and prove that EM drives are impossible before anyone actually goes and measures anything.
See any problems here?
I mean, you could argue it either way, but it doesn't convince me.
While I agree that the paper lays out some interesting points, they're wide open to attack on the conclusion they draw from them.
This, in particular:
"We refute pre-emptively objection that this methodology does not result in absolute proof by observing that to make such a statement is to misunderstand scientific logic. The
longer the chain of causation of individual findings that is shown, especially converging from different disciplines, the greater the confidence in the whole."
"We posit that the evidence below attains a high level of confidence."
Yup, that's what they've done here. They posit which means, in this case, arbitrarily assert without proof that it is the case that there is a high level of confidence here.
They just haven't shown that in a compelling way imo.
Personally I think the circumstantial evidence in this case is fairly strong. But I’m hardly impartial.
No, they haven't.
The evidence is circumstantial.
You can choose to believe what you want to believe; but the fact is that they have not proved anything.
That's the problem with the paper. Actually read the darn thing.
I'm 100% sympathetic to what they're saying here and I do hear their arguments, but this paper doesn't prove it.
> Personally I think...
You know the quote. "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
If it comes down to "well, I think that's high confidence" and someone else is just like "well i don't" as a personal opinion ("...But I’m hardly impartial..."), then, don't you think, maybe they haven't really done a great job here?
The things written down in this paper are true whether or not you agree that they lead to the conclusion that the virus was engineered (obviously, exclude their conclusions).
Maybe using proof was the wrong word.
They've made conjecture, but not incontrovertible truth.
Also there are probably trillions upon trillions of copies of the virus by now, one in a billion isnt hard to imagine.
This isn't actually one of the qualities of SARS-CoV-2. Like other coronaviruses, it possesses a proofreading mechanism for its RNA code which drastically lowers its mutation rate compared to something like influenza.
I don't know if misleading is the right word, but this isn't the whole story and could in fact mislead people. What we should be taking from this breakout is that although potentially not that likely, they are becoming more and more likely. What's bothering me is all this focus on the wrong things. We need to already be preparing for the next spillover event for the next virus, but that isn't even close to being on the table, much less discussed or even mentioned. We shouldn't and can't be treating this as a singular event, but many are.
I learned this from the below article:
>> Are spillover events more common now than 50 years ago?
> Yes. EcoHealth Alliance, an NGO, and others, looked at all reported outbreaks since 1940. They came to a fairly solid conclusion that we’re looking at an elevation of spillover events two to three times more than what we saw 40 years earlier. That continues to increase, driven by the huge increase in the human population and our expansion into wildlife areas. The single biggest predictor of spillover events is land-use change—more land going to agriculture and more specifically to livestock production.
This statement is a distraction from the main question. The question is: conditional on being in a SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, what is the probability that the virus arose through purely natural processes, vs. the probability that it escaped from a lab.
I am not equipped to assess the biological evidence, but I do know this: The virus came out of Wuhan, the location of a top safety level (BSL-4) lab that experiments on coronaviruses. It is China's first BSL-4 lab, and one of a small group of such labs worldwide. This alone suggests that the probability of a lab escape is not negligible and should be taken seriously. In fact, without considering additional evidence I would argue this puts the probability of a lab escape above 50%. But again, I am not familiar with nor am I equipped to assess the biological evidence.
In addition, if the virus did escape from a lab, both the Chinese government and the bio scientific community are clearly and highly incentivized to keep this fact a secret. Therefore, when a member of one of these groups argues that this is not a lab escape, this serves as very weak evidence in favor of natural evolution. The incentive to keep such an outcome a secret is so strong, that I would argue we should discount such statements altogether and focus on the actual evidence.
It’s said that diamonds are like snowflakes as each one’s minute imperfections make it absolutely unique.
So in this case we have a diamond mine pumping out “natural” diamonds but turns out they all have a very specific structure which exactly matches a manual published a few years earlier on making lab created diamonds which are almost indistinguishable from natural ones.
It might lead you to suspect that the diamond mine in fact provides the perfect cover story to ship as many lab-made diamonds as you want and sell them with the natural diamond markup.
I have no way to gauge for myself how definitive these genetic abnormalities are, but if they’ve found published research painting a trail directly toward these specific unique and highly unusual sequences which are also specifically responsible for the extremely contagious nature of SARS-CoV-2, then I think at least we are beyond the simple fallacy of believing “mines make diamonds”.
As a followup, I would ask: How many such reservoirs are there, how close are they to human population etc., and therefore what is the probability that the virus came out of this particular one? How many of these BSL-4 labs are located next to such reservoirs? etc. All with the goal of estimating how likely a lab escape was.
I would like to emphasize that (1) it is important that we know the truth, because it will inform our preparation for future pandemics, and (2) there is sufficient evidence that warrants a serious look at the possibility of a lab escape. Instead of dismissing it as a "conspiracy theory", or leaving it all to the biologists, I suggest taking considering all the evidence and trying to estimate these probabilities.
That's exactly the faulty reasoning right there.
As to the laboratory being close: it wasn't accidentally located in Wuhan. The city is the regional centre for a region that only recently expanded into somewhat pristine nature. With ongoing and constant encroachment of natural habitats, there is far more contact between wild species and humans than there is in Europe/North America, or even other Chinese regions.
If Feynman had guessed the plate number before seeing it (say, written a research paper identify the exact number ahead of time) then something miraculous indeed just occurred.
Sylvia Browne's book End of Days predicts a pneumonia-like illness that spreads around the globe in 2020. Published in 2008.
Additional details do not yet match what's happening, though.
As a percentage of the population more Americans have died from covid than the Vietnam war. The wartime comparison is apt.
The chances of both countries doing this just before a global pandemic seem similar to the chances that there's a virus lab in a Chinese mega-city that saw some of the first cases.
So, it's proven Trump and Johnson are secretly Chinese operatives working as part of a covert group hellbent on destroying Capitalism with engineered viruses!!1one /s
The conspiracists go
“It must be a conspiracy because there are like these 6 redundant safety mechanisms and the odds of them all failing at the same time are extremely low”.
But the answer is obvious. If the 6 redundant mechanisms hadn’t failed, the plane wouldn’t crash.
So as long as the odds of failure of each redundant system is not 0%, every plane crash that ever happens will look the same, with multiple redundant items with extremely low likelihood’s of failing, failing together.
Imagine Russia announced last week they had a airplane hacking tool that could crash any 747 by using sonic waves to rattle some bolts loose making the wings fall off the plane.
If tomorrow, 3 different 747s crash all because their wings fell off, would that be suspicious?
You could say "well it was a plane crash, something had to go wrong". But things went wrong in a very specific and unique way that is directly linked to another nation.
It's the same here. The researchers are showing incredibly specific modifications to protein structure and DNA. It's not just "oh wow, this virus is very virulent". It's "oh wow, this virus has a handful of never before seen mutations, all of which were being studied in Wuhan, where the virus began".
Not often do I hear that all 6 redundancies failed at the same time.
Could have been a pandemic with a simpler virus, too.
Depends on how you define pandemic. Just in my lifetime I've seen the rise of HIV, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, H1N1, SARS-CoV-2, and perhaps others that I've forgotten, that meet the dictionary definition of pandemic. That is more than one pandemic per decade, on average, which seems like a lot.
But you can also avoid calling them pandemics. HIV, for example, is officially a "worldwide epidemic". As per the dictionary definition of pandemic, I cannot find any difference between pandemic and worldwide epidemic, but I suppose to an epidemiologist there is a difference.
My understanding of Chinese geography is a bit weak - but it is a bit like if a cow disease broke out in Boston near a BS4 lab. There are certainly some cows in Boston a few blocks from the BS4 lab there. Sure - there are cows in Massachusetts - but statistically it would be a bit surprising that a disease in cows would first show up there.
However, there is a large population of bats right outside Wuhan, and you can find research by the WIV cataloguing different viruses found in the same province. For example : https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31009304/
The key here is that the bats the virus (likely) came from are not actually thousands of miles from Wuhan, but only a few dozen. It's just that since the WIV is a huge institute they sometimes also do research in bats in other regions too, because they don't have such facilities.
My understanding is that the virus came from horseshoe bats. These largely live in Southern China. Wuhan is not Southern China. All studies of Corona viruses I can find deal with going to southern China (because that's where horseshoe bats live) to collect samples from horsehoe bats: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6563315/
Do you have a non-paywalled version to the link you provided? It says they looked at bacteria in bats in the abstract but didn't mention anything about which species of bats.
You can see that Hubei is indeed in the area where horseshoe bats are found.
This will be misinterpreted by everyone who doesn't understand the Bayes rule (which is 99.999% of the population). What she's saying is just a fancy version of "this is the kind of a virus that would likely cause a pandemic", nothing more.
Dr Fauci said it better than I could, so I'll just quote him: "hahahaha"
The paper was published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics (this accepted version is materially different from the original link posted here).
Only thing I could find about Birger Sorensen's was his Linkedin page [1a] and the Immunor page where he's listed as the Chairman [1b].
Angus Dagleish looks legit, although it's notable that he did stand for Parliament in 2016 as a UKIP candidate, according to Wikipedia.
Can't find any primary sources for Andreas Susrud.
[1a]: https://www.linkedin.com/in/birger-sorensen-174a20b/?origina... btw, if this is considered doxxing, let me know and I can remove the link.
I think they are just two different papers. The linked paper has the following quote:
>We have just (2nd June 2020) published Biovacc-19 in QRB-Discovery: a candidate vaccine for this daunting task (Sørensen et al., 2020).
A "background check" does not change this fact, nor does your point actually negate the comment you are responding too. No one here is arguing that you must listen and believe everything that someone has written in a paper, but things must be proven and disproven.
"Background checking" in any form is not science. It might help you make a decision. But that does not make the decision a scientific one even if you consider it "an informed" decision.
To be completely honest, it has become silly that things like this need to be said and reirerated so often on HN.
To disprove them requires you to have even greater subject matter knowledge than they do, which is unfeasible for most normal people. Even at a top university you would need several years to become a subject matter expert. Clearly not a feasible strategy for every commenter on HN.
So what can we do? Most "Climate Skeptics Science", while not being factually disproven, can lose a great amount of credibility by background checking things like authors, what scientific conferences or journal a paper has been submitted to, if it is peer reviewed, etc. In fact, with enough loss of credibility it becomes the burden of the author to prove that they/their paper is credible (see what I did there?).
If there was a clear bias in the authors' background, this would call into question the credibility of the paper. Humans are well-equipped to understand bias without a university degree, less so with bioengineering.
To summarize: HN commenters are generally ill-equipped to prove/disprove arguments in a scientific paper. Like in most sciences this isn't always necessary since you can put the credibility of the authors up for test. If they fail that test, they must prove their credibility before their scientific argument carries any weight. Most HN-commenters are adept at judging other peoples biases.
> If there was a clear bias in the authors' background, this would call into question the credibility of the paper.
And I can't help thinking how there would always be a "clear bias" of people who weren't strongly in support of the Party against Lysenkoism, so it just puts people into a stronger bubble, it doesn't defend any truth.
I think that those not capable of defending a position scientifically shouldn't attempt to do so and should leave it to those who can. I think this because I see these failed attempts as a way of weakening the point they're attempting to support.
> To summarize: HN commenters are generally ill-equipped to prove/disprove arguments in a scientific paper.
I disagree strongly with this, we have a lot of good scientists here who are better equipped than the vast majority of sites. Maybe not everything can be written into a single post, sure, but most of the people here have blogs or what have you and it's not uncommon to see someone post a rebuttal on their blog and for that to make the front page of HN.
> I think that those not capable of defending a position scientifically shouldn't attempt to do so and should leave it to those who can.
Exactly! And to the 95+% of people who commented or clicked the opening link who do not have a background in bioengineering, how could they take a critical and informed stance to what the paper claims? The claim of the pandemic being man-made affects them, wheter they can fully understand the scientific discussion or not! I never meant to say that there is no-one on HN that cannot have the scientific discussion. I meant to say that most people simply have other skills than bioengineering in their toolbox, but they do have the ability to judge someones character if they find background information about them.
Maybe I should have put more emphasis on "generally" when I wrote it, but I hope I have clarified my point here and that you see it is very much in line with your thinking.
I feel that pure facts helps take away the "heat" of an argument. Things that shouldn't be even remotely political--like wearing masks--have turned into political footballs and adding more "heat" to the issue only hardens people to bad positions that hurt everyone.
There are reasons why some publications are treated more seriously than others. Reputation is very helpful for the layman. The very fact that most scientists have said they feel it was a natural outbreak speaks volumes to me. This paper is just a vast chain of speculation, and I think it needs to be treated with a great deal of caution.
Do you think it's unscientific?
Should we look at websites in random order after a search?
Don't confuse the fact h-index has significant issues with the idea it is useless.
Also, swamping people with already settled arguments that they have to continue to prove or disprove is a disinformation tactic. A background check helps avoid giving those situations any air.
Here's a discussion about a paper by respected scientists working in a respected organisation. The paper is probably bad science. https://twitter.com/DiseaseEcology/status/128386841036377702...
In many aspects of our lives we rely on the advice of experts. Personally, as I am not a trained biologist, I am unable to reliably decide if the arguments here are right or wrong. I also believe the vast majoriy of people are in a similar position.
As a result, the only options are to look at:
1. The scientific consensus.
2. The legitimacy of the people making the claims.
It's too early for 1, so 2 is what remains.
So, again, consensus is just a way to cast complex, nuanced topics as flat, solved for things. That's not the case in most scientific subjects.
#2 is not what remains. You can engage with the arguments and the logic. Even as a layperson.
Catholic priests are all experts in catholicism. They write papers about Catholicism, all peer reviewed by other experts in catholicism.
Most agree the Pope is infallible.
Groupthink is still Groupthink and belief is still belief. Hence why we have debacles like the lipid hypothesis.
For the purpose of validation or expert testimony, there is no need to consider everyone who has a PhD and got tenure an expert. It is reasonable to set the bar very high.
The expert on catholicism example is a needless distraction. Of course, there are such experts on catholicism, and they can tell you best what catholic doctrine says. Their opinions about virology are obviously irrelevant, though.
By your measure, Professor Ferguson at ICL is an expert in predicting diseases. He's got a big team and has been doing it for more than 20 years. Many published papers. Invited repeatedly to advise world government's due to his expert status. Widely asserted to be the best in his field.
Guess what - it appears every prediction he ever made was wildly wrong. His predictions for COVID were also wildly wrong. His code was released and it was full of severe bugs. He told the world millions would die of COVID and then when they didn't, claimed his expert recommendations had saved them, all in a fraudulent paper that assumed as a prior that the virus in Sweden mysteriously behaved totally differently to everywhere else and that only lockdowns can possibly affect the course of an epidemic (despite knowing that it isn't true).
This guy has been a failure and fraud his entire life. So has his entire field. It's not just him. All the expert epidemiologists produced models that failed to track reality in any way at all.
Yet, he's an expert by any proxy metric you care to pick. His colleagues rally around, his university protects him, Nature magazine published apologetics for him. He's an expert, unless you pick the only test that matters - are his papers correct?
I know it's scary. But decades, perhaps centuries of near sheep-like behaviour towards science and academics has led to their institutions being saturated with incompetence and fraud. They have no working institutional mechanisms to detect or clear it out. That's why so many fields have "skeptic" movements that "deny" the science. Usually they aren't actually science-deniers as painted, they're people who expected the so-called science to actually care about the scientific method and do their sums right. When they discover that it isn't happening they blog about the errors they found, and the next thing they know, they're being demonised by the press and the very self-same scientists they're criticising. Not because they are wrong, but because they are dangerously right.
If a pharma company came out with a paper saying “we’re almost done developing a cure for cancer!”, people would be rightly skeptical. Lethal manmade viruses are less ridiculous than that, but I’d still classify them as very surprising. Motivated reasoning for those with political ends should be unsurprising when it comes to discussing whether covid is manmade.
Checking background/credentials is due diligence to ensure you aren’t being duped. I wish the world exclusive operated on good faith argumentation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
It's also important to point out that this is pretty much an opinion piece.
This is a politically charged topic so any strong political affilications are notable. I would've also mentioned it if he had run for lib-dems or green or any other party.
Point 1 can also likely be made for the original Sars-CoV, and probably is irrelevant. If they show CoV-2 is more human like than the earlier, then they can begin to make the point.
Point 2 is a gigantic leap of faith - I don’t understand how they connect amino acid inserts into the sequence to gain of function experiments. It makes no sense!
Points 3 & 4 are related: The extra charge on the RBD. If you look at the previous virus, it has a much smaller positively charged patch, and this expands in CoV-2, which makes an evolutionary drift in this direction entirely reasonable. It’s not a wholesale integration of a brand new feature. This charged patch is actually important for binding to heparan sulfate, which gets involved with a bunch of viral entry events (eg AAV, Chinkunguya virus, some other coronaviruses I think). There’s a few recent preprints that discuss the HS relationship with Cov-2, and can go a long way to explain the tropism of the virus. The HS can overcome lower expression of ACE2, by possibly supporting the attachment.
Finally, point 5 is where they throw out DC-SIGN as a receptor. While there are high mannose glycans on the virus particle, I don’t know of anyone proposing this as a receptor for the virus. There is no biochemical/experimental evidence that they show to support this idea.
1) The likely genetic source of SARS cov1 and cov2 is a species of bat in Yunnan province, thousands of miles away, two provinces away from Hubei (Wuhan).
2) The outbreak allegedly started in December in Hubei province when the local bat population (which does not carry this SARS virus?) would be hibernating (?)
3) Only 66% of the initial 41 COVID patients had exposure to Huanan _seafood_ market.
4) A seafood market where you would have to have non-hibernating bats from Yunnan thousands of miles away from Wuhan(?)
5) The seafood market is 13Km away from Wuhan Institute of Virology where Yunnan bats were studied. And 1.4km away from Wuhan's Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (?)
Are these points real or misinformation? If real, why is there no pressure for an independent investigation?
1, 2, 4) are probably irrelevant, because the researchers mostly agree that there was an intermediate host (which one remains to be determined, might be pangolin). So it doesn't matter if the bats were far away or hibernating. Consider also that people often travel, and trade is not limited to one town.
3) It only confirms that we still don't know who was patient zero, and when and where he or she was infected.
> The final version of the research paper, which has undergone peer review and been accepted for publication in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, doesn’t actually make any claims about whether the virus was natural or man-made in its current form.
> The scientific community widely agrees that the virus was not artificially engineered.
One has to wonder how a "Fact Check" site can make an assertion like this without any provided list of references. What exactly does "widely agree" even mean? Was there some sort of statistical polling they did to establish that? Exactly what percentage of the scientific community constitutes "widely" anyways?
In fact, this website appears to enjoy using the word "widely" within articles to make all sorts of broadly generic assertions without any numerical/statistical basis.
Obviously this has nothing to do with conclusion of the paper, but this "many scientists agree" lingo that shows up in various places (Wiki articles, fact-check sites, news, etc) can really be used to push a narrative without any sort of rigor. Personally I look forward to the day where I get to meet the "they" in "you know, they say..."
Edit: op edited their post
Artificially engineered isn't really the question; the questions are 'is this a lab escape?' and 'if this is a lab escape, did the virus work so well on mammals pre-experiment?'.
The scientists have a massive incentive not to believe that the virus is a lab escape until the evidence is overwhelming. This is a global disaster, if it was a lab escape there will be dire consequences for the funding and regulation of level 4 biosecurity centres and potentially global trade & travel for countries that have them.
The Chinese military would have to be beyond stupid to go into a bioweapons program and develop a virus that mainly only targets old people, usually doesn't cause symptoms, spreads like wildfire and is therefore a huge risk to countries with large, densely packed populations. If it was a lab escape it would probably have been just part of studying SARS-like viruses for public health reasons.
2) And there is nothing extraordinary about claiming "Standards in practice were lower than the standards on paper". That is a pretty mild claim. Lab escapes of viruses are a thing.
Considering the how it's playing out in the US, it looks like a great bioweapon for an civilian attack. A big chunk of the population is old enough to be at risk of death. Another non-negligable portion of young people develops long-term disabilities (which is even more crippling to the economy than short-term deaths). And as a nice side-effect of how bad job security is, millions are now unemployed.
If you were to construct a civilian bioweapon you want to target against the US, it almost looks like you would have new playbook now. I very much agree though, that it's extremely unlikely that it was developed and planned in that way.
This is wishful thinking. Countries would simply lie; push such labs underground, or disguise them as some other kinds of labs.
But even that is a misdirection. DNA isn’t nuclear material; technology to manipulate it will soon be available at home.
More in the podcast with Naval Ravikant: https://after-on.com/episodes-31-60/044
You can't look at the set of circumstances that lead up to this, factor in that a lab escape is likely, and make an honest attempt at projecting what additional controls may be rolled out on the field of virological research, and come away from that blind to the fundamental conflict of interest this may generate in people in the field.
Hell, I know researchers who can't even imagine why anyone would do the kind of work described in these documents in the first place, yet nevertheless we have the papers to show they did. We know the equipment and techniques to do the deed exist. That they were all in the same geographical and temporal location. If you don't suspect spooky action at a distance, or endorse magical thinking, you have to come to 2 very uncomfortable conclusions.
The first: technical know-how, tools, and people to wield them existed within the same space, at the same time. The outbreak started in close proximity to this potential causal nexus. This was paired with seemingly anomalous behavior in the initial response to said outbreak, and. It is politically intractable to get a good first person inspection of what was going on at the early stages of the pandemic response due to official acts of censure and destruction of evidence.
The second: Everyone who you'd defer to decide whether or not it's reasonable is also liable to place a variety of unpleasantly enhanced controls on their field as a consequence of giving an affirmative answer.
It'd be like asking the fox whether the lack of security measures on the coop may have had something to with the sudden sharp decline in the population of living chickens. We already know what that answer will look like.
We all look at each other and assume the best of intentions, but even history tells us the best of intentions have a way of finding their ways to very unpleasant outcomes in the presence of enough cogs without the full picture of what is going on, and those with enough of a picture to know what is going on are infrequently in that position due to a willingness to cut their own throats by admitting why they are really doing what they are. That's just the Machiavellian or politically inclined ones.
You've got Oppenheimer's and Teller's who did research just for the fundamental beauty they saw in the math, and understanding, and power conferred by the knowledge gained from their work.
I can't be so crazy as to be the only one to see the ridiculousness in taking the very people with the most lose as being perfectly impartial. I can't be the only candid or meta-cognitive enough to realize that at some level there needs to be a degree of salt taken to any assertion that a lab couldn't have been involved and we should all just stop even considering it.
It explains the difference in opinion of virologists and the well informed independent investigators.
Huh? The paper claims that the preponderance of evidence supports a theory that the virus is the product of a sequence of laboratory manipulations. I suppose this could hinge upon one’s definition of “man-made” but creating a chimera is man-made in my opinion.
> In this paper we argue that the likelihood of this being the result of natural processes is very small.
> We have deduced the internal logic of published research which resulted in the exact functionalities of SARS-CoV-2, including the convergence of agreement from difference classes of source, the timings of the stages of the research and the development of documented capabilities by named institutions and individuals
It’s the latest revision from July 1, by now the text is probably trying to be as “gentle” as possible.
(there's no relationship between the capacity for ADE and self-similarity of amino acid content)
Are these people also conspiracy theorists?
But tl;dr it could be a lab escape but most virologists think it's more likely to be spontaneous zoonosis. In either case, the evidence for genetic modification or "serial passage" is very weak and the virus's distinguishing traits all fit in well with the background distribution of coronaviruses we know about. So the fixation on lab escape seems like a distraction.
Here is an overview: http://s3.amazonaws.com/nasathermalimages/public/video/prete...
The problem with genome data centric analysis is that no distinction is made between RNA samples and virus isolates. Key evidence for the gain-of-function hypothesis, is one or more lab isolates that match long segments of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, including non-coding segments.
Fact is that if the virus escaped a lab, the incident could have occurred in any other lab, too. It likely evolved naturally, though, and another fact is that it could have occurred naturally in many places in the world - e.g. in the Middle East or in Africa -, and a more dangerous virus could evolve in many regions of the world at any time.
Many people just don't want to accept this, especially those who reacted in the wrong way to the pandemic initially. It's always easier to blame someone else.