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The “lab leak” hypothesis is becoming a conspiracy theory

Scientists have generally concluded that evidence points to a natural origin for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, as a far more likely explanation for the pandemic than a laboratory origin. Recently, there has been a lot of media chatter about the “lab leak” hypothesis. Is there new evidence? Nope. The “lab leak” hypothesis is fast becoming a conspiracy theory.

If, as I have, you’ve been paying attention to these things for a number of years, you know that, whenever there is a major outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic of infectious disease, one conspiracy theory always—and I do mean always—arises. That conspiracy theory is that the causative microbe was developed in a laboratory and/or escaped a laboratory. HIV, H1N1, the original SARS, Ebola virus, every single one of them gave birth to such conspiracy theories. Unsurprisingly, given its global scope and death toll, so it was with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and the hypothesis that this coronavirus originated in a lab has become known as the “lab leak” hypothesis, with major news outlets devoting a lot of ink, both digital and real, as well as TV air time to the idea.

Even as far back as February 2020, I noted that antivaxxer James Lyons-Weiler was falsely claiming that he had “broken the coronavirus code” and found nucleotide sequences in its genome indicating that it had come from a laboratory working on coronavirus vaccines, while Nobel Laureate turned crackpot Luc Montagnier also endorsed the “engineered virus” idea. For someone who is supposedly an expert in bioinformatics, Lyons-Weiler’s analysis—carried out in January 2020!—was risibly bad. Then came the “plandemic” conspiracy theory, in which antivaxxer and disgraced scientist Judy Mikovits claimed that SARS-CoV-2 was not only engineered but intentionally released. As we discussed at the time, the nucleotide sequence of isolates of SARS-CoV-2 analyzed early in the pandemic showed no evidence of “engineering,” no telltale signs of having been synthesized or modified in a laboratory, and a more recent WHO report similarly concludes that the likelihood of a laboratory origin for the virus compared to the odds of a natural origin is very low.

The “lab leak” hypothesis is resurrected

The idea that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory has continued to bubble under the surface of discussions of the pandemic but wasn’t really a major discussion point for a number of months—that is, until recently. Late last month, for example, President Biden instructed US intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts to “collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” regarding the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Before that, journalist Nicholas Wade published an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (who knows why it was published there instead of in a virology or molecular biology journal) arguing that the virus originated in so-called “gain-of-function” experiments and was accidentally released.

This followed a letter published in Science by a number of scientists advocating investigating the origins of the coronavirus and saying that we “must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data”. The authors were apparently unhappy with a joint Chinese and World Health Organization (WHO) investigation published in March that concluded that an animal origin for SARS-CoV-2 was far more likely than a lab leak, as Steve Novella discussed at the time. Personally, I was unhappy at how unconcerned at least one of the signatories was over how their letter had been used by conspiracy theorists as support for their ideas.

Then there was Fox News publicizing a fact-checking event earlier in May held by Politifacts that quoted Dr. Fauci thusly when asked about whether he was confident that SARS-CoV-2 arose naturally:

“No actually,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said, around 12 minutes into footage of the event, which was held earlier this month but overlooked by most media outlets. “I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.” 

“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he continued.

“Will you in front of this group categorically say that the COVID-19 virus could not have occurred by serial passage in a laboratory?” Sen. Rand Paul had asked Fauci during a Senate hearing last Tuesday. 

Fauci did not explicitly rule out such a possibility: “I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done, and I’m fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China,” he said. “However, I will repeat again, the NIH and NIAID categorically has not funded gain of function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago the Wall Street Journal published a story titled “Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin” (there’s no evidence presented that they were sick with COVID-19), while the Washington Post published an analysis titled “Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible“. To be honest, the latter story simply told me how the conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2 had a laboratory origin had arisen even earlier than I thought it had, all without providing any new data that would lead me to view the “lab leak” hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 origin as more likely than a natural origin. Moreover, the first article basically doesn’t provide such evidence either, given that US intelligence officials are still not certain what the researchers actually had and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told Congress last month that “the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially”. Then, just last week Vanity Fair published an article by Katherine Eban entitled The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins, which basically tarted up old information. The tag line of the story gives away the conspiracy theory game:

Throughout 2020, the notion that the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab was off-limits. Those who dared to push for transparency say toxic politics and hidden agendas kept us in the dark.

The article goes even further:

But for most of the past year, the lab-leak scenario was treated not simply as unlikely or even inaccurate but as morally out-of-bounds. In late March, former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield received death threats from fellow scientists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had originated in a lab. “I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis,” Redfield told Vanity Fair. “I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science.”

It’s the secret origin of the coronavirus “they” don’t want you to know about, given how blatantly the article portrays a group of “brave maverick” doctors and scientists going by the acronym DRASTIC—which stands for (I kid you not), “Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19″—as unsung and abused heroes fighting governments to uncover evidence for the “lab leak” hypothesis that “they” don’t want you to know about. The hagiography is downright nauseating, while one ally of the group uses this rationale to justify his belief in a lab leak:

Let me be clear. While I do believe that a lab incident is the most likely origin of the pandemic, this is only a hypothesis. That this pandemic might stem from a zoonotic jump in the wild is also a hypothesis, even though very little evidence supporting that hypothesis has so far emerged. When comparing the evidence for each possibility, the case for a lab incident origin seems significantly stronger to me. 

“Only a hypothesis” appears to be the new “only a theory.” False equivalence, anyone? Again, the existence of two competing explanations for an incident does not make the two explanations equally plausible, and, scientifically, the two are not even close—with lab leak proponents picking the far less likely explanation. Meanwhile, even Dr. Scott Gottleib, former FDA Commissioner, is amplifying fringe sites because they approvingly write about his media appearances:

In his appearance, Dr. Gottleib tries to appear oh-so-reasonable, although in essence he admits that the science thus far does not support the lab leak hypothesis. Undeterred, he hand waves about how “national security considerations” should drive us to take the idea more seriously and investigate more intensively.

These developments led me to start to wonder if there was anything in the evidence base that had led most scientists to conclude that the most likely origin of SARS-CoV-2 was natural. Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot of Twitter activity of this sort:

Eban wrote basically the same thing in her Vanity Fair article, just without explicitly invoking Bayes theorem:

As months go by without a host animal that proves the natural theory, the questions from credible doubters have gained in urgency.

Longtime readers know that I’m a big fan of Bayes’ theorem, and as a big fan of Bayesian analysis, let me just say that Mr. Gordon demonstrates an epic misunderstanding of Bayes’ theorem. Personally, I like this response:

See? Bayes theorem can cut both ways with respect to estimating prior probabilities. As many have pointed out, when a virus makes the jump from animals to humans, it often takes years to figure out the origin. As Dan Samorodnitsky points out:

So, figuring out where this particular virus came from will be a challenge. It can take years, decades, or more to find the source of a virus. Ebola, for instance, was identified in 1976, has caused multiple epidemics, and we still don’t really know what animal it spilled over from. To confirm beyond a reasonable doubt the virus’s origins, we’d have to sample wild animals and sequence the viruses they carry to find a close genetic relative, an astronomical task, haystacks within haystacks. In the absence of a smoking gun, there’s still good research that points in one direction. Take the phylogenetic analysis in preprint this week that, once again, suggests bats as a reservoir for SARS-CoV-2, with pangolins or civets as possible intermediate steps.

And Michael Hiltzik adds:

Let’s take a look at the science underlying the search for COVID’s origins. One important fact is that we may never get a definitive answer. The animal source of the Ebola virus, which was first identified 45 years ago, is still unknown, Maxmen reported in Nature

Maxmen noted that it took researchers 14 years to trace the 2002-2004 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, to a virus that leapt from bats to humans. 

In other words, it’s only been less than a year and a half since the virus was identified and sequenced. Just because scientists haven’t yet found “smoking gun” evidence nailing down which specific animal species from which the coronavirus made the jump to humans as SARS-CoV-2 (and where) does not make a lab origin more likely. It just doesn’t. The argument is just plain silly, and the vacuous invocation of Bayes’ theorem makes my brain hurt.

Bad logic and math aside, I’ve noticed that the lab leak hypothesis has definitely—shall we say?—evolved during the last year. Given the utter lack of evidence in the nucleotide sequences of SARS-CoV-2 for an “engineered” origin, the “respectable” people now claiming that the coronavirus came from a lab hasten to deny (usually quite fervently) that they think it was “engineered” or a “bioweapon.” Basically, there are now two primary versions of the “lab leak” hypothesis, although they frequently seem to overlap, as advocates of version #2 can’t seem to resist using some of the downright silly arguments favored by advocates of version #1. Here are the two versions, stated briefly:

  1. An engineered SARS coronavirus created at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through “gain of function” experiments somehow escaped and caused the pandemic.
  2. A natural SARS coronavirus stored and studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology somehow escaped and caused the pandemic.

I can say with a high degree of confidence based on existing evidence that the first version is so implausible as to have been firmly in conspiracy theory territory for well over a year. The second is the version that “reasonable” people consider plausible. Unfortunately, here is no good evidence for either version, and even the second version is fast joining the first version in becoming a conspiracy theory, particularly given the increasing claims that “they” don’t want you to know about it and that there’s been a massive conspiracy to “cover up” the lab leak origin of SARS-CoV-2.

In any event, given how much these hypotheses have been discussed in the news as though there were some new evidence that now makes the “lab leak” hypothesis more likely (spoiler alert: there isn’t) and assaulted me on social media, coming from conspiracy theorists and non-conspiracy theorists, I just had to look into this issue again. Let’s look at each version of the hypothesis. I’ll start with the much less plausible version and then examine the more plausible “variant” (if you’ll excuse the term).

Lab leak, version 1: The virus was engineered and escaped.

An excellent entry point to the claim that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered and then somehow accidentally released into the wild, thus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, was a news story in The Daily Mail that I saw a week ago, because it contains a couple of major themes that I’ve seen used many times to argue for a lab origin for the virus, as well as the dubious scientific arguments. The story touts a then as-yet unpublished paper by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen, described in the story as being “set to be published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery.” In typical Daily Mail fashion, the headline is basically a conspiracy theory:

The Daily Fail's "lab leak" headline

The rationale in the paper, judging from the excerpts and statements by Dalgleish and Sørensen, rests on an appeal to incredulity, specifically disbelief that SARS-CoV-2 could have arisen from a natural source. Such arguments are perhaps the most common arguments for a “lab leak” that I’ve seen, usually accompanied with incorrect reasons why such an origin is “impossible.” This article is no different in that general form.

When I first read the article, I had never heard of these scientists before and had no idea who they were; so I did a bit of Googling and learned that Dr. Dalgleish is an oncologist at St. George’s, University of London and ran for Parliament as a member of the UK Independence Party during the 2015 United Kingdom general election, finishing fourth. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Pathologists, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He’s famous for having been the co-discoverer of the CD4 receptor as the major cellular receptor for HIV. Sørensen is the chair of a pharmaceutical company, Immunor, which developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19.

Interestingly, the story states that the article was “exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com and slated for publication in the coming days.” Given the apparently enthusiastic participation of Dalgleish and Sørensen in interviews for the news story, it’s very hard to imagine how The Daily Mail might have gotten a copy of the paper from any other source besides the authors, although one of the three authors of the manuscript, Andres Susrud, posted an earlier version of the paper, which was not accepted:

There’s another huge red flag about this study and that’s the journal in which it was published, which was not in a molecular biology, biochemistry, or virology journal, but rather a biophysics journal. That’s not the first place I’d choose to publish an article of this sort, although QRB Discovery does describe itself as publishing “physical observations of relevance to biological systems, both experimental and theoretical, that may point towards an exciting direction, rather than the presentation of a traditional comprehensive study”, which might explain why Dalgleish and Sørensen decided to publish there instead of a more appropriate journal. Then there’s this excerpt of the story:

They said they tried to publish their findings but were rejected by major scientific journals which were at the time resolute that the virus jumped naturally from bats or other animals to humans.

So basically the authors went shopping until they found a journal that would accept their manuscript. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. (Pretty much every scientist, myself included, has submitted a manuscript to a different journal after rejection by another journal, and many of us have had the unpleasant experience of having to submit to three or more journals before we could get an article published.) However, it does raise eyebrows when an article like this ends up in a journal that doesn’t seem appropriate for the material. Just look at the sorts of articles in the latest issue. They’re all pretty heavily weighted towards fairly hard core biophysical studies, rather than sequence analysis. Moreover, contrary to how it’s being described, as a “study,” in reality it’s more of a review article, with no new research published, at least as far as I can tell.

Now, let’s look at the Abstract and Conclusion sections, helpfully provided by the Daily Mail. Here’s the abstract:

Dalgleish lab leak abstract

Here’s the conclusion:

Lab leak "conclusion"

I can’t help but note the rather strange wording of the abstract, namely the authors’ claim that their analysis is so compelling that it “reverses the burden of proof” for those who consider a laboratory origin of the virus highly unlikely and a natural origin much more so. Be that as it may, before I discuss the article and the figures, I have to point out yet another red flag that I discovered in the Daily Mail article. It was such a big one that it literally deserves a facepalm. Here’s the excerpt from the article:

One tell-tale sign of alleged manipulation the two men highlighted was a row of four amino acids they found on the SARS-Cov-2 spike.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Sørensen said the amino acids all have a positive charge, which cause the virus to tightly cling to the negatively charged parts of human cells like a magnet, and so become more infectious. 

But because, like magnets, the positively charged amino acids repel each other, it is rare to find even three in a row in naturally occurring organisms, while four in a row is ‘extremely unlikely,’ the scientist said.

‘The laws of physics mean that you cannot have four positively charged amino acids in a row. The only way you can get this is if you artificially manufacture it,’ Dalgleish told DailyMail.com.

Their new paper says these features of SARS-Cov-2 are ‘unique fingerprints’ which are ‘indicative of purposive manipulation’, and that ‘the likelihood of it being the result of natural processes is very small.’

And here’s the facepalm, much deserved:

Godzilla facepalm

Actually, it deserves one more:

There’s really only one word to describe this claim: Bullshit. I’m sorry if anyone is offended by mild profanity, but that really is the only word to describe the claim above, and scientists were quick to call it out as such on social media, with examples:

Personally, I like these responses the best:

Indeed. If it truly “violates the laws of physics” to have four positively charged amino acids all in a line next to each other in a protein, then it would be utterly impossible to engineer a nucleotide sequence that could encode such a protein, because translation would fail! Seriously, how could any journal allow a review article to make such a nonsensical argument? It turns out that four positively charged amino acids in a row is quite common, a motif found in thousands of different proteins. It’s tempting just to dismiss the whole thing based on such epic ignorance, but let’s dig in a little bit more because Dalgleish and Sørensen make another claim that is commonly made by those arguing for a laboratory origin.

The key claim made by Dalgleish and Sørensen is this:

Dalgleish and Sørensen claim that scientists working on Gain of Function projects took a natural coronavirus ‘backbone’ found in Chinese cave bats and spliced onto it a new ‘spike’, turning it into the deadly and highly transmissible SARS-Cov-2.

They base their argument on, in essence, an argument from ignorance, with a bit of conspiracy theory added. Yes, it is possible to create genetic sequences without, for instance, typical restriction enzyme sites of the sort that were frequently used to insert sequences into genomes. However, it isn’t nearly as easy as Dalgleish and Sørensen make it sound. Basically, to them these nefarious Chinese scientists were supposedly so clever that they not only did something that’s not at all trivial but did it without leaving behind any telltale signs in the sequence of genetic manipulation, other than the ones that only Dalgleish and Sørenson “discovered,” such as the six areas on the protein that basically every other scientist didn’t find suspicious. Then there’s the argument that a natural virus pandemic would be expected to “mutate gradually” to become more infectious but less pathogenic (i.e., deadly). Certainly, we’ve seen the former with the emergence of more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2 all over the world, but we haven’t seen the latter.

As virologist Angela Rasmussen pointed out:

Again, the appeal to evolution used by many lab leak advocates is quite simply, incorrect, and we wouldn’t necessarily expect SARS-CoV-2 to evolve to become less pathogenic and less deadly. Given that the infection fatality rate of SARS-CoV-2 is already well under 1% and a significant fraction of its infections are asymptomatic or only mildly symptomatic, there really isn’t likely to be that much selective pressure for mutations that make it less deadly, particularly when it’s still spreading so widely and easily.

As for the rest of the article, it’s a lot of handwaving and appeals to ignorance and conspiracy. Again, its two main points (that a four amino acid stretch of positive residues is so unusual) and that evolution would inevitably lead to a slow increase in transmissibility and decrease in pathogenicity, are clearly incorrect and cannot explain the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Indeed, there are now several papers that show how the virus likely evolved from previously existing coronaviruses and how it is continuing to evolve as is spreads. (Here is a good recent review article, and potential evolutionary pathways that could have led to SARS-CoV-2 were known as early as July 2020.) 

Then there are the articles claiming to have slam-dunk scientific evidence that SARS-CoV-2 could not have arisen naturally. Chief among these (at least now) have been articles by Li-Meng Yan claiming that the published bat coronavirus RaTG13 genome, identified in a horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis) and sharing 96% sequence homology with SARS-CoV-2, was, in essence, “fake” and generated as a cover-up to prop up the “natural origin theory.” (No, I’m not exaggerating; Yan even claims that any data questioning the “natural origin theory” is censored by scientific journals.) RaTG13 was found in archived bat specimens stored at the Wuhan Institute of Virology after having been collected in 2013. Others have demonstrated rather conclusively that they could generate the RaTG13 sequence from the raw sequence data submitted to public databases, concluding that the “published RaTG13 genome is supported by raw sequence data of good quality.” Uncoincidentally, Yan is also known for attacking scientists, such as Angela Rasmussen, who noted this in a commentary.

Another example of supposed “slam-dunk” evidence is the claim popularized in Wade’s article (mentioned above) that a site called a furin cleavage site is unique to SARS-CoV-2 among SARS beta coronaviruses. As I mentioned in last week’s article, the spike protein in SARS-CoV-2 consists of two subunits. Between those two subunits, S1 and S2, sits a site where a human protein called furin cleaves the protein, to produce the two functional subunits. Wade claimed:

Viruses have all kinds of clever tricks, so why does the furin cleavage site stand out? Because of all known SARS-related beta-coronaviruses, only SARS2 possesses a furin cleavage site. All the other viruses have their S2 unit cleaved at a different site and by a different mechanism.

How then did SARS2 acquire its furin cleavage site? Either the site evolved naturally, or it was inserted by researchers at the S1/S2 junction in a gain-of-function experiment.

Basically, Wade’s argument seems to be that because a furin cleavage site of this sort hasn’t been seen in SARS-related beta coronaviruses before it must have been engineered. The problem is that such furin cleavage sites are common in a wide variety of viruses, including coronaviruses, and that scientists already had identified plausible mechanisms by which it could have ended up where it did in SARS-CoV2 last year:

The scientists in the TWiV podcast discussing the investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology were…less than flattering to Wade, as well:

You should hear what they have to say about Nicholas Wade and his failure to understand the furin cleavage site (1:10 minutes)! And they have lots to say about everything else in the Wade article. Everyone needs to watch that discussion if you are really interested in science and not half-baked conspriacy theories.

I could go on and on and on with this stuff, but basically all the claims that SARS-CoV-2 couldn’t have arisen naturally don’t show anything of the sort. Worse, they very often betray a downright risible ignorance of the actual molecular biology of the virus. One other claim that keeps popping up is that SARS-CoV-2 appeared “perfectly adapted” to humans as a host. (Wade alludes to this.) This study suggests a pathway by which natural selection in bats could have created a more “generalist” virus, rather than specifically adapted to humans. In other words, SARS-CoV-2 isn’t “perfectly adapted to humans,” just well adapted enough to infect them efficiently.

A more general take on an “engineered” virus

Perhaps the most basic refutation to the “engineered” virus narrative is a simple one. As good as virologists are, they don’t know a priori the features that make a virus more likely to infect and harm humans. As Ethan Siegel at Forbes put it:

The science of what can be done in virology, with modern techniques, is quite impressive. But what the conspiracy attests must have happened reaches far beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced research teams in the world.

The first red flag that should leap out at you, but perhaps only if you have some knowledge of virology to begin with, is the very idea that you could “know” what certain mutations would do — i.e., that you’d know what you’d create and what effect it would have on humans — without extensive testing in humans themselves.

And:

While we do have the ability to manipulate the genomes of viruses, or any other organism, for that matter, what we don’t have the ability to do is to know how that will translate into effects of the virus in human (or any living) subjects.

That’s not entirely true. It’s not that we can’t always predict what specific mutations might do. We now know enough about protein structure and function to make educated guesses about how changing an amino acid to another is likely to affect protein structure in some instances. Siegel is correct, though, that we do not have the sort of fine-tuned ability to make precise predictions.

As University of North Carolina virologist Ralph Baric put it:

Baric said that sars-CoV-2 was different enough from known viruses that to retrofit it from an ancestral strain would have required a truly unprecedented feat of genetic reëngineering. “And of course you don’t know what you’re engineering, because sars-CoV-2 would not have existed,” Baric said.

The engineering of a virus that didn’t exist yet (without knowledge of how to make it more transmissible between humans) seems very unlikely.

Version 2: Lab leak of a “natural” SARS beta coronavirus

The second version of the “lab leak” hypothesis is basically the claim that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology but wasn’t engineered. Rather, according to this version, it was a bat coronavirus that had been collected for study and stored at the Institute. The closest thing to “new evidence” that I’ve seen cited in favor of this has been reporting from The Wall Street Journallast week, for example, The Wuhan Lab Leak Question: A Disused Chinese Mine Takes Center Stage. First, there’s the background:

On the outskirts of a village deep in the mountains of southwest China, a lone surveillance camera peers down toward a disused copper mine smothered in dense bamboo. As night approaches, bats swoop overhead.

This is the subterranean home of the closest known virus on Earth to the one that causes Covid-19. It is also now a touchpoint for escalating calls for a more thorough probe into whether the pandemic could have stemmed from a Chinese laboratory.

In April 2012, six miners here fell sick with a mysterious illness after entering the mine to clear bat guano. Three of them died.

Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were called in to investigate and, after taking samples from bats in the mine, identified several new coronaviruses.

Now, unanswered questions about the miners’ illness, the viruses found at the site and the research done with them have elevated into the mainstream an idea once dismissed as a conspiracy theory: that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, the city where the first cases were found in December 2019.

All this story tells us is that bats harbor all sorts of interesting and potentially dangerous coronaviruses. (One notes, however, that this is how the RaTG13 sequence was initially collected, as I mentioned above.) Then there was another WSJ article reporting:

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory.

The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”

This is some really thin gruel. It isn’t even known if these researchers actually had what is now called COVID-19. They could have had influenza or another virus.

Also, as Michael Hiltzik points out:

Virologists point out, moreover, that it would be unlikely for COVID to affect only three people seriously enough to warrant hospital care without infecting hundreds of others in the lab or their households. The other victims might have had milder symptoms, but an outbreak of that magnitude would have been difficult to keep under wraps.

Both forms of the lab leak hypothesis share one element, namely constant finger pointing at the Chinese for being less than enthusiastic and cooperative about letting investigators into the Wuhan Institute of Virology to try to determine if a lab leak happened. This is, of course, not surprising and not in and of itself evidence for a lab leak. China is an authoritarian regime, and such regimes tend to be secretive. However, for an authoritarian regime, China appears to have actually cooperated more than you might have imagined, at least based on this interview with some of the actual scientists who went to Wuhan to investigate for the WHO. Or at least you can say that the Chinese weren’t nearly as obstructionist as claimed:

As Larry Moran characterized the conversation:

The WHO scientists want to emphasize three things: (1) it is extremely unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 was being studied at WIV so it couldn’t have escaped from there; (2) there is no evidence to support the lab leak conspiracy theory but if any evidence shows up they are perfectly willing to investigate; (3) it’s very likely that SARS-CoV-2 originated naturally in the wild and all efforts should be focused on the most likely scenario and not on an extremely unlikely scenario.

Also, think of it this way. What country would welcome investigators with open arms into one of their major research institutions to look for evidence that its scientists had screwed up and caused a worldwide disaster? Even if a government were confident that no such error had occurred, it might not be too thrilled with such an investigation, particularly when it’s coupled with what can only be called accusations of wrongdoing and being instigated by people hostile to you. That the Chinese are testy and unenthusiastic about cooperating is not a strong argument in favor of a lab leak. Sure, it could be a sign of a coverup, but it could also just be a normal human reaction to accusations by those who are less than friendly to one’s country.

TWiV followed it up with this more general discussion:

Bottom line: There is no new evidence that we haven’t known about for a long time that would lead to the reprioritizing of the two hypotheses to lead the lab leak hypothesis to become much more plausible.

Two hypotheses ≠ equally likely hypotheses

From the very beginning, the general scientific hypothesis has been that, while it is possible that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab, it’s far more likely that it had a natural origin. As Samorodnitskyput it:

Though there is no direct evidence for either idea, the natural origins hypothesis has scientific precedence. The coronavirus family of viruses, that SARS-CoV-2 is a part of, have spilled over into humans (SARS and MERS) and caused pandemics. Natural origin also takes into consideration natural phenomena that happen all the time in wild viruses — they reproduce rapidly, mutate frequently, acquire bits of DNA like a boat collecting barnacles, and change behavior, particularly when they shift from one host to another. These processes happen in all viruses.

But, the permanent uncertainty of SARS-CoV-2’s origins has made other explanations, no matter how complex, attractive.

I’m going to quote this paragraph too, because I wish I had thought of a way this good of saying this:

If the question is “are both hypotheses possible?” the answer is yes. Both are possible. If the question is “are they equally likely?” the answer is absolutely not. One hypothesis requires a colossal cover-up and the silent, unswerving, leak-proof compliance of a vast network of scientists, civilians, and government officials for over a year. The other requires only for biology to behave as it always has, for a family of viruses that have done this before to do it again. The zoonotic spillover hypothesis is simple and explains everything. It’s scientific malpractice to pretend that one idea is equally as meritorious as the other. The lab-leak hypothesis is a scientific deus ex machina, a narrative shortcut that points a finger at a specific set of bad actors. I would be embarrassed to stand up in front of a room of scientists, lay out both hypotheses, and then pretend that one isn’t clearly, obviously better than the other.

Precisely. The natural origin hypothesis tends to the default for any new disease that arises for the simple reason that it is by far the most likely to be the correct explanation. It’s very common for viruses to mutate and evolve in animals and then jump over to humans and pandemics have been caused this way before. Again, the likelihood of the two hypotheses is nowhere near close to equal, and the plausibility of the hypothesis of a lab leak of an engineered virus is so low that it makes that version of the “lab leak” hypothesis even less likely than a leak of a natural virus. Even prominent signatories of the Science letter don’t actually believe that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab:

On Tuesday evening, I spoke by video call with Ralph Baric, the U.N.C. virologist whose work had fallen under Rand Paul’s suspicious gaze. Baric had also signed Relman’s letter in Science, but he told me that his concerns had been with the W.H.O.’s failure to conduct a thorough, transparent review of biosafety measures at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “I really believe that the genetic sequence for sars-CoV-2 really points to a natural-origin event from wildlife,” he said. Baric was sturdy-looking, with a paintbrush mustache and slightly melancholy eyes. The suggestion that it would have taken some Chinese science experiments to get the virus from bats in Yunnan to human beings in Wuhan seemed to leave him slightly affronted, on behalf of the natural world. However large the Wuhan Institute’s library of bat viruses, he said, the repository of viruses out in nature exceeded it by “many orders of magnitude.”

So why has the lab leak hypothesis seemingly risen from its grave and shambled off to social media and the news? One reason is politics. However another reason is, quite simply, likely to be pandemic fatigue. Knowledge is power, and it is also comforting. If we were to know the origin of this pandemic, the thinking goes, then we would better know how to prevent future pandemics. Maybe so, but here’s the thing. Even if the lab leak hypothesis is true, and SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab in China, it would make absolutely zero difference in how we need to deal with the pandemic now.

As Samorodnitsky put it:

The most bothersome thing about all this is that it does not particularly matter where SARS-CoV-2 came from. Making a scapegoat out of China doesn’t do anything about the political and economic systems that allowed millions to die, especially in wealthy nations like the US that could easily afford muscular public health responses.

And:

Creating a webbed story of cover-ups and conspiracy allows us to ignore how in many ways all humans caused the COVID-19 catastrophe. What if it wasn’t one bad Chinese government’s fault, but the whole world’s fault for destroying habitats, mining too deeply, and creating the perfect conditions for natural viral spillovers?

What if, indeed. Early in the pandemic, knowing the source of an outbreak can certainly guide efforts to contain it, including contact tracing, shutting down specific sites of the outbreak, and quarantine anyone exposed to the virus. That time for COVID-19 came and went a long time ago. Even in the unlikely event that the lab leak hypothesis is confirmed, it won’t help us deal with the pandemic now. I’d even question just how much this knowledge would help us prevent future pandemics, except briefly, given that it is human nature to forget and any safety measures implemented would likely fade in intensity with time.

To conclude, the lab leak hypothesis is possible, and it is possible that new evidence will be discovered to prove it. The hypothesis is just not nearly as plausible as a natural origin for SARS-CoV-2, and it will take new evidence to change that situation. Unfortunately, for now the lab leak hypothesis has become, in essence, a conspiracy theory. It is weaponized uncertainty designed to frighten people for political purposes, complete with insinuations of cover-up, which is exactly what any good conspiracy theory needs to be complete. Sadly, all too many people who really should know better (but, apparently, do not) have embraced a lab leak origin as highly plausible, even as some of them continue to claim they believe SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

255 replies on “The “lab leak” hypothesis is becoming a conspiracy theory”

I have to ask. Why would scientists even try for something that would violate the laws of physics? (I get it doesn’t).

Also, for completion, Dr. Rasmussen and a colleague published a nice op-Ed on this. I think it even adds a few points to your so thorough and helpful analysis. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/virus-origins-nature-lab/2021/06/03/dd50eb62-c4a9-11eb-93f5-ee9558eecf4b_story.html%3foutputType=amp

One of the blurb providers for Metzl’s book is none other than Sanjay Gupta, who is scheduled as yet another crank to guest-host Jeopardy! in the near future.

Oh, man, I missed the bit about Jeffrey Outlaw Shallit. He was an especially generous professor — APL doesn’t grow on trees, but fractal ones just might in a sense.

“Bayes theorem applies. The longer we go without identifying a natural source the more probability shifts to lab.”

Poor or limited evidence for hypothesis A is not evidence for hypothesis B.

Also, probabilities don’t “shift”. When the weight of evidence is poor for all hypotheses we need to give precedence to the priors (as Orac highlights).

I don’t totally agree. And, as I said on Twitter, not even mentioning the Fauci-Andersen exchange? From what I, as an educated layperson, know, I agree that it’s more likely natural. But, as Scott Gottlieb, who is NOT a layperson has said, lab leaks happen a lot. Pro Publica reported on lab leaks at a North Carolina lab that … wait for it … works with coronaviruses. https://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2021/06/coronavirus-week-60a-fauci-emails-takes.html

I’ll keep your post around for the next time I address the lab leak hypothesis, which might well be very soon, given Stephen Quay and Richard Muller’s silly WSJ op-ed.

As for Scott Gottleib, he’s lately been retweeting Daily Caller Tweets approvingly reporting his media appearances. I mean, I understand self-promotion, but, damn. Maybe he ought to ask why the Daily Caller likes him so much now. Moreover, I see no evidence that he has any of the requisite knowledge of molecular biology to speak knowledgeably about the topic. I do. Not as much as many of the Twitter virologists, but I do have a PhD in molecular biology and have been funded to do such research.

As an aside, I do like to “thank” the cranks. I do have a PhD in molecular biology, but I’m not doing cutting edge virology research. Dealing with COVID-19 disinformation has forced me to up my game and make myself more familiar with more recent developments in genomics and molecular biologists than have been needed for my own research, which is more cell biology-based these days.

As for your attacks on Fauci, all I could think was…

Godzilla disapproves

That’s nice.🙄

Sadly, your Fauci post would have been right at home on OAN or World Net Daily.

Feel free to be “disappointed” in me.

I forgot that I blogged five years ago about the smackdown Horgan delivered at NECSS, while we’re here. It’s linked in an updated version of that blog post above.

Should I have remembered? Going over your updated version, I see that the post was eminently forgettable, and it was over five years ago. I don’t even expect that people will remember five year old posts by me that I rank among my best and am proud of, much less my—shall we say?—below average ones.

We need a new term before I get permanent damage from all the facepalming I’ve been doing!

I really don’t desire to get into much of this handwaiving rebuttal of the alleged ‘handwaivers’, but there was also this…

Even in the unlikely event that the lab leak hypothesis is confirmed, it won’t help us deal with the pandemic now.

Indeed, even some proponents of the lab leak theory concede that how the virus originated has little bearing on how we deal with the pandemic. I disagree, and I am siding with Sorenson here. In his first paper over a year ago in which he proposed his own covid vaccine, he argued that it was essential to understand the unique signature of covid and its manipulation fingerprints in order to produce a safe and effective vaccine for it.

Thus far, all the vaccines that have been approved were developed based on the thinking that this virus was just like any other virus. Could this assumption not prove costly?

PS: Also hoping someone here would take this up…

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9658851/Genome-sequencing-certainly-proves-COVID-deliberately-lab-experts-claim.html?ci=220795&si=25355336&ai=9658851

It’s a god of the gaps argument:

The pair conclude: ‘Yes, it could have happened randomly, through mutations. But do you believe that? At the minimum, this fact—that the coronavirus, with all its random possibilities, took the rare and unnatural combination used by human researchers—implies that the leading theory for the origin of the coronavirus must be laboratory escape.’

I mean, that’s a seriously dumb argument. “Rare” combinations are not so rare when there are such large numbers of viruses, of which we’ve only sequenced a fraction.

Rare” combinations are not so rare when there are such large numbers of viruses, of which we’ve only sequenced a fraction.

And, who really is spewing the stupid argument? On what grounds is Orac assuming that sequencing more viruses would make certain combination less rare. Is he not asking for hypothetical over reality?

“Is he not asking for hypothetical over reality?”
]
It seems like he might be. Idk, I don’t know scientists. What I would do is just kill it and then say it idn’t heart bear… after i … olk, i’m going to muj on the sequnce.

@Greg Point is that even though winning a jackpot is extremely unprobable, somebody still wins them. The reason is that there are many contenders.

@Greg Point is that even though winning a jackpot is extremely unprobable, somebody still wins them. The reason is that there are many contenders.

No, I don’t think that analogy applies. Let’s revisit how Orac waived away the improbability of a double CCG in Covid-2 genome

I mean, that’s a seriously dumb argument. “Rare” combinations are not so rare when there are such large numbers of viruses, of which we’ve only sequenced a fraction.

I think a better analogy would be Orac waiving away the probability that the coin is fixed after we spin it 50 times and it always turns up ‘heads’ by suggesting if we flip it a million more times things might just even out.

@Greg You really think that there only fifty virus particles ( not virus types) in the body ? If so, so are wrong.

I am siding with Sorenson here

Seriously, you can’t do the work and side with yourself? as any other scientist do.

Al

Wow…just wow.

This blog should be called persistent ignorance.

You do realize there’s at least one Chinese scientist who defected and told us covid leaked from a lab?

The lab LITERALLY collects and studies bat viruses.

You can’t be THIS ignorant.

God help your patients. I hope you don’t have any.

@brian

This is hilarious.

“Her claims suffered another blow this week, when a World Health Organization team sent to China to investigate the origins of the pandemic issued a statement saying it was “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus came from a lab.”

Everyone* agrees the “investigation” was a joke.

*I mean objective people. Not the readers or the author of this blog.

“One of Yan’s earliest vocal critics, virologist Angela Rasmussen, who was at Columbia when Yan’s paper first spread, agreed with WHO’s assessment but did not rule out the possibility ”

Rasmussen sounds like an actual scientist. I bet she doesn’t read this opinion blog.

Silly “Scientism.”

Like Dr. Rasmussen, I never ruled out the possibility of a lab leak. Like Dr. Rasmussen, I simply assessed the evidence and deemed the lab leak hypothesis as a FAR less likely explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 than a natural source is. You simply read into my post an absolutism that isn’t there, which is, I’ve found, what lab leak believers frequently do, even as they spin conspiracy theories involving arguments from ignorance about science combined with all manner of “cover-ups.”

Hey Scientism Dave, did you know that there are many BSL4 labs in the United States that collect and study viruses? Including ones we know are super dangerous?

That’s what BSL4 labs are for: studying dangerous viruses so we can be prepared for outbreaks.

What’s your area of expertise again?

What’s your point?

Are you saying it leaked from a US lab???
Are you saying it’s impossible to have a lab leak???
Are you saying Chinese labs are so amazing they would never leak a virus?

What is your point?

My point is that there are many labs studying many viruses, and you shouldn’t act like the WIV is the only one in the world. That’s just silly.

So to answer your questions, no, no, no.

Again, what is your area of expertise? Finance? Landscape design?

“Landscape design?”

Ohh, look at mr. terraformer shamer over heyrah. They don’t need any shrubbery precisely placed with relation to the steps and window, Do they, mr. I live in a big, fancy motor coach.

I’ve seen you types before; Y’all may preach lawn order but then Jan. 6

Look the anonymous dave the sientism,

You are argumenting from ignorance. Just tell us how the Chinese scientist did not lie on that issue? How can you assess that? You don’t know.N He could have lied. He could have took revenge on his layoff from the lab. How do you know?

How much are you willing to bet everything that chinese scientist is true?

The issue is that we don’t have candidate viruses here in our BSL4s that they have in Wuhan and elsewhere. I have no idea how this thing got started and I don’t really care. I spent the last year treating the aftermath from the ICU to patient’s homes. What we need is MORE access to these programs, if indeed threats they be, not less. We won’t get that by saber rattling and threatening the countries where these bugs reside. We give people hellbent on proving China is the “bad guy” ammo by not acknowledging the fact that this thing broke out near a BSL4 lab housing candidate viruses thousands of miles from the source animals. We have to accept that, on its face, that is suspicious. It is not conclusive, but it is suspicious. If we ignore this, we make it easier for the “Let’s pile on China” bozos to gain credibility and power. It makes it easy to laugh us off. Then they get to make foreign policy while we all watch in horror.

You have no idea what you’re talking about.

There were two genotypes of the virus in Wuhan and they were segregated between the Huanan wet market and other, smaller wet markets. The only explanation for this is that there were two independent introductions of the virus. The odds of that occurring from a lab leak are infinitesimally small. Most likely, based upon the evidence, is that animals that were transported from southern China where these bats are found, were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and during the transit to or holding in Wuhan, the virus transmitted to at least one other species of animal, which placed constraints on the viral genomes (i.e., adaptive mutations) that led to the two genotypes.

And the truth is, the Wuhan Institute of Virology collects samples from bats (principally rectal and oral swabs, and blood) for RNA extraction (which would inactivate any virus in that sample) – they rarely isolate infectious virus because these samples are used for PCR and sequencing to identify coronaviruses. I only know of a couple of coronaviruses that they’ve isolated from the thousands of samples that they collected over the last 15 to 20 years.

@tony.
I still remember when conservatives were saying that maybe someone sold a diseased bat or other animal to the Huanan market.

I pointed out the study specifically said fecal samples/swab, and I doubt anyone is selling month old shit at a market.

@ Greg

Though the possibility the current virus leaked from a Wuhan lab is minuscule, even if it could be proved, so what? Whether the virus originated from random natural mutations or from a lab the same process involves sequencing its RNA in order to develop vaccines. However, before the vaccine was developed numerous steps could have been taken to severely limit its spread and to better deal with people needing hospitalization. We were unprepared. The U.S. created, starting with the Clinton Administration, Strategic National Stockpiles, huge warehouses filled with PPE, oxygen, ventilators, antivirals and antibiotics, and portable hospitals. Funding to renew these warehouses was cut by Republicans during Obama administration and when advisors tried to get Trump to refund, nope. In addition, over the past 30 years funding has been cut, except briefly around 2008 pandemic, from public health, including to WHO, CDC, State and Local Public Health Departments. And Trump ignored early warnings. If he had implemented mitigating programs, e.g., mask wearing, physical distancing, testing and contact tracing, we could have limited the spread and reduced the need for lockdowns. If we had maintained the Strategic National Stockpiles, especially if mitigation have been implemented, our hospitals would have had much of the necessary equipment and supplies. But there exists one more problem, almost uniquely American, that is, we are not a nation; but individual States, Counties, Municipalities, etc. And Trump made it their individual responsibilities, as if a virus recognizes boundaries. Trump even allowed the States to bid for online supplies, driving exponentially up the cost, at the same time reducing funding that could have been elsewhere better applied. Finally, surveys have found that over 70% of Americans don’t understand the basics of science or critical thinking, allowing themselves to often be influenced by social media, not questioning.

And as discussed above, the virus could have been leaked from a North Carolina lab. I would be willing to bet if that occurred the U.S. government would have done its utmost to deny. Personally, based on all I wrote above, i could care less if it leaked from a Wuhan lab or not. Because of our total lack of preparedness, coupled with not be one nation, coupled with a rather ill-informed polarized public and what ever the source, and with Trump as President we would still have faced an approaching 600,000 deaths and many more with long Covid. And a well-done University of Washington study has found the deaths from Covid undercounted by 50%, that is, actually over 900,000 have died.

University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2021 May 6). News Release: COVID-19 has caused 6.9 million deaths globally, more than double what official reports show. Both available at: http://www.healthdata.org

University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2021 May 13). Estimation of total mortality due to COVID-19.

Rather than obsessing on the Wuhan lab, we should be discussing current dealing with the virus, what went wrong, and how to prepare for future ones. A recent UN report predicts ever more increasing, more frequent pandemics. And, based on our history of public health, cutting funding, etc. we will probably fund for a few years due to current pandemic and then slip again into an out-of-sight out-of-mind approach to potential pandemics and who knows, the next one may be far more deadly than the current one.

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2020). IPBES Workshop on Biodiversity and Pandemics Report

Indeed, over a year ago when very few took the lab leak theory seriously — or even Sorenson!– this was what he said in the abstract for his covid vaccine proposal. Don’t know how many regulars here remember this unrepentant antivaxxer bringing up the study.

ABSTRACT
This study presents the background, rationale and Method of Action of Biovacc-19, a candidate vaccine for Covid-19,
now in advanced pre-clinical development, which has already passed the first acute toxicity testing. Unlike
conventionally developed vaccines, Biovacc-19’s Method of Operation is upon non human-like (NHL) epitopes in
21.6% of the composition of SARS-CoV-2’s Spike protein, which displays distinct distributed charge including the
presence of a charged furin-like cleavage site. The logic of the design of the vaccine is explained, which starts with
empirical analysis of the aetiology of SARS-CoV-2. Mistaken assumptions about SARS-CoV-2’s aetiology risk
creating ineffective or actively harmful vaccines, including the risk of Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE). Such
problems in vaccine design are illustrated from past experience in the HIV domain. We propose that the dual effect
general method of action of this chimeric virus’s spike, including receptor binding domain, includes membrane
components other than the ACE2 receptor, which explains clinical evidence of its infectivity and pathogenicity. We
show the non-receptor dependent phagocytic general method of action to be specifically related to cumulative charge
from inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface in positions to bind efficiently by salt bridge
formations; and from blasting the Spike we display the non human-like epitopes from which Biovacc-19 has been

The “lab leak” hypothesis is not just a conspiracy theory, it’s now at the heart of an apparently organized campaign of mass right-wing propaganda. Axios has reported that Trump and his allies have settled on a new target for vilification, replacing Hillary “Lock her up!” Clinton as central foil: Anthony Fauci.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior adviser, told Axios the base has a “visceral” reaction to Fauci: “People see Anthony Fauci and they think of shuttered businesses, lost school.”

Following the release of Fauci’s emails, the attacks against him have spread from Ron Paul and Tucker Carlson such that Rachel Maddow remarked, “Dr. Fauci is the subject in a negative way of every hour on Fox News primetime now.” And it’s not just one media outlet. Google shows that Jay Bhattacharya’s recent snipe at Fauci yielded identical headlines of “Stanford epidemiologist says Fauci’s credibility is ‘entirely shot'” at Fox, the NY Post and The Daily Mail. The specific anti-Fauci narratives spreading now are somewhat varied, but many feature one version of ‘lab origin’ or another, such that Fauci — who is, of course, in cahoots with the Chinese CP — is to blame for the pandemic, and the attendant deaths here, thus absolving Trump.

If anyone wants a more deep dive into what ‘usually pretty thoughtful people’ are frothing about over Dr. Anthony Fauchi, then nudge on over here:

In my opinion, Fauci is simply an opportunistic bureaucrat and a liar (I repeat myself), and the conflict of interest claim against him is weak. Peter Daszam has much, much more problematic conflicts of interest. This is a guy who (1) discredited fellow scientists in the Lancet for considering an alternative hypothesis and (2) led a sham WHO investigation into the WIV lab, all while funneling NIH grant money to WIV, not complying with disclosure and review requirements and standing to lose his career if gain-of-function were to be seriously discredited. It would be hard for him to be more conflicted.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27388587

Many comments are not grayed out enough. They seem pretty heated. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the wicked, vile hatred of Italians holstered within such brilliant minds and that it permeates and corrupts this community.

And from that link,

The ban was actually lifted by the Obama administration, _11 days prior_ to Trump taking office.
.
.
JANUARY 9, 2017 AT 9:06 Recommended Policy Guidance for Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight

“Adoption of these recommendations will satisfy the requirements for lifting the current moratorium on certain life sciences research that could enhance a pathogen’s virulence and/or transmissibility to produce a potential pandemic pathogen (an enhanced PPP).”

Huh. How did I miss that? I even spouted crap about it. {I thought the unpause was under Trump}.

“.. a new target for vilification replacing Hillary…. Anthony Fauci”

Truer words could not be spoken!

Unfortunately enough, he’s also the object of the anti-vaxxers’
/ woo-meisters’ rage,.
An additional reason (via PRN) is because he led the development of drugs for hiv/ aids!
You see, he opposed all natural diet and supplement based treatments which alties proposed and pushed AZT, DDI instead which “destroy natural immunity and lead to death”.**

The woo/ anti-vax narrative includes a corrupt powerful enemy led by the personification of Absolute Evil – so Fauci’s their man! Thus, only the Pure of Heart can triumph against such Depravity and Save the World, breaking the spell by enlightening the innocent, trusting public. ***
It’s the same story if it’s vaccines, meds or SBM treatment. They ain’t natural…

** oddly though before HAART/ ARVs people didn’t live with hiv for 20 years plus as they do now!
*** is that the plot of Parsifal or what?

Look gerg, everything they say, that doesn’t make you less id!ot.

you’re supposed to have, what can I say, a basic education in psychology; yet, you’re relaying what everyone else has to say. What are you saying? Nothing.

Why should we reply when you have nothing to say?

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the previous wave of infections in the United Kingdom, Britain’s health minister has said.

People who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine should be equally protected against either variant, he added.

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is now the dominant strain in the UK, according to Public Health England figures.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/6/uk-health-minister-says-delta-variant-40-more-transmissible

One dose of the vaccines requiring two shots is only about 30% effective against the Delta variant.

Man, if it’s like hurricanes then they’ll run out of Greek really soon and go back to calling it Variant Betsy. Stop enabling that by using their dialog and terminology. God. Just name them with relation to where they were first found. Could be important for genomic forensics later on and Excell is already prone to not being searchable or cross-compatible because people are stupid enough already. Column 5? You no need Column 5. shu shu.

I know, CRT. Save me, qnut {why just the one? Testicular torsion as an infant?}.

Please stop playing along with the adaptation of these fraternity and soroity names. People need to know the baddie is in their region. Thank Qnad that CRT will kill another 4.8 million people.

Naming a variant after where it was first found is useless for letting people know that a variant in their region–it just means we get stories about “the British variant” being a concern in Ontario.

Your suggestion is like naming hurricanes after where they formed–you’d have forecasts talking about either “hurricane 22 north 50 west” or “tropical storm Barbuda,” neither of which tells someone in New Orleans whether they need to evacuate.

(The Greek letter names for hurricanes ran into the problem last yearthat “zeta,” “eta” and “theta” sound similar–not what you want if two of those exist at the same time, or if someone doesn’t realize that the incoming “tropical storm zeta” will be a problem, because they think the article is talking about hurricane theta, which dissipated safely out to sea.)

“neither of which tells someone in New Orleans whether they need to evacuate.”

Nobody gives a rat’s ass about someone in New Orleans. Points well taken, otherwise — You seem to know your way around the naming of hurricanes.

<

blockquote>The Naming of hurricanes is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;

You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a hurricane must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

<

blockquote>

So, as you know, hurricanes are named for popular people names in the region generally nearest where they form.

This once briefly caused a great deal of confusion when in {year I can’t remember} was hurricane {name I can’t remember} and the funny thing was it was one gender in one part of the world and the other gender here and all the news networks kept pronouncing it differently depending on if they were gay or not.

Who was she/he?

It may have been around the time they stopped exlusively using fenames because, quite frankly, they were running out. Face it; nobody wants to see a hurricane named ‘Porche’ or ‘Orangelo’ or ‘Chad’, ‘Biff’, ‘Yolanda’, or ‘Tisha’ should it forn near Florida {I would be very proud for you to have your very own hurricane Vicky get her name retired, though}.

Because we are heavily vaccinated and the case are going down. UK may have a management problem which are not to be solved by any scientist but rather, management and political expert.

@ Greg

You write: “The logic of the design of the vaccine is explained, which starts with empirical analysis of the aetiology of SARS-CoV-2. Mistaken assumptions about SARS-CoV-2’s aetiology risk
creating ineffective or actively harmful vaccines, including the risk of Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE).”

As I explained, one begins the vaccine by sequencing the virus RNA. Doesn’t matter what its origin is. So, you find one abstract that claims etiology necessary. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. As for Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, do you even understand what this refers to? Basically, if one has a vaccine that is extremely weak, then the weakened microbe hitches a ride on certain immune cells which help it spread. This has occurred rarely and certainly won’t occur with the current mRNA vaccines which have, according to sound research, elicited high antibody titers, higher than resulting from actual Covid infection. So, once more you display your ignorance, just jump at anything that confirms your bias.

And you quote Sorensen from over a year ago. I wonder what he would say today now that we have developed successful vaccines. Yep, find something in the past that you really don’t understand.

And one last thought regarding his mentioning HIV vaccine development. HIV virus is a retrovirus, extremely different from coronaviruses or most other viruses and besides being different it mutates at a much faster rate than almost any other virus. So, using it for an argument in how to approach a coronavirus is absurd!

It is too bad Orac hasn’t blocked you because your posts contribute nothing to the dialogue, just piss people off, which probably is what your goal is. I have asked before, so once again, what is your background, your education, your profession? Have you ever taken a single course in microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, etc. or even read a book on any of the relevant subjects?

It is too bad Orac hasn’t blocked you because your posts contribute nothing to the dialogue, just piss people off, which probably is what your goal is.

You ain’t* just
whistling Dixie
.

*I know.

I wonder what he would say today now that we have developed successful vaccines.

‘Successful vaccines’, Joel? All we have are gene therapies — ahhemmn!, vaccines– that don’t even prevent infection, only symptoms. And, the way things are looking, it appears they are not even successful at that post a year, and boosters will be needed. Yeah, just like the lab leak theory, we may likely start having a different conversation about these ‘successful vaccines’.

@ Greg

You really are either a moron or just an asshole. Not gene therapy. Orac has written about this and so have others in comments. The mRNA vaccine CAN NOT ENTER THE NUCLEUS. And the success of the vaccine is indisputable. As for needing boosters, given the vaccines safety, compared to the risk of actually getting Covid, including younger, healthier being asymptomatic and then developing long Covid, and others being hospitalized and potentially dying, a stick with a needle once in a while is a no brainer, except for someone like you lacking a brain.

And I left something out of my previous comment. Antibody-dependent enhancement requires an intact microbe. The S-spike protein is not an intact microbe. Only a weakened intact microbe can hitch a ride on an immune cell to spread. So, totally impossible with an S-spike protein.

And you continue to ignore that whatever the origin of the current pandemic, it was and is our lack of preparation that resulted in so much suffering and death. Result would have been the same if from Wuhan lab or overwhelmingly more than likely from nature.

You really are either a moron or just an asshole.

It’s pretty much buy one, get one with Gerg.

“conversation”

No we won’t (TINU), Greg. I’ll just point out to my fellow Wellwallah that you are kind of dumb and have a sexual attraction for Dan Bongino. And they’ll all laugh and just discount you. Me, as well, if I’m honest about it.

There is data from Israel:
Eric J Haas, Frederick J Angulo, John M McLaughlin, Emilia Anis, Shepherd R Singer, Farid Khan, Nati Brooks, Meir Smaja, Gabriel Mircus, Kaijie Pan, Jo Southern, David L Swerdlow, Luis Jodar, Yeheskel Levy, Sharon Alroy-Preis,
Impact and effectiveness of mRNA BNT162b2 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, and deaths following a nationwide vaccination campaign in Israel: an observational study using national surveillance data,
The Lancet, Volume 397, Issue 10287, 2021, Pages 1819-1829,
ISSN 0140-6736,
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00947-8.
(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673621009478)
Efficiency against asymptomatic COVID is 91.5.

Joel,

gerg is a management problem, not a scientist problem.

You know, back 2 decade ago, I spent a week and a half with a sprint…or was it a verizon expert… who told me the key to discuss with the masses was like talking to a 3rd grade primary school pupil.

You know and you do fully know that most peoples in the USA (or pretty much any major countries) have higher grades & qualification than a franken 3rd grade primary school. Doesn’t matter as just it doen’t matter whoze Nobel prize winner turn into a crank. It also occur at the baseline level.

Greg He did graduate out of kindergarden but how much else are you going to bank that he graduated much further?

AL

@ Scientism Dave

Besides the article that Brian referred to, there are many other possibilities. Is it possible the defection was because of a personal disagreement or, perhaps, lack of appreciation or promotion or . . .??? In other words, one person’s claims could be based on everything but the actual event.

I would hate to have you on a jury. If one alleged eye witness to a crime turned out to hate the defendant, e.g., slept with his wife, receive promotion witness wanted, simply confused dates, etc if you were on the jury, you would ignore all the possibilities and believe the ONE witness. The overwhelming evidence is that the virus was a natural event; but as I’ve written, doesn’t matter because whether natural or lab escape, the result would have been the same due to lack of preparation and Trump’s refusal to act, etc.

Your calling yourself “Scientism” is like someone convicted of being a serial rapist having an online identity as “Celibate James” Your “Scientism” is the opposite of science. A real scientist doesn’t jump to conclusions based on one source; but weighs all the available evidence.

People who rant about “scientism” are explicitly rejecting science. While relying on anecdotes, intuition and ingrained prejudices, these folks attack people who respect scientific principles and require good evidence for a claim. Being educated and possessing critical thinking capacity is equated with blind worship of science. “Yur science is just religion, har har har!”

References to “scientism”, like “allopathic medicine” are a giveaway that one is dealing with the woo crowd.

Consider that we are dealing with a smug juvenile who stopped maturing at around the age of 13. Its nym is not about itself but a self-satisfied attempted slur of our host. Recall “kcauqasicaro” and similar socks? Same thing, and likely the same delusional fool.

“Scientism”, like many words, has multiple definitions, with different meanings/inferences/etc. typified within different rhetorics/subcultures/contexts. It’s origins, though, lie within sociology/social theory/philosophy where it what it references is not a rejection of science at all, but a perfectly legitimate critique of misuses of “science”, extending outside the realm of science, proper. It’s way beyond the scope of a comment here to unpack legit critiques of ‘scientism’, but suffice it to say they are not directed against the methods and findings of the natural sciences. So, yeah, if you see claims that good medical science research is scientism, you’ve almost certainly encountered a wooist, which is to say an unscrupulous propagandist.

I am consistently flummoxed that skeptics routinely fail to see how the woo crowd misappropriates concepts from the humanities, decrying those concepts as wholly wooist, as if the twisted frankenstein-monster wooist version is the real thing, or the only thing, which it definitely is not. After all, the wooists do far more of this with science itself, which skeptics rightly recognize and decry. Their BS screeds are full of science terms, but the use of those terms by themselves, are no giveaway to wooist purpose. It all depends on context. So it is with “scientism”.

The wooists, in short, are trying to poison the well, and your reply, DB just plays into their game.

That said, I have no idea what Scientism Dave is proclaiming about himself via his nym. But then, I have the feeling that he doesn’t know squat about critiques of scientism (legit or not), beyond the straw ““Yur science is just religion, har har har!”, and he’s just tossing it out as a generic provocation as part of the trolling act, rather than, you know, actually making any kind of point.

Why does anyone care that much about the exact origin of this virus?
It seems to be a distraction, which is impossible to determine.

If, on a molecular level, the virus shows no evidence of engineering, it must have occurred naturally – but may have been harvested and cultivated / propagated in a lab.
But how would you ever prove or disprove this – once the theory of low level engineering of the virus has been discarded?

There remains 3 possibilities for the proliferation of the virus:
1) A random natural occurrence.
2a) Propagated in a lab – and accidentally leaked.
2b) Propagated in a lab – and deliberately spread.

In the case of (2a), you would hope someone would do the decent thing and cough to this. (Pardon the pun)

If the reality was (2b), the deliberate spreader would want to make all the evidence look as much like (1) as possible.

In other words: How would you ever resolve a difference between (1) and (2b)?

Just looking at the sequence, there is really no way of distinguishing between the developed and spread from the wild and developed in the wild and spread from the lab hypotheses. However, you can bring other sources of information into the equation.

We have no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was ever present among the virus collection at WIV.
We have no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was being studied at WIV prior to its discovery in humans.
Research in virology labs is not done with huge amounts of virus floating around in the lab. It is done under very controlled conditions with extensive PPE, so researchers do not get infected by the viruses they are working on.

Given the above, the chances that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the WIV is fairly remote. More information that produces evidence for 2 or 3, might increase that probability.

On the other hand, there are large numbers of virus in mammals that could under the right circumstances cross over to humans. We have seen coronaviruses do it recently twice with SARS and MERS. The probability of that pathway is much higher.

Probability 2b) of yours is the most remote of the ones you propose. For this to happen, someone would have to be actively working on SARS-CoV-2 and know that it could infect humans. It is unclear how someone could come to this information without anyone else knowing what they were doing. If they were going to do something like this to get back at someone they hated, why not use a known virus that you knew could make the sick? Why use something you had no knowledge about? It makes no sense.

To my mind, the event that triggered the renewed interest in the lab leak hypothesis has been the report of 3 scientists getting ill. This event has been blow out of all proportion. It is worth trying to rule out COVID-19 as the illness, but it is unlikely it was. 3 out of a staff of more than 600 getting sick just as the cold and flu season starts is not an unusual circumstance.

As far as COVID-19 being selected as a weapon of some sort – it doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. At least – compared to some of the pathogens that could have been unleashed, from a country that appears to maintain a bio-weapons programme.

Am I right in saying that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is not dissimilar to the seasonal flu?

But perhaps the weaponization is occurring at the “social” level?

It wouldn’t matter then that the pathogen itself was, in the grand scheme of things, particularly virulent – so long as it was known to be transmissible to humans, and you could convince governments that there was a threat dangerous enough to cause them to go into “panic mode”.

Perhaps the “social panic” is the endgame – rather than the release of an extremely dangerous pathogen?

i.e. Psychological warfare could be the tool employed here?

Am I right in saying that the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is not dissimilar to the seasonal flu?

You are not right. The case fatality rate for season flu is about 0.1%. For COVID-19 it appears to be at least 10 times higher.

It wouldn’t matter then that the pathogen itself was, in the grand scheme of things, particularly virulent – so long as it was known to be transmissible to humans

This is where the whole idea falls down. Prior to SARS-CoV-2 turning up in humans, no one had any idea that it was transmissible in humans. Lots of animal viruses aren’t. So even if the idea was to get back at your ex over her new boyfriend (feel free to select your relationship style of choice here), you would choose something that you new would infect humans.

“Prior to SARS-CoV-2 turning up in humans, no one had any idea that it was transmissible in humans.”

OK – but we a dealing with a nation that has a bio-weapons programme.
What do scientists employed on that programme do all day?
How can we confidently state what they did or didn’t have prior knowledge of?

Maybe I’m being devil’s avocado here, but I think it is naive to underestimate a nation that develops bio-weapons, and originated a text like Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”.

The exact details of the illness supposedly suffered by the 3 scientists would be very interesting to examine.

I’ll bet that information has not been made available.

@Cthulhu I assure you that the purpose of a weapon is to kill people. Forcing people into panic mode is of no military value .

@Aarno Syvänen
Hmm.
According to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” the most effective war is an ideological war, where very few are necessarily killed.

If you can persuade your enemy to adopt the ideologies pushed by your own executive, you are victorious – and you manage to preserve your own resources to the maximum extent. (Also your enemy’s resources – soon to become yours)

And there you were complaining about a nation that would create something like ‘The Art of War’.

you are victorious – and you manage to preserve your own resources to the maximum extent. (Also your enemy’s resources – soon to become yours)

I like this. If the purpose was disruption then “mission accomplished.” Also, please don’t eat my face.

You are making assumptions based on lack of information.

There is a perfectly good natural explanation that we have seen occur twice before in the past 2 decades. It would be more helpful for you to show why that explanation is not tenable before heading down the rabbit hole adding 2+2 to make 5.

I assure you that the purpose of a weapon is to kill people.

I assure you that, usually, it is not and, in fact, just the opposite to limit liability penalties. Thus we have (allegedly sometimes) tasers over guns. Sometimes brass knuckles, and sometimes phenyl barbatol both equally repugnant. Pokes eyes out and makes act stupid is not kill them but can sure distract from some really shady stuff going on over which ever direction is away from “there”.

What we need, to deal with this dangerous virus outbreak, is strict and decisive action from centralized authority at the national (or even supra-national) level.

Individual liberties must be sacrificed for the greater good.

New laws must urgently be applied by the executive – without opposition.

The people must act as one – and we must not tolerate dissent. The situation is too grave.

Could there be a nation where these methods have already been implemented, we could look to, to model our efforts upon?

Could we adopt their style of leadership, for the time being, until this dangerous situation is stabilized?

“Forcing people into panic mode is of no military value”

LOL

@Cthulhu Ideological war is wat of words, COVID originated in US.
If you think that wearing mask and skipping a restaurant meal is same thing as communism, you are plain dumb.

@Tim
I offer no guarantees about the face eating thing. Just don’t tread on the tentacles, that’s all.

Thus we have (allegedly sometimes) tasers over guns. Sometimes brass knuckles, and sometimes phenyl barbatol both equally repugnant. Pokes eyes out and makes act stupid is not kill them

I’d add LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Deterrent) and ADS (Active Denial System) to that list. Non-lethal, more than marginally effective, and highly unethical. The first makes rock concert damage look like noise from operating an OREK Cobalt while the second stings like a bitch.

Both weapons tend to induce compliance and concomitant altering of behavior across relatively large swaths of gathered local populaces at once.

@Cthulhu And what coercion are you actually seeing ? Wear mask, keep social distance ? This is hardly communism.

@Carbonaceous. I meant military weapons. There are not legal liability during the war.

@Aarno Syvänen
(Here in the UK) e.g. I have seen footage of some dude on what looked like a fairly empty railway carriage, having seven shades of sh*t walloped out of him by the British Transport Police because he refused to don a face covering.

Beatings by the cops now seem to be part of the UK government’s public health policy. (For the greater good, obviously)

These measures that allow this were passed in parliament with little scrutiny and after a campaign of government sponsored media fear mongering. (Also – creating new “covid” laws, where there were perfectly usable existing laws for the purposes of dealing with infectious diseases)

The link I previously attached was criticism of the British government and its “ruling by decree” from former UK Supreme Court Justice, Lord Sumption.

He documents very clearly the opportunistic behavior of UK politicians based on their pushing of a public health emergency.

But of course – if everyone just complied with the rules, there wouldn’t be a problem, would there?

If my wife simply made sure my dinner was on the table when I arrive, i wouldn’t be forced to give her a black eye, now would I?

@Cthuljhu The original idea was, like, The purpose of SARS CoV 2 release was to cause this police enforcement. Not very probable theory, that.

Orac: You seem to indicate that the Dalgleish-Sørensen paper has been accepted by QRB? Is there anything new on this?

According to QRB on May 30 (their official Twitter account) the paper was rejected and “is not going to be published in QRB or QRB Discovery”. And according to QRB Discovery editor Bengt Nordén four days ago, the paper had been rejected, and although the authors may appeal and submit a revised manuscript, he was unaware of any such attempt.

I don’t find it anything about it on the QRB website (maybe I am not looking hard enough), so it seems to me that the paper has not at all been accepted for publication. Anyone has any other information.

“These developments led me to start to wonder if there was anything in the evidence base that had led most scientists to conclude that the most likely origin of SARS-CoV-2 was natural.”

Proceeds to not actually give any evidence.

The author calls out lab leak theorists as being disconnected from reality while fighting their evidence, but gives no evidence for his own theory of natural origins.

Evidence against something else does not equal evidence for something. I see no positive-evidence pointing toward a natural origin other than, “Hey, it happens a lot.”

As for his position that “all the stars would have to align” for a lab leak, sure, that’s true of literally everything that ever happens in the world. Circumstances align for something to happen. Happens all the time. It’s also true that “all the stars would have to align” for a natural origin to end up being true.

Either may end up true. But lab leaks happen often—very often. It’s not some anomaly like he’s making it out to be. The fact that the suspected origin of the closest bat-coronavirus relative came from a cave over 2,000 miles away from Wuhan isn’t without possible explanation, but it’s also not unreasonable to look at that fact and wonder whether the simpler explanation might be an escape from a lab studying such things IN THE VERY SAME VICINITY OF THE VERY SAME CITY when lab leaks indeed do happen very often.

Readers of this site fall into three main groups of people.

One – political ideologues (democrats) who will repeat anything that high level dems tell them. If Biden came out tomorrow and said “we now think it came from wuhan lab” these people would change their views immediately and say that there now is evidence it came from a lab.

Two – Full on communists. They idealize china and these gov’t. They will never say or acknowledge anything that puts chinese gov’t in a negative light. In fact those people will suggest it might have leaked from a US lab while calling wuhan lab leak a conspiracy theory. ​

Three – People with some scientific degrees (some even relevant to this issue)
who just repeat what they ready in studies or articles without checking how recent they are, or who published /financed it.
​They probably quoted you the fake Lancet HCQ study or the study manufactured by Daszak, among others. They also
will call any study they don’t agree with ‘dubious” but they never do any studies/experiments themselves.

Actually people in this site read scientific papers. They are not like Trump followers or communists who always follow party line.

“IN THE VERY SAME VICINITY OF THE VERY SAME CITY”

If you’re going to study volcanos, where would you put your lab? On the Ring of Fire, or Iceland? Or would you put it in a geologically inert area like northern Norway?

You build labs to study a thing near that thing. That’s why the CDC is in Atlanta – it started as a malaria control lab.

WIV was created because there are a lot of coronaviruses in that region.

It’s also interesting that the cave everyone talks about keeps getting farther and farther from WIV. Here’s something to seriously consider: in the past most zoonotic outbreaks were limited by people’s ability (or not) to travel while infected. But now we have high speed trains and air travel, so distance is less of a consideration.

Spillover events happen regularly. What is less common is that the virus that spills over from an animal population is contagious among humans. But it has happened many times in the past. There is a whole branch of science that studies this: disease ecology and conservation biology.

There are a number of salient facts that are being ignored by the expert class because they speak to failures in that class:

EcoHealth Alliance has received hundreds of millions of dollars in government grants in the past decade, about $25 million from DoD. If there were funding of illicit experiments at WIV, Peter Daszak would lose his funding and professional reputation.

Peter Daszak pressured colleagues behind the scenes to sign the Lancet letter he authored refuting the lab leak idea. He was also one of the lead WHO investigators. Why are scientists ignoring his professional breaches of ethics?

In 2012, 8 workers died after getting sick from being in a Yunnan mine. WIV’s Shi Zhengli told Scientific American they died of a fungus. Online sleuthing discovered a Chinese database that showed the deaths were related to a coronavirus. What else did Shi and WIV lie about?

WIV security was notably poor and coronavirus experiments were being conducted at BSL 2. According to bio security experts, a leak was statistically very possible. Virologists don’t seem very concerned about security.

There is zero evidence so far of a natural transmission path from Yunnan to Wuhan. If there were any evidence at all the PRC government would filling the airwaves with it. If it was a natural source, there should be some hard evidence.

There are plenty of circumstantial clues but the experts don’t want to see them. If true, a lab leak would significantly damage science.

So you claim that DoD is funding Chinese weapon research ? Are out of your mind ? How do you know that Daszak pressures on Lancet. Anyway, there are lots of lab leak papers, rahter bad ones, so evidently his plotting has limits.
COVID is actually associated with bakck fungus:
Song G, Liang G, Liu W. Fungal Co-infections Associated with Global COVID-19 Pandemic: A Clinical and Diagnostic Perspective from China. Mycopathologia. 2020 Aug;185(4):599-606. doi: 10.1007/s11046-020-00462-9. Epub 2020 Jul 31. PMID: 32737747; PMCID: PMC7394275.
I noticed that you are a member of ignoramus class. Still, try to refute Orac’s points.

If you read my note,I never said DoD was funding Chinese weapons research just that DoD and NIH were funding EcoHealth and that funding would be at risk if any bit of it ended up tied to a WIV leak. This was a powerful incentive for Daszak to write the Lancet letter. You can find the evidence of his manipulations yourself. Just use a search engine, The database that included info that refuted Shi Zhengli’s claims was shut down immediate after that info was revealed. You may be right about the coronavirus-fungus connection but why would she not mention that connection? Many papers critical of the zoonotic theory were submitted but, strangely, none were published until just recently. Why is that? You seem the typical useful idiot who knows some science but not much about human nature or the CCP.

@DIP I actually do know lot about communism (Stslin purged a family member.)
Perhaps all those papers where simply bad ? At least ones available are.

“There is zero evidence so far of a natural transmission path from Yunnan to Wuhan.”

Are there no trains or airports or roads between these two cities? Why is everyone seeming to assume that an infected bat had to fly all that way when it could just as easily have been a person on a train going home for the holidays?

Or it could have been a bat or other animal carried by a human using a human transportation method.

Anything’s possible, but you would think that it would’ve infected some people on the way from the mine to Wuhan, creating exponentially-growing infections in its wake. Yet we didn’t see COVID popping up anywhere other than Wuhan initially. Could some of that be attributed to population density? Sure. But if you’re asking the question, the answer is that, yes, there is currently no evidence of a natural transmission path between Yunnan to Wuhan.

It is possible that Wuhan wet market was reservoir of COVID. It possible that someone travels from Yunnan to Wuhan, it is not ? You may want to check what BSL4 lab looks like.

Most of us do not have the knowledge to opine on this. Those who have this knowledge are a very small group of PhD’s. It is only this group of people whose opinion is meaningful It is then reduced by those who may have a financial or reputational conflict of interest to state their positions. So it boils down to this: which group of experts does one believe.

@ pathcoin

Nope, not just a small group of PhDs; but public health experts in many advanced nations, e.g, Sweden, Canada, UK, etc. The experts include MDs, PhDs, etc. Do you really believe that experts in so many different nations, nations with different cultures, different histories, different political and economic systems, different educational systems, that they overwhelmingly are wrong?

And I have NEVER worked for a pharmaceutical industry, don’t own stocks in them, and NEVER worked for FDA nor CDC; yet I have studied infectious diseases, especially vaccine-preventable ones for over 40 years, also understand microbiology and immunology (how vaccines work) and trained as an epidemiologist. I have since the beginning of the pandemic been following it by reading CDC documents, WHO documents, and downloading and reading literally 100s of peer-reviewed articles. And as I’ve written over and over, though the evidence is strong Covid a natural developed virus, I could care less if from a lab leak. You and others like you ignore that whatever the source, the U.S. was ill-prepared and POORLY lead, so the overwhelming number who suffered, were hospitalized, developed long Covid, and died could have been avoided, regardless of the source. Just for your ignorant enlightenment, below is a list of papers I have collected and read on origin of current virus, both peer-reviewed journal articles, CDC and WHO reports, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles (many refer to additional peer-reviewed studies and reports. Why don’t you try to go through them.

One last point. It isn’t a handful on either side. The vast majority support the natural origins hypothesis; but, of course, you prefer the minority if it suits your purposes; but, again, since the vast majority of viral epidemics and pandemics develop in the natural world, even if it was a Wuhan lab leak, and the U.S. has had numerous lab leaks as well, it was poor preparation and incompetent leadership that played the overwhelming major role.

Origin of Covid-19
Reference List

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Samorodnitsky D (2021 May 26). The lab-leak hypothesis for COVID-19 is becoming a conspiracy theory. Massive Science. https://massivesci.com

Segreto R & Deigin Y (2021 Mar). The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin: SARS-COV-2 chimeric structure and furin cleavage site might be the result of genetic manipulation. BioEssays; 43(3).

Siegel (2021 May 20). No, Science Clearly Shows That COVID-19 Wasn’t Leaked From A Wuhan Lab. Forbes.

Singh D & Yi SV (2021). On the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Experimental & Molecular Medicine; 53(4): 537-547.

Sørensen B et al. (2020 Jul 1). The Evidence which Suggests that This Is No Naturally Evolved Virus: A Reconstructed Historical Aetiology of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike. Minerva https://www.minervanett.no

Sullivan J (2021 Feb 13). Statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. http://www.whitehouse.gov

Tang X et al. (2020 Mar 3). On the origin and continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2. National Science Review; 7(6): 1012-1023.

The Washington Post (2021 Mar 26). Secretary Becerra calls for follow-up investigation into pandemic’s origins. San Diego Union-Tribune.

Wang N et al. (2018 Feb). Serological Evidence of Bat SARS-Related Coronavirus Infection in Humans, China. Virologica Sinica; 33(1): 104-107.

Wallace-Wells (2021 May 27). The Sudden Rise of the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory. The New Yorker.

Wang LF & Eaton BT (2007). Bats, Civets and the Emergence of SARS. Current topics in microbiology and immunology; 315: 325-344.

Ward M & Rayasam R (2021 May 19). Experts weigh in on the Wuhan lab leak hypothesis. Politico.

Wertheim J) et al. (2013 Jun). A Case for the Ancient Origin of Coronaviruses. Journal of Virology; 87(12): 7039-7045.

Wikipedia. Horseshoe Bat.

Woodward A (2021 May 27). Lab or Nature? The Current Evidence For Each of The SARS-CoV-2 Origin Theories. Business Insider.

Wu Y & Zhao S (2021 Jan). Furin cleavage sites naturally occur in coronaviruses. Stem Cell Research; 50.

Yan LM (2021 May 17). Archived fact-check: Tucker Carlson guest airs debunked conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was created in a lab. PolitiFact.

Yang XL et al. (2015 Dec 30). Isolation and Characterization of a Novel Bat Coronavirus Closely Related to the Direct Progenitor of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Journal of Virology; 90(6): 3253-3256.

Ye ZW et al. (2020 Mar 15). Zoonotic origins of human coronaviruses. International Journal of Biological Sciences; 16(10): 1686-1697.

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American Lab Leaks Coronavirus

Young A (2020 Aug 17). Here Are Six Accidents UNC Researchers Had With Lab-Created Coronaviruses. ProPublica.

Young A (2020 Aug 17). Near Misses at UNC Chapel Hill’s High-Security Lab Illustrate Risk of Accidents With Coronaviruses. ProPublica.

Anyone who comments “what does it matter now?” needs to think a bit harder. The only way to prevent a future occurrence, possibly even worse, is to discover and fix the source problem(s). This is system management 101. Of course, a lab leak would also have enormous implications for geopolitics and the funding and coordination of science. Many, if not most, scientists fervently hope it was not a leak for completely human reasons. This can lead to confirmation biases. This is why independence in an investigation is critical.

Here’s the challenge with your theory: even if it was a “lab leak” the virus still came from the wild. How would you suggest addressing the natural reservoir of viruses?

(Please don’t say “kill all bats” – if we killed all the bats world wide we’d just die of mosquito borne diseases and there would be no more tequila, because agave is pollinated by bats.)

Or we could re-fund the surveillance systems that were supposed to warn us about this virus (and all the other ones). And we could reconsider how the global economy is structured to reduce the amount of development that is happening in previously untouched forests worldwide. If humans don’t encounter a virus, it doesn’t matter if its a dangerous pathogen or not.

Yes of course everyone at the various BSL4 labs should step op their safety game. But I bet that already happened months ago because that’s easy.

Here is an idea. How about not paying Chinese labs to tweak viruses to be able to more easily infect humans. Just sayin….

Or we could re-fund the surveillance systems that were supposed to warn us about this virus (and all the other ones). And we could reconsider how the global economy is structured to reduce the amount of development that is happening in previously untouched forests worldwide. If humans don’t encounter a virus, it doesn’t matter if its a dangerous pathogen or not.

This and everything else you state, I guess. It’s probably not gonna go over well with big (R)Once-ler.

Perhaps it was because I snuck up late and watched Andromeda Strain when I was a kid, But I’ve always been horrified of ‘engineering’ viruses in the context that they will always work toward weapons. Everybody does it; shit, ‘merica gave it the ‘ol college try’ at free comfy blankets while the chinese were still trying to figure out which animal part to grind up for a wonky prostate.

My veiw has shifted this past year. The work should continue because…the work continues. People are going to do it. If Grog McGraw can get the mercury out of his D8 within his poorly-funded lab (bathroom) then it ain’t much longer before he takes an interest in DIY chimeric viruses then he take the spike from the pangolin and put it on the people. Evil scientists, and script kiddies with dna printers, exist. Hell, they’re already lenghening their telomeres in some places that maybe they should not because they can’t target (yet).

Now, If AI and computer modeling catches up to predicting how things could evolve and what results then that is a different conversation altogether about being transparent with data, …, freedom to post such data and so on. Or penalties for being naughty anyways and uploading Hanta Pineapple Dengue to Thingyverse.

If anyone thinks having substantial penalties for uploading potentially criminal/unauthorized stuff to the internet would be much of a deterrent, you might want to have a sit down for this next part…

The Lab Leak theory is easily proved and has been obvious by following the science—the political science.

The Chicoms were and remain genocidal mass murderers. Not just your routine brutal dictators, but like Stalin before them and Pol Pot inspired by them, the real, honest to goodness type of throat slitters.

The Chicoms are also graduates of the Chernobyl School of Dangerous Technologies Management, where they were the “collective”Valedictorian.

Lying means nothing to Chicoms—lying 100x worse than any lies Americans conceive of in their own politics no matter how venal they think are those of their opponents.

The naïveté of those who pen articles such as this one in the face of the atrocities of the last century and the Chicoms’ continued present genocide against their Muslim population is appalling.

President Eisenhower’s famous “Military Industrial Complex” speech is widely misunderstood as it threw only a glancing blow at either of those things. Rather, it warned against rule by a technocratic elite subverting democracy in the name of “We know best.”

The simplest answer here is that a lab run by sloppy scientists overseen by murderous politicians and dedicated in part to genetic work on a virus built a virus as bad as Russian public housing and it leaked, after which leak, the murderers lied that it was really the fault of their pet pangolins. Get real.

Why don’t you go find a bat with this virus. You’ll be a hero.
We’ll wait.

@Scientism Dave Have you noticed that theory is that SRAS CoV 2 originated from bats. It evolved a bit to infect humans.

“Chicoms”? How…1950s.

Does Keevan have a list of 50 CDC employees who are secretly being paid by the Chinese government to obfuscate a lab leak?

You wonder if he still refers to the Cincinnati MLB team as the Redlegs.

It’s comments like this that make me wish RI threads had “Like” buttons.

But we probably shouldn’t be surprised that folks like Keevan are recycling echoes of McCarthyism, since their Dear Leader learned his moves at the feet of Roy Cohn.

What’s new now i suppose, is that Joseph Welch’s famous rhetorical question — “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” — would be met with, “No. So what? Decency is for losers…”

I could have “like” buttons on comments, but when I first tried it with this template it overloaded the servers. No kidding.

I suppose that, three and a half years later, I could try it again. I’ll think about it.

@Sadmar / DB

It’s comments like this that make me wish RI threads had “Like” buttons.

I agree fully, for both these posts.
I’m quite proud that, as a French, I got this reference.

I was so happy in the 90’s, when the Wall went down and the various Eastern Europe Popular Democratic Republics collapsed. Other geopolitical threats emerged – or became more prominent, now that the Eastern block was not so overshadowing -, but at last, that one was over.
Well, seems we are in for a re-run.

@sadmar and @Athaic:

You asked for it, I turned on the “like” button in Jetpack. Last time it slowed the blog to a crawl; so I’m going o keep a close eye on loading times. If the blog slows down noticeably to me, I’ll shut the “like” button off again. Maybe in the time since 2017 Jetpack and WordPress have worked the bugs out.

What’s up with the little blue stars that say “Loading…”?? Dare I ask, good sir, are you fucking around with the nefarious concept of a “like” button?? I’m kind of triggered that it is star shaped, but not yellow.

Orac, this is horrible and I have not even looked at wat needs to be enabled for it to rape me yet. This community is too polarized and everything will just be grey after fingering by hords of mommy-bots, if you are going implement that then I willn’t hold it over you too much as you quickly make it go away.

This need not be published, but if it is, God forbid, how dare you, no more barack cnannel for you.

I’ll try and figure out how to give it a try. Ignore my foreverafter bitching, I’m stujpid.Carry on, Orac, I think Greg Loves you. Awkwarddd.

I can’t get it to work and I need to smash. I allowed all scrips, It no work.I very sad, I wanted to smash. You make sad. You are bad person. Jetpack. You are very, very bad person. Orac is behind CF, yo.

I linked the abstract excerpt from Sorenson earlier study without linking the full study. Also, Sorenson did not just write about ADE risks that may result from misunderstanding the etiology of the virus and producing a wrong vaccine for it, but he also spoke of systematic toxicity and autoimmune risks. To date, given the huge amount of adverse reactions reported to VAERs and other safety monitoring agencies post Covid vaccine rollouts, perhaps Sorenson’s concerns should be taken more seriously. I think his study is worth a full read, so I am now linking it.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/DBBC0FA6E3763B0067CAAD8F3363E527/S2633289220000083a.pdf/biovacc19_a_candidate_vaccine_for_covid19_sarscov2_developed_from_analysis_of_its_general_method_of_action_for_infectivity.pdf

@ Greg

As usual you ignore what Orac has written and comments by others. VAERS is NOT a reliable program for determining vaccine safety. Teams at the CDC actively investigate thoroughly every serious adverse event posted on VAERS, including obtaining medical records. So far, investigations have found only rare serious adverse events valid. I will repeat what your stupidity ignores. For instance, on average 2,300 Americans die every day from cardiovascular disease. So, if, for instance, someone’s husband received a Covid vaccine and died of cardiovascular disease a week later, so would 16,100 on average without receiving any vaccine. And if his medical records find severe cardiovascular disease, perhaps even a previous heart attack, together no indication it was the vaccine. The CDC has several other vaccine safety programs, including the Vaccine Safety Datalink. In addition, many other advanced nations have their own post-marketing surveillance systems. So, why more reports to VAERS than previously. Several reasons: 1. Antivaxx blogs and social media, 2. new type of vaccine (though thoroughly researched and completed Phase 3 studies, despite what antivaxxers claim, 3. newspapers and other mass media, if it bleeds it leads, that is, playing up initial reports of adverse events with little follow-up when shown not to be associated with vaccine.

As for “he also spoke of systematic toxicity and autoimmune risks.” Again, Orac has written and debunked this and so have I and other commenters. The vaccine only creates a part of the S-spike protein which is place on the outside of cells by MHC1 and MHC2 molecules. If the S-spike protein breaks lose it cannot attach to cells, deteriorates rapidly because can’t get nutrition, and is gobbled up by dendritic cells.

And you continue to ignore that without the vaccine many more would have suffered, been hospitalized, developed long COVID (including many younger who were asymptomatic), and died.

In fact, just today CDC posted study showing decrease in hospitalizations, etc with increase of vaccinations.

Decreases in COVID-19 Cases, Emergency Department Visits, Hospital Admissions, and Deaths Among Older Adults Following the Introduction of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, September 6, 2020–May 1, 2021. Available at:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7023e2.htm?s_cid=mm7023e2_e&ACSTrackingID=USCDC_921-DM59041&ACSTrackingLabel=MMWR%20Early%20Release%20-%20Vol.%2070%2C%20June%208%2C%202021&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM59041

So, continue to ignore what Orac has written and what others have commented on. Just shows that you are a grade A ASSHOLE not interested in entering into a real dialogue; but just wanting to provoke people. My guess is you are an extremely unhappy individual. Either failed in profession and/or failed in relationships and get your only satisfaction in a negative way by provoking, irritating others. Sort of reminds me of the alt-right attacking others for “replacing” them. Obviously the vast majority of them may have barely made it through high school, low paying jobs, poor relationships, and venting their frustration by displacing their aggression on others, not blaming themselves for not studying, for partying, etc. A few may have professions, e.g., mechanics; but, perhaps, poor relationships and/or need to be recognized as leader and only followers losers.

And I repeat, science is NOT based on one or two papers; but you grasp at anything you can use to make an ASS of yourself.

Just shows that you are a grade A ASSHOLE not interested in entering into a real dialogue; but just wanting to provoke people

Joel, I will never understand why you get so worked up at my posts. How is suggesting the the ethology of the virus might have certain implications for the vaccines that are produced for it provocative? Did I not bring up this caution from Sorenson over a year ago? Narad is good at hunting my trails on the blog, I welcome him to find that discourse.

Joel, you and others will have us believe that mRNA vaccination is exact science and all the variables are known, but is that really so? Just recently for example you all were assuring us that the mRNA injections stayed at the injection cite and did not enter the bloodstream, but now indisputable evidence to the contrary is surfacing and leaving you all to backpeddal with that lame defense that the dose makes the poison. (And we are accused of always moving the goalposts!)

Joel, is it really so provocative to suggest that understanding the origins of the virus when developing vaccines for it may help in averting other ‘unpleasant’ surprises? For instance, if the virus was indeed cultured in human cells, would this not be a good thing to know to avoid autoimmunity complications? Joel, I am really at my wits end with you; I am really struggling to get you to be more reasonable.

@Greg In the science, something does not exist means it could not be detected. Witness spike protein. There is spike protein in the blood, short time, at picogram levels. Nobody noticed it before, that is all.

@Greg You would notice Sorensen is advertising his vaccine. I wonder would you accept his vaccine ? Any case,its quite bad COI.

Greg You would notice Sorensen is advertising his vaccine. I wonder would you accept his vaccine ? Any case,its quite bad COI.

Actually, Aarno, I would agree that there is an element of COI with him pushing his vaccine candidate while criticizing other vaccines. I am also not even agree that his vaccine is necessarily better. Still, I do believe that there is validity to his point that the origins of covid will likely carry implications for the vaccines that are produced for it.

@ EVERYONE

Still focusing on origin of virus. I repeat that even if it originated from Wuhan lab, so what? Similar viruses exist in nature and nature is a far better lab than anything we have. Focusing on the Wuhan lab is more political than scientific, get at the Chinese who are outdoing us technologically and economically. Whether the virus originated in nature, the most likely scenario, or from a lab leak, it was our unpreparedness and incompetent response that was and is most responsible for the immense suffering, hospitalizations, long Covid, and deaths. Maybe focusing on the origin isn’t just to get at the Chinese; but to avoid taking responsibility for the U.S. not being the most powerful advanced nation in the world, for not admitting we are not a nation; but a modern version of Social Darwinism.

@ Keevan Morgan

And the U.S. has lied over and over to us on many different topics. As for killing, maiming, disabling, impoverishing, etc. innocent people, the U.S. has killed since World War II an estimated 20 million innocent people in the Third World, lying about the risk from Communism, for one or combination of following reasons: 1. gain raw resources for American corporations (e.g., oil in Iran), enriching military industrial manufacturing (weapons used have to be replaced), and to gain support, divert attention from criticism of leadership (e.g., polls terrible for George Herbert Walker Bush until Iraq War, the increased; but only for short while, see also movie Wag the Dog). In fact, the U.S. is guilty of numerous war crimes even during World War II. At beginning of war before we entered FDR condemned Nazi bombings of civilians, e.g., Rotterdam, Warsaw, etc. as world crimes, which they were; but towards end of war when certain German and Japan would be defeated we began mass firebombing of German and Japanese cities, killing literally over 2 million civilians, including old people, infants, etc. And interestingly enough, at Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes trials, bombing of civilians was not one of the indictments because they would have thrown it back at us. As a Jew I hate the Nazis; but having studied a lot, Hitler never received majority vote, so over half of Germans didn’t support him; but even if they did, still a war crime to bomb civilians. Try reading the following, most available free on internet:

U.S. Military – Our Government Lies Used for Defense when, in reality, used to further Corporate Interests

William Blum (2003). Killing Hope: US Military & CIA Interventions since World War II. Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/abbottabad-compound/13/130AEF1531746AAD6AC03… [also for purchase on amazon.com

Major General Smedley Butler   War Is A Racket. Available at: https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf  [Butler is the most decorated marine in American history]

Mason Gaffney (March 2018). Corporate Power and Expansive U.S. Military Policy. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 77, No. 2. Pages 331 – 417. Available at: https://www.globalresearch.ca/corporate-power-and-expansive-u-s-military…

Stephen Kinzer (2017). The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire. Henry Holt. Available amazon.com. Also available San Diego Public Library

Stephen C. Schlesinger (1983). Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Inexpensive copies available on Amazon.com  Also available San Diego Public Library

However, while true that Communist China has slaughtered millions and lies about it, doesn’t prove they are lying about Wuhan lab and as I’ve written, U.S. has had numerable Biosafety Lab leaks of dangerous pathogens, including coronaviruses.

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

“U.S. has had numerable Biosafety Lab leaks of dangerous pathogens, including coronaviruses.”

Oh…so a lab leak is not a conspiracy theory if it was US lab? got it.

You exposed yourself. It’s obvious you have no interest in looking at evidence. You’re a communist whose world would collapse if you allowed yourself to think that chinese communists are evil or just plain incompetent.

@Spectator,

That guy doesn’t seem to be up to speed on 20th century world history.
Wait until he learns that Hitler was a socialist….

Also he seems unaware that Japan refused to surrender after the first atomic bomb was dropped. So obviously they weren’t very concerned about their citizens. I won’t even mention the things they did around Asia.

Oh goody. The “Hitler was a socialist” (because National Socialism) trope. Next you’ll be taking the that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a democracy.🙄🤦🏻‍♂️

@Scientism Dave Hitler was not a socialist. Röhm was, and Hitler killed him. Check Night of Long Knives.

@Orac

Wait until SD learns that the Chinese Communist Party aren’t actually Communists… [I guess he has an updated version of Marx & Engels explaining how hosting Steve Bannon on your super-yacht fits in with establishing a workers paradise]

@Orac

The “Hitler was a socialist” (because National Socialism) trope.

@sadmar

Chinese Communist Party aren’t actually Communists

@Aarno Syvänen

Hitler was not a socialist. Röhm was, and Hitler killed him.

This is from wikipedia.

“Ernst Julius Günther Röhm was a German military officer and an early member of the Nazi Party. ”

So they guy you wrote was a socialist was an early member of the Nazi Party.
OK…

I guess your denial of commonly know facts extends into history and humanities.

@Orac,

Yes, and Hitler had him killed in a purge of the party known as the Night of the Long Knives.🙄

Yup, socialists are a pretty violent bunch.

@Scientism Dave Röhm was actually a socialist, and Hitler killed him exactly because of this. He wanted a second revolution, Hitler make a deal with big business, who financed him. Condition of financing was obviously to scrbap socialistic ideas.

The cruel joke is that you think you know what you’re talking about.

The crueler joke is that you seen think I care what an anonymous troll who clearly onlythinks he knows what he’s talking about thinks of me.

Now, now Cthulhu, he ain’t hurt’n nobody. You can “fhtagn” all over Greg if the urge is that strong and nobody would notice. Ok? Old budy old pal? Do it to Greg. Do it. Now. By the power of salt I compell you and all that!

Still waiting for any of the debunkers to account for double CGG. And, Orac’s ‘things might be different when we sequence more viruses’ still don’t cut it.

@Greg,

The “scientists” on here will soon proclaim that genetic sequences are a conspiracy theory.

The This Week in Virology episode #762 that Orac linked to above should show you how the silly post that you cited demonstrates that its authors are more than a bit behind the curve when it comes to viral genetics. I particularly liked the bit where Robert Garry said that “the worst postdoc you ever had” wouldn’t have inserted a CGGCGG sequence out of frame.

I particularly liked the bit where Robert Garry said that “the worst postdoc you ever had” wouldn’t have inserted a CGGCGG sequence out of frame.

And, how is that not a red-herring argument that still does not explain the improbability of a double CCG ending up in Covid-2 genome? Again, I ask, can just one ‘debunker’ — just one!– provide a reasonable explanation for that improbability?!

@Greg CGG repeat occurs naturally:
Willemsen R, Levenga J, Oostra BA. CGG repeat in the FMR1 gene: size matters. Clin Genet. 2011 Sep;80(3):214-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01723.x. Epub 2011 Jun 30. PMID: 21651511; PMCID: PMC3151325.
But it does cause problems here
@Scientism Dave Can you make just one argument

Again, I ask, can just one ‘debunker’ — just one!– provide a reasonable explanation for that improbability?!

Heck – Joel never fails with his 300 words dissertations; I will call on him.

Oh, Joel! It’s your buddy Greg here. Obviously, your immunology, biology, chemistry, and so on expertise are unchallenged. Could you kindly put any of it to use and provide a reasonable explanation for a double CCG appearing in Covid genome?

Seriously? That one was debunked a year ago. It’s not unnatural or evidence of “engineering”🙄🤦🏻‍♂️

I’m 13. I’ve never seen any dang cicada with red eyes — u wiggin?

I’m 13 1/2. Gaud Dang. These things are everywhere. — duh.

{actually, I haven’t heard a single one yet and was so looking forward to it. I get my ‘broods’ (13/17/whatever year but there have always been some) confused but it seems like my whole life is segmented between these events. As a child, fishing with my dad, we collected them. I once promised God that if he let me catch one I would stop bugging him for box turtles. In my twenties, I was working at my employer’s picturesque second property in the hills. In my forties, it was around the time of some major life changes. And this time? Nothing. Not one peep.

17 yr (brood X): https://youtu.be/wVXrTv4NY_M?t=11

13:year (brood XIX):
https://youtu.be/i4F3wax8JcY?t=33
https://youtu.be/LVNvDYDtNdI?t=294

@Aarno Syvänen

Are you serious?
You referenced a paper about repeating CGG sequence in PEOPLE ?

That’s your argument?

COVID-19 is a virus.

Seriously? That one was debunked a year ago. It’s not unnatural or evidence of “engineering

Orac, kindly then link me to that argument. Again, why would a double CCG combination that has never appeared in any previous Coronas appear in this new virus? Again, as those two scientists opined, how could this new virus pick up that mutation from something that was never in its ancestry?

[H]ow could this new virus pick up that mutation from something that was never in its ancestry?

You might look to a book published in 1859 and to the myriad articles that followed Darwin’s seminal work if you truly don’t understand anything at all about evolution and genetics.

CGG CGG

WTF? (checks the ‘net)
No, really, WTF?

After the guys declaring (wrongly) that no protein could contain four aminoacids with positive side-chains in a row, now we are down to “impossibilities” at the DNA codon level?

I hope not to be stealing Orac’s thunder: this opinion piece from nature has given me a good run down of this whole brouhaha.
Exaggeration and argument by incredulity. Color me surprised.
I wish I could forward it to my dad, who buy into this lab leak somehow (and yet he is a French commie), but he is not that fluent in English.

What’s next, the preferential spins of the electrons in the virus’ proteins?

OK, don’t tell these doubters about the platypus. Obviously, someone played with a duck, a beaver and some glu.

Again, as those two scientists opined, how could this new virus pick up that mutation from something that was never in its ancestry?

The inability to develop new nucleic acid sequences explains why we are all just short bits of RNA that might be activated by clay.

It’s an argument from incredulity.

From someone who spends a lot of time looking at gene sequences, these sorts of things happen with a surprising frequency in plants.

There are even fewer constraints on viral genomes.

CGG CGG

WTF? (checks the ‘net)
No, really, WTF?

After the guys declaring (wrongly) that no protein could contain four aminoacids with positive side-chains in a row, now we are down to “impossibilities” at the DNA codon level?

I hope not to be stealing Orac’s thunder: this opinion piece from nature has given me a good run down of this whole brouhaha.
Exaggeration and argument by incredulity. Color me surprised.
I wish I could forward it to my dad, who buy into this lab leak somehow (and yet he is a French commie), but he is not that fluent in English.

What’s next, the preferential spins of the electrons in the virus’ proteins?

OK, don’t tell these doubters about the platypus. Obviously, someone played with a duck, a beaver and some glu.

You danced and twirled, but still failed to address the issue at hand. I am sorry but I cannot pass you.

So if we sequence Greg and he’s got a CGG CGG, does that mean that he will spontaneously cease to exist? Or will he just have to leave this forum?

It does not matter how much you work on it, you are up against Dan Bongino now.

@ JustaTech

I’m pretty sure he has multiple [KHR] repeats in his protein sequences. Clearly, he has been put together (hastily and badly) by some mad scientist.

There a lots of furin cleavage sites among coronaviruses:
Yiran Wu, Suwen Zhao,
Furin cleavage sites naturally occur in coronaviruses,
Stem Cell Research, Volume 50, 2021, 102115,
ISSN 1873-5061,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2020.102115.
(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1873506120304165)
Abstract: The spike protein is a focused target of COVID-19, a pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. A 12-nt insertion at S1/S2 in the spike coding sequence yields a furin cleavage site, which raised controversy views on origin of the virus. Here we analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of coronavirus spike proteins and mapped furin recognition motif on the tree. Furin cleavage sites occurred independently for multiple times in the evolution of the coronavirus family, supporting the natural occurring hypothesis of SARS-CoV-2.
Double CGG is inside the furin cleavage site. You will notice that they appear randomly inside coronavirus evolution tree.

Patience. I’m working on a post specifically about that claim.

I can’t wait. Let me help write it, and in your style

Double CCG: Lab Leak Proponents and Antivaxxers Are Idiots

Recently two scientists in a WSJ piece opined that a double CCG code in Covid genome suggest a manufactured virus. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I will get into debunking that claim

Yet, before we get into the claim, let’s look into the scientists. Upon searching it turns out that Dr X is affiliated with this nasty antivaxx association, and so is Dr Y. They once made these outrageous association (insert any shit you can find on them). Oh the stupidity, it just burns. May they suffer the worst jock itch.

Anyway, let’s get right into their claims. Yet, before we do that, let’s look into the science of a double CCG. (Discuss the science here but not too much. Find a diversion for insulting the scientists even more.) Actually it turns out that scientists Z that once studied the CCG once made a stupid claim that was in line with scientists X and Y’s argument. I need not remind you that scientists Z served under Hitler and he was known to drown cats.

Back to scientists X and Y arguments. Dr A who is an accomplished scientist and work at the prestigious (any employment will do here and even if it’s not prestigious) said this about their claims. ‘Scientists X and Y are idiots and their claims are not true. Dr B, C, D and E also refute the claims and call them idiots

So, is it really true that a double CCG is improbable and points to a manufactured virus? It most certainly is not. Yet, again we are dealing with conspiracy theories that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Lab leak Proponents and antivaxxers are idiots.

How is that, Orac?

LOL

Spot on

Thanks, Dave, but I feel had I included some facepalm bits I would’ve actually nailed.

Last week, Orac had wondered why Del Bigtree’s search for “unvaccinated blood” hadn’t generated coverage at sites like The Daily Beast that usually report on antivaxers. They were just a bit slow, i guess, as “Top Anti-Vaxxer’s Unhinged Quest for Unvaccinated Blood Leads Him to Mexico” appeared at TDB today. It’s behind their “Beast Inside’ paywall, so you’d need a prescription to check out the skewering Del most likely gets there.

About the butt-blood? Why, yes. I do believe they did give that a glancing acknowledgement.

Hoo boy. This had a great start, a middling middle, and a crash-and-burn ending:

“Don’t you get it, maaaaaan?!? It’s like ALL of our faults, maaaaaan! Industrialization, mining, habitats, maaaaaan!”

Stick to the nucleotides, dude.

Seriously, though, if you’re going to write 5000+ words on this subject without even mentioning Livermore, you can’t expect the rest of us to just nod along with you. At the end of the day (and at dawn too), you’re just some rando. They aren’t.

“Rando” or not, I’m FAR less of a rando than you, a random pseudonymous blog commenter. Just sayin’.

Daly didn’t mention you at all- which is a shame.

As I reported earlier, there have been no stories at Del at the various anti-vax haunts/ woo-sodden cesspits I monitor. Nothing about Del so far..
They are probably ashamed that their golden boy is so mis-informed as to be dangerous.

Actually, we have anti-vaxxers right here at RI that similarly endanger the public’s health by unrealistically scaring them about vaccines any way they can.

@ sadmar:

I find that I can often get free TDB/ other articles via Yahoo ( also stock information/ data) Remember when you told us about Null’s protegee, Dolores Perri? I was able to read that one via Yahoo.
It Is -btw- automatically listed with Bing! The titles alone got me there. Now , I’ll go read it

I’m not being sarcastic because you are incredibly valuable contributor..

“I might now have to be embarassed by my knee-jerk dig at Bing!”

It is still considered brazenly uncouth to admit to it’s use whilst in polite company.

— Ohh! this tonsil stone is great for cleaning coins and making water boil instead of explode in the microwave!

— Thanks for the tip, Denice. : – )

And how rare are BSL laboratory leaks? At least two happened on U.S. soil in 2019. The “containment breaches” were so serious that the CDC shut down USAMRIID at Fort Detrick for eight months to fix the problems. The identity of the infectious agent or toxin that was released from containment is known to the CDC but redacted in their official report obtained by FOIA request. Now, even if you don’t suspect SARS-CoV-2 leaked from Fort Detrick, which would be silly considering that an unexplained epidemic of pneumonia swept the country that same summer, shouldn’t you expect that at some point in time, some serious virus, whether genetically modified or not, will leak out of a laboratory? Yes you darn well should expect it, meaning your incredulity at the prospect is naive or insincere.

<

blockquote>
your incredulity at the prospect is naive or insincere.

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blockquote>

I’ll take insincere for $200. Here is an example…

Covid lab leak proponents say:

SARS and MERS both were naturally occurring and evolved as they spread across human populations, culminating in the most contagious form emerging, said Quay and Muller. In the case of COVID-19, the virus appeared in humans already in its most contagious form and no real adaptations occurred until the first variations were seen months later in England. Rapid optimization of COVID-19 is unprecedented and indicates a long period of adaptation predating public transmission, said Quay and Muller.

And, Orac writes:

Again, the appeal to evolution used by many lab leak advocates is quite simply, incorrect, and we wouldn’t necessarily expect SARS-CoV-2 to evolve to become less pathogenic and less deadly

Spot Orac’s strawman? Lab leak proponents are not saying they would’ve expected Covid to become less pathogenic and less deadly — and ‘deadly’ is entirely Orac’s words– over time. What they are saying is when the virus FIRST emerged and started infecting humans, they would’ve expected it to be less pathogenic as a presumed naturally occurring virus would’ve needed time to figure out ways to optimize it’s infectiousness. Once it optimized it’s infectiousness and in the long-run goes on to acquire additional mutations that make it less infectious or the hosts’ immune system learn to deal better with it, those are entirely separate arguments.

In the case of COVID-19, the virus appeared in humans already in its most contagious form

These people are wrong, and so you are, as usual.

Both the British variant, and the Indian / now Delta variant are more transmissible and more pathogenic, notably posing a higher risk to younger people.

Both the British variant, and the Indian / now Delta variant are more transmissible and more pathogenic, notably posing a higher risk to younger people.

Athaic, both you and I know that’s a moot point. Whether the virus is still becoming more contagious does not detract from the fact that the virus arrived on the scene highly contagious. From jumping from an intermediate animal and infecting the first person, within less than a year it went on to infect multiple millions around every corner of the globe. How could a virus mutate so quickly in such a ‘lucky’ way?

“that’s a moot point”

Dishonest as usual, Greg? It was your source’s main point.
Anyway, I have better things to do than to feed you.

In other news…

As you may know, Mike Adams ( NN) has been circulating a variety of Covid- vaccine horror stories to scare people from vaccinating but lately, he has outdone himself.
The vaccines will begin killing a large proportion of whomever took them which will lead to an uneven distribution of death based on whether the locales are predominantly Blue or Red. According to him, Dems are 95% vaccinated, Republicans only being about half which will result in massive shifts in governmental power. Alas, he doesn’t say if that will lead to a re-inauguration of Donald. He quotes projections from Judy Mikovits who believes that 50 millions will die in the US

Which would imply that the Covid vaccine is a freedom loving right wing plot of the republicans to bypass the democratic process.

He quotes projections from Judy Mikovits who believes that 50 millions will die in the US
Well, that brings us back to the “lab leak” idea, since Mikovits knows more than most about both conspiracy theories and laboratory contamination.

AND…
Reduced US Covid-19 Data Reporting Worries Some Health Experts T. Ansari, today, WSJ.
Certain places are cutting back on daily reports and Covid dashboards.. Epidemiologists are especially concerned about the South.

On one hand: Scientism Dave’s posts here provide evidence supporting my thesis about COVID woo as being an integral element of the vast Trumpist weltanshauung of far-right bat guano crazy. i argue that all these things feed off of and into one another, e.g. QAnon —>COVID woo and COVID woo —> QAnon, etc. etc. Parallel example: yesterday on CNN, Victor Blackwell interviewed the Texas State legislator Steve Toth who authored the bill banning “Critical Race Theory”. Toth immediately began talking over Blackwell (who is African American, fwiw) accusing CNN of left-wing bias. Things went back and forth, until Toth declared that Blackwell was simply wrong about what Critical Race Theory posits: “Critical race theory is not about teaching the egregious things that happened in the past. Critical race theory is about blaming children today in the classroom for things that happened in the past”. This guy knows less about Critical Race Theory than Scientism Dave knows about National Socialism, but he purports to tell everybody else they’re wrong and his FOX News talking point is the real truth. When Blackwell tried to object, Toth went back to his shtick of a left-wing conspiracy between CNN and all these race-baiting agitators to turn education into anti-American propaganda.

“You guys, the left, you are the left, CNN is the left…It’s clear … whether it’s what happened on January 6th or whether it’s what happened in Portland, Oregon, CNN does so from a slanted view towards Marxism…

My point is that Toth’s trolling of Blackwell follows the exact same formula as Scientism Dave’s trolling here. Just substitute out the subjects from epidemiology to history. The end result is a descent into red-baiting that should make any modestly educated person laugh at the absurdity of the allegations. Who knew that ATT/Time Warner were a Marxist cabal? Alert the stockhiolders! But then if your base thinks the global elite is dominated by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophile sex traffickers, what’s a little dialectical materialism among friends?

But, on the other hand, reading the garbage Scientism Dave posts here just makes me upset and depressed in ways that Greg, Christine and others don’t. So I’d vote for Orac giving him the ban hammer. Not that my opinion matters much, or should. But I wonder how anyone else feels about this.

From his first post, I realised ‘Dave’ was just here to troll. Actually, it would be an elegant poe to use scientism as part of your nym.

I don’t even bother to read his posts, there will never be anything of substance in any of them. Others could follow my lead.

“Victor”

You don’t see that as just a wee bit problematic? I thought I’d written it down somewhere…

@sadmar

First of all…LOL, you watch CNN.
Is that were you get your latest ‘science’ news from?

“reading…posts here just makes me upset and depressed…”
“So I’d vote for Orac giving him the ban hammer.”

Well this explains why you enjoy watching CNN. You’re a marxist.

“Critical Race Theory”

And now you are defending a crypto racist “theory” that promotes segregation.

You are something else…

Also I feel the need to fix your mendacious title. It should read: The Lab Leak “Conspiracy Theory” is Becoming a Hypothesis.

Actually, if I were going to “correct” my title, I’d retitle it: “The ‘lab leak’ hypothesis became a conspiracy theory a year ago.”

Maybe I will do just that…

Maybe you would care to explain the difference between a conspiracy theory and a hypothesis? For example if I say WTC7 was brought down by controlled demolition on 9/11, which is it?

WTC7 was the first time in history a steel skyscraper collapsed due to fire. It collapsed into its own footprint, symmetrically, at free fall speed. Strangely enough for an event that was unprecedented, both the media and emergency responders knew when the building would collapse, nearly down to the minute. Both Aaron Mate on CNN and Jane Standley on BBC reported the collapse before it happened. The owner of the building is on tape saying they decided to “pull it”. And a couple of years ago University of Alaska Fairbanks published a study claiming that the collapse could only have been caused by the simultaneous failure of all structural support elements.

So is the controlled demolition of WTC7 a hypothesis or a conspiracy theory?

Funny how you made a perfect comparison to the lab leak conspiracy theory about the origin of COVID-19, but without realizing that the reason it’s such a perfect comparison is not the reason you think.😂

Here are some observations for you, maybe we can make a hypothesis based on them. An epidemic of pneumonia with no known cause exploded in the summer of 2019, months after the documented containment breaches at Fort Detrick. The disease looked just like a severe viral pneumonia, with symptoms including cough, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. It followed a nice epidemiological curve and disappeared by the end of February 2020. Here’s something interesting about the EVALI epidemic: the CDC associated it with vaporizers from day one, without ever claiming to know what caused the disease. There was no way to test for it, it could only be diagnosed when all tests for other causes of pneumonia came back negative. The CDC’s guidance to doctors from the beginning of the epidemic was to look for a history of vaporizer use. This was their unproven hypothesis: that vaping products were causing the novel pneumonia epidemic. It was preconceived and not based on observation. At first state legislatures threatened to put nicotine vaporizer manufacturers out of business, then they pulled a hat trick and blamed the disease on black market additives to THC products. But they never, ever, claimed to know what caused the the disease, and no single type of vaporizer product connected all the reported cases. The aetiology of this epidemic remains unknown. Of course, it looked an awful lot like COVID. In fact, EVALI could still be killing Americans by the dozens, and there’s no way we could even know. The disease can’t be tested for and it looks exactly like severe viral pneumonia. Anyone dying of EVALI today would be necessarily be classified as a COVID death. How would you propose to tell the two diseases apart?

As well you know, correlation is not causation, yet correlation is the only thing that defines EVALI. Hypothesis: EVALI was used to help cover up the beginning of the global COVID pandemic. [Oh, and nice dodge on the whole WTC thing. I’m sure you’re very well humored.]

Funny how you made a perfect comparison to the lab leak conspiracy theory about the origin of COVID-19, but without realizing that the reason it’s such a perfect comparison is not the reason you think.😂

It might not be a perfect comparison mearly because going back and finding evidence of someone claiming an event in advance (such as Dr. Anthony Fauchi warning about an eminent coming pandemic) and uses that as CP meat. Most notably, because Silverstien said they did it when It did not look ‘expected’ beforehand (or that’s how it was interpreted).

So one CP meat because the media got it right early for something the guy later ‘said’ he did.

And this one because Fauchi, et al got it right beforehand also only he didn’t sit in a high rise and say “I built the virus” even though he did. /s

https://youtu.be/4e-CxHOf424?t=33
https://youtu.be/-ZlmHvd_RZU?t=19

At first state legislatures threatened to put nicotine vaporizer manufacturers out of business, then they pulled a hat trick and blamed the disease on black market additives to THC products.But they never, ever, claimed to know what caused the the disease, and no single type of vaporizer product connected all the reported cases.
.
.
Anyone dying of EVALI today would be necessarily be classified as a COVID death. How would you propose to tell the two diseases apart?

It was additives to THC products. Vitamine E acetate. It ‘cuts’ thc oil yet is still the same color and viscosity. see: Honey Cut.

That “no single type of…connected all the reported cases” might be due to rampant knockoff bootleg carts, refills of brand carts with something other than what it came with, and the government not looking to closely to start with because it played into genning up an anti-vaping campaigne.

Your guy, Trump, has some outbreak intelligence going back fall 2019 — he chose to blow it off because he loved that brewing vaping fight and wanted it front and center over impeachment hearings. I was furious about it at the time because it had shortly become well known what the problem was (vitamine E is a lipid) and yet they kept running all the stupid flavored vape propaganda without a peep to the truth for far too long.

Where are the PSAs for vitamine E? “Those who smoke marijuana deserve to die of Paraquat poisoning?” — William P. Barr (probably)

@Sirius The epidemic went away, did it not ? So it is not killing anymore. Actually removal of bad vaping ingredient would explain this.

“Vicky”

sb Vicki. Hey, that means you could still be up this year.. Dang, sorry. Them and their little pre-approved lists. Fascists.

You know what, though? Throughout time and for the most part, “Victor” has been a pretty nefarious character. There is a very much non-zero possibility that in the next few months some Victor somewhere will do something so astoundingly stupid that the USDoC conclave might just conclude it to be to traumatic for the general public to have that hurricane associated with that accursed name.

Orac, I can’t get the “loading… {offensive star} to work.for a vote I’m sure you all are taking the oportunnity to pary me while I can’t figzure out. sad peeps. later. This model is probobly not work here like HN. It just flood Karens and Greg and all grey. Not a good model. Still, how to make it work?? It will not work.remind me in a bit if r/agedlikemilk

In other news ( OT but everyone is here):

Del has resurfaced ( @ high wire talk) in an advert for his show tomorrow, looking not entirely well but rather droopy and faded as if he were drained of… something.
and I’m sure he has been working on his appearance all week because
woo-people and anti-vaxxers often claim that they radiate good health and youthfulness which is visible to everyone because of their healthy, non-toxic lifestyle.
except more than a few of them look embalmed, painted, dyed and/ or stuffed.

Here is hoping his hemorrhoids are fixed. It takes a bit of time to come back from that amount of lost blood, even when you do it to yourself through stupidity.

It is hard to radiate good health and youthfulness when you have had several recent trips to hospital and a plane flight to and from Mexico while seriously unwell.

Failure to take care of your health should be an obvious dethronement from the gnu-age health pantheon. Fancy almost killing yourself because you failed to realise you were dropping blood in the pan. I mean men of Del’s age (and women too) should be checking the pan every time they go, because blood in stools is an early sign of colon cancer. Caught early, colon cancer is virtually 100% curable.

Occam’s Razor only applies if information is lacking – it’s inappropriately applied here. Even if the genome “looks natural” was an outbreak unintentionally facilitated by scientists? These are separate issues. Your approach is abrasive and toxic towards scientific discussion. Those who find entertainment in bashing others who have observational experience are the equivalent of tone deaf royals sitting in their estates. That would be most of you here.

Orac, I can’t get the new featre to work. It is just the most offfensive blue instead of yellow star saying, loading and it is really starting to trigger me. I really want to participate in turning everything grewy. I’ll try the other damned brower…

Orac, I’ve nulled out all the things. I’m surfing naked. I can’t figure ouit how to interaction with your shiny, new button wich I really want to smash alot. I don’t know how to break this to U buddy, but it seems U ar deemed so lame as to not be hacked so much alot.

I want to smash and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7qkQewyubs

p.s. if anyone has any technichal advice based on my wildly unreliable obsevations then you should probably just go with the flow and enjoy that I have tried with PaleMoon, and FF. Sounds fun, I got bupkiss.

I wonder. could you be playing cold cover for the ufos? You are marginaly wiley enough to play the part.

@Orac

I can’t interact with the little blue star. It just says “Loading…” beside it. Has anyone here had it do anything? Does Orac have some metric of engagement with the button? Is that non-zero??

Works for me. I click the star, then a second later, it turns to “Liked by you.” If I scroll away, and scroll back, that legend disappears, but it reappears after I reload the page. YMMV.

Cool, sadmar. Since yours works, does it do anything untoward like show you a list of all the swell stuff you’ve smashed on if you hover back over it or anything like that? And do you “log in” here?

The “Loading” label is all I see. However, in my case it is almost certainly due to the aggressively aggressive social networking filters I have installed. I’m okay with that.

If that is a problem for you, I suggest reviewing your browser’s settings for tracking and sharing, and any add-ons that do other types of filtering, such as ad blockers.

What you may need to adjust will depend on the package Orac uses for this feature.

arg. Of course. Thx, rs. The UBO is so “set it and forget it” that I completely forgot. It now says “like”, turns gold when I hover over it, “loading…” is gone, aaand, I get a popup login redirect. Does it need a login?

I’m silly. I see It doesn’t have a “hate” which I’m usually pretty averse to with other sites like, say, Netflix. I like hate buttons. Hate buttons can be a good thing. Just probably not here.

It’s the 10th day, of the 6th month, of the year 2021 AD. The Enterprise in its exploration mission is still hovering over RI ‘science’ blog. The message that was sent out from the craft several days ago for a reasonable explanation accounting for the improbability of a double CCG in Covid genome hasn’t garnered a single response. The ship and the crew are still waiting anxiously for one.

@Greg, your claim has been answered above.

Aarno @ June 9, 2021 at 8:00 am:

CGG repeat occurs naturally:
Willemsen R, Levenga J, Oostra BA. CGG repeat in the FMR1 gene: size matters. Clin Genet. 2011 Sep;80(3):214-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01723.x. Epub 2011 Jun 30. PMID: 21651511; PMCID: PMC3151325.

Athaic @June 9, 2021 at 2:36 pm gave a link to an article that refutes the argument that that is proof COVID-19 was generated in a lab, despite your dismissal of it.

The fact you don’t understand you’re wrong doesn’t make you right.

Do Google Scholar search with CGGCGG. . You will get many sequences containing it. This one has it repeated 56 times:
Willemsen R, Levenga J, Oostra BA. CGG repeat in the FMR1 gene: size matters. Clin Genet. 2011 Sep;80(3):214-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2011.01723.x. Epub 2011 Jun 30. PMID: 21651511; PMCID: PMC3151325.
So there is nothing unnatural here.

Willemsen R, Levenga J, Oostra BA. CGG repeat in the FMR1 gene: size matters.

The FMR1 gene contains a CGG repeat present in the 5′-untranslated region which can be unstable upon transmission to the next generation. The repeat is up to 55 CGGs long in the normal population. In patients with fragile X syndrome (FXS), a repeat length exceeding 200 CGGs (full mutation: FM) generally leads to methylation of the repeat and the promoter region, which is accompanied by silencing of the FMR1 gene. The absence of FMR1 protein, FMRP, seen in FM is the cause of the mental retardation in patients with FXS. The premutation (PM) is defined as 55–200 CGGs. Female PM carriers are at risk of developing primary ovarian insufficiency. Elderly PM carriers might develop a progressive neurodegenerative disorder called fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). Although arising from the mutations in the same gene, distinct mechanisms lead to FXS (absence of FMRP), FXTAS (toxic RNA gain-of-function) and FXPOI. The pathogenic mechanisms thought to underlie these disorders are discussed. This review gives insight on the implications of all possible repeat length categories seen in fragile X families

<Sigh!>

Update: Various scrambled message to the ship has been received, purporting to address the double CCG mystery. Unfortunately, they have been wholly unsatisfactory. Again, the issue is not whether a double CCG occurs naturally in nature, but it has never occurred in any previous coronas. What is the likelihood then that the virus would’ve picked up that mutation that was never in its ancestry?

“Those who find entertainment in bashing others who have observational experience

…a.k.a. pulling garbage theories out of their ass.

Yes, mocking that can be entertaining.

Do you have no comprehension whatever of the concept of mutation and evolution? Are you aware of how SARS-CoV-2 makes subgenomic copies of its mRNA? Do you know about recombination?

Are you aware of how SARS-CoV-2 makes subgenomic copies of its mRNA? Do you know about recombination?

I am presume you know all this. Great! I am also assuming with such knowledge it should be easy for you to explain how it’s probably that a double CCG can end up in the virus genome when it is not present in any other Coronas. The floor is yours, please go ahead and lay it out. I am so grateful that you have arrived to share your expertise!

In other anti-vax news:

–Last night, MSNBC’s 11th Hour ended with a segment on anti-vaxxers featuring Sherri Tenpenny testifying at a legislative session in Ohio about how the Covid vaccines’ ingredients make people magnetic! Another witness illustrates how metallic objects now ‘stick’
to her and images of various hilarious memes showing this new superpower; the host declares anti-vax talking points both ‘crap’ and dangerous to public health. Video at website for the show

— PRN’s decrepit old woo-meister seems to be cutting ties with the “corrupt, dirty, woke, evil” City of New York: ( his daily show, yesterday PRN)

he first lost his lease on his health food store last summer altho’ his name remains on it ( you must buy his supplements over the internet or at an office elsewhere);
NOW, his ( rented) apartment is being sold**.
Thus he will divide his activities between his two estates in Florida and Texas***. He will cease “anti-aging retreats” in Texas after September and concentrate on rescuing veterans ( a Veterans’ Village) and elderly dogs there ( SRSLY!)
as well as teach followers how to grow organic vegetables, make healthy food products for farmers’ markets and how to “Homestead”/
create home businesses/ art work. He will teach willing applicants who will live there and work in exchange for education.
The Florida place is now an ‘animal sanctuary’. These activities sound like a way to disguise his multiple businesses and RE holdings as charities for tax purposes perhaps..

** ” People are fleeing NYC!” the righties say..
HOWEVER when I look up my late uncle’s tiny 17′ wide house or my cousins’ two homes – all strictly middle class- I keep getting figures ,1.8-2 M,, 1.5M , 800K. for a duplex. ( RESPECTIVELY)
*** the alties love these states.

Seriously, is anyone behind the scenes asking why the virus is so stubborn, what is it about it’s makeup that makes it so persistent? For instance, UK was supposed to be the test country to see if vaccines could beat the virus; over the last several weeks their cases have been rapidly increasing, and they now sit at more cases than just about every other European country. We are talking the most vaccinated country in Europe! Why? If it’s the Indian variant that is the culprit, surely the vaccine should have done a better job at mitigating it. Incredibly, no one seems to be asking these questions. The only suggestion is to redouble the vaccination effort and ensure everyone gets their second dose.

Could it be that Sorenson is right and the uniqueness of this manmade virus will always pose a steep challenge, and it’s essential that we understand this and get the science right. Don’t get me wrong, I am an antivaxxer, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if in the long run vaccines end up not being able to beat the virus and cause more harm than good. Still, when Sorenson suggests that it might be advantageous to target more than the Spike binding site and all other vaccines to date do just that, I can’t help but shake my head that no one is at least listening to him.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

@Greg Did you notice that SARS CoV 2 mutates fast ? This is the problem. RNA viruses make a bad bioweapon for this reason: they do not follow specifications.

The Return or Del Strikes Back ( @ high wire talk, today)

I watched a little of the latest episode primarily to see how Del looked. In short, much better than that promo or the last few images of him post blood loss. It is entirely possible that much of the improvement is due to makeup and or tanning ( he worked in television after all) and we all know how much even amateurs can improve their
appearance with a few highly dedicated products, no dermatologist required. He looks three makeup shades darker than the aforementioned promo,

Much ranting about Fauci’s e-mails. Del/ ICAN was mentioned on Tucker Carlson.

The stuff I endure for scepticism!..

So Orac is still practicing intellectual thuggery while taking both sides of any issue and ignoring facts that he and his friends. like Novella. point out are relevant.

Orac – “As many have pointed out, when a virus makes the jump from animals to humans, it often takes years to figure out the origin”.
“YEARS!!!” – But not so in the case of a lab leak. that can pretty quickly be nailed down as a fact or eliminated as untruthful, if independent scientists and researchers are allowed unfettered access.

Orac quotes some guy named Dan – As Dan Samorodnitsky points out: –
” So, figuring out where this particular virus came from will be a challenge. It can take years, decades, or more to find the source of a virus.”

Yet Orac and his brethren horde continue to spout that this is a wild virus jumping species barriers. How do they know that?
Where’s the beef!!!

Speaking of the beef, or rather the bull, it appears this is the same Michael Polidori who claims he is not antivaccine but fulminates about “4000+ deaths” being linked to vaccines annually, and also has said there’s no proof HPV causes cancer.

How’s that crank magnetism been working for you, Michael?

@Michael Polidori

This is not a ‘science’ blog. It’s pretty much a political blog.

Also, people have to feed their families and many ‘scientists’ get their money from NIH or china backed entities. So they have to repeat the big lie that there’s no way it leaked from a chinese lab.

This blog cite scientific papers, you never to that. You should tell us what china backed entities are.

“Where’s the beef!!!”

It has Mad Cow.
And how did the cattle get made cow? From humans feeding them ground up sheep that had a prion disease (scapie) that is not transmissible to humans.

Also, where do you think all the other diseases in the world come from? They come from viruses jumping species. Or bacteria. Or parasites.

Every moment of every day there are random experiments going on out in the wild, with every single living thing and viruses. And not just a few experiments, but billions. Eventually by random chance alone, some virus will mutate such that it can infect humans. This has happened before. It will happen again.

I would like to understand the assumptions that went into estimating the relative probabilities of the lab leak origin hypothesis and the natural (No lab mediated) transmission origin hypothesis.

In particular, id like to see the calculations that support the conclusion that the “natural” origin is more likely than the lab leak origin” for the specific case in which the virus developed/mutated naturally, passed thru the lab and/or the lab workers and then accidentally leaked.

For the latter specific case, the viral genetic sequence would not impact the relative probabilities for the two cases because the virus would have developed naturally in both cases.in fact, it would be precisely the same virus coded by the same genetic sequence. The only difference would be the way it “found” its way to humans. For this reason, calculations performed by Andersen et Al for the “proximal origins” paper are not applicable.

I have questions about how one could get a reliable overall probability estimate for such a lab leak origin hypothesis if it involves a “coverup” after an actual accidental leak. Specifically, how does one factor a “coverup conspiracy” into the probability calculation? How could/can one reliably estimate the probability of the success of a “coverup conspiracy” without knowing details about things like the minimum number of people who would have had to have been involved, their positions and level of knowledge and whether and/or how they might have been “disincentivized” to blow the whistle (eg. With threats of imprisonment or worse)

Even if one were able to reliably estimate the probability of an accidental leak of a naturally produced virus that “passed thru” a lab and/or it’s workers in the ABSENCE of such a coverup (call it the bare leak probability) — in itself,no small task, since it depends on assumptions about actual as opposed to “on paper” lab safety), it’s difficult to see how one could adjust the “bare leak probability” by some hypothetical “probability of coverup success” to get a reliable overall probability for the lab leak hypothesis.

Basing the latter probability on questionable assumptions would seem to me to be unlikely to yield anything other than a questionable overall probability for the lab leak origin hypothesis.

But seeing the calculations would doubtless be necessary to assessing their plausibility, at any rate.

Presumably, the author of this post must have seen these calculations and decided the assumptions involved were at least plausible and can point/link to where they can be found.

Presumably, the author of this comment must be aware of calculations demonstrating the “lab leak” hypothesis to be so much more likely than a natural origin for SARS-CoV-2 that don’t involve risibly silly assumptions and misuse of Bayes theorem.🙄

By your non-answer, I must assume that you can’t link to any calculations indicating how the relative probabilities were estimated.

After all, how hard can it be to drop a link?

Do people seriously claim that they can create meaningful probability calculations of the actions of a very small group of individuals?

How could anyone possibly justify those calculations?

Seriously, as anyone who’s ever worked with humans knows, they’re obnoxiously unpredictable in a lot of ways, especially when you’re not working with crowds but with small, discrete actions.

Like, if someone said they could calculate the probability of an individual driving over a leaf today, without knowing anything about the person, that’s just weird.

From WaPo

“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the Internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead, it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over and they can stick because now we think there is a metal piece to that.”
— Sherri Tenpenny, testifying to the Ohio legislature about coronavirus vaccines at the request of Republican lawmakers.

Only the best people, dontchaknow.

I have great respect for ORAC. I have found you to be a thoughtful and conscientious individual. But, “this week in virology with Peter Daszak”? If you do not know what I am talking about I am not going to tell you. That you would include it without comment is a deafening silence.

If you do not know what I am talking about I am not going to tell you.

Well given that you didn’t bother to take this to E-MAIL, how do you feel today about Saxbury case?

We “know” nothing of the sort. Seriously, we don’t. The evidence base showing that a lab leak is a highly unlikely (albeit not entirely impossible) origin for SARS-CoV-2 has not changed appreciably.

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