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Old 05-18-2020, 01:46 PM
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Should there be a probe into the origins of Covid-19?


Again, simple enough question. There have been several countries that have been calling on a probe into the disease, specifically the origins in China and, mainly, how the CCP handled this in the early stages. The Chinese, unsurprisingly, have been opposed to this, often alarmingly so. Recently, however, Xi has said he'd be willing to allow such a probe after the crisis is over (you can believe or disbelieve as much as you like whether, sometime down the road, it would actually happen or be meaningful by that point). Anyway, the question is...SHOULD such a probe happen? Why or why not? And if this is backed internationally (I think the US is doing our own, perhaps dubious probe, so not sure how much we do or don't support this more international effort), what can be done if China continues to block it or push it off?

Sorry if this has been discussed previously...I looked for a recent thread on this, and was surprised I couldn't find one. If I just missed it, mods, feel free to shut this one down as you see fit.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:00 PM
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Such a probe seems like a waste of time and money. We've got three options: a Chinese Bioweapon escaped a lab, a disease jumped from animals to people, or a natural disease that was being studied in China escaped a lab. In any of the scenarios updating lab security is the only possible preventive measures and that seems like if possible it would be done without an international investigation. There is no possibility of punishing China no matter what is found.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:01 PM
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I think this is more suitable for Great Debates than QZ, even if it's on the virus.

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Old 05-18-2020, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Oredigger77 View Post
Such a probe seems like a waste of time and money. We've got three options: a Chinese Bioweapon escaped a lab, a disease jumped from animals to people, or a natural disease that was being studied in China escaped a lab. In any of the scenarios updating lab security is the only possible preventive measures and that seems like if possible it would be done without an international investigation. There is no possibility of punishing China no matter what is found.
I think that's only part of what is being looked at, mainly by the US for various reasons I'll leave it to people to work out. The other part, I think, that's more important to the countries pushing for this, is how the CCP handled this outbreak, and also what the real extent of the disease was/is in China. How did they do early on, why did they make some of the decisions they made (such as quarantining some provinces but still allowing people to fly internationally for a time despite that), and when did this actually start. Also, some of the early data on the virus has still not been fully shared. This isn't really about the origins of the virus wrt the things you lay out here...and I see that I put that in the title, but what I was getting at was more the origins being in China and how it spread world wide, not was it from a lab or from a wet market or whatever. Sorry about that.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:17 PM
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Of course research should be conducted. It would be very valuable to know the origins of COVID-19 and, as I understand, a lot of research has been completed and is ongoing.

However when we phrase it as "probe", a term normally associated with government investigations, obviously that sort of investigation will be an absolute non-starter. The CCP has absolute control over that information, there are no treaties governing its release, and they absolutely are not going to reveal anything derogatory about themselves. It's not going to happen, and I don't know how assigning blame to China is going to accelerate a vaccine, or improve test coverage, or increase treatment capabilities.

That doesn't stop people from talking about investigating China, of course. But seen in the light of a non-helpful thing that is never going to happen, it seems more like a calculated effort to shift the spotlight away from countries and leaders that are doing an abysmal job on their response.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:31 PM
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Of course research should be conducted. It would be very valuable to know the origins of COVID-19 and, as I understand, a lot of research has been completed and is ongoing.

However when we phrase it as "probe", a term normally associated with government investigations, obviously that sort of investigation will be an absolute non-starter. The CCP has absolute control over that information, there are no treaties governing its release, and they absolutely are not going to reveal anything derogatory about themselves. It's not going to happen, and I don't know how assigning blame to China is going to accelerate a vaccine, or improve test coverage, or increase treatment capabilities.

That doesn't stop people from talking about investigating China, of course. But seen in the light of a non-helpful thing that is never going to happen, it seems more like a calculated effort to shift the spotlight away from countries and leaders that are doing an abysmal job on their response.
It does seem to be putting some pressure on China, however, as can be seen in Xi's speech at the WHA saying that China would allow such a probe...sometime in the nebulous future and without any specifics. That is, however, a marked change from even their official stance as of yesterday where they were flatly refusing ANY sort of probe. Now, they are willing to at least entertain something...with the WHO as the investigating body, of course. I will, again, leave it to individual 'dopers to work out why the Chinese would make that part of the concession. But, it IS a concession, so I don't think it's totally worthless to press the Chinese on this. Certainly, the Chinese are trying (after using hammers initially) to mend their fences, and are seeing that this is more than a country or two demanding this.

I agree that some countries and their leaders are using this to detract from their own abysmal performance in this crisis, but I think that putting a spotlight on China's own massive failures early on is helpful. And not all of the countries asking for this probe did a horrible job, especially considering they got blindsided with this thing early on. Several of the European countries calling for this, and Australia spring to mind as countries that really got hammered because of actions by the CCP in the early stages of this thing.
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:50 PM
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There is almost certainly a black-world investigation already underway. We won't see those results, ever. There should also be an academic/scientific investigation with published, peer reviewed results.
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:13 PM
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An academic/scientific "probe" (i.e. research)? Sure. A political probe? That would be a waste of time -- they're not the experts on virology. A political probe into the political and governmental response to the virus? Very warranted and appropriate (that's right smack in the middle of legislative purview).
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Old 05-18-2020, 03:20 PM
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Absolutely yes. Even though it should now be common knowledge not to touch bats or pangolins, a formal diagnosis/proof of it would be helpful. And it would help to debunk the nonsensical escaped-from-bioweapons-lab theory.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:13 PM
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An academic/scientific "probe" (i.e. research)? Sure. A political probe? That would be a waste of time -- they're not the experts on virology. A political probe into the political and governmental response to the virus? Very warranted and appropriate (that's right smack in the middle of legislative purview).
Agreed with all of the above, and the scientific research probe is already ongoing; the virus has been sequenced and alterations (as the virus, like all viruses, mutates) are tracked, and it can be compared to other closely related betacoronaviruses to find the progression of changes in the nucleotide sequences. We probably cannot determine from that whether the virus emerged from a purely wild spillover event, in some kind of recombination effect from spillover in a ‘wet market’ with other wild animals, or whether it occurred in bats being studied in a lab, but scientists can definitely determine whether it was artificially modified by plugging in some specific gene to produce cause it to be more virulent (which we aren’t really smart enough to do) or if it was the result of a series of natural mutations and recombinations (yes to a point of near certainty).

As for the political ramifications, the Chinese government and health authorities need to be held accountable for not disseminating information when they had it and for providing misleading or grossly inaccurate statistics to the WHO (and the WHO for blithely accepting those statistics even after a simple first order analysis revealed them to be gross underestimates) but then the vast majority of nation health organizations really need to account for their own lack of response, transparency, and critical evaluation. The number of nations that can legitimately claim to have handled this pandemic effectively can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

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Old 05-18-2020, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
An academic/scientific "probe" (i.e. research)? Sure. A political probe? That would be a waste of time -- they're not the experts on virology. A political probe into the political and governmental response to the virus? Very warranted and appropriate (that's right smack in the middle of legislative purview).
What he said, esp. the last bit.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:37 PM
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Please forgive the skepticism, but any probe into this will show the CHinese Communist Party in the best light possible.

All witnesses or detractors have been removed and possibly executed. They built an hospital in record time, don’t you think they would have “cleansed” the virus research facility too ? If a probe were to take place, where will they find credible witnesses or untampered evidence ?

And the Chinese own enough of the western media to paint the picture they want, when they want. So the reports in the main media will be pro China to a large extent.

There will be fringe reports but no action will be taken by anyone in the world. Just look at the Uighur situation !
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:53 PM
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It does seem to be putting some pressure on China, however, as can be seen in Xi's speech at the WHA saying that China would allow such a probe...sometime in the nebulous future and without any specifics. That is, however, a marked change from even their official stance as of yesterday where they were flatly refusing ANY sort of probe.
Meh. I see the change as appearances-only. Better to act compliant, knowing you can sandbag any meaningful probe, than continue to resist and look guilty.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:35 PM
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I think that's only part of what is being looked at, mainly by the US for various reasons I'll leave it to people to work out. The other part, I think, that's more important to the countries pushing for this, is how the CCP handled this outbreak, and also what the real extent of the disease was/is in China. How did they do early on, why did they make some of the decisions they made (such as quarantining some provinces but still allowing people to fly internationally for a time despite that), and when did this actually start. Also, some of the early data on the virus has still not been fully shared. This isn't really about the origins of the virus wrt the things you lay out here...and I see that I put that in the title, but what I was getting at was more the origins being in China and how it spread world wide, not was it from a lab or from a wet market or whatever. Sorry about that.
Gee, that sounds like the US. Why did the Trump and the rest of the executive branch make the decisions they did, and some states locked down and some states didn't, but we still allowed people to fly internationally for a time AFTER we knew COVID was out there?

What would be the point of ascertaining China could have prevented the spread of COVID? Nobody's going to stop doing business with the world's largest market, and China couldn't care less if other countries tsk-tsk them about their mishandling of the virus. Is it just to make people feel better because they can blame the whole mess on China instead of acknowledging that the US federal government screwed up, too?

Mind you, I think China mishandled the crisis egregiously; I just don't think a probe is necessary or helpful.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:50 PM
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Is the probe about where it originated or how it spread. Two totally different things. It seems like US intelligence does not think it originated from a secret lab, though the political leadership would like that to be the case.
As for how it spread, I agree that if they are investigated everyone should be. But I don't really see the point.
The conclusion for China might be that they should allow the free flow of information? That's going to happen.
The conclusion for us is that we should respect science at the highest level? That's not going to happen also.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:03 AM
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Yes but how will we get China to cooperate.

We need to know to help prevent it from happening again.
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Old 05-19-2020, 04:26 AM
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Please forgive the skepticism, but any probe into this will show the CHinese Communist Party in the best light possible.

All witnesses or detractors have been removed and possibly executed. They built an hospital in record time, don’t you think they would have “cleansed” the virus research facility too ? If a probe were to take place, where will they find credible witnesses or untampered evidence ?

And the Chinese own enough of the western media to paint the picture they want, when they want. So the reports in the main media will be pro China to a large extent.

There will be fringe reports but no action will be taken by anyone in the world. Just look at the Uighur situation !
I agree. By the time a serious investigation gets going, in say 2-3 years, they will have totally covered up everything.
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Old 05-19-2020, 08:28 AM
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Is the probe about where it originated or how it spread. Two totally different things. It seems like US intelligence does not think it originated from a secret lab, though the political leadership would like that to be the case.
As for how it spread, I agree that if they are investigated everyone should be. But I don't really see the point.
The conclusion for China might be that they should allow the free flow of information? That's going to happen.
The conclusion for us is that we should respect science at the highest level? That's not going to happen also.
Well, looking at what Australia and some in the EU are calling for, it's (to paraphrase) 'the origins of the crisis', by which I think they mean when, exactly, did this thing start? How did it progress in the early stages? How did it break out? How did it spread so far and fast out of China? What is/was the real extent of the virus. Basically, they want to look at the entire trajectory of the disease, including early samples and any data the CCP has that they have sat on or not disclosed.

No, of course the CCP isn't going to allow this freely. At most, it would be another dog and pony show such as the one they gave the WHO when they allowed them into Wuhan but didn't really let them do much of anything. At a certain point, I doubt that the data would be there for anyone from the outside, regardless of whether the CCP allowed in an international team and gave them the freedom to investigate or now.

The point, however, is to spotlight the fact that China ISN'T allowing this, has fought and threatened countries who have tried and done everything they can to shift the narrative to what they want it to be. That, in itself, says something...and it opens peoples eyes wrt how China acts and how it handles itself, both in this crisis and in general. I think that's the point of the probe, in the end. I doubt enough pressure can be brought to bear on the CCP to actually open up and give up the critical details the world needs to know.

That said, I noticed that the pressure has changed some of the CCPs stance. I saw an interview with the head of the CCPs CDC (a full party member of course) saying that there was a cover-up 'by local officials' (of course) with a bit of new information (the CCP had said early on that 'local official's in Wuhan had covered things up, but they shifted that narrative later on...so at least they are back to that).

There is one last thing. Not all Chinese people are in lockstep, and not all are happy with the CCP. The thing is, there have already been leaks by medical people in China about some of the cover up and the reality of the situation (some of those leaks are what allowed Taiwan to prepare and also try and warn the WHO in December that human to human transmission was already happening). It's possible...not probable, but possible...that, if there really was an international probe, that more information might be leaked in response. The thing with something this big is it's damned hard to keep it under wraps forever. The CCP are masters of doing that, or changing the narrative to erase inconvenient facts (like, oh, Tiananmen Square Massacre, say), but eventually things leak out. They already have in fact and an international probe might leak more, including more data on what actually happened early on in this thing.
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