A theory I saw about how COVID may have escaped from the Wuhan lab

You answer my question and I’ll answer yours. It’s lame to dodge a question with another question, and I won’t entertain that.

I think it’s very telling that pro-leakers can’t tell us what information would falsify their hypothesis. Highly suggests it’s a conspiracy theory.

I can’t even parse the meaning of this question. What are you asking me to do?

My impression was that puzzlegal was continuing your questions to the poster you were responding to.

Basically, we’ll never really know how it got from a bat (or whatever) to a person, but it’s still important to distinguish between “wild virus accidentally released from a lab” and “virus was created in a lab”, and some posters here seem to be mashing those two together.

It’s possible I may have misinterpreted her or you.

Nope, that was a good answer. Thanks.

Puzzlegal’s post was flagged as a direct response to me, so I’m not clear what the question is, or who is responding to who. Rather than make a bad guess, were you piggybacking on my question or challenging it?

Circumstantial evidence that it escaped from a lab seems pretty solid. We will probably never know.

This seems highly contrived and implausible to me. And unnecessary. We know a few things (circumstantial). We know that the French stopped funding one of the big labs in Wuhan prior to the pandemic (IIRC in 20217 or so) because they weren’t following safety procedures and were operating in a potentially dangerous manner. We know that a variant of coronavirus had been found and was being studied in this lab. We know that one of the primary scientists working on this study was at this lab.

Then it gets more speculative. There is evidence that this thing started much earlier than the official narrative. There is evidence that several of the people from the lab got sick prior to the first official cases. There is some evidence that the virus started in a wet market near where this lab is located, and that this market was frequented by personnel from the lab (as well as tons of other people).

So, at least speculatively, we don’t need some person from the lab selling ‘sacrificed lab animals’ to posit a leak. We only need someone studying coronavirus in the lab and not strictly following procedures to have gotten infected and spread it to the near by wet market.

DID this happen this way? Sadly, we will probably never know. The CCP has been good at covering this up from the beginning with the help of the WHO. The WHO investigation was a joke. Also, Wuhan itself not only went through it’s own version of the pandemic but also had major floods last year, so at this point, between the CCP coverup, the whitewashing by the WHO, and the fact that even talking about this was considered a CT and ridiculed both in the press and…other places…I’d have to say there is very little chance we will ever know.

That goes for zoonotic theory as well of course. We don’t have the animal. We don’t have patient zero. Assuming this is what happened we also will probably never know or have the evidence, though, personally, I think if it was zoonotic the CCP and their own health agency would have trotted it out (those who aren’t trying to say this all started in the US, of course).

At any rate, your theory doesn’t sound plausible to me, but YMMV, and, frankly, we will probably never know, so speculate wildly. I do wish people would keep straight the difference between the lab leak hypothesis (and keep in mind it IS a hypothesis) and the manmade virus hypothesis/speculation (since this one is much more speculative and, at least from what I’ve read is highly unlikely as you’d see the manmade tapering in the samples)…and understand that, at least with the former…we have as much evidence for that as for the zoonotic theory, which is to say not a lot and mostly speculative.

I’m only aware that the French helped build the P4 facility in Wuhan. Do you have a cite for a French grant being pulled for safety concerns? Also, what coronavirus variants are you speaking about? Are you talking about different strains within the coronavirus family or are you talking about a variant of SARS-CoV-2?

There is a long article in the New Yorker about the lab leak theory. It does bring up many of the reasons for suspecting a lab leak, but also balances that with other evidence. I’ve not read the article carefully, but this quote stands out to me:

If wildlife farms were responsible for the pandemic, that would implicate the policies of President Xi Jinping. If there was a lab leak, just one, or a few, scientists are culpable of an accident. Either way, it is likely that the Chinese government prefers a storm of swirling theories, within which they can continue to push their own: that U.S. soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan in October, 2019, during the World Military Games, or that the American government manufactured the virus in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Or they can blame imported frozen food. The conspiracy theories branch out from there, in their own kind of evolutionary tree.

The Chinese government destroyed evidence at the lab. The Chinese government also destroyed evidence at the markets and the farms.

A big bit of circumstantial evidence for natural transmission: We’ve already seen it happen twice in this century with SARS and MERS. It took many, many years to nail down the origin of those. It is likely to take many years to find the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

I’m either misremembering or conflating two different stories, or I simply can’t find the article (which was from 2015 and is probably buried on page 190,229 of the Google search). The French pulled out (or were tossed out by the Chinese) in 2017 after they published concerns about the lab in 2015, and the US State Department published safety concerns in 2018 about the lab in Wuhan (well, one of them). I can get you cites on that if you want, and I’ll keep digging for the original article I recall reading on this but so far I’m wading through mountains of crap from Google that has little to do with what I’m searching for, and a lot to do with the political fight on this topic.

As to your other question, not sure what you are asking me. Are you asking me what variant they were studying at Wuhan? I think there were several, and they were manipulating them as they generally do when studying any virus, so not sure what you are looking for here.

I think both are plausible. The trouble is just what you said…the CCP destroyed evidence and suppressed the story, they manipulated the WHO and western media and basically whitewashed the WHO’s access and report on the origin of this thing. So, we don’t have anything either way for hard evidence.

To me, the lab leak is plausible but unproven. There is a ton of circumstantial evidence. I mean, they were studying bat coronovirus in Wuhan, the origin of the virus. The possible ground zero is a wet market that’s pretty close to the lab. They were doing gain of function experimentation on the virus. There were concerns that predate the outbreak about the safety procedures in the lab. There is a bunch more, but to me the circumstantial evidence is compelling and, at a minimum is a valid speculation and hypothesis…though it was treated as a crazy CT nearly everywhere.

As you said, there are stuff on the zoonotic side as well. We know that similar variants of the virus came from other species such a bats. Though as for years to track them down, I thought (with my already noted faulty memory) that the species in SARS was found within 6 months. No idea on MERS…maybe that was years. Regardless, we don’t have that evidence, so it’s still speculation at this point (though you will note I called this one a theory instead of a hypothesis :wink: ).

Okay. I think you’re referring to strains here. The lab was mostly studying various bat strains, however, they did have human samples from the pandemic to compare to the bat strains.

It took 14 years. They knew to look in bats and had strong evidence of related viruses, but it wasn’t until 2017 or so that the exact origin was found in a cave in Yunnan province.

Do you know who found it? The Wuhan Institute for Virology, and some of the very scientists mentioned as players in the lab leak hypothesis.

I agree, it is a valid hypothesis. What I see treated as a conspiracy theory is the idea that it was deliberately engineered. As said since the start of the pandemic, the viral genome shows all evidence of being natural. “Natural” of course includes random mutations and mixing with other SARS virus strains.

I used to think of it as about 60/40 for natural vs lab leak, but with the evidence I linked earlier about finding the closest relatives yet to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the wild, I’ve moved to 70/30. The only things those recently published viruses were missing is the all important cleavage site.

I’m an engineer, not a scientist, and don’t pretend to know the intricacies of this. I know they had teams collecting samples from all over China to study and do gain of function research to try and find ways to build vaccines and the like, but that’s about as deep as I go wrt understanding the complexities. :slight_smile:

I agree. Everything I’ve read points to a natural origin. And I think that’s consistent with a lab leak. Basically, how it was introduced is either a bat in a wet market (plausible) or an accidental leak from a lab doing research and tests on samples from bats collected all over China (plausible). Sadly, the only way we’d know what happened is if a real investigation had been done…which didn’t and won’t happen.

Yup, I did know that. The Wuhan lab did some good research, no doubt about it. And Shi Zhengli was an acknowledged leader and expert on bat coronavirus, again, no doubt. But one of the reasons I find the leak hypothesis compelling is because in China things are either done to the highest standards and meticulous…or they are done crappy, with corners cut and adulterated procedures and corruption. From what I recall, there were a lot of questions about safety issues at the lab, and that fits in with a lot of examples of how things work in China under the CCP.

Yes, I saw your post and again, I agree. The only thing is, like I said, this doesn’t mean the lab leak is out. That said, if they do find with certainty a wild example (I won’t pretend to know what an ‘important cleavage site’ is wrt virus samples :wink: ) I’d say that’s good enough, as it will probably be irrelevant wrt what we will ever learn at this point and wrt the lab leak hypothesis.

This. It sounds to me like the people who have looked at the pandemic virus and said it couldn’t have been created through gain of function research because of what sounds to me like gene splicing evidence. That could be a bad summary of it.

I would expect a lab that is specifically collecting specimens for research designed to prevent a pandemic would pursue a dangerous virus for the purposes of finding out how to defeat it.

The studies that we know about weren’t gain-of-function. They were rescue-of-function, in which they were swapping spike proteins between bat viruses to see which spike proteins were able to bind to human cells. A spike protein of a bat virus that could bind to human cells was swapped with a spike protein from another virus with unknown binding activity. When the spike protein is removed, it is loss of function. If the unknown spike protein works, it rescues the function.

They did collect covid human samples after the outbreak started to sequence it and found that it was related to a certain bat virus from the Yunnan province. Recently, it was discovered that SARS-CoV-2 is more related to bat viruses from Laos. That means that this virus was probably in many spots in southeast asia.

By the way, animal-to-human transmission of coronaviruses are pretty common. What is less common is that the virus then mutates inside a human for human-to-human transmission. Even less common is a major outbreak. These mutations require a human host, so unless the Wuhan lab was working with human subjects (against international law), the more likely scenario is natural.

This is a very good and concise summary of the likelihood of different scenarios.

People need to understand that the natural world is essentially a simmering pathogen reservoir with literally billions of reproduction events happening by the hour. Viruses are constantly trying to crack the code of how to get into more and different hosts, and have been doing so for billions of years. The only reason we don’t face a constant onslaught of pandemics is our physical distance to infected animals, which obviously is an imperfect barrier as humans come into more contact with animal habitats.

that’s certainly possible. But so is a lab dedicated to collecting and manipulating such viruses. It’s literally a repository for the widest collection attainable in one location.

It’s not so much that escape from the lab is “the” theory but rather one that carriers enough weight not to be so easily dismissed.

Since there isn’t a good explanation for the Chinese government to destroy all the evidence or provide access to the lab workers who might have been infected it gives weight to the theory. Their scorched-Earth-nothing-to-see-here policy extended so far as to punish an entire country (Australia) for suggesting the lab was the cause.

It’s not like there was a “smoking-gun” bat provided at the start of the pandemic that gives the natural transmission theory any merit. I don’t see why that was something difficult to produce as evidence.

The Chinese government also destroyed evidence in the markets and farms, and restricted access to those people, too.

It took 14 years to find the bat reservoir of the original SARS-1 virus.

They’ve made it impossible to determine if it was the lab or outdoor market. something that would have been easy to eliminate as a source.

There is no investigation now that can be considered legitimate given their behavior.