Long but Informative Article on the Origins of the Virus

What the article says:
After the first couple of days and Trump claiming that the virus was created in a Chinese Lab a group of virologists came out and said that the virus likely jumped from an animal host that would soon be identified

But: No such evidence has been discovered of any such animal host and lots of early evidence from the suspected market was lost when it was hosed down on orders of the Mayor and samples of the virus were mostly destroyed on orders of the government but this seems to be SOP in order to stop the spread of the virus. However there were hints that something hinky had gone on in the original lab.

But: Thus far there is no substantive evidence yet of a lab created virus

But: “But the Occam’s Razor argument — what’s the likeliest explanation, animal or lab? — keeps shifting in the direction of the latter (Lab based).”

A long and informed article. The author was the NYT writer on global health for 19 years and a reporter there for 45.

This was an interesting paragraph about the reemergence of the deadly H1N1 virus:
" …scientists now believe that the H1N1 seasonal flu that killed thousands every year from 1977 to 2009 was influenza research gone feral. The strain first appeared in eastern Russia in 1977 and its genes were initially identical to a 1950 strain; that could have happened only if it had been in a freezer for 27 years. It also initially behaved as if it had been deliberately attenuated, or weakened. So scientists suspect it was a Russian effort to make a vaccine against a possible return of the 1918 flu. And then, they theorize, the vaccine virus, insufficiently weakened, began spreading."

Followed immediately by explaining the evidence of an origin at the Wuhan market:

Finding virus in six percent of surface samples was more than might be expected even in a hospital during flu season, Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary geneticist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle who does flu studies told me last year.

And the most logical explanation for finding that much virus on the floor and in the drains, he speculated, was not coughing humans. It was the blood of a butchered animal being sloshed around as the market was hosed out.

I think someone needs a replacement razor. The only shift here appears to be there is no other hard evidence and both scientists and journalists are unwilling to accept that there might never be a clear answer.

Indeed so.

This is functionally identical to “I’m not saying it’s aliens but it’s aliens”.

Same conclusion every time this is discussed. We don’t know.

As we all know, the insurmountable problem with biological weapons is “control”. One cannot indoctrinate a virus so that it will only attack western Capitalist pigs or non-Muslim infidels. Unless you’re a crazed radical who just wants to indiscriminately kill, it is self-defeating to release a super virus that will kill your own people and severely damage your own economy.

Why in the world do they even work on them? A reason I’ve heard is that, if we can discover/create them first, we can create vaccines to combat them before our enemies discover them and release them. Another, as was mentioned here, is virus/vaccine research gone wrong. In any case, “shit happens”, and it will continue to happen as long as this kind of research continues.

The article also references this article, which makes a more positive case for the lab leak hypothesis. Still not conclusive, but not comforting.

From grant proposals, we know that the Wuhan lab was doing “gain of function” research on coronaviruses in Biosafety Level 2 conditions. So, even if it didn’t produce and leak this coronavirus, it was engaged in the sort of research that could plausibly have produced something like this in conditions unsuited to contain the potential risk of doing so.

What the fuck is up with former NY Times Science journalists being racist assholes with more opinions than facts? Is this why they are wanting to blame China? China doesn’t have very many black people, so is it any non-anglo they take issue with?

And no, I’m not going to bother to debunk a bunch of racist clap trap.

Insane post.

1)Nicholas Wade didnt write the linked article
2)Even if he did, ad hominum attacks are childish. Deal with the facts presented.

I wasn’t going to say that about the OP, but if you insist.

No, the racist asshole named Donald G. McNeil Jr. wrote it. He referenced the article written by the other racist asshole, Nicholas Wade, in his piece.

Ad hominem attacks are perfectly valid in many occasions. In much the same way that I no longer spend any time arguing about the former racist asshole J. Philippe Rushton’s take on racial intelligence, I have no desire to even read any garbage masquerading as science from Charles Murray wannabes. Perhaps there are some non-racist assholes that have the proper scientific pedigree and that also back up this theory.

Did you actually read the first article?

So 6 of 26 participants complained of vague ‘racist language’. The complainants idea of racist language is basically that he didnt agree with their opinions on white privilege.

2 said he used the N word but…‘We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language.’ So he didnt actually use the N word the way you imply.

3, ‘“He wasn’t respectful during some of the traditional ceremonies we attended with indigenous healers/shamans,”’ what this means is that he wasnt respectful to traditional religious beliefs and that made a few students uncomfortable. Does that mean that being disrespectful about traditional American religious beliefs is racist?

His editor concluded:
'“I authorized an investigation and concluded his remarks were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but it did not appear to me that that his intentions were hateful or malicious,” he wrote."

This is indicative of the snowflake times we live in (on both the left and the right) that if you disagree with what I believe you are a monster.

On a related note, there is an article by David Frum in The Atlantic today

on the same subject, but with a different emphasis: this is turning into a culture war, let’s stop that and investigate the important things. I quite agree.

Agree. Whether the virus was a lab leak or zoonotic is an entirely scientific question. Whether the scientist is a Nazi, Klansman or whatnot is completely irrelevant. Science is science.

At the risk of prolonging the tangent, wouldn’t “scientists doing cutting-edge research on virology made a mistake” be a less racist explanation than “wet market butchering of wild animals leads to zoonotic spillover event”?

I was going to leave the other thread on this topic to rest in peace, but now that it has been brought back up again, here is a relevant letter in this week’s Science.

I do not know those scientists, so they may all be crackpots, but they are coming from prestigious institutions and got their letter published in the highest tier of journals, so I’ll take it seriously, until I hear otherwise.

What they say:

  • “Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.”
  • Regarding the WHO study on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, “there were no findings in clear support of either a natural spillover or a lab accident” despite the WHO study reporting “zoonotic spillover from an intermediate host as ‘likely to very likely,’ and a laboratory incident as ‘extremely unlikely’”
  • “greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve”
  • “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data.”
  • Stop being racist at Asians.

What it does NOT say: “we think this came from a lab event.”

This is basically one group of scientists disagreeing with another group of scientists in that most sciency way of disagreeing. They are saying that the strengths of WHO’s conclusion that it is “very likely” a zoonotic event is not supported by the data WHO presented. They wanted the needle moved back from “zoonotic” to “I don’t know.”

Now, the WHO scientists, and possibly lots of other very capable scientists, disagree with what those who wrote the letter said—they would say there is enough evidence to nearly rule out a lab event.

I agree. Another accidental viral release was mentioned in the OP and happened in Russia.
One final point in response to the charge that the author of the article is racist and unethical…taken from the hitpiece:

" Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, McNeil has emerged as one of the paper’s breakout stars and one of the country’s most prominent journalistic voices on the pandemic. While many Americans were still seemingly unconcerned about the virus in early 2020, McNeil’s reporting and a key appearance on the popular Times podcast The Daily emphasized its severity and potential to become a deadly global pandemic. Earlier this week, the Times published a candid sit down with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who opened up to McNeil about his difficult relationship with former President Donald Trump.

Nevertheless, the paper has been eager to highlight McNeil’s work. According to a person familiar with the matter, his COVID-19 coverage is among the New York Times ’ submissions for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for public-service journalism.

If you had read the article in the OP that is exactly what he said.

Yeah, but the one in the OP is “long”. This letter was probably shorter than my summary :slightly_smiling_face:.

Fair enough. Shorter is always better. :slight_smile:

As we discussed at some length in the other thread, the principal circumstantial evidence for a connection to the Wuhan lab is obviously the fact that the outbreak originated near the lab. Since this is the principal research lab working on coronavirus, there’s a fairly low probability for such a coincidence. But there are plausible explanations for a connection to the Wuhan lab location that do not involve a lab “release” scenario. Workers connected with the lab may have been in the field collecting samples, either from animals or humans, and may have accidentally (and perhaps unknowingly) become infected themselves and then returned to Wuhan, where they spread it others through normal human contact outside the lab. Under this scenario, the mutations and animal-human crossover were natural events (unless you deem researchers simply collecting samples in the field “unnatural”), but there is an explanation for the connection to the Wuhan location.

You are making the mistake of attempting to apply rational thought to otherism. The chosen origin is always more racist than the deprecated origin. But, as far as I can tell, the lab origin has elements of deliberate action, especially when it is not established that its escape from the lab was actually accidental (either directed or impulsive). Deliberate carries an undertone of hostile.