UKC

Covid escaped from the lab?

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 Ciro 04 Jun 2021

If this article is even half true is pretty damning of the virus researchers (regardless of whether covid in fact escaped from the lab).

Is quite a long read, but apparently the lab in Wuhan was engineering bat coronaviruses to better attack human cells, under similar levels of infection control as a dental surgery. That's quite mind blowing.

https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/

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 wintertree 04 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

The BAS is a very reputable organisation, and they have a very unusual position in terms of their mission and perspective.

A key thing here for me is the letter in The Lancet.   This is one of several medical journals to publish non-peer reviewed letters under their main URL, with an authorship banner, reference list and DOI that give it a near-identical appearance to their peer reviewed content.  

This facility has been openly abused by certain players in the Covid misinformation campaign that has sought to undermine any and all public and political support for measures intended to control the spread of the virus.  It lends non-reviewed content (which can frankly be tosh at times) the semblance of highly credible science, particularly to people outside of academia who the misinformation brigade target by encouraging them to "research" an issue.  I have every sympathy for people misled by these websites lending a false semblance of credibility to un-verified content.  

The letter in the Lancet was notable at the time for just how early in the pandemic it was, and for how forceful their message was.  It seems to me arrogant to assume at that point anyone could really know how it came to be, or that a genomic analysis could discount dark forces at work; it may bear no hallmarks of artificial gene editing processes but there are ways and means of accelerating natural genetic processes, and have been since pre-historic man started culturing grass in to wheat.  These days, we can do so a lot faster and in a much more targeted manner.  

I hadn't yet started taking a suspicious-borderline-paranoid eye to letters and the like back in February 2020.  That started later, I think with one with a CEBM signatory.  

The conflict of interest with Daszak is just staggering.  President of a western organization funding research in to creating novel coronaviruses in a lab in Wuhan, and a member of the WHO team investigating the origins of the virus, and an author actively declaring no conflict of interest on the letter in the Lancet.

IMO there should be a reckoning for both the Lancet and the BMJ over their roles in promulgating misinformation under their banners with the semblance but not actuality of peer reviewed content, and without investigating COI decelerations when clear conflicts exist.  They're rubber stamping political games for clicks on their websites.

Daszak I think should be appearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee in the USA and the Intelligence and Security Committee in the UK.

Post edited at 19:40
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 wintertree 04 Jun 2021
In reply to wintertree:

> could discount dark forces at work

Sorry; that's not a fair choice of worms from me there.  

There's no allegation of malicious intent pre-dating the appearance of this virus in the BAS piece over, far from it - rather a goal to anticipate and prepare for threats.  

Better to say that I don't think a genomic analysis could discount the whole range of human methods that could have ben applied, regardless of the motivation.  

4
 CurlyStevo 04 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

I have thought for over a year it's completely feasible that it could come from a lab. There has been tech for well over 10 years that would leave no definite trace of a lab origin (no see'um technology - no backbone) and the Wuhan lab is widely known to have been doing gain of function research.

There is also study from over a decade ago that rates the likelihood of an escape of such a pathogen from a lab as roughly 80% in 12 years. Bear in mind Sars 1 escaped from labs multiple times when it was being studied!

That's not to say I think it came from a lab, but to claim it didn't as there is no evidence, makes about as much sense as saying it came from the wet market when recorded cases started before that, or that it definitely had a natural origin.

Post edited at 21:13
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 CurlyStevo 04 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

That's without considering other things like the furin cleavage site or lack of similar viruses in nature or likely evolution times. Even that gain of function research generally looks to study viruses that infect human cells AND other animals, as its better for research purposes - just what we are seeing with Covid 19. I'm not expert enough to discuss those on here. But it does all add to the mix.

Post edited at 21:22
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In reply to CurlyStevo:

> That's without considering other things like the furin cleavage site or lack of similar viruses in nature or likely evolution times. 

 

So anything with a furin cleavage site is man-made?  It’s quite a list: HIV, Ebola, MERS, influenza H5 and H7...

I’m pretty sure I linked this way back the last time this nonsense was circulating:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scr.2020.102115

Of course, it’s possible SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab.  It’s even possible it was created artificially.  It’s just that there’s zero evidence of this and plenty of evidence to suggest it arose naturally as similar viruses have done previously and will do in the future.

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 George Ormerod 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

The evidence is entirely circumstantial and the standard of journalism very poor. The bat virus Wuhan were working on being genetically 95% similar to COVID mentioned like it’s some sort of proof, when that is far more than the difference between humans and chimpanzees. 

Strangely the US nut job blame shifters from the terrible death toll overlook that there was US funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology; Obama stopped the work on enhanced viruses, but the Trump administration restarted it. So if this is a lab f*uk up, it might really be the Trump virus.  
 

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 Si dH 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Thanks, I'm 75% through the article - a long read! I've learnt quite a lot though.

Wintertree - BAS may be reputable but it's whole raison d'etre is to inform people of what it believes are manmade threats to our existence - so they obviously will have a bias towards emphasising the lab leak theory if they believe it's possible. Agree though there is no implication that anyone did this maliciously. Interestingly, if covid was eventually determined to come from the lab programme, then the info in the BAS article to my mind puts the US at equal fault with the Chinese - people in the US were funding the research, there was prior collaboration with US universities, and there was knowledge of the H&S measures being applied at WIV (which are seemingly common to similar work elsewhere despite their inadequacy - although I expect this is something BAS would emphasise.)

Dave Garnett - the balance of evidence in the article is quite convincing. Apart from the furin cleavage bit, which would you refute? What is the actual evidence for the natural selection theory, given the challenges posed to it in the article, particularly that China didn't provide any evidence to the WHO to support the theory?  As far as I can conclude from what I've read there is at least an equal possibility of lab escape as natural evolution. For me, the low level of safety protocol, the type of work being undertaken and the record of leaks at similar labs all suggest that such a leak event is likely even if it hasn't happened yet. Is the article false or misrepresentative on this point? Hopefully the pandemic will result in such work being stopped rather than encouraged, or if considered necessary then much more strictly regulated.

I wouldn't call it a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy theory would be suggesting that someone did this intentionally, which isn't what the article says at all. 

Minor edits

Post edited at 07:18
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 Si dH 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Si dH:

> I wouldn't call it a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy theory would be suggesting that someone did this intentionally, which isn't what the article says at all. 

(To add: another conspiracy theory would be that this was a leak from some sort of secretive Chinese bioweapons programme - but that is clearly refuted by the fact the work was funded by Americans.)

 wintertree 05 Jun 2021
In reply to George Ormerod:

> The evidence is entirely circumstantial

I didn’t take the article as presenting evidence of a lab release.

I saw it as noting that the possibility this was an accidental release from a lab isn’t as far fetched as is commonly thought, and noting a clear conflict of interest and scientific holes around the letter that led to accidental release being widely discredited early on.

My take away was not that the author proposed this is what happens - for which the evidence is highly circumstantial and incomplete - but that it isn’t a far fetched theory, and that the main reason the press discounted the idea early on is riddled with issues. For this, the evidence is strong. 

In reply to Si dH:

I take your point; their business is literally doomsday stuff and that’s obviously why they’ve run with this, but I don’t see that compromising their integrity.

> if covid was eventually determined to come from the lab programme, then the info in the BAS article to my mind puts the US at equal fault with the Chinese

Agreed, and this is why I think we - the public - are likely to never know the truth if it was an accidental lab release.

> For me, the low level of safety protocol, the type of work being undertaken and the record of leaks at similar labs all suggest that such a leak event is likely even if it hasn't happened yet. Is the article false or misrepresentative on this point?

IMO none of this work should be allowed to happen in a cat-2 lab.  If the article wrongly alleges use of cat-2 faculties they need bringing up on that, otherwise...  Containment protocols assume they’re being followed perfectly, and people make mistakes on a normal day sometimes, or turn up to work hungover etc.  Cat-3 protocols basically stop at the door out of the lab and there’s an argument it should extend to staff isolation and monitoring when working on something with “pandemic potential”, or at least taking ill staff to an isolation suite with informed staff if they become ill as well as doing pre emptive contact tracing.

Post edited at 08:22
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In reply to Si dH:

The article is a long list of things we can’t prove didn’t happen.  That doesn’t mean they did.  The Chinese could have been more open and allowed a proper inspection, at the Wuhan Institute but, given the state of US-China relations, it’s not surprising they were defensive.

However, given the high level of molecular virology apparently being undertaken at the Institute, with routine expression of natural and hybrid spike proteins, the article asserts that scientists at the Institute were apparently unable to make a vaccine, which seems surprising given how straightforward it would have been with that level of expertise and access to all the relevant materials.

 wintertree 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> The article is a long list of things we can’t prove didn’t happen

Its worth nothing that the author front loads this observation themselves - they’re quite open about that.

The way I see the article:

  • As the case for the offence in prosecuting “accidental lab release” it would certainly fail in court.  It’s towards the “laughed out of court” end of the spectrum.
  • As a case by the (entirely hypothetical) defence to cast reasonable doubt against their conviction for “naturally arisen” I think it would succeed.
  • In terms of hi-lighting a COI and a critically misleading letter pushed far and wide by the media at the time, it seems pretty damning.  

There is a wider issue the piece does not touch on; if the reasons the article alleges it could have been lab created are true, this opens up a much wider set of sources than just the lab in Wuhan, and it opens up a wider range of possibilities than just accidental release.  

 Ciro 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> However, given the high level of molecular virology apparently being undertaken at the Institute, with routine expression of natural and hybrid spike proteins, the article asserts that scientists at the Institute were apparently unable to make a vaccine, which seems surprising given how straightforward it would have been with that level of expertise and access to all the relevant materials.

I'm not sure that's what the article asserts. They have quoted Daszak saying they created around 100 novel coronaviruses that couldn't be treated:

“And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS,” Daszak says around minute 28 of the interview. “Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger….

He goes on to explain his research would lead to vaccines against these novel viruses at some point in the future.

So it seems clear from this quote that they were creating viruses they didn't have vaccines for, yet.

That's slightly different from being unable to create vaccine, but leads to the same problem - if the dangerous virus you've created leaks before you've created a vaccine, you've exposed the world to an untreatable pandemic.

Regardless if whether that's what happened here, we need to be making sure it doesn't happen in future... And a first step towards that is surely an open and transparent conversation about what has been happening in Wuhan and elsewhere.

It looks like the gain of function work that's been going on there for years didn't help us with Covid (regardless of how it arose), how long is it going to take to produce meaningful results, and what is the risk of eacape in the meantime?

Is it really true that virologists have been creating new viruses, deliberately to target human cells, in labs with the same level of containment as a dental surgery? If so that surely has to change.

Why would we create new and potentially deadly viruses at anything less than the highest levels of biosecurity?

Post edited at 11:36
In reply to Ciro:

> Why would we create new and potentially deadly viruses at anything less than the highest levels of biosecurity?

I agree.  And such a lab should be open to international inspection.

 wintertree 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

> Why would we create new and potentially deadly viruses at anything less than the highest levels of biosecurity?

Well, quite.  But to give a depressingly real world answer...

Because BSL-4 is really very expensive, and any such new lab will attract significant attention from security services across the globe as well as massive ongoing government and international scrutiny.  I imagine training people to work in a BSL-4 facility is expensive, as is paying them enough to retain them once trained.

There was a paper posted on here way back where the virus was passaged through cell culture repeatedly in a lab until it showed significant evasion of neutralising antibodies in a lab assay.  I'm trying to find the paper again so I can see if they state what containment level they used.  I doubt it was more than 2 or 3.

Regardless of what caused this virus, the level of manipulation that can be carried out in a "bog-standard" lab is significant.  If some of this was done at level 2 in Wuhan that does seem  un-sensible.  There seems to me a question about why this research apparently for a western organisation was being carried out in a lab in China...  Did the level of regulatory oversight factor in either directly or less directly through costs?  That seems like it needs further investigation in its own right; how many other labs in countries that the regulatory bodies in the UK and USA have no control over are performing research at the behest of our organisations in to the creation of "pandemic-grade" infectious agents?   Perhaps we should expand our legislation so that any research carried out anywhere on (or soon, off) the planet is regulated under the laws of the nation of the organisation(s) contracting for the research.  

But what about the less reputable people?  If they wanted to repeat the immune evasion paper for nefarious purposes and bereft of central legislation, I don't think there's any specific controls on the supply of materials they would need. I think there may be controls on the maximum sequence length for DNA and expressed peptide submits of this virus than can be purchased, but that's it. 

Currently, it's easy to suppress nuclear weapons research by controlling and monitoring the supply of parts needed for fissile isotope purification.  There isn't a similar, centralised, "really bloody obvious we're doing it" pinch point for bioweapons research.  

Edit:  Mind you, the isotope separation stage isn't going to remain a barrier to a stealthy weapons program indefinitely.  Technology moves on.  Likewise, for now in an inductive chain, the "separation problem" prevents bad guys building fission bombs which in turn prevents them building a fusion bomb.  I wouldn't bet against one of several things emerging over the coming decades that allows a fission-free fusion bomb to be created, further circumventing the way proliferation is slowed to a crawl right now.

I think as well as the open conversations Ciro has called for over what has been going on here - regardless of any role it may or may not have played in the pandemic - the case has never been stronger to push for peaceful, stable relations at a state level globally and to fund intelligence agencies and to foster their collaboration when it comes to emerging NBC threats from rogue- and non-state sources.  

Physics, the life sciences and engineering all continue to develop and this either ends with global peace or global chaos.

Post edited at 12:18
 Si dH 05 Jun 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Trying to prevent people creating a problem through nefarious means is difficult, but there is no reason why a dangerous but peaceful activity shouldn't be subject to high levels of regulation and safety/security protocols. If that comes with a cost, so be it - the protocols and level of regulatory attention should be proportionate to the hazard, and if the activity isn't worth the cost they come with, then it isn't worth doing. I doubt a cat 4 lab is any more onerous or expensive to run then the highest category contaminated areas at somewhere like Sellafield, but it has more potential to cause global havoc.

Post edited at 17:30
 wintertree 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Si dH:

I totally agree that suitable safety standards should be used and the costs born, and the allegation of level 2 in the OPs link doesn’t seem suitable, but...

The big difference is if a worker gets something radioactive in them at sellafield, they go beep passing a geiger counter on the way out, and their radioactivity decays exponentially over time time, it never grows.

If a bio lab person gets a bit of virus inside them, it’s sub detection threshold on the way out, then multiplies exponentially first within them then within others.  

So containment protocols should recognise the risk of an undetected leak and then symptom free multiplication off site in the person who leaves.  BSL-4 waste is all sterilised but staff have to go off site and eat, sleep and live.  

Post edited at 18:05
 wintertree 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Si dH:

>  the protocols and level of regulatory attention should be proportionate to the hazard, and if the activity isn't worth the cost they come with, then it isn't worth doing.m

In enlightened times, you would be right.

Funding for threats clearly on the horizon scanning systems of government is not great; after SARS and MERS a level 3 lab was built near us specifically for studying novel coronaviruses.  The funding ran out and the lab is gone.  The commitment isn’t there across successive governments and as threats recede from public and broad political discussion.   I suppose that’ll change now; but will that enthusiasm just fade away again? 

 Cobra_Head 05 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Didn't we release smallpox from a lab in the UK?

 Martin W 05 Jun 2021
 HardenClimber 06 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Various options which are all possible:

1) It is natural: we have had various close shaves with viruses (which we have not really taken seriously). There are huge melthing pots of viruses. Only one is needed, but it then needs to be propogated. This reminds us we are not as powerful or as clever as we thought.

2) Something was made  in a lab, climbed over the wall and then changed further, perhaps in a bat, before being noticed.

3) Something was made in a lab. This tells us we are still the top dog and in control (even if we shot ourselves in the foot). Also lets us blame a few individuals rather than a collective failure to plan.

  Enthusiasts optimism about the reliabity of their biocontainment (or lack of need) is boundless. People have been thinking about (and) altering virulence in viruses and bacteria for decades. It doesn't need much infrastructure (apart from containment) with the tech we have.  I would imagine many folk would be sweeping the bits of their experiments under the carpet. I'd imagine governments might want to to the same with a rogue researcher (perhaps the correct line of investigation is to look for clusters of 'non-infectious' deaths / suicides / disappearances in research teams, rather than checking health recordsfor flu like illnesses.

We can go through the complete spectum from small team to international collaboration. All our possible and as noted above might be psychologically easier to accept than an 'act of god'. We would hope that the larger the team the more likely there would be good containment and traceability.

Like many things the answer to a reasonable question has (understandably) become lost in politics.

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In reply to HardenClimber:

> People have been thinking about (and) altering virulence in viruses and bacteria for decades. It doesn't need much infrastructure (apart from containment) with the tech we have.  

Yes, but with a bit of thought and a bit of ethical oversight it’s possible to design experiments to test things like infectivity of different viruses by engineering, say, different S proteins into much safer host viruses and using replication deficient versions that can only replicate in specific lab cell lines.  

Ethical labs start by assuming the virus they are using might, despite their best efforts,  get out and making sure that nothing bad would happen even if it did.  Culturing new wild type viruses is a high risk thing to do and requires the highest containment.  Asking whether the Wuhan Institute was applying the appropriate standards and whether all experiments justified the level of risk is perfectly reasonable but needs to be separated from the knee-jerk blame the Chinese nonsense.

 HardenClimber 06 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

> > People have been thinking about (and) altering virulence in viruses and bacteria for decades. It doesn't need much infrastructure (apart from containment) with the tech we have.  

> Yes, but with a bit of thought and a bit of ethical oversight

Optimism may well over ride thought.... I'm not sure I'd really describe biosecuity / infection control as ethics... Optimism about bisecurity is not limited to any one country.

> Ethical labs start by assuming the virus they are using might, despite their best efforts,  get out and making sure that nothing bad would happen even if it did.  

And the other x% of labs?  (in my youth ethical was a quaint name to distinguish big pharma from simple manufacturing companies). Researchers can be very optimistic about the liklihood of success (which is good until...)

> but needs to be separated from the knee-jerk blame the Chinese nonsense.

Yes...it just makes it much more complicated

 magma 06 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

Russell Brand nails it: youtube.com/watch?v=LwAuSDQX_OY&

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In reply to HardenClimber:

> Optimism may well over ride thought.... I'm not sure I'd really describe biosecuity / infection control as ethics... Optimism about bisecurity is not limited to any one country.

Biosafety and research ethics are inter-related, at least they were when I was doing anything related to genetic manipulation.  Biosafety is about whether what you are proposing can be done safely, bioethics is about whether you should be doing it at all.  There were university committees to review what was proposed as well as detailed questions on grant proposals.   

> And the other x% of labs?  (in my youth ethical was a quaint name to distinguish big pharma from simple manufacturing companies). 

I think it was the term used to distinguish between prescription and consumer products but I certainly agree it didn't necessarily mean ethical! 

 mondite 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> Didn't we release smallpox from a lab in the UK?

Foot and mouth got out as well on at least one occasion.

 Mark Edwards 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

> Russell Brand nails it: youtube.com/watch?v=LwAuSDQX_OY&

Is Russell Brand so rich he can burn guitars to keep warm?

Post edited at 10:48
In reply to magma:

> Russell Brand nails it: 

The only thing he's ever nailed was that guys daughter. I fail to see why folk listen to this anti capitalist preacher, who likely bought his million pound plus home with cash from all his sales!! 

 wintertree 07 Jun 2021
In reply to summo:

>  I fail to see why folk listen to this anti capitalist preacher,

He is very eloquent.  

He mixes facts, canny interpretation and support for his ideology very seamlessly with a charming blend of seriousness and levity - his sequences of points often have logical flaws or jumps in them between the canny interpretation and the ideology but I can see people being drawn over those by the charismatic flow of his presentation.

Not one to take your eye off.  Not that I have a problem with the anti-capitalist sentiment; the world needs mire balance - but I do wonder who he is working with and where he is going; I'll keep some worry in reserve for that.

In reply to wintertree:

> He is very eloquent.

Park life... becoming the most appropriate reply to his pointless pontificating. 

> He mixes facts, canny interpretation and support for his ideology very seamlessly with a charming blend of seriousness and levity - his sequences of points often have logical flaws or jumps in them between the canny interpretation and the ideology but I can see people being drawn over those by the charismatic flow of his presentation....but I do wonder who he is working with and where he is going; I'll keep some worry in reserve for that.

His sort drift into politics, start a religious cult, or just sell books full of confirmation bias. 

 RentonCooke 07 Jun 2021
In reply to summo:

I would tended to have agreed with you a few years back, but Brand appears to have a bit of an awakening recently and become a lot more reasonable, moderate and nuanced in his views.  While I certainly couldn't tolerate more than a few minutes of his smug face once upon a time he's actually become quite interesting and less abrasive.  Everyone can change and improve and I think he has - worth giving another chance.

 RentonCooke 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Ciro:

As an aside, Bret Weinstein's latest podcast was noting a degree of frustration that Nicholas Wade's article will likely be seen as the turning point in the narrative, overlooking the degree to which people have been highlighting the lab-leak theory for some time but have been (and will likely continue to be) overlooked.

Equally interesting is the degree to which social media, from Youtube to Twitter, have made it against their community guidelines to post stories in support of these arguments.  

I have zero knowledge of the science behind the Ivermectin story, but Weinstein does sound reasonably credible and has some strong things to say about that one too.  I wonder if, when looking back on all this in a few years, the suppression of these stories (in some case from understandable reasons but in others inexcusable) will appear as a major miss-step - and be reported as such?

Post edited at 13:05
 wintertree 07 Jun 2021
In reply to HardenClimber:

> I'd imagine governments might want to to the same with a rogue researcher (perhaps the correct line of investigation is to look for clusters of 'non-infectious' deaths / suicides / disappearances in research teams, rather than checking health recordsfor flu like illnesses.

Indeed.  Wouldn't be the first time, or even the second.  

Another thing to watch is grant funding - what is pulled or not renewed, any falling stars in the grants world over the next few years?

On that note - it seems both US National Institute of Health and Department of Defence funding has been involved with the Wuhan lab, and that Trump pulled some funding from this in 2020.

https://www.timesnownews.com/international/article/pentagon-gave-usd-39-million-to-peter-daszaks-ngo-that-funded-coronavirus-research-at-wuhan-lab/766933

Quite aside from the bioethics and biosafety aspects, it's notable that he USA would be funding China to create more dangerous pathogens under any circumstances.

Post edited at 13:26
 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Does it matter?

It could have come from the lab, it could have come from animals. Does it make our response to it any different? We have the sequence data.

Of all the priorities right now in the US I don't see why this is high on the list. We won't even investigate a siege on the capitol, which republicans blame on ANTIFA yet won't investigate it.

It just seems like typical distraction bullshit.

We need infrastructure, we need to sort out our hacking susceptibility (imagine our grid getting turned off in the middle of a February storm) and we certainly need to work on vaccine uptake.

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 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to RentonCooke:

"I have zero knowledge of the science behind the Ivermectin story, but Weinstein does sound reasonably credible"

How so? If you have zero knowledge how does it sound credible?

 Duncan Bourne 07 Jun 2021
In reply to wintertree:

For those interested "Did covid-19 come from a lab?" was the headline of an article in this weeks New Scientist (issue 3337)

The gist is that there is a near consensus that Covid-19 had a natural origin, however on 4 March a group of scientists published an open letter in the New York times calling for an independant investigation, basically because WHO "lacked access to complete original data and samples". Most of it hinges on dissatisfaction with the WHO investigation and suspicion of China (not so much that they deliberately created the virus but more that they are covering up a lab leak) though no evidence of GofF experiments has been found. The conclusion to the article is we don't know what really happened and are unlikely to find out soon.

 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Does it matter?

do you want it to happen again? do you not even want to discuss the ethics of this research?- many scientists are against it..

 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to wintertree:

the funding has been known for a long time (inc DoD)- some background to the outsourcing of the GoF research from the US in part XII of this article (Fauci was very reluctant to stop it): https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/coronavirus-lab-escape-theory.html

Post edited at 15:10
 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

> do you want it to happen again? do you not even want to discuss the ethics of this research?- many scientists are against it..

Yes of course I want it to happen again.. 600,000 dead has been fantastic.

How does knowing it happened in a lab stop it happening again? We've had many lab outbreaks in the past. They aren't that uncommon. 

And how have I said I'm against discussing ethics?

My point is, is it a priority? I don't think so. We just had people die from a lack of electricity this winter. Imagine a foreign adversary turned off the UK or US's grid. 

It's all just a distraction by Fox News and the republican's to stop us getting childcare, infrastructure and the vaccine uptake. If we care so much about this virus just get vaccinated.

FFS we're bitching on about stimulus funding taking jobs yet won't fund free childcare which would free up millions to work overnight. 

Honestly as a resident of the US, how this virus started isn't a priority right now. Dealing with it is, dealing with the massive income inequality is.

Post edited at 15:03
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 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

 > no evidence of GofF experiments has been found.

I trust the New Scientist also mentioned no evidence of zoonotic origin?

 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

stopping GoF research or at least regulate it better than level2/3 might prevent it happening again?

Post edited at 15:04
 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

>  > no evidence of GofF experiments has been found.

> I trust the New Scientist also mentioned no evidence of zoonotic origin?

That's not true is it. There's no conclusive evidence, not no evidence.

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 wintertree 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> How does knowing it happened in a lab stop it happening again? We've had many lab outbreaks in the past. They aren't that uncommon. 

You could for example place a legal requirement on US and UK funding streams and research organisations that all ethical and safety legislation and all oversite and inspection stuff from their home nations will apply to any and all research they fund abroad.

If there has been one or more mistakes, there are lessons to be learned to prevent them from happening again to the same extent.

I feel this is not difficult stuff.

1
 Duncan Bourne 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

As stated in their conclusion we ain't going to know either way anytime soon

 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> That's not true is it. There's no conclusive evidence, not no evidence.

same as the lab-leak hypothesis then. I know it would be bad for science but any scientist worthy of the tag shouldn't just dismiss it like you and others upthread are appearing to do..

Post edited at 15:20
 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to wintertree:

Yes obviously we can stop funding things from here but that's not going to actually prevent them doing their own research or releasing such things. We aren't going to stop/prevent.

In a global world pandemics are pretty much to be expected. We've been incredibly lucky a few times in the past few decades and I think we're actually pretty lucky to be coming out of this so soon. In the US the predominant reason this isn't over now is vaccine uptake. Anyone 12 years an older could have, and should have, been vaccinated already.

 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

> same as the lab-leak hypothesis then. I know it would be bad for science but any scientist worthy of the tag shouldn't just dismiss it like you and others upthread are appearing to do..

Again you aren't explaining yourself at all.

Provide an example.

You are just making shit up. Nowhere have I dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis on this thread. I'm open to it having came from a lab, I think it more likely came from nature and I'm not sure how much it helps for the future to know. 

"And how have I said I'm against discussing ethics?" another question you've refused to answer.

Post edited at 15:29
4
 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Yes obviously we can stop funding things from here but that's not going to actually prevent them doing their own research or releasing such things. We aren't going to stop/prevent.

Yes - too late. We should thank Mr Baric et al for the 'Anarchist's Cookbook' of this dubious research (from newyorker link above)

.. in the end, Baric was allowed to proceed with his experiments, and the research papers that resulted, showered with money, became a sort of Anarchist’s Cookbook for the rest of the scientific world. In November 2015, Baric and colleagues published a collaboration paper with Shi Zhengli titled “A SARS-like Cluster of Circulating Bat Coronaviruses Shows Potential for Human Emergence.”

Post edited at 15:31
 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> You are just making shit up. Nowhere have I dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis on this thread. I'm open to it having came from a lab, I think it more likely came from nature and I'm not sure how much it helps for the future to know. 

apologies- but your 'does it matter?' comment had to be addressed. by dismissing i mean unlikely/highly unlikely like the prevailing narrative (WHO/Daszak)..

 magma 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

the big 'why does it matter' for me, as well as increasing distrust of scientists, is what other 'tinhat' theories are put into the QAnon box- the attempted coverup by Daszak just fuels the conspiracies as RB points out..

Post edited at 17:49
 RentonCooke 07 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> "I have zero knowledge of the science behind the Ivermectin story, but Weinstein does sound reasonably credible"

> How so? If you have zero knowledge how does it sound credible?

Because it is following the same pattern as the lab-leak theory; an idea being over-zealously and prematurely discredited/policed-against, in this case with discussion specifically against the community guidelines of Youtube and, if Wikipedia is anything to go by, proven already to be discredited and the realm of alt-right conspiracy theorists.   

That's not to say it is proven to work or that there is necessarily some big-pharma conspiracy at play.  It is simply the all-too-familiar and predictable position for social media to slide into given its ongoing aversion to Trump and anything he seemed supportive of (in this case, "alternative" therapies such as hydroxychloroquine).

If to even propose the for-and-against arguments puts you in a crank category (and if not banned then at least reputationally screwed to the point of it being career-damaging ), and at risk of removal from the most popular and global public forums for discussion, then something has gone seriously wrong with the narrative and the power of social media management to determine the scope of discussion. Advocacy for the drug is coming from a relative mainstream but you would be forgiven for thinking anyone who mentions it is a lunatic at the fringes.  It is one thing for social media giants to moderate general discussions, but when they start stepping in as the chief censors of more technical matters and potentially sidelining the public presentation of valid scientific opinion or hypothesis then we are in shaky territory.

Just as some people may die by avoiding vaccination in the mistaken belief a drug like Ivermectin might be a better option, some might also die by delayed use and stigmatization of a drug such as this if it is proven safe and already cheaply available.  Equally, it is probable there is a disincentive to research or publish potentially supportive studies of the drug as, if eventually proven wrong, you will likewise be lumped into the MAGA grouping.

 wintertree 07 Jun 2021
In reply to magma:

> the attempted coverup by Daszak just fuels the conspiracies as RB points out

There's nothing like creating a couple of incompatible conspiracy theories to ensure that the truth remains unrecognisable amidst the noise and that anyone seeking it is discredited by association with the conspiracies.

Sometimes a conspiracy is the real conspiracy.

 Roadrunner6 07 Jun 2021
In reply to RentonCooke:

 "and predictable position for social media to slide into given its ongoing aversion to Trump and anything he seemed supportive of"

This didn't happen.

Trump's administration did great work in getting the vaccine out. We jumped on it. We all got the vaccine. The science supported getting the vaccine. The science did not support the other idea's his media darlings pushed.

Meanwhile, Trump's supporters want him to get credit for his rapid vaccine development, whilst being the most consistent and unshifting vaccine hesitant group.

3
In reply to RentonCooke:

The ivermectin story is fascinating. I don’t doubt that there has been considerable social media commentary on it, much of which is likely to be ill informed, and some of which will be contemptuous of opposing positions. 
 

But your “relatively”, as in “relatively mainstream positions”, is doing a lot of heavy lifting. There are plenty of studies of ivermectin for COVID, but they are universally poor in quality, and the reviews built on them of little value. There is an excellent, genuinely mainstream, summary here:

https://ebm.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/26/bmjebm-2021-111678

why haven’t ‘proper’ studies been done? Why not include it in the RECOVERY trial, the world leading platform trial that proved dexamethasone was very effective? I can’t speak for the researchers involved, but I think it’s likely to be nothing to do with ‘not wanting to be associated with Trump’, and everything to do with there being an opportunity cost to including it in trials- large, well constructed trials are very difficult to do, and the number of candidate drugs that can be evaluated is limited. Including ivermectin means not including something else. Since the in vitro studies showed anti viral activity in concentrations which would require nearly 10 times the recommended dose of ivermectin, I can imagine why they felt there were more promising candidates. 
 

The more interesting question for me is why there has been such relentless pressure to use this drug, on the basis of no good evidence that it works- how has the internet become so fixated on an obscure medication, leading to it becoming effectively a front in a culture war? 

 wintertree 08 Jun 2021
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> The more interesting question for me is why there has been such relentless pressure to use this drug, on the basis of no good evidence that it works- how has the internet become so fixated on an obscure medication, leading to it becoming effectively a front in a culture war? 

Indeed, that and another compound have been associated with an incredible level of what I can only really call "agitation".

It's just bizarre; the effort that's gone in to pushing out trash grade papers and the "not actually a meta-review but calls itself a meta review" website for each compound.

 fred99 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Roadrunner6:

> Does it matter?

Lots of things matter.

> It could have come from the lab, it could have come from animals. Does it make our response to it any different? We have the sequence data.

It might not affect our current response to the virus itself, but it does affect our "plan of attack" with regard to preventing any further viruses, whether they escape or evolve.

> Of all the priorities right now in the US I don't see why this is high on the list. We won't even investigate a siege on the capitol, which republicans blame on ANTIFA yet won't investigate it.

Just because the Republicans in the USA are sticking their heads in the sand regarding internal political matters, it doesn't mean that the rest of the world - or even the USA - should do the same regarding Covid.

> It just seems like typical distraction bullshit.

Isn't this what your post is ?

> We need infrastructure, we need to sort out our hacking susceptibility (imagine our grid getting turned off in the middle of a February storm) and we certainly need to work on vaccine uptake.

We all need infrastructure and better digital security. But poor vaccine uptake is NOT universal, but instead is concentrated either where people can't get it, or where they won't take it - more of a problem where you live than here in the UK I would suggest.

 rif 09 Jun 2021
In reply to Duncan Bourne:

> For those interested "Did covid-19 come from a lab?" was the headline of an article in this weeks New Scientist (issue 3337)

There's now also a detailed discussion in Nature, examining the arguments for and against the "natural" and "lab" origins:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01529-3

Rob F


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