So... What if China's Wuhan Institute of Virology did leak covid-19?

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WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
30,234
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I have never understood the powerful resistance to at least entertaining what has seemed a very plausible explanation ever since the existence of the lab became public knowledge. Even now the US mainstream media seems to be studiously avoiding covering this story. Luckily the UK seems to be getting over this curious aversion.
I don't think that there's a reluctance to discuss that, more that that doesn't matter so much and there's a feeling that people want to blame it on a lab so they can pretend that it won't happen again.
Ultimately it doesn't matter where it comes from its how we respond to a pandemic that matters.
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
10,511
2,106
146
It’s hard to really know what happened. What we do know is that the Chinese government was very reluctant to cooperate with any sort of contact tracing/patient zero investigations, but were willing to provide the complete RNA sequencing to help jumpstart research and international vaccine development.

But—there’s no telling if the Chinese government would have been more cooperative even if it wasn’t a lab leak.

Let’s say it was a weaponized coronavirus leak—then how should the world hold China accountable??
Maybe we can't hold them accountable in any meaningful way. But finally knowing the truth can inform our decision making moving forward, and that's important.
 

cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
22,892
12,566
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I found the subheading credible:

Also this:

They think it's something new, and I don't have a good reason to disbelieve them.
I get it, semi reputable outlet runs a story, still "confidential files". I am gonna need more than that. But If its true I guess Fauci is off the hook and Elon will walk back his "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci" any day now.

You see the Aliens thread? That was published by reputable outlets, and sourcing was "unnamed sources" bla bla.
So little green men or no?
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
10,511
2,106
146
I don't think that there's a reluctance to discuss that, more that that doesn't matter so much and there's a feeling that people want to blame it on a lab so they can pretend that it won't happen again.
Ultimately it doesn't matter where it comes from its how we respond to a pandemic that matters.
This proposed lack of curiosity seems strange to me. I'm pretty sure that virologists would think it matters where it came from. The idea that lab leak being true would make this less likely to happen again is preposterous, if anything it's the opposite. It'll be worse next time.
 

cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
22,892
12,566
136
This proposed lack of curiosity seems strange to me. I'm pretty sure that virologists would think it matters where it came from. The idea that lab leak being true would make this less likely to happen again is preposterous, if anything it's the opposite. It'll be worse next time.
Tip : I think most people here leans towards the lab being involved in some capacity. The value of "capacity" though being unknown.
 

WelshBloke

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
30,234
7,896
136
This proposed lack of curiosity seems strange to me. I'm pretty sure that virologists would think it matters where it came from. The idea that lab leak being true would make this less likely to happen again is preposterous, if anything it's the opposite. It'll be worse next time.
The world is a massive dirty petri dish, there's a100% chance that there's going to be another outbreak of something nasty and while it would be nice for curiosities sake to know where the last one came from its more important to have a robust system to handle the next one.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
31,422
9,730
136
This proposed lack of curiosity seems strange to me. I'm pretty sure that virologists would think it matters where it came from. The idea that lab leak being true would make this less likely to happen again is preposterous, if anything it's the opposite. It'll be worse next time.
Problem is the outright racism/xenophobia and denialism from conservatives at the outset of COVID ruined any chance of a "lab leak" theory being investigated and evaluated in an honest fashion (not that I'd expect china to be transparent in any measure on the topic)
 

pmv

Lifer
May 30, 2008
12,873
7,797
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Maybe we can't hold them accountable in any meaningful way. But finally knowing the truth can inform our decision making moving forward, and that's important.

I don't think holding China accountable is really the issue, and it's not going to happen anyway.

But the whole issue the discussion brings up seems intrinsically worrying. Firstly, if something is produced in a lab it seems to me it's likely to be pretty much designed to be deadly to humans (even, maybe, specifically to be able to defeat whatever system has been put in place to defend against it), and thus on average is probably going to be worse than something random that emerges 'naturally'.

Secondly it could come out of a lab anywhere, not necessarily just China, maybe not even a state (and, presumably, the more advanced the associated technology becomes, the larger becomes the group of people who could produce such a thing?).

Thirdly, to be prepared for either a lab release or a natural emergence requires research on the viruses, which opens up precisely the risk of accidental lab release that the problem starts with.
 

cytg111

Lifer
Mar 17, 2008
22,892
12,566
136
In terms of splicing or “gain of function” when we talk origins of covid19 I keep coming back to these kind of articles


Basically humans dont have the technological prowess to engineer covid19 in its original free form… Unless China is way ahead of the rest of the world and manages to keep it secret.
We could probably engineer something else equally transmittable and deadly, it would just not be the sequence of covid19.

BUT Elon Musk is a super genius and he says his pronouns are “Prosecute/Fauci” so probably Fauci did it. In his basement. And mailed it to Wuhan.
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
10,511
2,106
146
Problem is the outright racism/xenophobia and denialism from conservatives at the outset of COVID ruined any chance of a "lab leak" theory being investigated and evaluated in an honest fashion (not that I'd expect china to be transparent in any measure on the topic)
I don't see why this should be the case for anyone valuing rationality over ideology. We want to hope that truth anyways wins eventually. It would be nice if it would win faster, but that's the world we live in.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
13,805
11,858
146
I don't think that there's a reluctance to discuss that, more that that doesn't matter so much and there's a feeling that people want to blame it on a lab so they can pretend that it won't happen again.
Ultimately it doesn't matter where it comes from its how we respond to a pandemic that matters.
Counterpoint: the surest way to ensure it will happen again is to ignore the first time it happened.
 
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Paratus

Lifer
Jun 4, 2004
16,586
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Earlier articles that studied COVID 19 didn’t find evidence of genetic engineering IIRC. If that was the case then it either jumped from a natural reservoir to humans or it was being studied in the Wuhan lab and escaped due to carelessness.

There are other virii that are more contagious and more fatal than COVID 19 so it doesn’t make much sense to intentionally release it into the human population.

Either option means the Chinese need to make changes to prevent a similar mishap and other counties too should look at their own natural risks and laboratory procedures.
 

abj13

Golden Member
Jan 27, 2005
1,070
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From The Times UK:

What really went on inside the Wuhan lab weeks before Covid erupted

Paywalled, but at the risk of infringing (lets call it an enticement to subscribe) I will include a couple quotes:

I have never understood the powerful resistance to at least entertaining what has seemed a very plausible explanation ever since the existence of the lab became public knowledge. Even now the US mainstream media seems to be studiously avoiding covering this story. Luckily the UK seems to be getting over this curious aversion.
Unfortunately, that story merely rehashes many of the other discussions that was held in this very thread. So its very hard to say there's anything new. On top of it, the writers appear to be poorly informed and reliant on bad information and bad science. A few points to illustrate these concerns:

Baric was aware this type of “gain of function” work, so-called because it can enhance virus potency, was controversial and could have a sinister application.

With one sentence, it is clear the authors have no idea what they are talking about. They are highlighting the development of mice engineered to have human proteins (like ACE2 the receptor for SARS-coronaviruses) or human-like tissue including mice grafted with lung tissue. Before those tools were available, coronaviruses could already be STUDIED IN HUMAN CELLS. Claiming that these tools suddenly unlock the opportunity to create adapted viruses is idiotic since that could be done before the tools existed. In addition, that isn't even gain of function research. It's really unfortunate these authors took the time to write a story but not even understand the important concepts involved.

The results of Baric’s experiment with the genetic sequence given to him by Shi were published in co-authored research in November 2015. The combined Sars copy and SHC014 virus was a potential mass killer.

This is another situation where the writers try to make something more scary that what really happened. What really happened was a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-1 virus was engineered to contain the spike protein of SHC014. The mouse adapted SARS-CoV-1 with its native spike or the SHC014 spike both caused disease in mice. That's it. It showed that a "bat" coronavirus has the potential to infect humans. They did not make somesort of super virus.

Most of this work was carried out in the institute’s biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratories, which took only light precautions that have been compared to those used in a dental surgery.
Dental surgeons use lab coats, gloves, eye protection, and perform their surgeries in biosafety cabinets? You would think the authors would read about what BSL-2 conditions involve before making an idiotic comparison. In fact, many human-infecting viruses qualify for BSL-2 conditions.

The scientists selected three lab-grown mutant viruses, created by mixing Sars-like viruses with WIV1, which had all been shown to infect human cells. These mutants were then injected into the noses of albino mice with human lungs.

Sad to see how badly the authors don't understand the experiment. This was previously discussed in this thread. The mice did not have human lungs. The mice expressed the human receptor ACE2. That's it. No "human lungs" in mice. Furthermore, they purposely write certain terms to hide what was really performed. The researchers took a bat coronavirus and inserted different bat coronavirus spike proteins into it to see what would happen. More ACE2 mice died with a specific bat coronavirus spike.

The scientists had created a highly infectious super-coronavirus with a terrifying kill-rate that in all probability would never have emerged in nature.
More fearmongering based on ignorance. Perhaps the writers should read about coronavirus recombination. Coronaviruses easily exchange genetic material and can combine into different hybrid viruses. Claiming that two coronaviruses that infect bats would never meet and never recombine... well, its all about their narrative. And remember, the "scary" virus they are referring to is a bat coronavirus combined with another bat coronavirus. This is not SARS-CoV-1 or SARS-CoV-2.

The experiment’s results suggested the new lab-made virus would be more difficult to stop if it leaked into the population, according to Ebright.
Nothing in the experiment explored how infectious the bat coronavirus would be. They didn't test it on humans. They didn't test it on human cells. They didn't test it in transmission experiments. But of course, the authors rely on a claim by someone without any evidence behind that claim.

One specific experiment involved inserting a furin cleavage site, a tiny section of a virus’s genetic order that makes them more infectious, into the pathogens. Daszak and the Wuhan laboratory say they did not go ahead with the work. But when Covid-19 emerged the following year, it was notable for being the first Sars-like coronavirus with a furin cleavage site.

Another point already discussed in this thread. You know what is purposely deceitful? They write it purposely to say "the first Sars-like coronavirus with a furin cleavage site." Why is that deceitful? Many other coronaviruses have furin cleavage sites.

As I also wrote in the past: The furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 is inefficient. If the virus is engineered, why would a group insert a crappy version of the furin-cleavage site into the genome when plenty of other optimal sequences were available? Furthermore, when the virus is grown in culture, the furin cleavage site is lost, found in two different publications. So how would a lab created virus be propagated with the furin form of SARS-CoV-2 when it is eventually lost in cell culture?

Dr Monali Rahalkar, a microbiologist at the Agharkar Research Institute in Pune, India, swiftly tweeted: “Looks like cheating . . . May be they changed [the sequences] so people drop the trips to Mojiang mine.”
The authors have such a crappy list of people to cite, they have to rely on citing a tweet from an Indian researcher who performs sequencing on bacteria and other microorganisms that live in water-environments. Yeah that's right. They couldn't find a virologist who focuses on viral evolution so instead they rely a tweet on someone who doesn't do virus research. What a shit-show.

Suspicion fell on him after the pandemic because he produced a patent for a Covid vaccine with remarkable speed in February 2020, little more than a month after the outbreak of the virus had first been admitted to the world by China.

This is extra stupid. Moderna had already generated their first vaccine candidate, produced in vials by the first week of February 2020. And yet the authors try to make filing a patent as some extra scary nefarious idea when Moderna had already started vaccine work a month prior.

The investigators spoke to a Wuhan institute insider who alleged serial passaging experiments were being carried out on RaTG13. “Humanised mice with the serial passaging is a toxic combination,” said a source. “It speeds up the natural mutation process. So instead of taking years to mutate, it can take weeks or months. It guarantees that you accelerate the natural process.”

One final sentence I want to point out. I've actually talked about how idiotic this claim is, yet the authors go ahead and make it. To mutate RaTG13 into SARS-CoV-2 takes approximately 1,000 mutations to occur. After 3 years of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in human populations, with probably 1+ billion infections, how many mutations have developed? Approximately 50 mutations. How in the world are you going to "serially" passage something, develop ~1,000 mutations, when SARS-CoV-2 couldn't develop more than a 100 mutations after a billion infections and circulating in humans for 3 years???