Did Covid-19 come from a lab?
A former NYT reporter makes a compelling case...
A good piece of journalism might be worth five or ten minutes of your time. However, this, by Nicholas Wade, is worth at least an hour.
You’ll need that long to read the thing — and to absorb the detail. However, it’s worth the effort because it concerns one of the most important and controversial questions of the decade: where did the Covid-19 virus come from?
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You may not have an hour, so here, in a nutshell, is Wade’s argument: the theory that the virus was cooked-up in a lab and accidentally released isn’t just a possibility, it’s the most likely explanation.
Of course, as yet, there’s no definitive proof of either a natural origin or a lab leak. However, the evidence that we do have leans towards the latter.
Early on in the crisis, a number of prominent virologists tried to dismiss the notion of a laboratory origin. Wade exposes the gaping holes in their arguments — and attacks the anti-scientific arrogance of shutting down a reasonable line of enquiry.
Occam’s Razor is often invoked in this debate. Basically, it states that the simplest explanations are most likely to be true — or at least those that rely on the fewest untested assumptions.
Applying this rule of thumb to the SARS-CoV-2 question might favour the natural origin hypothesis. After all, there are documented cases of similar viruses arising in animal populations and spreading to humans. If it’s a simple explanation we’re after, then that’s one right there.
Then again, the pandemic started in Wuhan — a city that hosts a world famous scientific institute that conducts research into coronaviruses. There’s a long history of accidental releases of deadly organisms from laboratories — so this too could be seen as a simple explanation.
To determine whether these explanations really are simple you have to look at the details. For instance, the precise pattern by which the virus spread through the host populations — or its precise genetic makeup.
What’s so compelling about Wade’s deep-dive is that he shows how the key details are easier to explain within the context of a lab leak origin. He doesn’t claim that they definitively rule out a natural origin — just that it’s more of a stretch to get all the pieces to fit together.
But what about the missing pieces of evidence required to actually prove either hypothesis? For instance, if the original form of SARS-CoV-2 is hanging out in some wild animal population, then where are these creatures? No such organism has been discovered.
On the other hand, where are the lab records that show that the particular experiments required to create SARS-CoV-2 were ever conducted? Or that a breach of containment might have taken place at the same time? These things haven’t come to light either.
Of course, with missing links we need to ask why they’re missing. In regard to a natural origin, the Chinese government has the means and motive to find the necessary evidence — should it exist. In regard to a laboratory origin… well, need one spell it out?
Anyone who follows these things has known for at least a year that the most likely source was the Wuhan lab, one of only one or two places in the world that was performing ‘gain of function’ research on these viruses. Moreover, we have also known for a year that this research was substantially funded by the US at the instigation of one Dr Fauci. (I have refrained from applying an adjectives to Dr Fauci, as I would be ‘Awaiting for approval’ indefinitely).
I suggest people check out the Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying Dark Horse podcasts on this issue. Also their appearance on Bill Maher to discuss the subject.
As ever, the MSM is about a year behind the facts.
Absolutely spot on! And rather like the killing of Ms Ashli Babbitt it will remain unpunished as long as the US is under the control of its current’Mafia’.
The obvious expletive to describe Fauci must be F****r Fauci? F is an unfortunate letter in English for a surname, I suggest he change it to something urbane like Capone for example.
Trump actually said this in 2020-he was told by Australian intelligence , but nobody wanted to know
How very interesting, thank you.
Odd coincidence the DM paper today ( Saturday) has an article all about this. If true its scary , as former deal between Russia/America was noone would use it as would wipe each other out.
article in today’s Daily Mail about this
Also discussed in an article in today’s conservative woman. Am not a scientist-don’t even have an O level -but I thought medecine was an ongoing discussion, not silence we are correct.
That is part of being Trump: If you have a long record of being inflammatory, irresponsible, and wrong, nobody will want to know – except his fans.
Very true, Rasmus. Trump’s braggadocio and exaggeration may have served him well in the dog-eat-dog NY real estate business, but it hurt him horribly as President. Some day he will be seen as a good President for his actions with a very poor personality.
Certainly one of the best since Mr Reagan, although I grant you, that isn’t saying very much, when you consider the other complete pillocks who have had the misfortune to occupy that august Office.
Trump was always inflammatory. It’s part of why the media loved him before he ran for office. No one can pretend they were suddenly surprised. What press people could not fathom was a Repub who didn’t lay there quietly and absorb insult. We have a president now who has spent nearly 50 years being wrong, but there is zero skepticism about anything he says or mumbles.
Frankly your current President is an embarrassment. Can you not see that?
The ‘Free World’ as we used to call it, probably before you were conceived, needs a leader not a complete pillock.
Mr Trump may have been a bit brash but at least he could grasp the essence of leadership.
Let us hope for his speedy return.
And yet the “Free World” adores Joe Biden. Lots of congratulations to Americans when he was elected. The fact that he was impaired seemed not to matter. He wasn’t Donald Trump and that was sufficient. Of course I doubt that much of the “Free World” has the US’ best interests at heart.
Not in my tiny piece of the Free World’.
As I said before, Biden is universally regarded as a complete and utter pillock!
He is not my president. Wrong continent.
I refer you to today’s daily mail which also references an Australian paper.
Dr Fausti is most apt.
You mean His Eminence Cardina Fauci.
Should also check out the recent Joe Rogan episode with Josh Rogin
Why the left were so keen to discredit the lab leak theory is a very important question.
Because the covid has given them everything they wanted-didn’t want it to look deliberate.
Because they are in thrall to the totalitarian state of China, and because it would have helped Trump.
Bingo!! Trump demonized China, so the Donkeys embraced China. Donkey reactionary thinking at its worst.
There is a fairly obvious answer to that. In the face of a dangerous pandemic, most people would want to concentrate on collaborating to stop the virus from spreading and people from dying. Pushing unproved and highly inflammatory accusations would divert efforts into fighting and mutual blame at a time when this might seriously hamper the fight against the virus. And there was not enough evidence around at the start to be particularly sure of anything. Also you would not want to encourage people with a record of extreme partisanship, deliberately provoking conflict and having a very loose relationship with the truth to dominate the debate. Of which Trump is one, but one might find others on this very page.
Nichols Wade’s article is very convincing. At first glance it does suggest that the lab leak theory is quite likely to be true (though I am waiting for the refutation to make a more final judgement). So, if you actually want to convince some liberals, instead of provoking them into a frenzy, it might help to put more Wade and less Trump into your communication.
I’ve just read ‘The Covid Consensus’ by Toby Green, after reading his article here. It’s almost certainly the most important book of the year. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, it provides a detailed and rounded presentation of arguments and information that have been sidelined, only one of which concerns Trump:
“For Western progressives, defeating Trump in November 2020 was far and away the most important political goal of the year, and that meant that if he could be targeted through the Covid-19 pandemic and his response to it then this was a golden opportunity. Certainly, the defeat of Trump was a hugely important task in a progressive outlook for 2020. And this, in a way, was testament to the success that Trump’s mode of operation had had. Covid-19 became all about him, politically 2020 became all about the US election, and in that myopic and narcissistic state the impacts of policies on the rest of the world no longer counted.”
The point you’re perhaps missing is that hatred for and fear of Trump was the reason that China was not held to account. And China hasn’t been, whether the lab leak theory is correct or not may never be known because it has been covered up. So the accounting to be done is not over the origins of the virus but over the cover up. Without holding China to account for the cover up, we are contributing to the rise of something far more dangerous to us than Trump. If we’re going to try to engage with liberals, we can’t avoid the truth to make it easy for them.
And it must be added that this myopia has contributed to a horrific tragedy in the developing world. I recommend Green’s book to understand it better.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention Trump in my initial communication! But it’s clear where you got that from.
I would not deny that obsessive hatred of Trump has distorted reactions and hijacked energies that could have been more productively used elsewhere. But it is kind of hard to simply not notice the US president when he has a key role and is using a considerable talent for provocation to make himself noticed.
For teh rest, I shall not be reading Toby Gren’s book. A look on the publishers web site shows that all the positive comments come from, as I would see it, anti-lockdown fanatics. That does not mean his arguments are wrong, of course. But I shall avoid it as I avoid most articles on woke-related topics in the Guardian by now, and as I never felt like reading Pravda to be informed about international politics. I do not trust his agenda, or his unstated assumptions, or his commitment to telling the truth, and it is just too much hard work to analyse every page for disagreements, hidden assumptions and attempts to mislead (as I would see it) in order to arrive at some nugget of truth. Your quote is a good example. It insinuates that progressives maliciously chose to attack Trump on COVID simply because they hated him. Whereas to me it seems obvious that anybody who claimed that COVID was not a problem and suggested sunlight and bleach injections as useful treatments would be dismissed as a dangerous kook.
It is possible that there are some convincing arguments why lockdown was a mistake and a disaster. But if you want to convince anybody who does not already agree with you, you would have to find a way of putting those arguments that people are actually willing to consider.
“I shall not be reading Toby Gren’s book” … “have to find a way of putting those arguments that people are actually willing to consider”. You don’t see how impossible this makes debate. Green is a Professor of History at King’s College with extensive research and fieldwork in Africa. He hates Trump. He’s a Guardian reading lefty and even has a beard. He had an article in a news magazine that you subscribe to. And you refuse to engage with his work.
Well, you wouldn’t want to read anything which led to a conclusion which you might not like, would you? Particularly if the arguments were irrefutable.
I would, actually – if I felt I could trust the data I was given – to look for loopholes if nothing else. But a lot of the anti-lockdown arguments are no more reliable than critical race theory. Either message might be true, but the arguments do not hold and so are not fruitful to even refute.
On a closer look Toby Greens article on Unherd sounded rational, at least (unlike most of the blurbs on the publishers website, sorry). But what could I learn from him? That lockdown can have terrible consequences, and that the poor suffer more than the rich? He does not have to convince me on either. What I need to know is how to explain the course of the COVID pandemic in various countries, what measures would have what effects on the course of the disease in the future, and what would have happened if we had not tried to suppress COVID, as we did. Nobody knows any of that for sure, least of all Toby Green, who is a historian specialising in the inquisition and the Atlantic slave trade. What can he tell me that I need to know? You tell me.
Mr Fogh: Head. Sand. Bury.
I think you mean champions of individual liberty.
As they say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter 😉
Use of this word would only be by a “lockdown fanatic”
I trust it is an improvement on his work on the Inquisition?
Oh, please. These liberals remain convinced that Trump is responsible for every American death, including the ones engineered by Andrew Cuomo’s brilliant idea of putting the infected into nursing homes. They pooh-poohed the push for a vaccine but ironically, are now its biggest evangelists, demanding everyone else take it without the slightest hint of self-awareness and of how both Biden and Harris pronounced a vaxx created under Trump to be untrustworthy. They remain convinced that masks are a magic talisman that wards off everything and they have destroyed education for millions of kids. You cannot reason with irrational people.
Totally off subject but I look forward to the first one word per line comment.
Pay to comment, or the reverse? Interesting idea, to say the least (which is the effect the former would have!).
Well said, and on a minor note they are allowing the only killing * ever to be perpetrated in the Capitol Building to go completely unpunished, to the eternal shame of the once great Republic.
* Ms Ashli Babbitt.
the way she has been airbrushed out of history is disgusting.
Rather like the entry of the entry of the Wehrmacht into Paris in 1940, Ms Babbitt’s killing is on film and has thus a achieved a sort of immortality.
Back The Blue. The Capital cop panicked, or something, but I am sure had no intention of killing someone just to kill them. Like a Truck driver who panics and killed someone with the deadly machine they operate with, it is a tragedy, not something to prosecute. Friendly Fire is a normal thing in war, things happen when chaos is happening. Not everything needs criminal courts as the answer.
Sure, the colour of Ashli Babbitt’s skin had nothing to do with it.
To be fair the shooter barely had time to even register her skin colour and the idea that Ashli Babbitt would still be alive if she was black is laughable.
Laughable why? He had time to line up the shot, time to see that she was unarmed, and time to register her skin tone. If Babbit had been black, this wouldn’t have gone away.
She certainly wouldn’t have been swept under the carpet
Are the Halls of Congress carpeted?
Or the fact that the Police Lieutenant was black?
He took about 4/5 seconds to execute a carefully aimed shot. The video evidence is unequivocal.
The wonder is that heavily armed ‘police’ resembling the Waffen-SS were within in a few feet of Ms Babbitt, when he fired.
You appear to be obsessed with this woman’s death but you probably wouldn’t take this view if she was there as part of the BLM protests
Not obsessed but incensed!
I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss whether she was BLM or Mother Theresa, Her blatant killing by a policeman in the ‘Holy of Hollies of the United States was
an absolute disgrace. I’m appalled you appear to condone it.
Ever thought of going to ‘Specsavers’?
Yes I agree, the left are certainly driven by identity politics and seem unable to debate individual issues on their merits.
So if someone is going around stabbing people you think one should only worry about the people stabbed and not bother trying to find who is stabbing?
I assume your post is a direct quote by the Biden Administration on this subject.
Yep! Haha, actually I added it to my previous post to save posting twice, then found I can’t delete a post, only edit.
Were those scientists favouring a natural origins explanation from ‘the left’? Is there any evidence for this?
According to Bret Weinstein. Although I don’t think the Dems are left wing but leaving aside the gross semantic distortions, yes.
I haven’t seen many of these but you’ll find more discussion here.
Oh. It appears this Weinstein doesn’t favour natural origins. But he certainly seems to have an agenda. When asked by the interviewer if a traditional vaccine containing the virus itself might be best, he avoids the question, instead veering off into a discussion of the relative merits of adenovirus and RNA vaccines. Sure sounds to me like he has an axe to grind, as it’s a straightforward enough question which he simply evades rather than attempting to answer.
My reply with links to Bret Weinstein is awaiting for approval. Have a look at his interview with Bill Maher.
Bret Weinstein is one scientist favouring natural origins. What about the others? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but without knowing more about their political leanings, I wonder.
Weinstein thinks a lab leak is the most likely origin. He made the point that a consensus amongst scientists formed very quickly against the lab leak theory because the community was mostly leftish and hated Trump.
I was saying from the beginning that it is mathematically so small probability for the virus to emerge spontaneously at the same place where it is cultivated in the lab that it should be considered impossible. Of all the places on Earth it emerged spontaneously in one of the few where there is a lab that conducts experiments with the same sort of the virus.. Come on!
If it quacks like a duck……
If it scuttles about like a pangolin, if it makes tasty soup like a bat….
If it looks like flu . . .
I don’t see why this theory is any less valid than the others. And it’s not like he’s the first person to utter it. But as we’ve seen, anyone not pushing the “accepted” dogma of WHO, elected officials, and govt bureaucrats is quickly silenced. Be it Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube which took the extraordinary step of taking down videos of a US Senate committee hearing because a doctor was talking about ivermectin.
Have a look at the latest video on India and ivermectin by Dr John Campbell. He takes a very conservative approach to this pandemic, but I have watched the scales drop from his eyes…. especially in his interviews with Dr Tess Lawrie and Dr Pierre Kory. At the end of the video I reference on India, he shows the censorship that is now happening to him.
Here it is, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYv30g7TKVM
He shows a study showing ivermectin reduces covid positive test results in health care workers from 11% for the controll group to 2% in the group given it.
If memory serves if you do the calculation building in the different sizes of the groups, the efficacy was 83%.
Zerohedge posted this when COVID was still only in China. Twitter banned them and the vast majority of the media branded them as dangerous conspiracy theorists.
Yes Facebook, twitter etc started to ban people who even suggested anything-so much for a free & open conversation
It would rather depend on exactly what they were saying, and how much evidence they had at the time.
Dorsey, Gates, Zukerberg, and Bezos actively hate the West and are trying to destroy it. They are the 4 horsemen of the apocalypses.
Jonestown, so your name seems to indicate a bit of it in yourself.
Apocalypse. You can only have one.
As our koolaid mixing friend above said, I am Unhinged, which means I get more than one – because there is Biden/Harris and his minions apoclaypse, the Boris/Starner apocalypse, the failure of the Reserve $ one, the global Central Banks Printing, the MMT apoclypse, and so on.
I bought more gold today, I have not started hoarding food and ammo as I am not a Prepper so not into that, but expect the biggest recession/depression in a couple lifespans is coming.
, sort of apocalypse-lite rather than the real one. Covid did not do this, but the insane responce the Politicos And MSM did – for what ever their nefarious reasons.
It was always the obvious explanation.
Looks very likely, but this raises two further options:
a) was it a mistake?
b) was it deliberate (ie state sponsored or malicious terrorist)
if b) why? Most of us discount this because the motive is so questionable, but weird things like poison gas in the Tokyo Metro do and have happened.
If it had been deliberate it would not have been released in Wuhan, right in the backyard of the people who made it and would be susceptible to its effects.
After it was loose in Wuhan the domestic flights were all stopped – WILE 1.2 MILLION international flights were allowed. Odd.
Yes ,it must be blindingly obvious to all, that Fu Manchu & Co dropped a proverbial
b*****k as we used to say.
CHINA 3 Deaths per million, UK USA 1800+.. Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, 0.3 – 86 deaths per million – this covid 19 just does not effect the people of that reigon. It is a Western Disease.
Most of the countries you mention have got off relatively lightly so far, but for how long? Saying COVID just does not affect people in this region is just plain wrong, and it may yet hammer these countries more than it did Western nations – Cambodia, for example, has a rising COVID death rate, and a health system in no position to treat thousands of cases a day.
Biological Warfare, Phase 1.
Was it engineered to be a Western disease? There is evidence that it was out in a milder form much earlier than officially recognised, then the more virulent form emerged (natural mutation?) and rapidly took hold in major western cities.
Lots of coincidences – the fuel for all good conspiracy theories. But if you ask qui bono then the answer is very clearly not the West.
The version that took hold of Wuhan seemed virulent enough – health workers were dropping like flies. The next major outbreak was in Iran, rarely considered a Western nation. There’s little evidence I’m aware of that either strain was any more virulent than those which later took hold in the West.
“if the original form of SARS-CoV-2 is hanging out in some wild animal population, then where are these creatures?”
Hanging out in some wild animal population, presumably. Viruses with very similar genetic codes have been detected in bats in both China and Cambodia, with a slightly less similar version in Japanese bats. There are huge numbers of bats in the region yet to be tested, along with other wildlife that may have been an intermediate host, so the fact we haven’t found an exact match yet is hardly surprising. On the contrary, given the low level of sampling, it would be remarkable if we had stumbled on the original ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 already.
There is another good piece on this matter to be found on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist pub 6th May. Long and detailed the case is very strong for a lab leak .
Instead of wondering if the Wuhan lab created and accidentally released the virus, how about considering that they were looking for viruses, and when they found a newish one they were the first to go testing for it – then it would appear to have originated there.
I have always suspected it is an engineered virus creatd in a lad.
And that it got out because the job of disposing of disposing the animals used for experimenting was given to a low paid and unregarded menial who took them home to sell in the nearby wet food market instead of incinerating them. And that it was allowed to happen because of the hubris of Chinese self inage.
Of course no one would ever admit to it.
That was a fascinating read, thanks for the link. I feel better informed than I did an hour ago.
What we really need, now, is for media editors everywhere to read that article, and to brood a little.
I do not know, of course, whether the analysis offered omits information which would support the natural emergence explanation(s), but since I never know what information has been omitted, either by accident or design, I can only go on the quality of the thinking on offer, and in this case the quality seems at least high enough for serious people to take the conclusions seriously.
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