Don’t let an accident create another pandemic
We need to think hard before using our ever-expanding bio-engineering toolkit
Here at The Post we like to feature new and interesting articles from outside the UnHerd universe. This one, from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is not at all new. In fact, it’s six years old — but that is what makes it all the more interesting.
The author is Martin Furmanski, a medical historian, and his subject is “gain of function” experiments on disease-causing micro-organisms:
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While it’s highly unlikely that Covid-19 was deliberately engineered and released as a bio-weapon, it is possible that the current pandemic began as an accidental release from a laboratory experiment gone wrong.
The plausibility (though by no means the certainty) of such a scenario is discussed here. A further reason why we should stay open-minded is that it’s happened before. In his article, Furmanski runs through a number of documented cases in which scientific error is thought to be (or sometimes definitely known to be) responsible for disease outbreaks.
For instance, in 2007 a broken pipe led to an escape of the foot-and-mouth-disease virus from a laboratory in Pirbright, Surrey. Fortunately, the consequent outbreak was small compared to the devastating 2001 epidemic.
Another example from the UK was the smallpox outbreak of 1978. Tragically, a medical photographer working at the University of Birmingham Medical School became the last known person in the world to die from smallpox after the virus escaped from a research lab and made its way into a service duct.
Though such incidents lead to the tightening of safety procedures, Furmanski argues that we should assume that accidents will continue to happen:
In other words, we need to think really hard before using our ever-expanding bio-engineering toolkit to “augment virulence and transmissibility of dangerous pathogens”. The purpose of such experiments may be to better understand, and therefore prevent, deadly disease; but, as Furmanski says, this kind of research carries the risk of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Being written in 2014, the article has nothing to say about Covid-19. Nevertheless, if the virus did have its origin in a lab accident it’s absolutely vital that the truth comes out.
It’s unclear whether knowing the origin would be helpful in our fight against this pandemic. As a wake-up call, though, it might just prevent the next one.
Of course the media have zero interest in investigating the origins of COVID-19 because doing so completely undermines the argument for globalization. The idea that this is a natural outbreak of disease (thousands of kilometers away from it’s biological carrier and right next door to a bio-weapons lab) is absurd. Western elites have sold off our economies, patrimony and culture and have been rewarded with mass death and economic ruin.
The public has been rewarded that. The “elite” have just gotten more wealthy, powerful, and corrupt
That the COVID-19 virus originated in the Wuhan laboratory, and was released (almost certainly) by accident, seems by far the most plausible scenario. Yet no”one is officially talking about this – the subject is taboo. There is no longer any discussion of the origins of this virus. This is what’s so frightening. It’s the cover-up and the refusal to examine the real problem, the reckless growth of bio-engineering, that is so sinister. And the Pfitzer vaccine that we’ve rushed to acquire seems from what I understand to be another product of bio-engineering that works by altering our DNA. Billions of doses being prepared, massive profits to be had, and the we the population the subjects of an experiment with unknown consequences. It sounds like the plot of a dystopian science fiction novel, which may be why so few seem willing to take it seriously.
What you describe as “the most” plausible scenario is certainly plausible. Labs do collect such viruses and the infection of the first human or of a domestic animal with the immediate forerunner of SARS-Cov-2 via such a collection is a possibility.
An entirely wild source is also plausible. It’s quite tricky then to ascribe relative probabilities to the two scenarios.
Whether or not a lab escape was involved in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is quite true that the proliferation of BSL4 labs conducting more and more experiments around the world must lead to an increasing risk of lab escape accidents.
Why is there so little talk of this? Well this common sense argument is drowned out by so many conspiracy theorists exclaiming that this was a bio-weapon developed by the CCP with the express intention of changing our societies, then joined in with anti-vaxxers and the “Bill Gates wants to micro-chip us all” brigade. Too much noise. Not enough signal.
It is “plausible” that it was an entirely wild source. It is entirely not plausible, however, that this would naturally emerge right next door to a research lab investigating this exact virus hundreds of kilometres away from the natural habitat of its host species.
Yesterday I watched the debate in Parliament. I was shocked by how serious Johnson seemed about defending his stupid tier system. Usually I think of him as a showman, a bluffer and a gambler, who lies pathologically and doesn’t care as long as his self centred interests aren’t too much affected by the consequences of his messing things up. So yesterday I concluded that the Government know something about the virus that the rest of us don’t, or that we can only guess.
Given the way the Covid bug most fatally affects the people with highest quantities of Neanderthal DNA, I think the Chinese may have been developing it as a biological weapon to use against its Asian neighbours. Given that the lab from which the disease escaped was funded by Western interests I suspect it has been known for a long time that the Chinese were developing biological weapons and the West was collaborating, excusing their collaboration with fear of ‘climate change’ and the ‘need’ to reduce world populations.
I agree with your analysis of Johnson, but the rest of your post might be a little far fetched. Yes, it is certainly plausible, even likely, that the Chinese were developing a bio weapon. And yes, there were even rumours that Fauci illegally diverted funds from the US to the financing of this laboratory, although that was some time ago and I have heard nothing more. And yes, there do seem to be a number of people like Bill Gates who would prefer to see a large reduction in the global population, but I wouldn’t tie all this together into Wuhan at this stage.
I agree. Conspiracies are very hard to create and maintain. Small scale coverups, on the other hand, are hard to root out, since everyone up a thin chain of command is serving their own group interests and becomes implicated.
Normally Alison I follow and generally agree with your comments, not this time though. Give the politico’s a good kicking (I’ll hold your coat:-)) OK. The rest reads like the MSM no facts, just wild speculation. The subject certainly needs taking seriously the problem as ever is how to find something approximating reality, or even the truth. Hell’s teeth truth!! I dream on. Tick it off as a bad day. Keep safe.
The Wuhan Virus is the result of “Gain of Function” manipulations to the virus that were also carried out in the University of North Carolina lab in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Dr, Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute participated in those studies in the USA. That study was closed because the Gain of Function manipulations were deemed too dangerous. The Gain of Function manipulated the virus so that it could live in human tissue. Prior to the manipulations the virus could not survive in human tissue.
Dr. Shi apparently carried on the work at her lab in Wuhan, China. The release of the virus was most likely a laboratory accident.
The accident was compounded and made criminal because the Communist Chinese government decided to export the virus to Western countries via infected Chinese travelers. Think about that. The export of the virus to Europe and America was an intentional act. That is a biological attack.
What is your proof that China actively used the man-made virus as a weapon? And, if it did, it was a poor one given the low death rate and the fact Covid appears to only be a risk to the most vulnerable group, the very, very sick who are also old? Hardly much of a weapon.
Believe me, now that the Chinese have seen what an accident can achieve, it will not be an accident next time.
Martin Furmanski is correct about Gain of Function experiments. When the virus was first introduced into human tissue the virus did not do well. Through gain of function the virus was manipulated such that it could survive in human tissue. That study was closed in the USA because the Gain of Function manipulations were deemed too dangerous. The USA provided funding to the Lab in China that continued the experiments.
Yes, Chuck, thank you.
Yes, I have also read that but somehow, miraculously, that story and research has disappeared. In future I will copy and file things of interest.
These experiments are in no way just a research. They are a cover-up for bioweapons labs that the US has in “untermensch” countries such as China, Republic of Georgia or Kazakhstan. Since the US has a law that prohibits bioweapons proliferation, it conveniently rephrased it as “bioweapons defense research”. The Biosecurity laws that were introduced at the same time as Patriot Act, must have a concrete situation to be implemented. A mass contagion, a pandemic, a spread of an unknown virus are perfect situations for the realization of a Biosecurity State, a State Of Exception, worldwide – because the US practically occupies nearly the whole world – if not through NATO, military bases and arms trade, then through bribes, economic pressure, political intrigue, sanctions and proxy wars. The global financial institutions, such as IMF, WEF are also essentially American. It is very naive to suggest that the “gain of function” experiments had “accidents”.
When the virus was first introduced into human tissue the virus did not do well. Through gain of function the virus was manipulated such that it did survive in human tissue. That study was closed because the Gain of Function manipulations were deemed too dangerous.
Few people know what is in vaccines, let alone how they are made or what they are designed to do. Those who have bothered to find out are concerned, at the potential for terrible harm to be done to human beings in the name of great ignorance and even greater arrogance and hubris. Not to mention in the name of profit-driven modern science-medicine.
Whether Covid-19 was created in a laboratory is important to know, but even more important is the level of meddling now common in laboratories, in the name of science-medicine, which is barely understood in process, let alone outcomes given the still poor knowledge we have of the human organism and the natural world. Yes, we know more of the mechanics and the material nature of things but we are no closer to understanding why people become ill, or the true function of the human organism which goes far beyond the merely material and mechanical.
As an avid reader of science-medical history, I am well aware of how many times some have warned of possible bad outcomes and been ignored. Science and medicine are both slow to listen to dissenters. Indeed, where they can, they will ignore them.
Since science-medicine sold its soul to Government and corporations over the past century it has become an even more dangerous industry, with, from the look of it, far too few checks and balances.
The power of religions to do harm is nothing compared to the power of modern science in general and in the particular, with allopathic medicine, to do harm to humans and the planet.
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