• Wade on the Lab-Leak Theory of COVID

    From Ubiquitous@21:1/5 to All on Tue May 11 21:05:03 2021
    XPost: alt.tv.pol-incorrect, alt.fan.rush-limbaugh, alt.politics.usa
    XPost: sci.med.diseases

    Nicholas Wade is not an alarmist, and not a conspiracy theorist. He is one of the most eminent science journalists in the country, having done stints at Science and the New York Times, and he has released a very long, technical,
    and (if you’re into that sort of thing) riveting article on Medium weighing
    the evidence on the origin of COVID-19. Did it emerge naturally from an
    animal species to infect people in Wuhan, possibly at a wet market? Or did it leak out from the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

    Where I think it is most convincing is in describing the lack of plausibility of natural emergence:

    No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if
    indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself,
    despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the
    testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making
    multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as
    both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital
    surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the
    population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a
    natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is
    no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site,
    which no other SARS-related beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the
    site is composed of human-preferred codons. The natural emergence
    theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities.

    Wade weighed up what kind of evidence we do have about the virus itself, the lab, the safety protocols, and the grants funded by the NIH and NIAD, under Doctors Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci. They, and common sense, all point
    in one direction:

    Dr. Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible
    infectivity for human cells. Her plan was to take genes that coded for
    spike proteins possessing a variety of measured affinities for human
    cells, ranging from high to low. She would insert these spike genes one
    by one into the backbone of a number of viral genomes (“reverse
    genetics” and “infectious clone technology”), creating a series of
    chimeric viruses. These chimeric viruses would then be tested for their
    ability to attack human cell cultures (“in vitro”) and humanized mice
    (“in vivo”). And this information would help predict the likelihood of
    “spillover,” the jump of a coronavirus from bats to people.

    The methodical approach was designed to find the best combination of
    coronavirus backbone and spike protein for infecting human cells. The
    approach could have generated SARS2-like viruses, and indeed may have
    created the SARS2 virus itself with the right combination of virus
    backbone and spike protein.

    It cannot yet be stated that Dr. Shi did or did not generate SARS2 in
    her lab because her records have been sealed, but it seems she was
    certainly on the right track to have done so.

    In other words, this is no longer really just a lab-leak theory; the evidence points to a lab-created theory, too. Now, before you go off, the evidence
    still also points to something like accident. But a reckless one and an eminently foreseeable one. One that virologists, and their sponsors, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, were warned about.

    Wade also weighs in on the credulity of other science journalists, and the larger media — their inherent bias against theories floated by Donald Trump himself.

    People round the world who have been pretty much confined to their
    homes for the last year might like a better answer than their media
    are giving them. Perhaps one will emerge in time. After all, the more
    months pass without the natural emergence theory gaining a shred of
    supporting evidence, the less plausible it may seem. Perhaps the
    international community of virologists will come to be seen as a false
    and self-interested guide. The common sense perception that a pandemic
    breaking out in Wuhan might have something to do with a Wuhan lab
    cooking up novel viruses of maximal danger in unsafe conditions could
    eventually displace the ideological insistence that whatever Trump
    said can’t be true.

    Indeed. What would that look like? Read the whole thing.

    Trump won.

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