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Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm
All countries
Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm
All countries
Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm

Global Statistics

All countries
Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm
All countries
Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm
All countries
Updated on June 23, 2022 8:27 pm
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Did Covid Come From A Lab

Xi Inside The Wuhan Institute Of Virology

Did the coronavirus come from a Wuhan lab?

In January 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology issued a press release hailing Shi Zhenglis distinguished and pioneering achievement in discovery and characterization of important bat-borne viruses. The occasion was her election as a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Microbiologyjust the latest milestone in a glittering scientific career. In China, the celebrated Bat Woman was easily recognizable from photos showing her in a full-body positive-pressure suit inside the WIVs BSL-4 lab.

Shi was a fixture at international virology conferences, thanks to her state-of-the-art work, said James LeDuc, the longtime director of the BSL-4 Galveston National Laboratory in Texas. At the international meetings he organized, Shi was a regular, along with Ralph Baric from UNC. Shes a charming person, completely fluent in English and French, said LeDuc. Sounding almost wistful, he added, This is how science works. You get everyone together, they share their data, go out and have a beer.

Shis journey to the top of the virology field had begun with treks to remote bat caves in southernmost China. In 2006, she trained at the BSL-4 Jean Merieux-Inserm Laboratory in Lyon, France. She was named director of the WIVs Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2011, and its BSL-3 lab director in 2013.

Vanity Fair sent Shi Zhengli and the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology detailed questions. Neither responded to multiple requests for comment by email and phone.

Iii Smelled Like A Cover

On December 9, 2020, roughly a dozen State Department employees from four different bureaus gathered in a conference room in Foggy Bottom to discuss an upcoming fact-finding mission to Wuhan organized in part by the World Health Organization. The group agreed on the need to press China to allow a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation, with unfettered access to markets, hospitals, and government laboratories. The conversation then turned to the more sensitive question: What should the U.S. government say publicly about the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

A small group within the State Departments Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance bureau had been studying the Institute for months. The group had recently acquired classified intelligence suggesting that three WIV researchers conducting gain-of-function experiments on coronavirus samples had fallen ill in the autumn of 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak was known to have started.

As officials at the meeting discussed what they could share with the public, they were advised by Christopher Park, the director of the State Departments Biological Policy Staff in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, not to say anything that would point to the U.S. governments own role in gain-of-function research, according to documentation of the meeting obtained by Vanity Fair.

Xii Out Of The Shadows

In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped. Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadnt been.

After the interview aired, death threats flooded his inbox. The vitriol came not just from strangers who thought he was being racially insensitive but also from prominent scientists, some of whom used to be his friends. One said he should just wither and die.

Peter Daszak was getting death threats too, some from QAnon conspirators.

Inside the U.S. government, meanwhile, the lab-leak hypothesis had survived the transition from Trump to Biden. On April 15, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the House Intelligence Committee that two plausible theories were being weighed: a lab accident or natural emergence.

With questions growing, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins released a statement on May 19 asserting that neither NIH nor NIAID have ever approved any grant that would have supported gain-of-function research on coronaviruses that would have increased their transmissibility or lethality for humans.

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I A Group Called Drastic

Gilles Demaneuf is a data scientist with the Bank of New Zealand in Auckland. He was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome ten years ago, and believes it gives him a professional advantage. Im very good at finding patterns in data, when other people see nothing, he says.


This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Early last spring, as cities worldwide were shutting down to halt the spread of COVID-19, Demaneuf, 52, began reading up on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. The prevailing theory was that it had jumped from bats to some other species before making the leap to humans at a market in China, where some of the earliest cases appeared in late 2019. The Huanan wholesale market, in the city of Wuhan, is a complex of markets selling seafood, meat, fruit, and vegetables. A handful of vendors sold live wild animalsa possible source of the virus.

To some people, it seemed natural to ask whether the virus causing the global pandemic had somehow leaked from one of the WIVs labsa possibility Shi has strenuously denied.

The Lancet statement effectively ended the debate over COVID-19s origins before it began. To Gilles Demaneuf, following along from the sidelines, it was as if it had been nailed to the church doors, establishing the natural origin theory as orthodoxy. Everyone had to follow it. Everyone was intimidated. That set the tone.

Vi Sticklers For Accuracy

Is this Coronavirus worse than they are admitting and ...

As they posted their findings, the DRASTIC researchers attracted new allies. Among the most prominent was Jamie Metzl, who launched a blog on April 16 that became a go-to site for government researchers and journalists examining the lab-leak hypothesis. A former executive vice president of the Asia Society, Metzl sits on the World Health Organizations advisory committee on human genome editing and served in the Clinton administration as the NSCs director for multilateral affairs. In his first post on the subject, he made clear that he had no definitive proof and believed that Chinese researchers at the WIV had the best intentions. Metzl also noted, In no way do I seek to support or align myself with any activities that may be considered unfair, dishonest, nationalistic, racist, bigoted, or biased in any way.

On December 11, 2020, Demaneufa stickler for accuracyreached out to Metzl to alert him to a mistake on his blog. The 2004 SARS lab escape in Beijing, Demaneuf pointed out, had led to 11 infections, not four. Demaneuf was impressed by Metzls immediate willingness to correct the information. From that time, we started working together.

If the pandemic started as part of a lab leak, it had the potential to do to virology what Three Mile Island and Chernobyl did to nuclear science.

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Wuhan Institute Of Virology

The first known human infections from SARSCoV2 were discovered in Wuhan, China. Because many of the early infectees were workers at the Huanan Seafood Market, it was originally suggested that the virus might have originated from bats or pangolins sold at the market. It was later determined that no bats or pangolins were sold at the market. Bats are not commonly eaten in Central China. The Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control are located within miles of the original focal point of the pandemic, Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, and this has been used to argue in support of the lab leak theory. However, another explanation for this is a tendency to build virology labs in proximity to outbreak areas.

How Reliable Is The Evidence

The intelligence relating to the three staff at the WIV has been described as uncorroborated evidence from a foreign source, ie it was not obtained or so far verified by a US intelligence agency, and was initially looked at under the Trump administration.

It was very precise, one source told the WSJ, but added the crucial caveat: What it didnt tell you was exactly why they got sick.

According to the New York Times, not one but two intelligence documents were produced discussing the sick workers, one focused on the three individuals, the second about what was known about the origins of the coronavirus. There are multiple issues, however, with how to interpret this information.

Questions include whether the symptoms seen were of coronavirus or bad flu and whether the sickness if it was coronavirus was related to work in their lab, or simply suggests that Covid-19 was circulating in the general population in Wuhan a few weeks earlier than assumed.

Bidens comments, launching the review, are revealing not least when he said that the US intelligence community does not believe there is sufficient information to fully understand the likelihood of different scenarios for explaining the origin of the virus that causes Covid-19.

Biden also revealed that two of the 18 US intelligence agencies lean towards the theory it jumped from an animal species to humans and one leans more toward the lab theory, suggesting a striking lack of clarity.

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Prior Lab Leak Incidents

Laboratory leak incidents have occurred on several occasions, such as the 2007 foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. The SARS virus escaped at least once, and probably twice, from a high-level biocontainment laboratory in China. However, no epidemic has ever been caused by the leak of a novel virus, and the only incident of research activity causing an epidemic was the 1977 Russian flu. Only on very rare occasions do infectious diseases originate from laboratory leaks, and some of these cases result from careless laboratory workers who perform unsafe procedures which in turn generate aerosol outside of biosafety cabinets. Previous novel disease outbreaks, such as AIDS, H1N1, SARS, and the Ebola virus have also been the subject of conspiracy theories and allegations that the causative agent was created or escaped from a laboratory.

Narrowing Down The Timing

Did coronavirus accidentally escape from a Wuhan lab? Its doubtful. | The Fact Checker

Some studies have suggested that COVID-19 was spreading among people before December 2019. To explore that possibility, the report authors looked at analyses of SARS-CoV-2 sequences collected from people in January 2020, and estimated that they evolved from a common ancestor between mid-November and early December of 2019. That estimate roughly corroborates the findings of a report published in Science this month.

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Was The Virus Bioengineered

The current scientific consensus is that the virus occurred naturally, not through bioengineering.

Researchers led by Shan-Lu Liu at the Ohio State University say there is no credible evidence of genetic engineering . The viruss genome has been sequenced, and if it had been altered, we would expect to see signs of inserted gene sequences. But we now know the points that differ from bat viruses are scattered in a fairly random way, just as they would be if the new virus had evolved naturally.

Proponents of the lab-leak hypothesis can point to some arcane details of the viruss molecular biology. For example, the virus has a furin cleavage site, a part of the spike protein that helps it to break into host cells. Many coronaviruses have this tool, but SARS-CoV-2 is the only member of the sub-genus Sarbecovirus to have one.

Another region of the spike protein, the receptor binding motif, appears to be oddly adapted to latch on to human cells. This adaptation was also observed in the original SARS virus, SARS-CoV-1, which caused outbreaks in 2003, but only long after it had jumped to humans. The Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2 had it from the get-go, as if it were pre-adapted to humans.

But these features arent a smoking gun they can all be observed in natural viruses, so arent persuasive evidence that the virus has been engineered by people.

How Wuhan Is Faring After Covid

Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated, was forced into a tough lockdown from January until April last year. About 4 000 people died, according to Chinese figures. Schools fully reopened in September, and life has returned to normal here. However, China has faced widespread criticism over its initial handling of the virus, which emerged in December 2019.

The country has been accused of covering up the outbreak and allowing the virus to spread internationally Beijing has also recently attempted to cast doubts on whether Covid-19 originated in Wuhan. On Monday, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was jailed for four years for reporting on conditions inside Wuhan during the height of the outbreak.

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Sage Adviser Admitted Covid Lab Leak Theory Was ‘likely’ In 2020

Leading Western experts believed a lab leak was the ‘likely’ origin of Covid but were silenced because it could cause harm to Chinese scientists, bombshell emails show.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, who publicly denounced the theory as a ‘conspiracy’, admitted in a private email in February 2020 that a ‘likely explanation’ was that the virus was man-made.

The then-UK Government adviser said at the time he was ’70:30 or 60:40′ in favour of an accidental release versus natural origin.

In the email, sent to American health chiefs Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Francis Collins, Sir Jeremy said it was possible Covid had been evolved from a Sars-like virus in the lab. He went on that this seemingly benign process may have ‘accidentally created a virus primed for rapid transmission between humans’.

But the British scientist was shut down by his counterparts in the US who warned further debate about the origins of the virus could damage ‘international harmony’.

He was told by other scientists with links to virus manipulation research that it could cause ‘unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular’.

Sir Jeremy claimed in his emails that other respected scientists also believed the virus could not have emerged naturally. Names included Professor Mike Farzan, the Harvard researcher who first discovered how the original Sars virus binds to human cells.

Sir Jeremy later downgraded his estimate 50:50 in further emails just days later on February 4.

The Lab Leak Theory Explained

Coronavirus did come from bats, say WHO scientists who ...

In late January of 2020, after Wuhan was placed under lockdown, The Lancet published a paper by Chinese scientists positing that the virus had come from bats, perhaps by way of another animal at the Wuhan meat market. It remains a reasonable assumption to have made: This kind of animal-to-human transmission, known as zoonotic spillover, is believed to be responsible for two-thirds of human infectious diseases, including Ebola, SARS and many types of the flu.

But in February 2020, two Chinese researchers suggested in a since-withdrawn paper that SARS-CoV-2 had probably originated in one of two laboratories the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan Center for Disease Control. Both conduct some of the worlds most extensive research on bat coronaviruses through the collection of cave samples, often yielding important findings: In 2017, an esteemed virologist at the Wuhan Institute, Shi Zhengli, was able to trace SARS, which broke out in 2002, back to a colony of horseshoe bats. Shi went on to publish some of the most important earlyresearch on SARS-CoV-2.

There have long been concerns, though, that such intimate study of bat-borne viruses could itself cause a spillover event.

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Is It Suspicious That No Animal Has Been Identified As Transmitting The Virus To Humans

Outbreak-origin investigations often take years, and some culprits remain unknown. It took 14 years to nail down the origin of the SARS epidemic, which began with a virus in bats that spread to humans, most likely through civets. To date, a complete Ebola virus has never been isolated from an animal in the region where the worlds largest outbreak occurred between 2013 and 2016.

Origin investigations are complicated because outbreaks among animals that aren’t the main hosts of a particular virus, such as civets in the case of SARS, are often sporadic. Researchers must find the right animal before it dies or clears the infection. And, even if the animal tests positive, viruses found in saliva, faeces or blood are often degraded, making it difficult to sequence the pathogens whole genome.

Scientists have made some progress since the pandemic began, however. For example, a report, posted to the preprint server bioRxiv on 27 May, suggests that RmYN02, a coronavirus in bats in southern China, might be more closely related to SARS-CoV-2 than RATG13 is.

Is There Another Theory

Yes, and it’s called the “natural origin” theory.

This argues the virus spread naturally from animals, without the involvement of any scientists or laboratories.

Supporters of the natural origin hypothesis say Covid-19 emerged in bats and then jumped to humans, most likely through another animal, or “intermediary host”.

That idea was backed by the WHO report, which said it was “likely to very likely” that Covid had made it to humans through an intermediate host.

This hypothesis was widely accepted at the start of the pandemic, but as time has worn on, scientists have not found a virus in either bats or another animal that matches the genetic make-up of Covid-19, casting doubt over the theory.

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Accidental Release Of A Natural Virus

Some have theorized the virus arose in humans from an accidental infection of laboratory workers by contact with a sample extracted from a wild animal or by direct contact with a captive animal or its respiratory droplets or feces. According to a number of scientists, including Ian Lipkin, the Wuhan Institute of Virology performed work on chimeric SARS-like coronaviruses using inadequate safety procedures.

WHO Assessment

The WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2, written by a joint team of Chinese and international scientists and published in March 2021, assessed introduction through a laboratory incident to be “extremely unlikely” and not supported by any available evidence, although the report stated that this possibility could not be wholly ruled out without further evidence. The report stated that human spillover via an intermediate animal host was the most likely explanation, with direct spillover from bats next most likely. Introduction through the food supply chain and the Huanan Seafood Market was considered less likely.

Other scientists found the report convincing, and said there was no evidence of a laboratory origin for the virus.Dominic Dwyer, another scientist from the WHO team, said there was “no obvious evidence” the virus had started at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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