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Discussion: Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Wuhan has been working with bats and coronavirus for many years - DNA manipulations, cloning....

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  • TWiV 762: SARS-CoV-2 origins with Robert Garry
    May 30, 2021

    Robert Garry joins TWiV to explain how the molecular biology of SARS-CoV-2 shows that it came from Nature and not a lab, including the receptor binding domain, the furin cleavage site, and the two lineages circulating in Wuhan wildlife markets.
    View at: https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-762/

    Comment


    • Transcript: Scott Gottlieb on "Face the Nation," May 30, 2021

      The following is a transcript of an interview with former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that aired Sunday, May 30, 2021, on "Face the Nation."
      ...
      JOHN DICKERSON:...Why is it that there is now a conversation about how this pandemic started and why is that important?

      DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think the challenge is that the side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come- come out of a lab has continued to expand. And a side of the ledger that suggests that this could have come from a zoonotic source, come out of nature, really hasn't budged. And if anything, you can argue that that side of the ledger has contracted because we've done an exhaustive search for the so-called intermediate host, the animal that could have been exposed to this virus before it spread to humans. We have not found such an animal. We've also fully disproven the market, the food market that was initially implicated in the original outbreak as the source of the outbreak. And so that side of the ledger probably has shrunken and China could provide evidence that would be exculpatory here. They could provide the blood samples from those who worked in the lab in Wuhan. They've refused to do that. They could provide the source strain, some of the original strains. They've refused to do that. They can provide access to some of the early samples that we could sequence. They could provide an inventory of what was in the lab, the Institute of Virology, the lab that has been implicated in a potential lab leak. They have refused to do that. And we know that that lab was poorly constructed, had poor controls. That was reported at the time that it was first opened. We know the lab was engaging in very high-risk research, including infecting transgenic animals, animals with fully human immune systems. We know they were working with SARS-like viruses that have never been disclosed before. And now we have new evidence that some lab workers became infected right at the time that this virus was believed to be first introduced. ...
      ...
      DR. GOTTLIEB:... I don't know that we're going to find out with certainty that this came out of a lab. I think we're going to ultimately come up with an assessment and a probability on whether this came out of a lab versus a zoonotic source. And it's going to take some more data to get a better overall assessment in terms of the probability that this could have come out of a lab. But we might get that information.

      JOHN DICKERSON: Is it your view that the Chinese know the answer to this question?

      DR. GOTTLEIB: They would know the answer to the question because they would have blood samples from the workers in that lab. And that's the evidence that they haven't made public. If- if, in fact, the blood samples show that a high prevalence of people in that lab have been exposed to this virus, that's pretty definitive proof that this coursed through that lab. And they would also have the samples from the time that they were first drawn, which was the time when they had those illnesses. There's no question that when they had an outbreak of an illness in that lab that they would have done routine blood sampling in that lab. That's just normal controls in a lab of that quality. So they would have that information.
      ...
      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcr...on-05-30-2021/
      "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
      -Nelson Mandela

      Comment


      • Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on June 1, 2021
        ...
        Bloomberg: The New York Times said in a recent report that critics of US President Joe Biden argued that he had dismissed the possibility that the lab was the origin of the virus until the Chinese government this week rejected allowing further investigation by the WHO. Can the ministry clarify this, has China rejected any further investigation of any type by the WHO?

        Wang Wenbin: China has been cooperating with WHO on virus origin-tracing in an open, transparent and responsible manner. While undertaking the daunting task of epidemic response at home, China has twice invited WHO experts in for origin-tracing study, during which international and Chinese experts jointly made field visits, analyzed a large number of data, issued joint mission reports, and reached authoritative, formal and science-based conclusions.

        I would like to underscore again that a number of clues, reports and studies suggest that the outbreaks began in multiple locations around the world as early as the second half of 2019. China has made positive contributions to the global efforts of origin-tracing. To further advance this global endeavor, we hope all parties will render full support and cooperation to WHO, so as to find the source of the virus at an early date and put an end to the spread of the epidemic.
        ...
        China News Service: On May 31, the 74th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution submitted by the European Union, calling for a total overhaul of the global alarm system to ensure the adequate, flexible and sustainable financing of WHO's programme budget for a stronger, more independent WHO to help avert future pandemics. What is China's position on this?

        Wang Wenbin: As a co-sponsor of the resolution, China has taken an active part in the consultation process. We stand ready to work with all parties to follow through on the spirit of the resolution, and jointly improve the global public health governance system, so as to enable it to better tackle global public health crises, and promote the building of a global community of health for all.
        ...
        China Review News: Some politicians in the US claim that the novel coronavirus was leaked from laboratory and demand an "investigation" in China. What's your comment on this?

        Wang Wenbin: China firmly opposes the politicization of virus origin-tracing by some US politicians. Why is it that some in the US are so obsessed with the lab-leak theory when there no evidence to prove that the virus leaked from Chinese laboratories?

        To put it bluntly, the purpose of those in the US is to shirk their responsibility of botched response at home and find another excuse to thwart China's development. However, facts have proved that this trick of scapegoating and blame-shifting will only end up hurting the US own interest and the lives and health of the American people. Politicization does nothing but disrupts the international anti-epidemic effort, and will be met with universal rejection by the international community.

        Recently, many international experts and scholars have questioned and criticized the US practice of politicizing the issue of origin-tracing. Australian scientist Dominic Dwyer, a member of the WHO expert team, said there was no evidence to back up the lab escape theory. Peter Daszak, a member of the expert team and an American scholar, said that he and other scholars who had been to Wuhan for origin-tracing studies had published a wealth of data supporting a "natural spillover", and pointed out there was a complete lack of data suggesting a lab accident. Daszak dismissed US "intelligence reports" as "political, not scientific". Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, said that "The most frustrating thing about the topic of SARS-CoV-2 origins has been the credulous way the media has treated this as a debate between 2 equally plausible hypotheses. Nope, this is more like the debate over climate change. There's the data and then there's false equivalence." Ethan Siegel, an American science writer, said that conspiracy theories has gained a lot of traction, because "after all, how much more comforting would it be to know that just a handful of evil people - not the politicians who sacrificed their constituents- were ultimately responsible for the tragedies of the past 18 months?"

        I would like to reiterate that origin-tracing is a scientific issue. On this issue concerning the health and safety of humanity, we should stay true to the original aspiration of saving lives and getting better prepared to cope with similar public health crisis in the future. We should embark on the path of unity and cooperation instead of instigating confrontation and division. We should rely on science rather than political manipulation. Any attempt to politicize the origin-tracing issue is neither moral nor popular, and will only end in failure.
        ...
        https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwf...t1880521.shtml
        "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
        -Nelson Mandela

        Comment


        • Chinese media rips US for probe into COVID-19 lab leak theory

          By Mark MooreJune 1, 2021 | 10:01am | Updated
          ...
          The WHO mission was initially resisted by China and took months to negotiate — and Beijing has still refused to allow an independent investigation.

          The team arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 14 and following two weeks of quarantine, they visited key sites such as hospitals, seafood markets and research facilities.

          However, the investigators only went on visits organized by their Chinese hosts and weren’t allowed to have contact with members of the community, allegedly due to health concerns.
          ...
          “It was agreed first that China would have veto power over who even got to be on the mission,” said Metzl, who also worked at the White House National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.

          “WHO agreed to that. On top of that, the WHO agreed that in most instances, China would do the primary investigation and then just share its findings with these international experts. So these international experts weren’t allowed to do their own primary investigation.”
          ...
          China has repeatedly refused to release records relating to its work on the coronavirus and instead has floated theories that the virus began in a US research facility in Maryland or in imported frozen food packaging.

          British intelligence agencies also gave credence to the Wuhan lab theory, saying it’s “feasible” that the virus leaked from the lab, the Sunday Times of London reported.

          That report led UK’s Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi to press the WHO to investigate the lab’s connection.

          “I think it’s really important that the WHO is allowed to conduct its investigation unencumbered into the origins of this pandemic and that we should leave no stone unturned to understand why — not only because of the current pandemic that has swept the world but also for future-proofing the world’s capability to deal with pandemics,” he told Sky News.
          ...
          https://nypost.com/2021/06/01/chines...b-leak-theory/
          "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
          -Nelson Mandela

          Comment


          • https://www.newsmax.com/newsmax-tv/n...27/id/1023028/
            Nikki Haley to Newsmax: Determine COVID Source Before Another Outbreak
            (Newsmax/"Spicer & Co.")
            Thursday, 27 May 2021 08:08 PM

            It's vital that U.S. and World Health Organization officials stop listening to China regarding the source of COVID-19 or the world will face yet another outbreak, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley tells Newsmax.
            ...
            The current U.N. ambassador should be calling for a Security Council meeting to ask what China knew and when they knew it, and what the World Health Organization's role was in it, Haley said.
            ...
            WHO is meeting this week about the situation in China, but the only country that sounded the alarm early about person-to-person contact is Taiwan, which hasn't even been allowed to observe because of China's objections.

            Haley was critical of recent comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Biden, that the United States is correct in funding research in China since that's where viral transmission from animals to humans is taking place.

            "The idea that [Fauci] thinks we could ever trust China shows why he shouldn't be in the administration," she said. "You cannot allow China to tell us what is right or wrong."

            Fauci is "listening to China," Haley said. ''That's the first problem."

            The World Health Organization is listening to China as well, she said.

            "No one should be listening to China," she said. "I worked with them firsthand for two years, and there's not a time their mouths were open where they weren't saying propaganda."...

            _____________________________________________

            Ask Congress to Investigate COVID Origins and Government Response to Pandemic H.R. 834

            i love myself. the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever. ---- nayyirah waheed
            Governments don't have or own souls.

            (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)
            Never forget Excalibur.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Pathfinder View Post
              Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins

              By Jon CohenJan. 31, 2020 , 6:20 PM
              ...
              “One of the biggest takeaway messages [from the viral sequences] is that there was a single introduction into humans and then human-to-human spread,” says Trevor Bedford, a bioinformatics specialist at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
              ...
              The longer a virus circulates in a human populations, the more time it has to develop mutations that differentiate strains in infected people, and given that the 2019-nCoV sequences analyzed to date differ from each other by seven nucleotides at most, this suggests it jumped into humans very recently. But it remains a mystery which animal spread the virus to humans.
              ...
              According to Xinhua, the state-run news agency, “environmental sampling” of the Wuhan seafood market has found evidence of 2019-nCoV. Of the 585 samples tested, 33 were positive for 2019-nCoV and all were in the huge market’s western portion, which is where wildlife were sold. “The positive tests from the wet market are hugely important,” says Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney ...
              ...
              Yet there have been no preprints or official scientific reports on the sampling, so it’s not clear which, if any, animals tested positive. “Until you consistently isolate the virus out of a single species, it’s really, really difficult to try and determine what the natural host is,” says Kristian Andersen, an evolutionary biologist at Scripps Research.
              ...
              It’s not just a “curious interest” to figure out what sparked the current outbreak, Daszak says. “If we don't find the origin, it could still be a raging infection at a farm somewhere, and once this outbreak dies, there could be a continued spillover that’s really hard to stop. But the jury is still out on what the real origins of this are.”

              https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020...reak-s-origins



              Jimmy Tobias

              @JamesCTobias
              Very interesting email from the Fauci documents obtained by
              @JasonLeopold
              :


              1:33 PM · Jun 1, 2021·Twitter Web App
              "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
              -Nelson Mandela

              Comment


              • JJackson
                JJackson commented
                Editing a comment
                The location of the viral sequences in the market were documented in the WHO origins report. Most were from the drains as the procedure at the market was to hose down the stalls, where animals were slaughtered for food, at the end of the day making it almost impossible to pin point any one stall as being contaminated.

              • Pathfinder
                Pathfinder commented
                Editing a comment
                I copied this post from the "Discussion - 2019-nCoV genetics" as the topic is closely related to this thread.

            • Originally posted by sharon sanders View Post
              You can judge the amount of work by the volume of publications especially those with high citations. It’s indisputable that Wuhan has worked on this since at least mid-2000s, and some really groundbreaking work has come out of that team in recent years. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was a BSL3 lab that upgraded to BSL4 in 2018, but by checking author affiliations, we know that some of the work involving dissection of bats to recover e.g. hantavirus is done at the Wuhan CDC (WHCDC) lab which is only BSL2 but which is <300m from the seafood market, plus also being right next door to the hospital with first major HCW outbreak in Dec, from asymptomatic neurosurgical patient.

              In fact, this is a district with a large number of hospitals, and one can just as easily say the outbreak started with patients that arrived in those hospitals in that district, people who worked, lived, went to market there. Everything, market, lab, hospitals, are within 1km of each other, except for the WIV lab which is 9 miles away.

              The conventional wisdom was bats are the natural reservoir, but bat CoV are not well adapted enough to jump directly to humans, and an intermediate host is required (e.g. civets or camels for MERS). So when a new virus of such transmissibility appears, one of the most urgent things to do is to try and find the intermediate host, because you know, it could still be spreading. Suspicions were first aroused because of the unusual behavior of the Wuhan authorities. Guan Yi was the HKU expert (top 11th cited in microbiology in world) who uncovered the connection with civets in 2003. He went to Wuhan mid-January and then gave an extraordinary interview, that a) the market was shut and decontaminated b) he was denied access to market or any environmental samples taken c) he knocked on several doors of scientific community but "epidemiology experts and scientists do not seem to be welcomed in the city."

              That is a red flag, and it's been reinforced by the fact that Chinese researchers don’t seem particularly keen to work on this either. Wuhan is a center of expertise on this very subject, it’s inconceivable that they would decontaminate the market without taking animal samples. That’s like a researcher’s dream to be the first to identify the source. So either they were actively stopped, or they did take samples but kept quiet. (Raw data from environmental as opposed to animal samples have since been shared privately between researchers but not published, and it appears that these are poorly labelled with regards to where exactly they were taken. These partial sequences match patient samples, so they could well be from human shedding only.) The other thing is, even if that market was closed, it would be reasonable to go and take samples from other wildlife markets, because the stuff was being sold on the streets all through January. Nobody has published anything, even though a ton has been published on all other aspects of this outbreak, including from WIV scientists. The data from market surveillance is so important that even negative results would have been useful (perhaps too useful).

              I’m skeptical in general with the bioweapons theory because it’s hard to control a respiratory virus, but I looked into some of these allegations, specifically that the virus may have been subject to human engineering because certain mutations seem suspiciously well adapted to humans or appear to be similar to other sequences from other viruses. But here’s the thing. There’s still a vast universe of bat CoV that’s not yet mapped, but the ones already sequenced show a great deal of heterogeneity and recombination (i.e. these viruses in the wild are mixing and exchanging genetic materials all the time), plus if you dig deeper, there’s published data that some of these specific regions are in fact found in wild-type bat-CoV, so it isn’t as unusual as some would make out, to find such features. Plus, it’s a basic requirement that a virus has to acquire human adaptations to be capable of h2h transmission, so it just seems circular logic to assert human intervention on such grounds alone.

              With the 2003 virus, it was found that viruses found in humans and civets were very similar, with a mutation that allow the virus to bind to human-type ACE2 receptors, which was absent from the corresponding bat SLCoV. Since then many labs have done sampling of bat CoV from all over China. Despite diversity, not one sample showed the human-adapted receptor binding domain RBD, so it was believed that bat CoV would have difficulty infecting humans without adaptation via an intermediate host. Secondly, nobody had ever isolated a live bat-SL-CoV, one that could be grown in cell culture.

              All that changed in 2013 when the WIV published a study, based on 5 years of surveillance of a particular bat population in Yunnan. link They found a bunch of bat-SL-CoV and published 2 representative sequences. For the first time, these had the human-adapted RBD mutation. Also, they were able to isolate a live virus, now called WIV1, with which they were able to do experiments. Prior to this experiments were done with genetically engineered viruses using the sequence under investigation on a backbone of a virus that’s lab-adapted to infect e.g. mice but is otherwise harmless. This is common practice. But now they had this wild-type virus with a human-adapted RBD, which is a whole different ballgame. On top of that, they took samples from villagers and found some of them had antibodies to this wild-type bat virus, thus showing that no intermediate host is required for human infection, although no evidence of h2h was found. All sorts of alarm bells started ringing and other labs started collaborating; one paper was explicitly titled SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence.by researchers from N Carolina, Harvard, FDA, Switzerland, a whole who’s who of this field. link

              Amazingly before 2002 the WIV lab was an agricultural lab (insect-borne viruses and pesticide testing), but converted to work on human pathogens in 2003, the same year during which approval was given to convert from BSL3 to BSL4. That seems a degree of haste, but in line with China government policy on rapid expansion of biotech sector. By the time construction was finished in 2015 (but before certification for actual research 2018) 3 other BSL4 were in various stages of completion. This is reminiscent of Chernobyl, when the Soviets brought nuclear power plants online without prototype and without sufficient time for the first one to be robustly tested. It doesn’t help that the French institute that was supposed to build the lab had its contract prematurely terminated and the Chinese finished the work on its own (having copied/stolen the plans to build the other 3). This hastiness is reckless, but also prompts suspicion of dual use intentions, because one can always do with more power plants, but the amount of civilian, medical research that requires such capabilities is kind of limited. SARS itself requires only BSL3, but experiments with non-human primates would require BSL4. In the 2013 paper and others that followed, they described transmission experiments in mice with WIV1 plus some chimera viruses with the human ACE2 affinity. The next logical step from rodents would be primates, but even smaller mammals they were using such as raccoon cats (simulating civets) would have been perfectly adequate intermediate hosts that could, if biosecurity was lax, result in a human-adapted virus escaping the lab. We already know that the 2003 virus escaped numerous times from a Beijing lab. Bear in mind their own finding, that you don’t even need an intermediate host.

              With all that in mind, now check this out. In Jan, scientists studied the new virus in comparison to known sequences in the public database, and found some that were 89% match. And then, a bomb shell. The WIV lab published that the closest match 96% is actually a sequence RaTG13, from their own collection from the 2013 Yunnan studies. At first it was mystifying, because the paper did not give citations for RaTG13. Turns out this sequence was submitted to GISAID database (for researchers) only on Jan 27 2020, by the very same WIV lab! In other words, the closest match for this pandemic virus is a sample they’ve had in their lab but left unpublished all these years. Now, having a sequence is not the same as having a virus, and not publishing all your findings is not necessarily a sign of nefarious intentions, but at a minimum it shows that the same set of samples that produced the by-now well studied WIV1 group, also contained all along the closest one to this pandemic virus. And, as we know, they’ve been working hard at this, doing all sorts of experiments, all along.

              One can still stick with the eating wildlife story, as many still do, and I can’t discount it, but what’s the statistical probability that this once-in-a-century virus would emerge, of all places, out of the millions of wet markets in China, in the exact same city that is on the forefront of this research, that hosts the lab with the closest sequence?

              The possibility of lab escape is not hot air, with the WIV, but there’s also the WHCDC. On the surface, they appear to be working on viruses that do not require higher biosafety (BSL2 = general hospital precautions), but who knows?. I read one paper from that lab on hantavirus, and it is concerning, because for this study they were capturing wild animals, a total of 450 bats, 81 insectivores and 2 shrews from different provinces, all kept alive in cages until they were dissected. So if we were to ask, where in the city of Wuhan could you find large numbers of bats kept in close proximity with other wild animals so that the virus could cross species, well, by all accounts, no bats were found in the wet market, but lo and behold, you can find these exact conditions in the WHCDC lab. The bats in the study were from different provinces including Yunnan although not from same region as the 2013 samples, but some were of the same genus that carried RaTG13. So while they might have thought they were working on the hantavirus, did they not realize that CoV was also in there, being shed all over the place? And that’s just one study; I’m sure that line of work has been ongoing for some years.

              We know that in the wild mixing and recombination among bat SL-CoV is very common, but the diversity at one single location is still limited geographically. Plus RBD is never the whole story, and even 96% similarity is quite a ways off from human adaptation. For a bat virus to get to h2h, most likely several changes are needed. It’s likely these mutations already exist in the wild, but not necessarily in the same virus, and most importantly not in the same geographic location. One particular mutation may be prevalent in a cave in Yunnan, but another may exist only in Zhejiang or elsewhere, so they would not have a chance to meet and mix, except now they’re being collected and brought together, not just as blood or swab samples as in the WIV study, but as live animals. Bats are naturally sequestered in their habitats, but when you remove them and put them together with those from other locations, and/or with other animals, you drastically increase the chance of mixing until eventually you hit the (pandemic) jackpot. And if you do that in a metropolis with 11 million people that’s also a transport hub, as opposed to a remote cave in Yunnan, and only under BSL2, technically you may not be deliberately making a bioweapon, but you ought to be accountable for the consequences just the same. Just saying.

              More on biosafety. One author of the hantavirus paper, who also published other work in collaboration with WIV on CoV (working in both labs appears to be a common practice), had gotten some national fame for working on bat viruses, having described in media interviews being splashed with bat blood, and being peed on by bats in caves. On both occasions, he recounted having to self-quarantine for 14 days, so they understood perfectly well their exposure risk. I’m not sure, though, that BSL2 containment measures are sufficient for say, disposal of contaminated waste with such pathogens. I’m not just talking about carelessness and lack of adherence to protocol, both rampant in China. There’s also a whole underground industry of re-packaging medical waste to be sold as new, from syringes, IV sets to bandages and test swabs. Also the sale of ‘surplus’ experimental animals for meat, which in one officially reported case resulted in millions in profit. So biological waste is one entirely plausible route, for a virus with pandemic potential, to leak into the community.

              Another equally plausible but less dramatic possibility would be quite simply someone got infected but was either asymptomatic or had such mild symptoms that they never got tested, but nevertheless infected others, as we now know happens frequently with this virus. The seemingly explosive transmission at the wet market is likely to be a super-spreader event, which has happened so many time all over the world that it should no longer be a curiosity, and certainly not an indicator of origins.
              Twitter never sanctioned FluTrackers for the lab theory tweets, including a tweet about the above post.

              Our first tweet on this topic was:




              FluTrackers.com
              @FluTrackers
              ·
              Jan 23, 2020
              China - "Only one lab in China can safely handle the new coronavirus ( 2019n/Cov )" and it is down the road from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. https://flutrackers.com/forum/forum/the-pandemic-discussion-forum/822041-discussion-thread-2019-ncov-new-coronavirus?p=823958#post823958… h/t Goju

              ---------------------------------------------

              I am not a fan of twitter but the truth is that they did not sanction everyone who tweeted about the lab theory.




              Comment


              • JJackson
                JJackson commented
                Editing a comment
                "... but bat CoV are not well adapted enough to jump directly to humans" This is a bizarre statement as we have no idea about the phylogenetic range of sarbecovs in bats. To be able to say that with even a modicum of certainty we would have to sample the virus in tens of thousands of bats in thousands of locations in a dozen countries. We can not even make that statement for flu which has thousands of wildlife genomes. We have lots of data in humans from 2020/21 and next to none from the natural reservoir. What we do have prior to the pandemic, including RaTG13, is decades away from the pandemic virus in evolutionary time.

              • sharon sanders
                sharon sanders commented
                Editing a comment
                I am not going to engage in any more arguing with you on this topic. The above quote is from this thread, post #80, dated April 28, 2020. At that time you said: "Sharon while we have been in disagreement on some aspects of China's performance that is a excellent resume and very well argued, kudos." So.....

            • The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins
              Throughout 2020, the notion that the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab was off-limits. Those who dared to push for transparency say toxic politics and hidden agendas kept us in the dark.
              By Katherine Eban
              June 3, 2021

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

              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 animals—a possible source of the virus.

              That wasn’t the only theory, though. Wuhan is also home to China’s foremost coronavirus research laboratory, housing one of the world’s largest collections of bat samples and bat-virus strains. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally. After SARS, bats became a major subject of study for virologists around the world, and Shi became known in China as “Bat Woman” for her fearless exploration of their caves to collect samples. More recently, Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have performed high-profile experiments that made pathogens more infectious. Such research, known as “gain-of-function,” has generated heated controversy among virologists.

              To some people, it seemed natural to ask whether the virus causing the global pandemic had somehow leaked from one of the WIV’s labs—a possibility Shi has strenuously denied.

              On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China” and asserted: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

              The Lancet statement effectively ended the debate over COVID-19’s 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.”

              The statement struck Demaneuf as “totally nonscientific.” To him, it seemed to contain no evidence or information. And so he decided to begin his own inquiry in a “proper” way, with no idea of what he would find...

              Read more: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021...id-19s-origins

              Comment


              • Lab Leak Theory’s Revival Risks Making U.S.-China Relations Worse

                Bloomberg News

                June 2, 2021, 5:00 AM CST
                ...
                “The issue of the origin of the virus is deeply connected to the legitimacy of the CCP, so I do not expect that China will become more transparent -- it will fight this relentlessly,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., a Washington-based policy research group.
                ...
                While Biden’s move to publicly announce the virus probe appeared “purely political,” Tedros’s criticism of the WHO report is harder for China to dismiss “and it’s driving them crazy,” according to Christopher Johnson, a former senior China analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Either way, he added, China is unlikely to allow anymore access that would shed further light on the origin.
                ...
                https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-china-detente
                "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
                -Nelson Mandela

                Comment


                • COVID origin: Evidence of lab leak that may have caused coronavirus would have been destroyed by China, ex-MI6 chief says
                  ...
                  Thursday 3 June 2021 14:52, UK
                  ...
                  Sir Richard Dearlove, who was in charge of the secret intelligence service between 1999 and 2004, said it would now be difficult to prove the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was working on experiments to make a coronavirus that would be more deadly to humans.
                  ...
                  Sir Richard said the West had been naive in trusting China, which had infiltrated scientific institutions and journals in the UK and elsewhere.

                  And he also told The Daily Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast that it was possible Chinese scientists who wanted to speak out about any coronavirus experiments had been "silenced".

                  "The People's Republic of China is a pretty terrifying regime and does some things we consider unacceptable and extreme in silencing opposition to the official line of the government," he said.
                  ...
                  Sir Richard added that the World Health Organisation was "a lost cause" and should not be left to look rigorously into the origins of the virus to provide "a clear understanding of what the hell happened".

                  https://news.sky.com/story/covid-ori...-says-12323900
                  "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
                  -Nelson Mandela

                  Comment



                  • During an interview with CNN Thursday, Fauci was asked about an exchange he had with a British disease expert who worked with the lab in question—the Wuhan Institute of Virology—in April 2020.

                    The email exchange was made public after the Washington Postand Buzzfeed News obtained Fauci’s messages through a FOIA request and published a trove of them this week.

                    In the exchange, Fauci thanks the zoologist and head of the controversial virus research nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, for commending him for publicly dismissing the lab-leak theory.

                    Fauci on Thursday called it “nonsense” that Republicans have latched on to the emails, claiming he was not saying anything then that he would not say now.

                    “I have always said . . . that I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human,” Fauci maintained.

                    Fauci said he was going to keep an “open mind” about the possibility of a lab leak, but still believed animal-to-human transmission was most likely.

                    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbre...h=35d8ace01821


                    Comment


                    • From the article posted above by Tetano:

                      "In the exchange, Fauci thanks the zoologist and head of the controversial virus research nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak, for commending him for publicly dismissing the lab-leak theory."

                      This is the email:



                      https://twitter.com/sarahcwestwood/s...204298/photo/1
                      "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
                      -Nelson Mandela

                      Comment



                      • A scientist adventurer and China’s ‘Bat Woman’ are under scrutiny as coronavirus lab-leak theory gets another look

                        June 3, 2021 at 4:00 a.m. CST
                        ...
                        The silencing of scientists, the blanket denials, the careful guarding of raw data and biological samples — these elements have been emblematic of the approach by Chinese authorities at every stage of the coronavirus outbreak. And they continue to obstruct the world’s ability to get answers.
                        ...
                        Wuhan’s two rival teams of exotic bat disease specialists are now under renewed scrutiny. Tian’s team at the Wuhan CDC and Shi Zhengli’s at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) have both drawn criticism for a willingness to compromise safety, as they raced to make discoveries.

                        The Wuhan CDC and WIV did not reply to requests for comment, nor did Tian or Shi. An unnamed staffer who answered the phone Tuesday at the Wuhan CDC said the center did not accept interviews and directed questions to the National Health Commission. The NHC did not reply to a request for comment.

                        China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Washington declined to answer questions for this article.
                        ...
                        Shi kept a low profile at the pandemic’s onset, with her occasional interventions reflecting the pressures on her team. On Feb. 2, 2020, she posted to friends on WeChat that she “swore on her life” her lab was not involved in the outbreak. Three months later, she followed up with a post denying rumors she had defected to the West with intelligence files, as reported in the state-run Global Times.

                        As questions about the WIV intensified, Shi wrote a lengthy statement to Science magazine in July. She wrote that it was impossible for the coronavirus to have come from the WIV, as her team had not come across this strain in its research, and all staffers had tested negative for coronavirus antibodies. Shi said her team had “never been in contact with or studied this virus, nor [knew] of its existence” before the pandemic.

                        But she also acknowledged the lab had not done genome sequencing of all its samples, because of financial and personnel constraints. She declined to say how many samples remained unsequenced.
                        ...
                        Tian is by title an associate chief technician in the Wuhan CDC’s pest-control department, but he has a reputation as a swaggering adventurer in his work with bats and insects.
                        ...
                        Using nets and traps, Tian’s team caught 155 bats in Hubei, his home province, and hundreds more in other regions for a 2013 study. He was part of a team that discovered 1,445 new RNA viruses in invertebrate animals, published in the elite journal Nature in 2016.
                        ...
                        On Feb. 3, 2020, Tian’s team landed in the pages of Nature again, with an early clinical account of a coronavirus patient in Wuhan. Their paper pointed to bats as a possible host.

                        But as the coronavirus spread, Tian went quiet. The state-run newspaper Health Times cited an anonymous source in March 2020 saying Tian was not infected with coronavirus, and that he was in poor spirits because of speculation over whether he was patient zero.

                        The Health Times said it reached Tian by phone and he declined to answer questions — an unusual note of tension in a state media profile. Tian has not spoken publicly since.
                        ...

                        https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...c48_story.html
                        "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
                        -Nelson Mandela

                        Comment


                        • https://www.ft.com/content/ab90cdfd-...c-7aa93f6176fe
                          Anthony Fauci urges China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers
                          Biden adviser calls for help on solving question of whether Covid ‘leaked’ from facility

                          Kiran Stacey and Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
                          3 hours ago

                          Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser has called on China to release the medical records of nine people whose illnesses might provide vital clues into whether Covid-19 first emerged as the result of a lab leak. Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, told the Financial Times that the records could help resolve the debate over the origins of a disease that has killed more than 3.5m people worldwide. The records in question concern three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly became sick in November 2019, and six miners who fell ill after entering a bat cave in 2012. Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology subsequently visited the cave to take samples from the bats. Three of the miners died.
                          ....

                          “I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019,” Fauci said. “Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with? “The same with the miners who got ill years ago . . . What do the medical records of those people say? Was there [a] virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab.”...
                          _____________________________________________

                          Ask Congress to Investigate COVID Origins and Government Response to Pandemic H.R. 834

                          i love myself. the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever. ---- nayyirah waheed
                          Governments don't have or own souls.

                          (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)
                          Never forget Excalibur.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by sharon sanders View Post
                            Seems the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Wuhan has been working with bats for many years...before the BSL4 lab opened.



                            J Gen Virol. 2006 Nov;87(Pt 11):3355-9.

                            Full-length genome sequences of two SARS-like coronaviruses in horseshoe bats and genetic variation analysis.

                            Ren W1, Li W, Yu M, Hao P, Zhang Y, Zhou P, Zhang S, Zhao G, Zhong Y, Wang S, Wang LF, Shi Z. Author information

                            1 State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Wuhan, Hubei 430071, China.


                            Abstract


                            Bats were recently identified as natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronavirus (SL-CoV) or SARS coronavirus-like virus. These viruses, together with SARS coronaviruses (SARS-CoV) isolated from human and palm civet, form a distinctive cluster within the group 2 coronaviruses of the genus Coronavirus, tentatively named group 2b (G2b). In this study, complete genome sequences of two additional group 2b coronaviruses (G2b-CoVs) were determined from horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum (G2b-CoV Rf1) and Rhinolophus macrotis (G2b-CoV Rm1). The bat G2b-CoV isolates have an identical genome organization and share an overall genome sequence identity of 88-92 % among themselves and between them and the human/civet isolates. The most variable regions are located in the genes encoding nsp3, ORF3a, spike protein and ORF8 when bat and human/civet G2b-CoV isolates are compared. Genetic analysis demonstrated that a diverse G2b-CoV population exists in the bat habitat and has evolved from a common ancestor of SARS-CoV. PMID: 17030870 DOI: 10.1099/vir.0.82220-0


                            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17030870

                            R. macrotis is found in Hubei.
                            Baric Fang civet HIV paper.jpg





















                            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17314167/
                            Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1900161/

                            J Virol. 2007 May; 81(9): 4694–4700.
                            Published online 2007 Feb 21. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02389-06


                            PMCID: PMC1900161
                            PMID: 17314167

                            Natural Mutations in the Receptor Binding Domain of Spike Glycoprotein Determine the Reactivity of Cross-Neutralization between Palm Civet Coronavirus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

                            Li Liu,1 Qing Fang,1 Fei Deng,2 Hanzhong Wang,2 Christopher E. Yi,1 Lei Ba,1 Wenjie Yu,1 Richard D. Lin,1 Taisheng Li,3 Zhihong Hu,2 David D. Ho,1 Linqi Zhang,1,3 and Zhiwei Chen1,*

                            Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer
                            Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10016,1 State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hubei 430071, People's Republic of China,2 AIDS Research Center, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100730, People's Republic of China3
                            *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10016.
                            Abstract


                            The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2002 and 2003 occurred as a result of zoonotic transmission. Coronavirus (CoV) found in naturally infected palm civet (civet-CoV) represents the closest genetic relative to SARS-CoV, but the degree and the determinants of cross-neutralization among these viruses remain to be investigated. Studies indicate that the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV spike (S) glycoprotein contains major determinants for viral entry and neutralization. We aim to characterize the impact of natural mutations within the RBDs of civet-CoVs on viral entry and cross-neutralization. In this study, the S glycoprotein genes were recovered from naturally infected civets in central China (Hubei province), extending the geographic distribution of civet-CoV beyond the southeastern province of Guangdong. Moreover, pseudoviruses generated in our laboratory with four civet S genes, each with a distinct RBD, infected cells expressing human receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, but with 90 to 95% less efficiency compared to that of SARS-CoV. These four civet S genes were also constructed as DNA vaccines to immunize mice. Immunized sera elicited against most civet S glycoproteins displayed potent neutralizing activities against autologous viruses but were much less efficient (50% inhibitory concentration, 20- to 40-fold) at neutralizing SARS-CoV and vice versa. Convalescence-phase sera from humans were similarly ineffective against the dominant civet pseudovirus. Our findings suggest that the design of SARS vaccine should consider not only preventing the reemergence of SARS-CoV but also providing cross-protection, thus interrupting zoonotic transmission of a group of genetically divergent civet CoVs of broad geographic origin.




                            _____________________________________________

                            Ask Congress to Investigate COVID Origins and Government Response to Pandemic H.R. 834

                            i love myself. the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution ever. ---- nayyirah waheed
                            Governments don't have or own souls.

                            (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)
                            Never forget Excalibur.

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