Recent Article on the Evolution of a Theory of Covid Origins

In summary: This is strong evidence because it shows that the virus wasn't made in a lab and that it had to have evolved naturally.
  • #36
TeethWhitener said:
It should be a banned topic on PF because it’s not science. There’s nothing falsifiable here. It’s just going to end up being one of those terrible political arguments where cherry-picked scientific findings are misrepresented by people who don’t understand them in the first place to further a preconceived set of beliefs.
The problem in this case (arguably many others as well) is that it is in fact a political party/organization (call it whatever you want) that is doing the "cherry picking" of which facts get released and which get forever buried.
So it's not the fault of scientists or anyone here discussing it that we don't have the "full picture".
Nor would I label rational suspicion that has a decent probability of being real , cherry picking.
The way I see it the only cherry picking here was done by the very people who delayed cooperation of the investigation into the cause and also did not allow access to the Wuhan lab etc etc , you know a certain country that starts with the capital letter "C".https://www.reuters.com/world/china...-2nd-phase-covid-19-origins-study-2021-07-22/
China rejected on Thursday a World Health Organization (WHO) plan for a second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, which includes the hypothesis it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official said.

So essentially China said "nothing to see here".
So with them cherry picking the narrative by forcefully closing/erasing certain narratives/hypothesis from the very start, given the complexity of finding the source and cause of a virus like this, we are left with just assigning different probabilities to different potential origins of the virus.
At this point lab leak is just as viable a hypothesis as natural origin, but if we truly care for 100% fact based science we can really discuss neither because both have a less than 100% probability of being true when the country from which the virus originated doesn't allow for a thorough and complete investigation to rule out competing hypothesis.
 
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  • #37
This blame game does seem to be a very American obsession The level 4 biolab security facility was set up after the shock of SARS Cov-1 and with international assistance, one of the functions of the Wuhan lab was in the identification and classification of new viruses, again this was an international project and the lab often hosted international science teams. I think that the US did in fact support its work with funding.
The Chinese response to SARS Cov-1 was a bit of a disaster and in fact when this virus appeared they provided information very quickly and were open to the UN team sent to investigate its origins, its only when the accusations started that the cooperation disappeared.
The fact is that virtually all human viral diseases had their origins in animals, as China is a huge country with a massive population many of who still live in close proximity to their animals, of course cross species transmission is more likely here.
Now as a weapon we need to think about what an ideal weapon would look like, you would want a disease that primarily effected the most productive sections of society and /or the military, a high death rate might be useful and you would want to prevent the disease effecting your own population, so having a vaccine would help. Really if Covid was designed as a weapon I expect the developers are now either dead or working in burger bars. Its pathetic, the damage caused was the result of government actions, but then few if any countries are developing bioweapons, not because they are immoral, its just that it is impossible to predict what they will do, bullets are just so much more reliable.
There is no doubt that we will see more new diseases some will come and go, others will hang around, history is littered with examples. Its also likely that these new diseases will arise from unknown organisms, we have only just started the classification process. One thing that we have learned is that if you throw a lot of money at a problem, you can find out a great deal, unfortunately they are now throwing this money at the WHO which really is a triumph of hope over experience.
 
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  • #38
Laroxe said:
This blame game does seem to be a very American obsession
I wouldn't agree , I live in Europe and almost everyone I know who has been affected by this and arguably that is everybody would like to know what caused it. Especially those that lost a loved one , and I know a few of those too. It's just that Europeans might be less 'active" in all of this.

I believe it is absolutely normal for people anywhere in the world to want to know what tried to severely affect them/kill them and why.

Now that doesn't mean everyone is going out of their way trying to find the answers, life goes on, people have to work and live but I believe they would like to know.
The blame game is just a side effect of not knowing, anger and political maneuvers.

But then again it's psychology 101 - everytime a large scale traumatic event happens people will tend to fill the gaps of what they don't know/can't know with made up information, guessing and blame.

That being said I am not feeling sorry for China in any way, irrespective of whether someone blames you or not the right thing to do is to open up and cooperate not shut down and deny access. It never makes you look good even if you aren't responsible. And let's not forget we are talking about a totalitarian country with active concentration camps and social credit scores where a web of CCTV cams watch your every step on a Beijing street. I feel people tend to forget that often.

Laroxe said:
Now as a weapon we need to think about what an ideal weapon would look like,
I too don't think anyone made this as a weapon , nor does it seem to be among the theories on the table for the intelligence agencies.
That being said , one cannot help but to notice that Covid did make democracies less stable and societies more desperate , governments did increase their control over the lives of ordinary people in a way that couldn't be imaginable in other times.
So by whichever way it arose and spread, it did have a sort of weaponized effect on the world, especially western democracies I would argue.

Laroxe said:
One thing that we have learned is that if you throw a lot of money at a problem, you can find out a great deal, unfortunately they are now throwing this money at the WHO which really is a triumph of hope over experience.
There I would agree, IIRC it was non other than Trump who proposed cutting the US funding to WHO, a move that was very criticized at the time
 
  • #40
Here is an article about the problems of the "proximal origins" paper that was all the fuss early in the pandemic and that tried to downplay the still viable and possible lab leak theory
https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/house-covid-origin-report-documents/

Now I do believe scientists should be free to express their opinion just like everyone else, the problem is that some of the authors of this paper also held political roles that means that their opinion had a much larger weight attached to it than the opinions of others, although their opinion at the time was no more informed than that of others, which was nicely highlighted by a Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan

One can read the summary of this house subcommittee site
https://oversight.house.gov/landing/covid-origins/

Irrespective of where the virus came from, given that we still don't have (maybe never will) clear evidence, I think one thing is certain, that from the very start two things happened

1) China did not disclose all information regarding the virus and it's origin, also did not allow full transparency, including a thorough international expert visit to WIV in a timely fashion therefore fully giving credit to questions about the virus origin and their own credibility.

2) Experts , especially ones with government and official positions tried to "drive" the virus origin theory in their preferred direction , which is why at the beginning the "lab leak" theory was considered as crackpot and banned in most discussion including here on PF.

To ban a certain possible and rational outcome scenario in a time where evidence doesn't show one way or the other just goes to prove that human bias that existed and still exists within many of the officials that led and still lead the political and scientific inquiry.
If a murder investigation excluded certain possible scenarios from the start that would be a clear sign of tampering with investigation by outside forces, yet with the virus it was accepted as normal.

An article on the early moments of Covid origin and a Chinese scientist that sequenced it's genome

https://time.com/5882918/zhang-yongzhen-interview-china-coronavirus-genome/
 
  • #41
A few things occurred to me reading through the comments and the idea's about the evolution of this virus. We know that mutations occur fairly randomly during reproduction, and that in RNA viruses the rate of reproduction and the lack of checking mechanisms means mutations are common. Because of their fairly random nature, the vast majority of genetic changes will be either counterproductive or irrelevant, but this still means that we end up with a huge population of viruses that have changes in their genome. This in itself is not a description of evolution, which occurs as a result of some interaction between the virus population and its environment.

With this virus we already know that within the wider population there were a number of different viruses, capable, given the right conditions, of infecting humans. This is quite problematic for the virus, it's a new environment, so crossover events often involve particular risk factors, so viruses may require a very large initial inoculum or a person with immune deficiencies of some sort. It's as the virus reproduces in this new environment that natural selection comes into its own, the environment shapes the genetics of the viruses' population leading to increased optimisation. In fact, the rate of reproduction rate of these viruses means that over the length of an infection, the virus becomes optimised not just to the species but to the individual.
I'm not sure why people expect to find a virus optimised in nature to infect humans, viruses become optimised to their hosts. Researchers will not find a virus that perfectly matches the one considered to be the original pandemic strain, if indeed they know what this strain was. The mutation rate in RNA viruses is massive, this means that most of the variants we have seen and thought were new, have been around for quite a while and these often show significant differences in all sorts of areas related to their pathology. The forces of natural selection have mean't they have had to wait their turn to become the main infectious variant and of course the mutations continue to occur.

I'm not really sure, why people seem to expect to find a virus in the wild, optimised to infect humans, what we identify is the most similar in terms of mutations and try to match these changes to what we know about their pathophysiology, we are never quite sure about which ones might be the most significant. The way in which this virus is capable of infecting multiple species make these investigations much more difficult. As we learn more about the virus it is indeed possible to predict the effects of some of the mutations seen and this makes it possible to target gain of function research. Early in the pandemic, this sort of research would have been difficult and risky, you need to know what you're doing.

Of course old mother nature, doesn't care about the risks and conducts genetic experiments and at a rate that human researchers can only dream about. If she was real, she should be in prison. :)
 
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  • #42
@Laroxe I don't think anyone truly expects us to find the "original" virus variant in the wild now so that we can have our suspect in custody.
What Alina Chan referred to when she commented on the original "proximal origins" paper is that it is entirely possible that the very virus that we saw which we sequenced and which we consider to be the first known strain circulating in humans could have two possible origins, natural and lab , but the idea is that we couldn't tell them apart because natural origin has a chance to have those exact mutations as well as a gain of function origin.

Then the story goes that if we know this to be the case, why would Fauci and others go on and make a paper where they downplay one option in favor of the other and all of that in Feb, March 2020 when no one really knew anything and China had not yet disclosed much of anything either.

It's not about RNA mutation rates it's about lies and biases that were so huge and massive during this pandemic like we have never seen before.

That being said Chinese transparency , if there ever was one, would have helped alot in ruling out certain origin mechanisms to a very high degree of certainty, sure enough that never happened, what did happen is the Chinese government making a joke of a conspiracy and stating it publicly that it was indeed the US army that made this virus and brought it to China...They say that truth is the first victim of war, I do feel like truth has also been a large victim in this pandemic, hard to say whether we will suffer a larger toll because of the people that died got disabled and suffered side effects from Covid and from the vaccines also, or whether it is the divisiveness and hatred that got amplified and the constant blame game and erosion of trust between societies and governments and organizations that got heavily amplified during and after the pandemic.
 
  • #43
artis said:
the constant blame game
You seem to be extending this constant blame game in your own post.
 
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  • #44
BillTre said:
You seem to be extending this constant blame game in your own post.
Everything I've said is what has happened and has been said and done by figures of authority, the fact that I dare to speak about it or repeat it in and of itself doesn't constitute me blaming someone.

I personally believe people/organizations and officials whose guilt/wrongdoing/lack of action or action that has resulted in harm - if that can be proven should be blamed.

If I "the little guy" do something wrong I get judged accordingly almost immediately , sadly this doesn't apply to large organizations/corporations and governments just as easily.

And even though this is not a thread for that, since you mentioned, I do not see alot of sympathy , nor here nor elsewhere for the folks who followed the trends/mandates etc and got side effects after their vaccinations.
Blame is never entirely without reason.
I've never seen alot of ordinary hard working people with families just going around spreading blame for nothing.
This whole pandemic was nothing short of a war, with nature, politicians, corporations, governments , misinformation, censorship of actual information etc etc.

But its naturally that traumatic events like these bring out the worst and also the best in humans, sadly the worst dominates due to it being more than the best.
 
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