Friday, June 18, 2021

Lab Leak

 I defended the possibility that the lab leak theory was real in April after having heard an interview with Alina Chan.  She was very tentative then, so I followed suit.  I wish now that I had hit it harder.


GraniteDad said...

Jim Geraghty at National Review has been beating that drum for a few months. Some good stuff.

Thos. said...

It's illustrative of our current cultural condition that reasonable and well-behaved people who have discussed this in a reasonable and well-behaved manner for over a year now have mostly been regarded as cranks, subversives, or dangerous enemies of the public health (not to mention raaciss!) - all worthy of disdain, dismissal, and even outright suppression.

But if John Stewart throws a Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah-esque rant about it on late night TV, then everybody's seen it and shared it by the end of the next day.

Thos. said...
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james said...

It was obvious early on that the center was the most probable source. It was also obvious that the Chinese weren't expecting it--the release was not deliberate.

Unfortunately it was also obvious that the dug-in "orange man bad" and "China bad" positions in this country meant that the various pundits weren't going to listen to any debate or nuance. They picked, or were assigned, their narratives, and clung to them. One is entitled to have dark suspicions about the origin of the "It couldn't have been the center!" claims--but I don't know of any smoking guns.

Unknown said...

I'm wary of a motte & bailey situation here -- this is just my own memory of a conversation so I've probably edited it to look good, but I remember having this discussion with my wife when we weren't aware of US COVID cases yet but it was already decimating Lombardy: (so probably first week of Feb, 2020)

• It may have leaked from the research lab, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't of natural origin.

• The many ways a 'lab leak' can happen encompass some options that could include the wet-market theory:
– we all know of situations where something was supposed to be disposed of 'properly', but the person tasked with it found a method that was easier/cheaper for them than delivery to incineration.
– we all know of occurrences where someone worked out that they could make a buck by selling rather than destroying tainted food.

My wife (who spent her young childhood in Asia and was in the care of a native amah on all the amah's shopping in street markets) considered that last option almost a foregone conclusion.

Aggie said...

The panicked response of the Chinese was not a sign they were following some prepared emergency response plan. An ERP would not have had the military bundling people into vans, leaving toddlers behind. Or welding the doors to apartment buildings closed, with the occupants trapped inside. The Chinese feared something worse than COVID SARS-19 had been released, and their reaction was to ensure the rest of the world got it too - closing domestic travel while leaving international travel options open.

Why would they fear something worse unless they recognized what had happened, and also knew exactly what kind of infectious agents they were developing in the lab?

DirtyJobsGuy said...

I have a very, very distant cousin who is European Virologist, Karin Moelling. We always show up in the same google searches but she has way more technical papers published! So I bought her book “Viruses. More friend than foe” a few years ago. In one part she discusses the gain in function research in influenza viruses around the time of the H1N1 epidemic. Several labs had been working on this in attempts to facilitate future vaccine developments. Lab leaks and fear of bio terrorism caused a panic in the virology world and bans on this work were implemented. The Chinese seem very likely to be doing this for any SARS like virus. Typically for Communist China this would have been done for a multiplicity of objectives. The purely public health related, the ancillary goal of be the first to produce a vaccine to be use for soft power exports , and for potential military purposes. It looks like they were doing all three and it got out of the lab.