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comment by b_b
b_b  ·  1447 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Six reasons why COVID-19 (probably) didn't escape that lab in Wuhan

I will be the first to admit that I don't have a strong stance on either side, but I don't think there's a single, let alone 6, reasons to support the "natural" hypothesis in this article. The only one that I give any credence to whatsoever is the one about the US intelligence agencies/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs publicly stating that they don't have any evidence. It's sort of against normal logic for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to publicly contradict the President, so you'd think that he would only do so if he had good reason to believe in his own assessment. (Even that has the caveat that they go on to say it's not a bio-weapon--no shit, no one with half a brain is saying that and it only muddies the article.)

Everyone else the author talked to is highly conflicted. There's a big debate in our own country about whether we should be allowing so many BSL3 and 4 labs to operate. And of course the people who want to continue to operate them are going to be keen to highlight how safe they are. Because if the guys in Galveston trained the guys in China and the guys in China were following their protocols and a virus STILL escaped? Well then the work isn't so safe now is it? And what if they weren't following the protocols? Are you, as a member of a pretty small scientific community that doubtlessly includes Shi, going to speculatively lambaste a collaborator and possible friend in the press, potentially putting that person's life in danger?

The thing that the article doesn't address, which would have been nice to hear about, is why the extreme coincidence about Shi's work on ACE2 ligands? To me, that's the crux of the issue that I'd like to hear more about. It's probably a bit technical for a Vox article, but how often has anyone isolated a bat coronavirus with a high-affinity ACE2 ligand? I have no idea, but someone does, and they should talk to that person instead of a bunch of buddies of the suspected culprit.

And the one about "chatter" is the dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard. It needs to be addressed, because it's just so asinine. If you're on the edge of a discovery you are taught from minute one to keep your goddam mouth shut. I don't work in virology, but I'm having a hard time believing that field is any different. Lots of people won't even submit grants about their work until they have something solid because they're so spooked by reviewers stealing ideas. It's actually embarrassing for Vox that they would include that.

I despise Tom Cotton, and I despise the President. I know that either of them would peddle any conspiracy theory they could to direct anger and blame at China and help the president's reelection bid. I don't think that should at all color the evidence for or against the virus's origin. We need to know the truth to help us the next time, no matter whose reputation it steps on.

kleinbl00  ·  1447 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    And of course the people who want to continue to operate them are going to be keen to highlight how safe they are.

totally safe

b_b  ·  1447 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Right, and this shit happens because it's mundane as fuck to violate environmental and safety protocols. I will not admit to having ever seen someone pour ethanol down a drain, because it's a few mL of ethanol and who gives a fuck because it amounts to less than the end of your margarita that you didn't finish. I won't admit to it, because that would be a violation of environmental regs that are serious and serve a good purpose. Problem is that when we all start deciding which rules are good and which are too stringent, we get into situations where people are pouring live virus down the drain. It's all so fucking matter of fact. And just imagine you're the guys from the Wuhan lab and the Americans and French who trained you are coming to inspect. Are you going to put your best face on? Again I want to stress that I'm not putting my chips on the table yet, but this Vox article is a giant piece of garbage, and shouldn't be considered as "evidence" on the natural hypothesis.