Claim:Natural Covid-19 broke out of Wuhan lab (not man-made)

Why was the lab in Wuhan studying a form of the virus in the first place? ...
Because that is, what a virus-studying institute does. Obviously, ever since SARS-1, SARS and SARS-like viruses would have been a hot concern.

that's another thing that's bewildering me, because "8 miles" to me is like "4 villages over", as relates to the older WIV campus (the newer campus is 18 miles away).

it's only "right around" if your scale is Texas, not a densely populated city. In NYC terms, it's like saying the Upper West Side is right around Brooklyn.
... .
Cities and city dwellers work quite differently from villages and villagers.

It is probably not too uncommon for residents of Brooklyn to work in the Upper West Side, or otherwise frequent the Upper West Side.
All you need is a one-off event. Regardless of prior likelihood, once it has occurred, it has occurred. It's certainly more likely for someone in Brooklin / the neighborhood of the wet market to mingle with and be infected by someone working in the Upper West Side / WIV than for two people from two different greater metropolitan areas to do the same.
 
Not really. People don't regularly travel (and thus carry infections) greater distances just because they're in a larger country.
i know that's why people are eyeballing the lab as an origin, because that's where the cases first showed up. (and maybe why CHina has suggested a traveler from another country brought it in). No?
 
It is probably not too uncommon for residents of Brooklyn to work in the Upper West Side, or otherwise frequent the Upper West Side.
My point is that the chance for a specific person from the Upper West Side to have had close contact with any person from a specific block in Brooklyn last week is quite small.

But that's the kind of chance the lab leak scenario requires: the infectious lab worker must have infected a market worker (and nobody else). That's already improbable if they live in the same village, but it's virtually impossible in a city the size of NYC or Wuhan. If there are 400 people working at that market, the chance is worse than 1:20,000 or 0.005%, about the same as flipping a coin to come up heads 14 times in a row, or throwing 6 dice and coming up all sixes or all ones on the first throw.
 
My point is that the chance for a specific (random) person from the Upper West Side to have had close contact with any person from a specific block in Brooklyn last week is quite small.
actually it's really not. i get the analogy you are going for, but in real life your analogy doesnt work. It is highly likely that Manhattan offices have workers both from the Upper East side and from Brooklyn. just saying.

note: not that im fully backing your wet market focus, the wet market as origin is still debated.
 
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actually it's really not. i get the analogy you are going for, but in real life your analogy doesnt work. It is highly likely that Manhattan offices have workers both from the Upper East side and from Brooklyn. just saying.
that's not the same scenario, statistically

to get the same chance, you need to
• pick a person from the Upper West Side at random (the lab worker)
• pick a city block in Brooklyn at random (the market workers)
• check if they've had close contact in the past week (while infectious)

If you start by choosing a place of contact, and have both be the same profession, you're skewing the odds considerably.

It's much more likely that the Upper West Sider infects an actual neighbor.
 
• pick a person from the Upper West Side at random (the lab worker)
• pick a city block in Brooklyn at random (the market workers)
ok i had your analogy backwards. thanks for clearing it up.

pick a person from the Upper West Side at random (the lab worker)
maybe the lab worker, whose lab is in the Upper West side, lives in Brooklyn a train stop away from the market and likes to shop at that market because people do go out of their way to shop at big box stores like Costco or BJs.

or maybe since only like 1% of non retired people actually go to hospital for covid (back then)..and hospital entry was how we were tracking it back then.. the lab worker actually infected 100 other people, who infected 200 people and one of those 200 people lives in Brooklyn. maybe one even lives in the same apartment building as the market worker.

I'm not arguing as much as you may think, but "what are the chances i run into an infected person" was the whole philosophy of anti-lockdown/anti-mask "conservatives" and the NY mayor, and Pelosi etc early in the pandemic. That philosophy didnt work out too well for us.
 
i know that's why people are eyeballing the lab as an origin, because that's where the cases first showed up. (and maybe why CHina has suggested a traveler from another country brought it in). No?
My fuzzy memory is that initially the fastest jumpers to conclusions had mixed up two different bio labs in Wuhan, one of which was much closer to the wet market, but that one had nothing to do with Shi and her mutant virus strain creation exploits.
 
I'm not arguing as much as you may think, but "what are the chances i run into an infected person" was the whole philosophy of anti-lockdown/anti-mask "conservatives" and the NY mayor, and Pelosi etc early in the pandemic. That philosophy didnt work out too well for us.
it's different when you consider population dynamics, because then any R-value >1 is bad—an individual "pretty unlikely" eventually overwhelms the population if left to grow.

the wuhan problem is that the lab worker living next to the market is statistically unlikely, and that a customer (without symptoms) infects a seller over a sales contact is also unlikely. I've not claimed it's impossible, same as I wouldn't claim it's impossible to flip heads 14 times in a row, it's just very much unlikely—much more unlikely than a wild infected pangolin ending up in Wuhan and not elsewhere.
 
the wuhan problem is that the lab worker living next to the market is statistically unlikely, and that a customer (without symptoms) infects a seller over a sales contact is also unlikely. I've not claimed it's impossible, same as I wouldn't claim it's impossible to flip heads 14 times in a row, it's just very much unlikely—much more unlikely than a wild infected pangolin ending up in Wuhan and not elsewhere.
it's just those seem like alot of speculations too.
There's nothing to say the lab worker immediately infected a stall worker.
There's nothing to say the alleged infector was asymptomatic (although i dont know what cold, allergy and flu season is like in China).
There's also nothing to say the alleged market worker was infected at the wet market.

(Either way, hopefully China is cracking down on ALL the possibilities, including if the lab workers who went to collect bats hire local help. Maybe their day hire had it and gave it to a lab worker. Lots of possibilities. )
 
it's just those seem like alot of speculations too.
There's nothing to say the lab worker immediately infected a stall worker.
no, but having an infection chain end up at the wet market is actually more unlikely
There's nothing to say the alleged infector was asymptomatic (although i dont know what cold, allergy and flu season is like in China).
a person whose job choice is medicine was involved in a possible biosecurity breach involving SARS is likely to isolate once they see symptoms, because they realize what it means if they don't, and that runs counter to their life choice. I could see them not knowing about asymptomatic infectiousness because that's been atypical about Covid.
There's also nothing to say the alleged market worker was infected at the wet market.
Agreed, that's why I'm not assuming that. In fact, I think it's rather unlikely that it happened that way.
(Either way, hopefully China is cracking down on ALL the possibilities, including if the lab workers who went to collect bats hire local help. Maybe their day hire had it and gave it to a lab worker. Lots of possibilities. )
"local help" means people down in Yunnan where the bat caves are. the thing is that these bats don't have viruses close enough to SARS-CoV-2. I think they did screen the people there. But the time frame wouldn't fit anyway.
 
a person whose job choice is medicine was involved in a possible biosecurity breach involving SARS is likely to isolate once they see symptoms, because they realize what it means if they don't, and that runs counter to their life choice. I could see them not knowing about asymptomatic infectiousness because that's been atypical about Covid.
true. but not if he (asymptomatic) infected his friend. That's what i was referring to. I doubt either of them would be too concerned if the friend developed a cold. which is what coronavirus is...a cold. [add: COvid 19 and SARS just happen to be very nasty versions]
 
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(Either way, hopefully China is cracking down on ALL the possibilities, including if the lab workers who went to collect bats hire local help. Maybe their day hire had it and gave it to a lab worker. Lots of possibilities. )
so they are aware of the possibility, so that's good.

Fauchi 0:12
"a lab leak could be that someone was out in the wild, maybe looking for different types of viruses in bats, got infected, went into a lab and was being studied in the lab and then came out of the lab. But if that is the definition of a lab leak then it is still a natural occurrence"


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r5zapwKzyI




original interview source

Source: https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2023/03/11/fauci-responds-to-covid-lab-leak-theory-acostanr-vpx.cnn
 
There is now speculation of the involvement of another species, a wild canid called a raccoon dog, in the Covid infection. But the question of a lab leak has not been settled.

The World Health Organization has obtained information pointing to the presence of raccoon dogs—a species suspected by some of initially spreading COVID-19 to humans—at the Wuhan market tied to the virus’s early days, officials said Friday.
Raccoon dogs—known to be susceptible to COVID-19, and to spread viruses to humans—are thought to have been sold illegally at the market. They could be the missing link in the chain of transmission from bats, presumably, to people, experts in the zoonotic transmission camp say.
But WHO officials Friday cautioned against assumptions, saying that while the information is an important piece of the proverbial jigsaw puzzle, “it does not determine what the picture shows”—and that a lab leak can’t be ruled out.
Content from External Source
https://fortune.com/well/2023/03/17...t-covid-people-humans-wuhan-wet-market-china/

More information about raccoon dogs:

Have they been linked to other diseases?​

Yes. Raccoon dogs and related mammals sold for food at a a live animal market in China in 2003 were found to carry a coronavirus similar to the virus found in humans during a SARS coronavirus outbreak at the time. In 2004, Chinese health officials ordered the slaughter of 10,000 animals set to be sold at market, including raccoon dogs, after a man tested positive for a novel strain of the SARS virus and raised fears of another outbreak.
Content from External Source
https://www.npr.org/2023/03/18/1164527523/raccoon-dogs-coronavirus-wuhan-market
 
Things had gotten tense and Dr. Shi finally spoke out. Over the past 15 years her lab had isolated and grown only three bat coronaviruses related to SARS.
Lu Ann quoted this article by Science magazine:
Article:
SCIENCE 31 Jul 2020 Vol 369, Issue 6503 pp. 487-488 DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6503.487

The coronavirus pandemic has thrust virologist Shi Zhengli into a fierce spotlight. Shi, nicknamed “Bat Woman,” heads a group that studies bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in the Chinese city where the pandemic began. Many have speculated that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, accidentally escaped from her lab [...].

On 15 July, Shi emailed Science answers to a series of questions about the virus' origin and her research.

I'm attaching the full Q&A to this post.
I found it at http://scim.ag/ShiZhengli via https://web.archive.org/web/20230614175940/https://www.science.org/pb-assets/PDF/News PDFs/Shi Zhengli Q&A-1630433861.pdf .

Excerpts relating to the lab leak theory:

17. Many scientists who have analyzed the sequence of SARS-CoV-2 have concluded that it does not have the signatures of a lab-engineered virus. But even some of these researchers say it remains possible that SARS-CoV-2 existed in your lab and accidentally infected a lab worker. They note that several labs had accidental infections with the virus that causes SARS. So how can you rule out this possibility?

A: We have isolated three closely-related bat coronaviruses over the last 15 years (here an isolated virus is a live virus which can grow in cultured cells in the laboratory) and all of them are SARS-related coronaviruses. These bat viruses share 79.8% sequence identity and are distantly related to SARS-CoV-2. On February 3, we published a paper in Nature and reported that SARS-CoV-2 is 96.2% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus named RaTG13 (I would like to emphasize that we have only the genome sequence and didn’t isolate this virus). With about 30,000 nucleotides, coronaviruses have a larger genome size than most animal RNA viruses. The 3.8% difference in genome sequence is a significant difference for coronaviruses. Five renowned virologists from Scripps Research Translational Institute, Columbia University, Tulane University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney published a paper titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” in Nature Medicine on March 18. The authors stated that “although RaTG13 is 96% identical overall to SARS-CoV-2, its spike diverges in the receptor binding domain.” On April 23, the US news site "VOX" quoted opinions from Prof. Edward Holmes, an expert in virus evolution at the University of Sydney. “The level of genome sequence divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 is equivalent to an average of 50 years (and at least 20 years) of evolutionary change,” said Professor Holmes. The genomes of RaTG13 carried by bats and SARS-CoV-2 differ in 1,177 nucleotide positions. It would have taken a very long time to accumulate sufficient numbers of mutations through natural evolution. The probability is extremely tiny that the mutations occurred exactly in these 1,100-plus positions to be identical to SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, RaTG13 evolving into SARS-CoV-2 in nature is only theoretically possible.

Meanwhile, the research and experiments in our institute are in strict accordance with the international and national management requirements of biosafety laboratories and experimental activities, which are conducted in the required biosafety laboratories. Both the facilities and management of P3 and P4 laboratories are very strict. For example, personal protective equipment must be worn by the research staff. The air in the laboratory can only be discharged after highly efficient filtration. Waste water and solid waste must be sterilized under high temperatures and high pressure. The entire process of the experimental activities is video-monitored by biosafety management personnel. Every year, the lab’s facilities and equipment must be tested by a third-party institution authorized by the government. Only after passing the test can the lab continue to run. The high-level biosafety laboratories at our institute have been operated safely and stably. To date, no pathogen leaks or personnel infection accidents have occurred.

18. The people who have floated these theories have proposed several ways in which the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. I’d like to ask some detailed, factual questions about the work at your lab that could shed more light on those scenarios:

(1) Are bat coronaviruses grown at the institute?


A: We have only isolated three strains of live SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoV) from bats, which shared 95-96% genome sequence similarity with SARS-CoV and less than 80% similarity with SARS-CoV-2. These results were published in Nature [2013, 593(7477):535-538], the Journal of Virology [2016, 90(6), 3253-3256] and PLoS Pathogens [2017, 13(11):e1006698], respectively.

(2) Does your group extract viruses from biological samples and do the sequencing or does that take place elsewhere?

A: We isolated viruses or extracted virus RNA from biological samples in the lab. The sequencing was done mostly in Wuhan.

(3) Has your lab done any animal experiments with SARS-related viruses recently? If so, can you provide any details?

A: We performed in vivo experiments in transgenic (human ACE2 expressing) mice and civets in 2018 and 2019 in the Institute’s biosafety laboratory. The viruses we used were bat SARSr-CoV close to SARS-CoV. Operation of this work was undertaken strictly following the regulations on biosafety management of pathogenic microbes in laboratories in China. The results suggested that bat SARSr-CoV can directly infect civets and can also infect mice with human ACE2 receptors. Yet it showed low pathogenicity in mice and no pathogenicity in civets.
These data are being sorted and will be published soon.

(4) Is it possible that someone associated with the institute became infected in some other way, for instance while collecting, sampling, or handling bats?

A: Such a possibility did not exist. Recently we tested the sera from all staff and students in the lab and nobody is infected by either bat SARSr-CoV or SARS-CoV-2. To date, there is "zero infection" of all staff and students in our institute.

(5) Is it possible that you have biological samples from bats in your lab that you have yet to test for viruses? If so, how many samples have you tested and how many remain untested? If some remain untested, how do you know for certain that none contain SARS-CoV-2 or a close relative?

A: We tested all bat samples that we collected, including bat anal swabs, oral swabs and fecal samples, and 2,007 samples were positive for coronavirus. We did not find any viruses whose gene sequence is more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than RaTG13.

(6) Your lab was one of the first to sequence and isolate the virus. When and where
did you first sequence it?


A: We received the first batch of samples from seven patients on December 30 2019. Using pan-coronavirus RT-PCR and quantitative RT-PCR, which can detect all SARS-related coronaviruses, we found samples from five patients were positive. On December 31, when analyzing the sequencing result of the RT-PCR product, we identified that it was a novel SARSrelated coronavirus. We then confirmed the result via different methods and performed fulllengthgenome sequencing as well as virus isolation. We released the genome sequence to the global public on January 12 via WHO.

(7) What about the cave at Mojiang in 2013? When did you first isolate RaTG13? When did you complete the full sequencing of it?

A: We detected the virus by pan-coronavirus RT-PCR in a bat fecal sample collected from Tongguan town, Mojiang county in Yunnan province in 2013, and obtained its partial RdRp sequence. Because the low similarity of this virus to SARS-CoV, we did not pay special attention to this sequence. In 2018, as the NGS sequencing technology and capability in our lab was improved, we did further sequencing of the virus using our remaining samples, and obtained the full-length genome sequence of RaTG13 except the 15 nucleotides at the 5’ end. As the sample was used many times for the purpose of viral nucleic acid extraction, there was no more sample after we finished genome sequencing, and we did not do virus isolation and other studies on it. Among all the bat samples we collected, the RaTG13 virus was detected in only one single sample. In 2020, we compared the sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and our unpublished bat coronavirus sequences and found it shared a 96.2% identity with RaTG13. RaTG13 has never been isolated or cultured.

(8) Some people who suspect a lab accident occurred have suggested that BtCoV/4991, a bat virus you described in 2016, is SARS-CoV-2. When you published, you only had the sequence of one protein, RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). A blast analysis on GenBank shows that the RdRp of BtCoV/4991 and RaTG13 are 100% homologous. Is BtCoV/4991 actually RaTG13, which would be consistent with your 2020 report that described how you did the full sequence of a virus you only had done the RdRp sequence for earlier? If so, why did you rename the virus? What does “TG” stand for in RaTG13?

A: Ra4991 is the ID for a bat sample while RaTG13 is the ID for the coronavirus detected in the sample. We changed the name as we wanted it to reflect the time and location for the sample collection. 13 means it was collected in 2013, and TG is the abbreviation of Tongguan town, the location where the sample was collected.

(9) Why do you have RdRp sequences for some viruses and not their full sequences? How many full-length sequences are there of the samples you’ve tested and how many are just RdRp?

A: Due to financial and manpower constraints, it is impossible for us to do the whole genome sequencing of all samples. We hope to conduct further full-length coronavirus genome sequencing in some other samples within the next two years. However, for some samples, it is impossible to obtain the whole virus genome sequences because of the low quantity of the viral nucleic acids in them.

(10) Were you ever instructed to destroy any viruses after the outbreak surfaced?

A: No.

(11) Is it possible that there was an accidental release at another lab in Wuhan? The Wuhan Center for Disease Control has been mentioned. If you have ruled this out as a possibility, why?

A: Based on daily academic exchanges and discussion, I can rule out such a possibility.
Content from External Source

Note: Science asked two follow -up questions after receiving the replies above.

Q: Did you do or collaborate on any gain-of-function experiments with coronaviruses that were not published, and, if so what are the details?


A: No.

Q: Given that coronavirus research in most places is done in BSL-2 or BSL-3 labs--and indeed, you WIV didn't even have an operational BSL-4 until recently--why would you do any coronavirus experiments under BSL-4 conditions?

A: The coronavirus research in our laboratory is conducted in BSL-2 or BSL-3 laboratories.
After the BSL-4 laboratory in our institute has been put into operation, in accordance with the management regulations of BSL-4 laboratory, we have trained the scientific researchers in the BSL-4 laboratory using the lowpathogenic coronaviruses as model viruses, which aims to prepare for conducting the experimental activities of highly pathogenic microorganisms.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, our country has stipulated that the cultivation and the animal infection experiments of SARS-CoV-2 should be carried out in BSL-3 laboratory or above. Since the BSL-3 laboratories in our institute do not have the hardware conditions to conduct experiments on nonhuman primates, and in order to carry out the mentioned research, our institute had applied to the governmental authorities and obtained the qualification to conduct experiments on SARS-CoV-2 for Wuhan P4 laboratory, in which the rhesus monkey animal model, etc. have been carried out.
The experimental activities are supervised by our institute’s biosafety committee and complied with the biosafety regulations.
Content from External Source
Early in the pandemic, we discussed that detecting virus RNA does not necessarily mean live virus is present: the virus originally in the sample may well be degraded to the point where zero infectious RNA remains in the sample. The broken parts of the virus can still be sequenced for the full genome, but an unbroken complete virus is needed for the virus to replicate. When these are present in a sample, they might exist in minute amounts that have to be amplified before they can even be analysed further.

What does "P4" mean?
Article:
A biosafety level (BSL), or pathogen/protection level, is a set of biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed laboratory facility. The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) to the highest at level 4 (BSL-4). [..] Facilities with these designations are also sometimes given as P1 through P4 (for pathogen or protection level), as in the term P3 laboratory.
 

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