Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #PopsicleOrigins

Most recents (24)

From @sciencecohen @ScienceMagazine on @WHO next steps #originsofcovid
“Koopmans.. would welcome broadening the existing group’s expertise.. to conduct lab audits and to study the blood of more humans who.. may have been exposed.. before the outbreak”…
Gerard Keusch, who signed both infamous Lancet letters and partnered with Peter Daszak to apply for a grant, said of the new SAGO: “allowing individuals and governments to nominate themselves.. will result in a partisan, selective process and not lead to the best composition.”
I would like to ask Keusch if he witnessed the China-WHO joint study phase I team member selection process and whether he considers it non-partisan and of the “best composition”.
Read 20 tweets
US intelligence should really release what they know and put to bed all the confusion once and for all.

Were there WIV staffers sick with Covid symptoms in Nov 2019? Did one of their wives die? Or is this intelligence not solid?…
Dr Anderson was a visiting foreign scientist at WIV up to Nov 2019.

But we have this from @evadou @washingtonpost
"[WIV] records mention protocols for disclosing information to foreigners and the sealing of some research reports for up to two decades."…
How many people in total worked at the WIV?

"there is a procedure for reporting symptoms that correspond with the pathogens handled in high-risk containment labs"

But what about BSL2 (not high-risk containment) at which the live SARSrCoV work was performed?
Read 12 tweets
“The practical consequence of removing the sequences.. is that no one knew they existed prior to now, and they were not in the databases used.. for the joint WHO-China report” - ⁦@jbloom_lab

Thanks ⁦@alisonannyoung⁩ for this piece. 🏆…
The @WHO spokesperson told @alisonannyoung “We are aware of this report and, as we repeatedly asked, we hope that all data on early cases will be made available.”

I can’t handle any more of this. We should not be tasking WHO with investigating #OriginsOfCovid They have no power.
We have entered a futile cycle of asking @WHO to investigate one of their most powerful members, WHO sending experts (some with immense COIs) to China, who have no leverage (or even mandate) to investigate all plausible hypotheses, 🌎 being horrified by the work, rinse & repeat.
Read 12 tweets
Another miracle today. AFAIK this is the first @nytimes article to give the #OriginsOfCovid lab leak hypothesis fair consideration without the veneer of “but my expert friends said it was natural.”…
Striking similarities between the 2 searches for the origin of an outbreak proximal to a lab likely working on similar (if not the same) infectious agent that caused the outbreak.

Hopefully we don’t need to wait decades to find the origin of Covid-19.
The most important takeaway from the story of the 1979 anthrax lab leak is that it did not involve a giant conspiracy - just the usual cover up you'd expect from an authoritarian state.

People, each with little bits of information, being silenced or too fearful to come forward.
Read 19 tweets
I'm very happy to share that I will be co-authoring a book on the #OriginsOfCovid with @mattwridley - coming this November!

When Matt asked me to collaborate on Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19, I knew that we had to write this book.
I've done an insane amount of tweeting this past year (more than 10,000 tweets) and co-authored 2 articles with Matt in the @WSJ and @Telegraph

But, a friend told me that these would all be lost & scattered with time.

If you write a book (a very good one), it can become canon.
I know that there will be possibly dozens of books on the #OriginsOfCovid - many on the politics & management of the pandemic in different countries (especially the US and China), and several very focused on persuading us that this virus definitely has natural origins.
Read 6 tweets
Re-upping this because I have recently made my way through the China-WHO full report and annexes on their Phase I study in Wuhan.

What their report tells me is that this team and this approach is not valuable in driving a credible investigation of the #OriginOfCOVID19
My opinion is that a Phase II joint study conducted under the same terms by the same team would be a monumental waste of time and resources.

By all means they can go ahead with it, but a separate actual investigation(s) are required.
Their approach is not even suitable for investigating natural origins, not to mention lab origins.

For instance, did any of the team members or journalists who read their report relay publicly that they had not visited the Wuhan Central Hospital or reviewed its patient data?
Read 11 tweets
New article on the origins of covid by Nicholas Wade who writes for @nytimes does not pull any punches: "the signatories of the Lancet letter were behaving as poor scientists: they were assuring the public of facts they could not know for sure were true."…
On the Proximal Origin @NatureMedicine correspondence, Nicholas Wade says "this was another case of poor science... Dr. Andersen and his colleagues were assuring their readers of something they could not know."
"... grounded in nothing but two inconclusive speculations, convinced the world’s press that SARS2 could not have escaped from a lab."
Read 11 tweets
I really like the point Nick made here about being able to express scientific uncertainty.

I don’t think people expected the China-WHO team or experts to know where COVID-19 came from. So hearing some experts proclaim they almost know for sure it was 100% natural is puzzling.
Many news outlets even today continue to report the China-WHO conclusions that a lab origin is extremely unlikely or that the scientific consensus is that the virus was 100% natural. Who exactly constitutes this consensus?

I think this is a major science communication problem.
There are also opinion pieces that the natural origin scenario must be much more likely. But based on what assumptions? That SARS viruses often spillover in Wuhan (untrue)? Vs the lab doing the most SARSrCoV research sitting in the middle of that city for close to 2 decades?
Read 11 tweets
Got a clue for the #OriginsofCOVID #PopsicleOrigins hypothesis:
At the 15:00 min mark Peter Daszak says they’ve got really good cold chain from remote sampling sites back to the labs - at least 16,000 bat samples collected.

Finally found a source of the myth going around that 3% of people in Yunnan have SARS antibodies and millions of people are getting bat viruses each year. This is a miscommunication. See the actual paper only surveying people living close to caves where SARS detected...
In contrast to the interview, the paper says “2.7% seropositivity for the high risk group of residents living in close proximity to bat colonies suggests that spillover is a relatively rare event” albeit some sero(+) could’ve faded in this high risk group.…
Read 10 tweets
Chatted with @schmidtwriting for his new @undarkmag article on the traps and dangers of advocating for an investigation into potential lab origins of covid-19. #laborigins #OriginsofCOVID
I think this piece by Charles @schmidtwriting was particularly well written because of how balanced it is. There were parts that I didn't like and had to grapple with. A lot has happened in the last year since I started looking into the evidence surrounding the #OriginsofCOVID
It comes at a time when the WHO-China team is expected to release their full report in the coming week(s). And @JamieMetzl and ~two dozen scientists (me too!) have posted a letter in the @WSJ pointing out major major flaws in the WHO-China not-an-investigation joint mission.
Read 22 tweets
We don't know when the WHO-China report on the origins of covid-19 will drop. Maybe in the next week. Maybe the week after. Maybe next month.

Their interim report was supposed to have been released in February.

These are basics journalists should ask...
Who is on the team?
"The joint international team comprise 17 Chinese experts and 17 international experts from ten other countries."

Who are these experts and do they have reasonably perceived conflicts of interests?…
What data did the team have access to?

Based on this access, which origins hypotheses could they have even possibly have studied properly?

We know they were not even able to access the original, full data on early cases or suspected early cases.
Read 6 tweets
In anticipation of some excellent articles on the origins of covid-19 coming out next week, I think it would be useful to cover a few areas of confusion relating to what experts mean by the "origins" of a virus, what counts as lab origins, and what counts as Gain-of-Function.
Over the past months, we've seen reports of SARS2-like viruses discovered across a wide geographic area from Thailand to Japan. Still the closest relatives to SARS2 are viruses from Yunnan, China.

What does this tell us about the origins of SARS2 and how it emerged in Wuhan?
Frankly, it tells us what we've known since the beginning.

That the ancestral origins of SARS2, like other SARS viruses, is in 🦇 and that the hotspot is in Yunnan, China or proximal to Yunnan.

Some experts are very keen to sample SE Asia just across the border from Yunnan...
Read 27 tweets
I think that it is important for scientists & public stakeholders across diverse fields of training to convene and discuss the range of pathogen research occurring worldwide as we tweet.

I wouldn't raise this except in the context of a pandemic that has shut the world down...
We may not know for years or even decades, for sure, how COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2 came to be.

In this situation, we just have to prepare for each of the plausible origin scenarios - natural spillover, lab leak, and unfortunately, for some subset of 🌏, cold chain #PopsicleOrigins
Before we set up another forum or advisory board (which mustn't just be scientists this time) to discuss how to evaluate the risks of pathogen research, it's important to look back on the past few years of this type of debate among scientists on Gain of Function (GOF) research.
Read 29 tweets
Had a great conversation with @politicalmath over the weekend on what we know about #OriginsofCOVID

For me, it’s been 💯 interesting to hear about how smart, rational & curious people came to the question of whether SARS2 could’ve originated from a lab...…
For people who are interested in the basics behind the different origins hypotheses - whether zoonotic, lab or frozen foods #PopsicleOrigins - I think this is the podcast to listen to 🎺
I also really like the article @politicalmath wrote around the podcast (because it was so flattering to me 💎) which pointed out that “When I (Polimath) try to track down information, all the “lab escape” info comes from Fox News or Breitbart...”

This is a serious problem.
Read 4 tweets
FYI journalists reporting on the @WHO convened COVID-19 origins collaborative process of discovery.

@DrTedros said it is not a WHO study or investigation.

It is an independent study by predominantly non-WHO experts. ~Half of the team is unidentified.…
The WHO-convened team had to work with Chinese counterparts (half of the team) in a collaborative process; they did not have investigatory powers to look into COVID-19 origin hypotheses that their hosts did not want them looking into.
This was reinforced by the leader of the WHO-convened team in a recent @ScienceMagazine interview:…
Read 16 tweets
Starting to wonder how many virus samples are sitting in freezers waiting to be sequenced.

The newest pangolin CoV in GISAID (EPI_ISL_610156) was collected in Yunnan in 2017. Someone implied that this was proof of the 2019 Guangdong pangolin CoV, but it's quite different...
The Yunnan pangolin CoV sequence is full of gaps, missing front half of the Spike, no RBD to even compare with the SARS2-like RBD in the Guangdong pangolin CoV.

Not sure why anyone would think this Yunnan pangolin CoV is useful to verifying the history of the GD pangolin CoV.
Meanwhile, the Guangdong pangolin CoV authors who haven't provided any of the novel raw data mentioned in their May 2020 @PLOSPathogens paper just released more short sequence fragments for another paper?…
Read 11 tweets
Feb 9, we heard from WHO-convened team (which is 50% scientists in China, 50% international) they were going to stop looking into "extremely unlikely" lab origins & start investigating #PopsicleOrigins

One team member said this decision was to "respect" the Chinese counterparts.
Feb 22, one of WHO-convened team members says the COVID-19 virus could've come from Thailand, even naming one market.

DESPITE closest relatives to SARS-CoV-2 being from China

DESPITE the virus in Thailand not even using the same human receptor 🤯…
Jan 2020 China said the virus likely came from wild animals sold at the Wuhan seafood market. May 2020 they said the market was just a later cluster, not the origin.

Since then, they've suggested that covid-19 was imported into China through cold chain.
Read 7 tweets
People have been asking me about this article by previous Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Miles Yu in @WSJ

How much of this is objective? Or novel? Could SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 really have come from a lab in Wuhan?

What do we really know, publicly?…
On Jan 15, 2021, the previous US State Department released this Facts Sheet on the origins of COVID-19 raising concerns about SARS + other pathogen research at the WIV.

However, it was swiftly archived by the new administration.…
On @FaceTheNation ex-Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger said that this had been "scrubbed by every department within every bureau within the State Department, was looked at very carefully by the NSC staff, intelligence officers, HHS"…
Read 12 tweets
Before the WHO-convened global study on the #OriginsofCovid releases their interim report this week (maybe), I think it's useful to explain to the public where all the evidence lies right now across the 4 hypotheses presented by the origins team…
For the sake of simplicity, hypotheses 1 and 2 can be combined into scenario A, which includes virus transmission from the animal reservoir (most likely bats) directly into humans or through an intermediary animal host that is more closely related to humans.
The WHO-convened team stated that cold chain supply (scenario F) is an #originsofcovid hypothesis deserving of follow-up.
Importantly @Peterfoodsafety later clarified they are only considering within-China cold chain food trade, not from outside China.
Read 25 tweets
“Chinese authorities declined to give the WHO team raw data on these cases and potential earlier ones”

Data they saw “could possibly indicate infections as far back as September, said Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist on the WHO team.”…
🌟 by @LawrenceGostin
“Sovereign states will almost certainly resist IPPPR proposals to empower the WHO to enter their territory and gain access to full information.. (eg) inspectorate system like the ones currently in nuclear nonproliferation treaties.”…
The @WHO origins study shows us serious problems in pandemic reporting & tracking. Tho much data exists & more could’ve been found a yr ago, no world organization was granted the power to access and collect such data.

As a result, the world doesn’t even know when covid started.
Read 5 tweets
We can credit the @WHO coordinated exploration with some things: They got into China after 1 year. They got to see what their Chinese counterparts had prepared for them, itinerary and reports. They got to see what their Chinese counterparts would not share with them or answer...
What I would like is if the team can carefully lay out: What they asked. What answers/data they were given or not given. Their hourly itinerary, who was in attendance at each event/meeting, if there was voting (and if there were non-unanimous votes; just numbers, not identity)...
I understand that a summary, full report & pressers are coming but these have to be signed off by ALL members including 50% of the team who are scientists in China.

Can journalists talk to non-Chinese teammates w/o disclosing their identities to get a handle on what happened?
Read 9 tweets
Dear @WHO since you had a good conversation with Wuhan scientists, did you ask how many bats & coronaviruses they sampled in each province in China & when, & how many wildlife pathogen sequences they obtained from each province?

This is a question other scientists have asked me.
Without these numbers, it's hard to grasp the extent of risk associated with this research.

And I think even @EcoHealthNYC wouldn't know these numbers for each province in China. So I'm surprised that other scientists think I would know😆 My postdoc powers are very limited!
According to @MarionKoopmans the WIV told you they only isolated 3 SARS viruses from their decade+ of very expensive research. But what's the true value of their work? How many animals did they actually sample, and where and when? How many pathogen sequences were discovered?
Read 14 tweets
More on the @WHO #originsofcovid investigation...
“disagreements over patient records and other issues were so tense that they sometimes erupted into shouts among the typically mild-mannered scientists on both sides”…
“rules to thwart outbreaks in China meant that the team could not gather with their counterparts for meals and informal talks”

Essentially, there was no chance for private communication.
“Fabian Leendertz, a German.. member of the team.. said the team agreed to include the frozen food theory among its hypotheses “to respect, a bit, the findings” of the Chinese scientists.”

Yes, and now Chinese media are reporting that covid likely originated via imported 🧊🐠
Read 12 tweets
I think, that was a good try @WHO to get actual data from China.

But now that it looks like that's not going to work, we should be setting up independent and credible investigations into the origins.
If @WHO is going to investigate Italy, SE Asia, and #popsicleorigins

We need actual teams that can investigate zoonotic spillover and #laborigins - preferably with international representation and absence of COIs/pre-existing relationships that could discredit investigation.
One major weakness of the WHO investigation was that there was no other ongoing investigation that could hold it accountable or that WHO could use as leverage to force more transparency from China. No, the Lancet investigation headed by Peter Daszak obvs doesn't count.
Read 5 tweets

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