Alina Chan Profile picture
22 Feb, 10 tweets, 3 min read
One fact that I think many scientists and members of the public are not widely aware of is that the original SARS virus - back when it was the only SARS virus known to man - escaped from labs not once but 4 times.

2 of those times from a top Beijing lab.…
For those lab escapes of SARS1, "once the alarm was raised about the cases, over 1000 of their close contacts were isolated very quickly"

But would this have stopped a virus like SARS2 that can spread asymptomatically with up to 2 weeks incubation time?…
In 2004, SARS was the only SARS virus studied in labs - 4 lab escapes.

Fast forward to 2019, there are several dozens (likely 100s) of SARS-like viruses sampled by labs.

After covid, a whole bunch of SARS2-like viruses collected in the past get published.
Other than the fact that SARS1 had already been sequenced prior to the lab escapes, and it was not possible to deny that it had leaked from those labs 4 times, the leaked virus would've looked entirely natural.

No signs of discernible lab manipulation or genetic modification.
1 lab case returned home (Anhui) from lab, 22 Mar 2004; 25 Mar symptoms; 27 Mar train back to Beijing, hospital; 29 Mar diagnosed viral pneumonia; 2 Apr train to Anhui for further treatment; 19 Apr mother died, retrospectively diagnosed as suspected SARS.…
If that had been covid (no to mild symptoms in young person in their 20s), can you tell me when they would've noticed a lab escape and how many people would've been infected by ~1 month or when the first death appears? From a virus that hasn't been reported in the literature?
So when I see experts rushing to rule out lab #originsofcovid, my personal view is that these experts doth protest too much.

It's almost like you cannot bear the thought that virus sampling+research (on steroids) has a measurable risk of producing an outbreak & even a pandemic.
I'm a scientist, but I'm a human first.

If this virus originated from research activities, regardless of intention, our priority is to understand how this happened & stop it from happening again.

Being a scientist by profession isn't going to protect me from the next pandemic.
A lot of people ask me if I think 100% natural origins of covid are possible/should be investigated. Yes, of course, but I don’t have to advocate for that because those investigations are already underway - although also doesn’t seem possible to independently search inside China.
Investigations of any of the origins above must be held to the same standard. It’s going to be tough for @WHO to know if aggregate data, even on animal testing, they get from China is accurate. Even if China finds an original animal source of SARS2 in China, would they tell us?

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More from @Ayjchan

21 Feb
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
19 Feb
“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
18 Feb
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
18 Feb
Some scientists expected this day would come but somehow it's still annoying that it's gotten to a stage where some individuals are infected by 2 or more separate people/events, sometimes resulting in recombination between different SARS2 variants.…
On this topic, one major challenge is getting these new data (raw or assembled genomes) onto public databases ASAP.

I think there's some competition happening among the top databases. This has to stop for the duration of the pandemic. Priority is getting data public ASAP.
It can't be a situation where scientists and developers of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics are learning about new variants from @TheScientistLLC @CNN etc.

Scientists need to have access to these data ASAP so we can optimize all the tools we have to fight this pandemic.
Read 6 tweets
17 Feb
Really good piece in ⁦@NBCNews⁩ by ⁦@KenDilanianNBC⁩ et al.

Questions about how large the covid outbreak was in Wuhan, how early it could’ve started, maybe even Sep 2019 if there were already dozens of unconnected cases in October..…
Extremely challenging to answer these questions without access to thousands of banked patient samples from Wuhan from fall 2019, and the actual non-aggregated patient records from that time. Not just the 90+ shortlist but thousands of people with pneumonia in Wuhan fall 2019.
Office of Director of National Intelligence: agency "will continue to rigorously examine emerging information.. to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan"…
Read 6 tweets
16 Feb
On to my more contentious 🧵 of the night.

“It’s very funny that everyone is worrying about preprints given that, collectively, journals are not doing a great job of keeping misinformation out,” Sever (co-founder of medRxiv and bioRxiv) said.…
There's been a lot of criticism of preprints since COVID-19 appeared. I've done my fair share too, breaking down preprints (and mostly peer-reviewed articles).

But I think the misinformation tragedy lies in peer-reviewed journals, NOT preprints.
"In the academic world, the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins issued a point-by-point response one week after Yan’s paper appeared on Zenodo"

Why didn't John Hopkins do a point-by-points response to RaTG13 or the #pangolinpapers?
Read 12 tweets

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