Alina Chan Profile picture
3 May, 11 tweets, 3 min read
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."
Although minor fact-check, this needs to be corrected if anyone reading is in contact with Wade: "The genomes of almost 3,000 beta-coronaviruses, the class to which SARS2 belongs, have been cataloged. And none possesses a furin cleavage site."

There are other betaCoVs with FCSs.
I want to put a disclaimer here: I don't agree with some of the scientific analyses shared by Wade in his article. But I respect his right to express his own opinion of how plausible lab vs natural origin is, and the factors leading up to a possible lab leak of SARS2 / COVID-19.
Nicholas Wade says "The natural emergence theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities."

But I still think even experts who think this virus must be 100% natural make some good points, and that there is a good chance this virus did not emerge via research activities.
There is no direct evidence for either natural or lab origins. So intermediate host theory, bat-to-human theory, lab theory are all speculative. How can we rule out any as implausible without gathering more information?

Except for #PopsicleOrigins which can be dismissed IMO.
If I had to write an essay on the circumstantial evidence pointing to a natural origin, I actually think I could do a pretty good job of it without having to straw man any lab origin arguments.

I just push hard on lab origins because there're too few doing this important task.
There are at least 2 scientists who imo can make a very robust argument for natural origins, but neither one has decided to author (put their name on) letters or papers addressing the origin, or made the mistake of putting out poorly substantiated public statements.
I think it's healthy to have doubts about your own hypotheses, especially when no direct evidence is available. There are moments when I wonder if I haven't given the other hypotheses enough consideration. And I hope people on the must-be-natural side sometimes have doubts too.
The priority now should be gathering more information and evidence. There are lots of people worldwide who each know a different little piece of the puzzle. If there's an international investigation, we can put all the (still available) pieces together and see what we can find.

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More from @Ayjchan

3 May
Covid outbreaks in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Devastating news for countries that had managed to largely keep the pandemic out for over a year.…
“After managing to largely control the virus for around a year through shutdowns and strict border controls, Thailand has faced a spike in cases since early April that is proving harder to control and putting pressure on parts of the medical system.”…
Vietnam has also found locally transmitted cases recently but is still ahead of the curve.…
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
Last month @WHO Tedros said he was ready to deploy missions to investigate whether Covid-19 came from a lab.

Chinese media published an unnamed expert: "WHO will have to be held accountable if worldwide effort at [virus] origin tracing enters a deadlock."…
This seems a bit like they're saying that if the WHO continues to be open to an investigation of possible lab origins of Covid-19, then the next phase of an investigation into the origins of the pandemic will be stalled.…
To be as clear as possible, @WHO did not say that Covid-19 definitely came from a lab.

It's that a lab/research-related #OriginofCovid19 is still one of the plausible hypotheses & must be properly investigated for the sake of humanity's future survival.…
Read 9 tweets
18 Apr
Believe it not, I'm still slowly working through the China-WHO #OriginsofCOVID report+annex (300pg). Today I noticed that they didn't give specifics on the (suspected) COVID cases at the Wuhan Central Hospital with the 2 most prominent whistleblowers Dr Ai Fen and Dr Li Wenliang.
The patient with earliest covid-19 symptom onset on Dec 8? No idea which Wuhan hospital this person went to.

The original index patient with earliest onset on Dec 1? Excluded. Which Wuhan hospital received this person? What was the exact reason for exclusion?
Please, there needs to be a public peer review of this report by scientist/expert reviewers who take into account both the scientific data (if any of the raw data can even be accessed) as well as the public knowledge around the origins.

You know. Things you can find with google.
Read 5 tweets
18 Apr
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
15 Apr
The story of the quest for the origins of COVID-19 cannot be told without also telling the stories of the internet sleuths & outsiders who discovered clues and hidden stories of the viruses closely related to SARS2, Yunnan miners sick with pneumonia & a missing pathogen database.
We've seen a series of recent articles by stellar journalists chronicling the year+ of painstaking work by internet sleuths.

There have been lots of mistakes made and public conflicts with virologists on twitter... but their contribution is undeniable.…
See this wonderful piece by @emmecola from December 2020:

"there are many other people, out of the spotlight, who deserve credit. They have been working tirelessly... they share and discuss their findings and, more importantly, they make discoveries."…
Read 26 tweets
14 Apr
Worth 2min🎧 CIA Director and Director of National Intelligence say that the US intelligence community is still gathering info on the two #OriginsofCOVID theories around which components have coalesced: it emerged naturally or it was a laboratory accident.
Already seen some pushback on my What Next podcast interview with @slate @marysdesk

If you think lab leak=conspiracy theory, it should trouble you that top intelligence & experts are devoting an enormous amount of energy to investigating this hypothesis.
This brand new highly expert COVID commission will also rigorously investigate the possibility of a lab leak being the origins of COVID-19.
Read 13 tweets

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