Report on three new research papers that illuminate the #OriginsOfCovid. 1) Documentation of illegal wildlife trade in Wuhan 2) Field work on coronaviruses 3) Molecular clock timing split of SARS-CoV-2 from other known coronaviruses ~40 years ago.…
The wildlife trade is significant because there were claims that the wildlife trade had been quashed long ago. Knowing what species were present, and from where, helps point to where the search for wild hosts must look.
I did a thread on point 2 days ago. Tomorrow’s news today!
Point three is likely to take longer to assess. Viruses are pretty variable and evolve in weird ways, so I’d guess that timeline depends on inputs and assumptions that others would do differently. Most of the closely-related coronavirus known are from ~1000 miles from Wuhan.
A 40 year divergence time seems reasonable for bats so far apart. But a much shorter or much longer time could certainly be plausible for a virus spread by ubiquitous flying critters. Documenting coronavirus diversity in Hubei will clarify a lot.

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More from @JoshRosenau

16 Jun
Overall, I really like this piece. I’d appreciate more reporting on efforts to identify the natural reservoir, since that will tell us so much, and not treat a lab escape as the main hypothesis to test.…
I think the context of ongoing searches for the wild reservoirs would change some interpretation of comments by Francis Collins, for instance. As it stands, he is presented as nigh accusatory. But China’s secrecy burdens any and all aspects of the search, not just lab inquiries.
Did he intend to point a finger so much at WIV? Or was he simply saying the Chinese government needs to allow international cooperation and visibility into the fieldwork and other aspects of this investigation as well as the lab end? I’m guessing the latter.
Read 6 tweets
15 Jun
I continue to find it irresponsible to treat "field worker breathed in bat poop and then coughed" as a "lab leak" rather than simply zoonosis. I mean, it's exactly the same as if a miner in the same cave got sick, which is definitely not a lab escape.… Image
I say "irresponsible" because it actively confuses the #LabLeak discussion. At one end, the US State Department inquiry was premised on SARS-CoV-2 being a bioweapon engineered by the PLA at WIV to target the West. Claims circulate that it was intentionally released!
Other claims about a lab escape involve questions about how safety protocols were applied in a research center. Those international protocols are a product of extensive discussion among scientists and ethicists, but are relatively recent and may not be perfect yet.
Read 9 tweets
14 Jun
This Science letter has been cited by many, including in my conversations with @dandrezner and @JamesSurowiecki, as a reason to take the “lab leak” more seriously. That’s not what this signer intended:…
We don’t do science by petition, so these letters are only marginally important to begin with. People are publishing research exploring zoonotic origins and debunking the main arguments advanced for a #LabLeak. Nothing in peer reviewed research literature requires #LabLeakTheory.
Worth comparing the recent Science letter with the letter a year ago that supposedly cemented groupthink forever and blocked lab escape research. They basically make the same points: support Chinese researchers, do a full investigatjon, don’t spread conspiracy theories.
Read 4 tweets
13 Apr
There’s an interesting debate going on over whether it’s better to pause J&J vaccinating while we investigate rare side effects, or better to balance that rare risk against the greater risk of COVID. IMO, a pause followed by a justified unpause should increase confidence.
The closest analogy I can recall is the 1992 Tylenol poisoning case. Someone injected cyanide into Tylenol capsules, killing 7 people. In response the manufacturer recalled all Tylenol, urged people not to take their drug, and introduced new tamperproof containers.
Because they reacted quickly and against their own short-term interests, Tylenol returned to the market with a strong reputation.

Tylenol, BTW, is a brand owned by Johnson & Johnson.…
Read 11 tweets
22 Feb
Seeing these full-color photos from Mars as we officially clear 500,000 US COVID fatalities is a lot to process. We can do things sooooo well, but also sooooooo badly.
Look, this isn't an argument to cut NASA's budget. Relative to the cost of COVID, you could zero out NASA and not save any lives. And nothing prevents the government from just spending more in a crisis.
With NASA, Trump appointed relatively competent and nonpartisan folks, and while they made some bad calls for the long term plans of NASA, the project lifecycle spans multiple presidents. So long as the politicians don't try to interfere, things work out well.
Read 5 tweets
12 Feb
This is exactly why social sanction is so important. The government can’t make a rule that you aren’t allowed to be an antisemite, but if we all agree it ostracize antisemites, maybe that makes it harder for the GOP to become a party of antisemites!
I mean Disney is not the same as general social sanction. But they’re acting in part on the basis of social sanction. They know that I’m less likely to watch a show where every time I see a hero it reminds me she believes and spreads conspiracies about (((people like me))).
And knowing that, I’m less likely to take my kids to Disney movies, show them The Mandalorian, but Mandalorian merch, etc. The GOP doesn’t care that it’s hard to draw a line separating them from the antisemitic brew of nonsense at the heart of Q.
Read 4 tweets

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