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. nytimes.com/2021/06/14/wor…
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.
There's no sign at all that SARS-CoV-2 or any closely-similar virus was ever part of experiments at WIV. But if it was and somehow escaped, that would be legitimate grist for the policy mill. Any human system will be imperfect, and we would want to learn from a mistake like that.
Given that there's no sign SARS-CoV-2 was ever part of experiments at WIV, it's doubtful that any specific lessons can be drawn here. Field researchers contracting the virus would not teach us anything about lab protocols!
Nor would a field researcher's contracting the virus shed any light on people's concerns about gain of function research. If a field researcher got sick, so would a farmer, miner, hiker, or homeowner with bats in the attic. The virus was already ready to spill over to humans.
The main concern people discuss with a lab escape involves work to take wild viruses and either induce them to grow on human cells, or engineer changes to increase their virulence. It's a theoretical concern that researchers and ethicists have explored.
There's no sign that SARS-CoV-2 has anything to do with such research. If a field worker caught the virus from a bat and then coughed on the bus, it would tell us nothing at all about the safety of such research.
So including that sort of spillover as a lab leak rather than as zoonosis actively muddles the discussion, confusing an already murky issue. Just stop!

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More from @JoshRosenau

17 Jun
WIV could be much more transparent, but given the conspiracy theories circulating, I don’t know what WIV could say or release to demonstrate that they didn’t have anything close to SARS-CoV-2 on file. People would just call it a coverup.
What’s already public is exculpatory. They did what antibody testing they could early in the outbreak and found nothing, and say that RaTG13 is the closest match in their records (and it’s not very close). They also say (IIRC) that they haven’t got any close spike match.
But people don’t take it as exculpatory because they think there’s more. And it isn’t clear that the demands of the conspiracists could ever be satisfied.
Read 6 tweets
16 Jun
Years ago, in Oakland CA (where there is no voter ID rule), I went to vote early in the day and the poll worker asked for an ID. I reached for my wallet and was opening it before my brain kicked in and I asked “why do you need it?” The other poll worker said “you don’t.”
That was that. We show ID all over, and I get why Manchin would feel like we should also do it for voting. And I suspect it can be done in ways that are equitable. Many voter ID laws are bad because they restrict admissible ID in ways that disenfranchise non-Republicans.
People in cities, poorer people, and younger people are more likely transit-dependent and also more likely to vote for Democrats, so only accepting a drivers license will put a thumb on the scale. Accepting gun licenses but not student IDs, ditto.
Read 7 tweets
16 Jun
Free speech rights for teachers are quite circumscribed, and that’s OK. They teach a government-approved curriculum and act for the state. The solution to bad policy is not that liberal communities get accurate lessons and conservatives get bullshit.
In almost no instance is there any right for students to be taught *accurately*. Some states mandate that health lessons be medically accurate (a legacy of HIV/AIDS). But it hurts any student to be misinformed about how the world works.
Racism is real. Structural racism is real and ubiquitous. Racism is baked into the structures of America from its very beginnings. Texas was created to protect slavery, and the Alamo is a monument to how much enslavers will sacrifice to maintain white supremacy.
Read 5 tweets
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. washingtonpost.com/national-secur…
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
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: microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-766-…
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
14 Jun
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. telegraph.co.uk/global-health/…
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!
Read 5 tweets

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