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.
Also interesting not to see Ford’s account given more air, or any reporting on his questions about whether Pompeo had Yu circumvent the scientific reviewers. That’s a key part of the story that I want more reporting on!
Nor does the piece highlight just how out there some of the theories inside the State Department got. Not just the shot-down bioweapons claims, but the idea of COVID as a genetically-selective infectious agent. That contextualizes how loony and dangerous that operation got.
So I think there’s still a lot of reporting to do on the State process, but the piece advances our understanding in big ways. And I think a naïve reader will get a good sense of where the debate is, but one that may overweight on lab origins, by word count if not credence.

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More from @JoshRosenau

17 Jun
There's a lot interesting in this interview between @dwallacewells and @mlipsitch, but I'm not understanding this concluding exchange. How would our pandemic response have been different if we knew SARS-CoV-2 was a lab escape? nymag.com/intelligencer/… Image
At best, this idea that the West would take the pandemic more seriously if we knew it came from a lab reflects some really poor reasoning on the part of the West (if true). I mean, we'd been lucky that SARS, MERS, and Ebola hadn't spread globally, but we know they could've.
We should take zoonosis seriously! We're pushing further and further into wilderness areas where novel viruses may hide, and we're bringing all sorts of domesticated species with us, some of which are potential intermediate hosts for viruses! Ebola alone should've warned us!
Read 5 tweets
17 Jun
I wish this piece wasn't framed around a "leak," but it does a good job debunking some of the nonsense. nbcnews.com/science/scienc… Image
Immediately after explaining why the viruses we know WIV possessed couldn't be the ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, the piece quotes @Ayjchan defending the possibility of genetic manipulation, without clarifying that she could not possibly be talking about RaTG13. Image
Or maybe she is? I see her citing RaTG13 in her tweets, but the whole "lab leak" discourse is so filled with equivocation and strategic ambiguity that I don't know what the actual hypothesis is. Is RaTG13 supposed to be the source, or is it some other virus that WIV kept secret?
Read 10 tweets
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
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. 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.
Read 9 tweets

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