One of the best ways to make sure nothing gets done on an issue is to make it partisan.

Humanity, scientists & journalists, cannot afford to let lab-based outbreak prevention become an issue of one end of the political spectrum.
It is not anti-science to ask are we doing our pathogen research in a transparent and safe manner?

Yes, there are some anti-science folks using this issue to go after scientists they dislike.

We can't let that side drama distract us from actually protecting millions of lives.
Will journalists in the middle of the political spectrum please step in and do your part to make a discussion of the #OriginOfCovid (particularly an investigation of a potential lab origin) a centrist issue?

A pathogen that escapes from a lab doesn't care who you voted for.
If you shy away from covering an issue because your network doesn't want to lose connections, the issue will end up being owned by the other tribe.

Risky pathogen research that can lead to millions of lives lost cannot join the growing list of deadlocked partisan issues.
Believe it or not, this issue of lab leaks might actually be more of a blue issue.

Look at where all these pathogen labs are located around the world and in the US. Major city centers.

If something leaks, you hope it hasn't been enhanced or adapted for human transmission.
Dear @iamjohnoliver @LastWeekTonight @StephenAtHome @colbertlateshow @jonstewart @TheProblem @Trevornoah @TheDailyShow

Please cover why we need to investigate whether Covid-19 came from the wildlife trade or pathogen research.

Don't let #OriginOfCovid become a partisan issue.

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More from @Ayjchan

1 Dec
One takeaway from this pandemic is that we must act urgently to make pathogen research funded by the US more transparent. Recently FOIA’ed emails and documents show that by 2018 the US was funding chimeric human pathogen MERS research in Wuhan.…
I am starting to feel like a broken record on this, but somehow many experts in infectious diseases and biosafety still believe that all we need to do to prevent future pandemics is to keep working on the wildlife trade, which is important but so are lab-based outbreaks.
Researchers bringing thousands of high risk wildlife trade animal and human samples across 8 countries into one city can itself be considered a thriving conduit of pathogens into the human population.
Read 7 tweets
1 Dec
I think it is very important to watch the @FaceTheNation interview of Dr Fauci, especially starting from the 37 min mark.

Tough topics #OriginOfCovid, gain of function, misinformation, politicization of science, the role of social media, what is science.
@FaceTheNation Transcript here.

Brennan asks about SARS-CoV-2 "I've heard so many virologists point to that that it was uniquely adapted to be just horrible in a human body. How did it get that efficient?"…
@FaceTheNation Dr Fauci said "It was very likely in a host... in typical fashion, I think trying to make sure that things don't get pointed to them, [the Chinese] probably got rid of the animals that were the intermediary hosts there."
Read 5 tweets
30 Nov
New hypothesis being floated is the Chinese accidentally destroyed evidence at the market and that’s why we can’t find the animal source of the virus.

That still doesn’t explain why the genetic and epidemiological data point to the market being a human superspreader event.
Earlier SARS2 variants were not detected at the market or in its cases. Even if the market was cleaned out, is there a reason why none of the surface samples or human cases there were infected with earlier variants of the virus? Zero of the hundreds of animal samples had SARS2.
The farms supplying the market were also traced - no virus - or shut down without testing.

Don’t know if the Chinese gov tested the handful of Wuhan animal traders / market vendors selling wild animals for antibodies. Would’ve been one of the first things to do.
Read 4 tweets
30 Nov
Just started: a discussion among virologists and evolutionary biology experts on the new Omicron variant, looking at data in the early days.…
Live tweeting some of the salient points:

There is not yet clear data on disease severity although there are concerns that the large number of mutations could possibly confer transmission advantage or immune evasion.
If we see novel variants e.g. Omicron replacing previous variants, it can suggest transmission advantage. But if this has only happened in one area, it could be due to a chance event. We need to see if the same thing happens in other countries where the variant has been detected.
Read 14 tweets
27 Nov
Editors at scientific journals, you can do something to stop risky pathogen research - form a pact to collectively refuse to publish research where pathogen sequences have been kept private for more than 2 years and where chimera of known/novel pathogens have been created.
If you refuse to publish this type of risky pathogen work, scientists will hesitate to spend their millions on research that they cannot publish in journals or present at conferences in order to advance their careers.
Accordingly, any scientist asked to peer review such a paper must be able to report it to an external party. I wish that the Cambridge working group or a similar organization was active so that they could receive and manage whistleblower reports.
Read 8 tweets
26 Nov
The #OriginOfCovid saga has shown that some scientists have their priorities all messed up.

Early 2020, prominent scientists condemned the lab origin hypothesis as a conspiracy theory & some claimed they knew this virus was not genetically modified. Mostly everyone fell in line.
Later, the China-World Health Organization joint expert panel said this virus could've emerged in Wuhan from frozen meat #PopsicleOrigins

Instead of calling out the China-WHO joint study, several evolutionary biologists and virologists jumped in to support this hypothesis.
Over the past year and a half, we've seen time and again that scientists from the EcoHealth Alliance and Wuhan Institute of Virology were withholding key information about the origin of some of the closest relatives to SARS-CoV-2 and experiments done in the lab...
Read 8 tweets

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