If you’re thinking of sponsoring virus hunters so they can tell us about dangerous viruses and advise us to conserve wildlife…

Why not just give your money directly to people who are actually conserving wildlife?
We’ve known for decades that the wildlife trade exposes us to novel animal pathogens. We don’t need to keep pulling out shiny new viruses to convince people that the wildlife trade and wildlife farming (for food, medicine, luxury items) needs to stop.
A culture that glorifies the wildlife trade - as a means for the poor to get rich or as a source of unproven medicines - is not helping to mitigate pandemic risks.

We should encourage other effective means of fighting poverty that don’t exploit wildlife.
On the other hand, if you’re sponsoring virus hunting because you want to create an armada of viruses for dual use, i.e., the wildlife conservation aspect is a side dish… the world needs to have a very serious conversation about this activity and whether the risks are worth it.

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More from @Ayjchan

4 Dec
Things you should never hear nuclear reactor or atomic scientists cite as reasons for wanting to build their facility inside of densely populated cities.

1. How will we recruit top talent? We want to live in the best cities.

2. Accidents rarely happen. We are very skilled.
Yet somehow these reasons justify building labs concentrating and manipulating unpredictable, potential pandemic pathogens in the middle of urban centers with international airports.
Setting aside the point that virus hunting and making chimeric versions of novel viruses played (near) zero role in predicting or preventing the current pandemic, if this type of research is so critical, we must treat it with the reverence it deserves.

Read 5 tweets
4 Dec
"Deep in the underbelly of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, freezers.. store bat tissue from around the world, dating back to the late 1980s."

Toronto, please create a local wildlife trade so that there is some ambiguity in case a lab leak occurs.
You won't need much. Something on the order of 10 civet cats a month will ensure that an adequate number of top virologists will express near certainty that any novel virus must have come from the local food market instead of your lab with thousands of diverse pathogen samples.
"amassed roughly 15,000 bat specimens from 400 different species...

the technique also preserves whatever viruses are hiding in the mammals...

And bats carry a lot of viruses...

... the viruses they carry can sometimes ravage humans."

Enough said.
Read 9 tweets
4 Dec
Our peer-reviewed @MolBioEvol Perspective on the SARS-CoV-2 furin cleavage site is now available to read online.

We review the FCS in the context of pathogenesis, origin & how virus sampling may alter the interpretation of existing data.

@MolBioEvol @shingheizhan Against a backdrop of scientists introducing FCSs into the spikes of various CoVs including SARSr-CoVs, the discovery of a unique FCS at the spike S1/S2 boundary in SARS-CoV-2 continues to fuel heated debates about the #OriginOfCovid
@MolBioEvol @shingheizhan Without its FCS, it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 would have resulted in a pandemic.

Even in early 2020, it was a straightforward deduction for independent groups of scientists that an S1/S2 FCS could confer functional advantages to a SARSr-CoV.
Read 13 tweets
4 Dec
Seeing FOIA'ed email after FOIA'ed email revealing that the top virologists and experts were worrying about a lab #OriginOfCovid in early-to-mid 2020 makes me wonder if just about everyone knew the emperor was naked while the media continued to praise his new clothes.
There were letters published in top scientific journals by top experts asserting that it was a conspiracy theory to say the emperor was naked. No clothes-less scenarios were plausible. Even today some experts are maintaining that the emperor is almost certainly wearing clothes.
There's a difference between perceiving that maybe most people didn't understand the issue at the time, versus perceiving that maybe most people did understand but didn't say so publicly.
Read 5 tweets
3 Dec
Some scientists say they’re worried the focus on a lab #OriginOfCovid will distract from measures to curb the wildlife-to-human interface.

In Hubei, people are still touring bat caves, drinking water from bat caves & released hundreds of farmed wild animals without testing.
I don’t think even the people in China living near Wuhan believe this virus came from nature.
These reported behaviours are completely opposite to what you’d expect if the locals even slightly suspected that the virus might’ve come from the local wildlife.
Read 6 tweets
3 Dec
April 2020 Phillip Russell, former president of American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene told James Le Duc, former director of Galveston National Laboratory that signs "point to the lab as the source of the outbreak."

@USRightToKnow #OriginOfCovid
@USRightToKnow "The flimsiness of the epidemiology pointing to the wet market, the absence of bats in the market, the failure to identify an intermediate animal host, the extraordinary measures taken by the Chinese government...
... including persecution and probable killing of two brave physicians, to cover up the outbreak, the steps taken to silence the laboratory personnel, the change in leadership of the lab, all point to the lab as the source of the outbreak.”
Read 17 tweets

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