2 straightforward reasons why I don't think a lab origin of Omicron is on the table.

1. Afaik there's no lab in Africa doing serial passaging of SARS2.

2. There're thousands of people (and potentially animals) infected in the region so it is unsurprising new variants emerge.
These are the same reasons that make a good case for a lab #OriginOfCovid

1. There are scientists in Wuhan conducting exactly the type of research that could've led to the emergence of SARS2.

2. There wasn't evidence of SARS-like viruses circulating in Wuhan prior to Covid-19.
If we don't want to keep being surprised by new variants with lots of new mutations in them, we should step up global sequencing efforts and think of ways to help countries get the pandemic resources they need.
We know SARS2 has infected people in the lab thanks to FOIAs by @USRightToKnow

"an experienced scientist was infected with SARS-CoV-2 while working in a premier virology lab in Beijing"

There have probably been many lab-acquired infections of SARS2.

Which is why I hope people working with SARS2 in the lab are not secretly trying risky experiments like serial passaging of live SARS2 virus or making chimera with SARS1 and SARS2...
But unless a novel variant emerges in connection (location or contact tracing) with a lab that is known to conduct the type of experiments that could lead to novel variants...

My default assumption would be a natural origin of novel variants.
You cannot blast a virus through 300 million people (an undercount) across every continent, across diverse human genotypes and health conditions, and even across dozens of animal species without expecting continuous emergence of novel variants.

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More from @Ayjchan

6 Dec
Thorough analysis by ⁦⁦@AshleyRindsberg⁩ ⁦@tabletmag

“the false narrative around the pandemic’s origins represented a tipping point—a comprehensive failure in journalistic quality and mores in a time of national emergency” tabletmag.com/sections/news/…
Many good lines in this article:

“For Daszak, The Lancet letter was only the opening salvo in a yearlong media campaign in which the EcoHealth Alliance head would become an Ahmed Chalabi-like presence, leading the media with claims of evidence of zoonotic spillover.”
“these formed what we might call Daszak’s triangle, a mental model that made lab leak a social and political impossibility for anyone who did not want to be branded as an anti-science, right-wing xenophobe.”
Read 9 tweets
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
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.
Read 4 tweets

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