Alina Chan Profile picture
Scientific Advisor at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard 🇨🇦🧬 Co-author of VIRAL: the search for the origin of Covid-19 📖🕵🏻‍♀️🔬🦝🦇🧊☄️🦞
DR. PEPE, ESQ. B.S.🇺🇸⭐⭐⭐3TW🍊🍊🍊 Profile picture Οὖτις 🟧🇺🇸🐛📣 HONK HONK !!! Profile picture Cheri Stahl Profile picture Kahteei Profile picture Aviva Gabriel Profile picture 50 added to My Authors
May 19 6 tweets 4 min read
Not sure @PeterHotez read the @PNAS letter carefully.

"SARS-CoV-2 is, to date, the only identified member of the subgenus sarbecovirus that contains an FCS, although these are present in other coronaviruses" @PeterHotez @pnas "We do know that the insertion of such FCS sequences into SARS-like viruses was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal (“DEFUSE”)"
May 19 9 tweets 5 min read
From the @TheLancet COVID-19 commission chair:

"EHA-WIV-UNC was involved in the collection of a large number of so-far undocumented SARS-like viruses.. manipulation within.. (BSL)-2.. raising concerns that an airborne virus might have infected a.. worker"
pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pn… @TheLancet Hey @shingheizhan our peer-reviewed @MolBioEvol figure is cited in the letter!
May 19 4 tweets 2 min read
Some scientists are a bit confused. Just because *globally* there are more than 180 SARSrCoV sequences published, doesn't mean that the 180+ SARSrCoV sequences from the Wuhan/EcoHealth scientists have all been accounted for. Unless you mean to say that when the EcoHealth and Wuhan scientists wrote a research proposal with the line ">180 bat SARSr-CoV strains sequenced in our prior work and not yet examined for spillover potential", they actually meant the global research community's "prior work".
May 18 10 tweets 4 min read
I still read/listen to interviews of natural #OriginOfCovid proponents. However, it remains difficult to reconcile their public & private stance.

Proximal Origin authors knew from the start that w/o access to info in Wuhan, they couldn't pin the origin.
republicans-oversight.house.gov/wp-content/upl… Yet, in recent interviews, these authors continue to assert that all sequences/viruses being worked with in the Wuhan lab must have been in the public domain.

Sometimes, they invoke a bizarre generalization that virologists are gossipy and can't keep novel viruses to themselves.
May 17 8 tweets 3 min read
Looking forward to the case study on #OriginOfCovid - how a small group of scientists managed to create a mass illusion of scientific consensus via groupthink and connections with prominent science journalists/writers. Agreed that the public needs to know that scientific uncertainty prevails for some period while data/evidence is collected.

Surprised during the pandemic that some of our top experts don't seem to know this and try to manufacture scientific certainty.
May 17 4 tweets 1 min read
If you're a scientist or journalist promoting the benefits of virus hunting (in natural habitats, wildlife trade etc.) and manipulation in laboratories around the world, please practice some circumspection.

Millions might've died from precisely this type of research gone wrong. A lab-based outbreak doesn't require any fancy bioweaponry or shenanigans (e.g. serial passaging to select for cross-species airborne transmissibility) in the lab.

It can be as simple as scientists chancing on a dangerous natural pathogen in the wild and bringing it into cities.
May 17 5 tweets 3 min read
If the @USRightToKnow and others keep suing for virologist emails via the freedom of information act, we might finally get to see their honest reactions to the Defuse proposal or perhaps their transition to non-FOI’able channels of communication. This 2020 email doesn’t make me feel particularly confident in the current membership of the NSABB advising federal policies on potential pandemic pathogen research.
May 11 11 tweets 4 min read
What are the sources that tell us what research was happening in Wuhan that could’ve plausibly led to the emergence of Covid-19?

Grants+reports submitted to US funders, FOI’ed emails from research collaborators, publications+academic theses from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.. .. interviews of the Wuhan Institute of Virology scientist, published in @ScienceMagazine and @techreview, telling us directly that their research on SARS-like viruses had been conducted at low biosafety levels (BL2/3) that cannot contain viruses like SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19)..
May 5 7 tweets 3 min read
This is possibly an example of experts explaining things poorly to their sponsors.

Saying it’s clear the pandemic virus came from animals is like saying it’s clear a forest fire came from wood catching on 🔥

The question is how did it happen?
mediaite.com/news/bill-gate… I have not read Bill Gate’s new book. There are likely lessons in it about pandemic preparedness that should be seriously considered.

But we also need to be careful that the virus hunting to predict & prepare for pandemics does not itself cause pandemics.
ecohealthalliance.org/2017/01/1-mill…
May 1 6 tweets 3 min read
Many virologists, even natural #OriginOfCovid proponents, agree it is unsafe to study new SARS-like viruses at BL2 - which was the case in Wuhan for several years.

Has new policy been put in place to restrict work on novel airborne mammal pathogens to higher biosafety levels? The level of biosafety and containment of viruses was a key concern (privately) expressed by top experts on biosafety/virology. See email from James Le Duc, director of the Galveston National Laboratory, which collaborated with and trained WIV staff.
usrtk.org/wp-content/upl…
Apr 22 9 tweets 4 min read
"the deputy consular chief in the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, wrote that by mid-October, the consulate team “knew that the city had been struck by what was thought to be an unusually vicious flu season. The disease worsened in November.”"
washingtonpost.com/opinions/inter… Yet, some of the most outspoken virologists on #OriginOfCovid would have us believe that the Wuhan outbreak only started in late Nov/Dec 2019 in order to support a (multiple animal-to-human spillover) Huanan market origin hypothesis.
Apr 21 4 tweets 2 min read
Point taken that many virologists do not like the BL2-to-dentist's office comparison.

But does this mean they still think working with 100s of new airborne viruses in BL2 is wise?

This research is still ongoing with SARS, MERS, ebola, nipah-like viruses.
For years, some scientists studied pathogens that they described as poised to cause a pandemic at low biosafety BL2.

My guess is that they didn't believe their own hype and assumed that novel viruses found in nature were not actually pandemic-level.
Apr 19 9 tweets 5 min read
One thing that continues to surprise people I talk to today is that the live SARS-like virus research in Wuhan had been conducted at BL2 & 3, and not at their BL4 highest biosafety lab (which is oddly what the WHO team were given a tour of during the 2021 joint study with China). Top coronavirus expert Ralph Baric told @techreview these SARS-like viruses should be studied at higher biosafety than BL2.

“If you study a hundred different bat viruses, your luck may run out.”

technologyreview.com/2021/06/29/102…
Apr 17 4 tweets 2 min read
Circumstantial evidence #OriginOfCovid

Lab: Outbreak started next to low biosafety lab studying & engineering diverse SARS-like viruses from caves & markets across China & SE Asia.

Market: Early Covid-19 cluster was at market that sold animals that can carry SARS-like viruses. Circ. evidence that moved the 🪡 for me was 2021 revelation that the Wuhan-US scientists had a 2018 roadmap for inserting novel cleavage sites in unspecified SARS-like viruses👩‍🔬

SARS2 is the only known SARS-like virus with such a cleavage site insertion. academic.oup.com/mbe/article/39…
Apr 15 4 tweets 2 min read
If I'm looking at this EcoHealth Alliance graphic correctly, in 2017, Wuhan city was predicted to have less pandemic-potential viruses than West Coast cities of the US.
science.org/content/articl… Image "Supaporn counters that the goal of wildlife surveillance isn’t to characterize every potential viral threat, but rather to learn how viruses evolve."
Apr 15 5 tweets 2 min read
Scientists can't tell us what the #OriginOfCovid is. Neither can intelligence agencies in the US and other countries.

I don't understand why people are rushing to bet their party or "science" on a particular origin.
open.spotify.com/episode/2e4Jen… I'm curious what the plan is for those scientists (& non-scientists) who are telling everyone that the science points solidly at a natural #OriginOfCovid

It's not going to be easy to recover trust in science (or you) if evidence for a lab origin surfaces in the years to come.
Apr 11 5 tweets 3 min read
After Ian Lipkin sent this email to a co-author on Proximal Origin, their manuscript was posted on Virological 5 days later - arguing against an adaptation through culture #OriginOfCovid scenario.

Archived Proximal Origin here: archive.ph/cZwkG The Proximal Origin arguments have not aged well.

We now know the Wuhan Institute of Virology had access to SARS2-like viruses (+ we don't know what 180 unique SARS-like viruses they had found by 2018). They also had the intent to engineer novel cleavage sites into SARSrCoVs.
Apr 11 8 tweets 3 min read
The Proximal Origin authors need to make up their minds about the adaptation of SARS2 to humans.

2020 Proximal Origin paper says virus is pre-adapted/optimized to human.

2021 Critical Review says this has no validity.

2022 Pekar preprint says pre-adaptation to human is likely. You're changing your mind each year about whether to champion or condemn the pre-adaptation of the pandemic virus to humans so as to fit your current favorite hypothesis.

"Optimal" or "Optimized" (for human) were used 6 times in Proximal Origin.
nature.com/articles/s4159…
Apr 10 8 tweets 3 min read
An unexpected & welcome piece by @KelseyTuoc @voxdotcom on media failures in 2020:
"But lab origins weren’t a conspiracy theory — they were a credible scientific hypothesis, at a moment when we knew very little, for how Covid-19 could have originated"
vox.com/future-perfect… Disturbingly, 2+ years into the pandemic, some top journalists at influential media outlets have yet to learn lessons and hone their craft for reporting on developing Covid-19 stories.
archive.ph/SmvK5
Apr 5 6 tweets 3 min read
Very detailed piece by @KelseyTuoc @voxdotcom on the rising risk of lab-based outbreaks and why pandemic prevention research can inadvertently cause pandemics or be harnessed by bioterrorists.
vox.com/22937531/virus… @KelseyTuoc @voxdotcom “Advances in synthetic biology and biotechnology make it easier than ever before to make pathogens more lethal and transmissible... which increases the risk of deliberate or accidental releases of dangerous pathogens,” Lieberman told the bipartisan Commission on Biodefense.
Apr 5 6 tweets 4 min read
C Calisher Feb 2020 @TheLancet "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin"

Apr 2020 email "An incidental/accidental error infecting a lab worker.. could have occurred"
h/t @emilyakopp thelancet.com/journals/lance… Image @TheLancet @emilyakopp It is sorrowful to see FOIAs reveal virologist after virologist privately debating a lab #OriginOfCovid while publicly condemning any suggestion of an unnatural origin as a conspiracy theory.

Why can't we admit that even the most talented & charming scientists can make mistakes?