Stuart Neil Profile picture
Virology Professor investigating HIV, Ebola, influenza and SARS CoV-2 . Own views. Dislikes frauds and charlatans spreading disinformation during the pandemic
Ross Grayson, MPH, CIH Profile picture lzvolk Profile picture Papa De Razón Profile picture Brad James Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
Aug 2 13 tweets 3 min read
1: One canard you see from the professionally-invested lab leakers and their followers, which they use to sow doubt that COVID came from wildlife farms in Hubei, is the impression that no human-tropic bat sarbeco, and no S2-family members, have been found outside Yunnan in China. 2: Two pieces of evidence that should make you pause and realize that they are talking patent nonsense.
Firstly, his paper from 2007: journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/JV…
Jul 1 19 tweets 4 min read
1: Very interesting paper from Pasteur looking at the pathogenesis of BANAL-236. The results are important, valuable and the experiments are well done. However, it seems to me some commentators selling books, are significantly overinterpreting the results
researchsquare.com/article/rs-180… 2: BANAL-236 is one of the closest known relatives of SARS-CoV-2 found in bats, in Laos (yet still approx. 30yr distant). In particular it has a Spike whose RBD is as near as dammit the same as SARS-CoV-2, but no furin cleavage site.
Jul 1 4 tweets 1 min read
While the prurient Clintonesque interest in this story will probably have most BBQ attendees this weekend avoiding the hot dogs, this is simply another example of Johnson’s normalization of corruption with the aid of client journalism. He tried to give a 100K job to an ‘aid’ which would have worked if Williamson (allegedly) hadn’t walked in on them while the the Foreign Secretary should have been at his desk working on (er) foreign relations. So on top of that it reveals someone who really wasn’t doing his job
Jun 17 5 tweets 2 min read
“The exact FCS sequence present in SARS-CoV-2 has recently been introduced into the spike protein of SARS-CoV-1 in the laboratory, in an elegant series of experiments (12, 30), with predictable consequences in terms of enhanced viral transmissibility and pathogenicity”

Quote Ref 12 analyzes a natural clutter deletion of the FCS in SARS CoV-2 as a Loss of Function mutation in pathogenesis and transmission experiments

No insertion in any virus and certainly not SARS1

nature.com/articles/s4156…
Jun 9 11 tweets 2 min read
nothing new then because the Chinese haven't shared anything more, be it about markets, labs, or animal farms

cdn.who.int/media/docs/def… probably should have put #SAGO in that
Jun 7 4 tweets 2 min read
Poor @mattwridley, despite a PhD in evolution, writing pop-Sci books on sex selection, the red Queen hypothesis and the human genome, he wants you to believe that the concept of recombination is alien to him.

Believable or 💰 🤔?

Watch this instead

Incidentally, CoVs are so recombinogenic because the way they synthesize their RNAs.

Funnily enough this fundamental aspect of their biology and natural history is not something you will find discussed in Viral (we hold out hope for the paperback!)
Apr 4 29 tweets 5 min read
1: Read the article about SARS2 origins. Most of it is just the usual rehash of EHA/DARPA/WIV innuendo that we all know. Nothing new in that. Legitimate questions about GoF and safety interspersed with conjecture trying to link PREDICT to SARS2. vanityfair.com/news/2022/03/t… 2: as has been stated many times, the contentious chimeric virus research KNOWN to have been performed by WIV/EHA would not result in SARS-CoV-2. See my thoughts on the merits of GoF and its risks – they haven’t changed lest someone accuse me of apologia.
Mar 5 5 tweets 2 min read
Yuri here (despite his personal incredulity) raises the most important question.

IF the animals, which we now know were there in late Nov/early Dec, are the source of SARS2 in Wuhan, where did they all go by the time the market closed Jan 1 2020? And he is absolutely correct, they would have had to pick it up outside Wuhan, somewhere in the supply chain or the farm/wildlife holding facility they came from. And don't forget that the people who brought hem there could well have been exposed too - just like sars1
Feb 27 32 tweets 7 min read
1: Yesterday 3 important preprints dropped. 2 make a powerful case that the origin of SARS CoV-2 in Wuhan resulted from at least 2 (possibly more) zoonotic spillovers associated with live animal trading in the Huanan market.
zenodo.org/record/6299600…
zenodo.org/record/6291628… 2: The other, while attempting to come to the opposite conclusion, inadvertently makes the case for the other two stronger (more later).
researchsquare.com/article/rs-137…
Feb 17 7 tweets 26 min read
@PrometheusCHT @InWuchang @gdemaneuf @R_H_Ebright @AndrewButchart1 @Rossana38510044 @macroliter @Louis_San @thackerpd @MicrobiomDigest @marcendeweld @ugauthier @VirginieVilar @zeynep @arambaut @robertson_lab @SpyrosLytras So let me get this straight.

The ‘parsimonious’ explanation you are proposing is that:

1: using RaTG13 and a large set of hypothetical viruses (that must be by definition more closely related to SC2), virus jockeys at WIV designed a consensus virus genome in secret @PrometheusCHT @InWuchang @gdemaneuf @R_H_Ebright @AndrewButchart1 @Rossana38510044 @macroliter @Louis_San @thackerpd @MicrobiomDigest @marcendeweld @ugauthier @VirginieVilar @zeynep @arambaut @robertson_lab @SpyrosLytras 2: they then clone into it the RBD of a virus from Laos that they had already characterized as a super ACE2 binder, which just so happens to the same as others sampled at a different time
Dec 16, 2021 18 tweets 3 min read
1: Interesting preprint, marred by some disappointing commentary from some who should know better clapped on by the usual phocine suspects. Luckily, we were spared others chiming in with their “expertise”. A shame because I looked forward to the insight.
biorxiv.org/content/10.110… 2: What most people are not that aware of is that SARS-like CoVs are not just found in horseshoe bats in China and SE Asia, but all over centra asia, Africa and Europe. These are more distantly related to SARS1 and SARS2.
Dec 4, 2021 27 tweets 5 min read
1.There is unsurprisingly a lot of speculation about where omicron has come from. There are several hypotheses – personally I lean towards evolution as an immune escape variant in an immunocompromised host. 2.Over the pandemic we have now found many examples of persistent, long-term infection of people who have compromised immune systems.
Dec 3, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
So as @PaulBieniasz says, selecting something like omicron in the lab is highly unlikely - particularly because in vitro selections will throw up plenty of fitness issues.
Having said that, studies like this are highly irresponsible
pnas.org/content/118/36… The authors passage wuhan in the presence of sera to select for neutralisation escape.

Such data is important - but you don't have to do it like this, and this shouldn't have been approved at BSL3 level IMO without enhanced protection - respirators etc. They may have been used🤷‍♂️
Nov 25, 2021 24 tweets 4 min read
1: After having now read the book, this seems to me a particularly unwise statement to make. It is littered with sensationalist misinformation under the guise of presenting the authors as impartial “truth seekers”
2: There are certainly pressing questions to be answered about the early events in Wuhan in late 2019, where the earliest cases were, whether there is an original epi link to Huanan or another market, and what coronavirus science was being pursued at labs in the locality…
Nov 8, 2021 14 tweets 2 min read
1.There is a fairly silly and unsupported notion that virologists who favor a natural zoonotic origin (note phrasing) of SARS CoV2 are somehow against actually investigating other possibilities. 2. This usually manifests as we are somehow precluded from asking such questions because of the nature of our funding (almost universally NIH or MRC/Wellcome Trust in US and UK respectively) – despite of course none of them having any say in one’s research. Very tiresome.
Sep 30, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
A mark of intellectual honesty in the lab leak debate is whether some with entrenched positions will accept new contrary evidence and adjust accordingly or will seek to paint any such new evidence as fake or invent a convoluted explanation to fit it into their own narrative We have seen this on display very much with the Laotian bat viruses. Their RBDs show that exquisite affinity for huACE2 in bat sarbecoviruses exists in nature and therefore lab selection is not a prerequisite
Sep 28, 2021 4 tweets 2 min read
There we go @ydeigin. @SpyrosLytras had already written a detailed explanation for favoring the published alignment - because it allows a parsimonious route for the natural evolution of an FCS in the extant family consistent with the known molecular biology of the CoV polymerase. Does it invalidate the other: no
Sep 25, 2021 6 tweets 1 min read
1: So if one was to find a bat virus with a putative FCS in it, it is perfectly reasonable to investigate it. 2: clone the spike into a plasmid. Pseudotype lentis with it. Ask whether the virus that comes out of produced cells is cleaved; mutate it and see that you block that.
Sep 23, 2021 38 tweets 7 min read
1: As seems be de rigeur these days, the release of a cache of documents by DRASTIC requires a bit of context, explanation and reaction. This one on the face of it seems probelmatic, certainly in the way it is being presented at least.

drasticresearch.org/2021/09/21/the… 2:Now I’ll say from the outset, there aspects of this proposal that are concerning from a DURC and GoF point of view, and certainly enough to raise concerns by DARPA that in part meant it didn’t get funded. I’m not going to gloss over them, but it’s worth pointing out the premise
Sep 17, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
Major new Bat sarbecovirus discovery in horseshoe bats in Laos. A virus with a spike protein containing an RBD only 2 amino acids different from Wuhan SARS CoV2 and uses hACE2 as efficiently

So now this is definitive. There is nothing unnatural or "uniquely adapted" about SARS2 assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-87196…
Sep 16, 2021 7 tweets 2 min read
Fascinating and provocative. Re-emergence of Ebola virus highly similar to the isolates circulating in Guinea 5 years ago. This is inconsistent with a new spillover, and suggests that it could be derived from long-term persistent or latent infection.

nature.com/articles/s4158… We know that male survivors of Ebola in 2014/2015 could shed viral RNA in the semen for months, and there are documented cases of survivors released from treatment centres after viremic clearance subsequently infecting partners