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The origins of Covid-19

June 8, 2021

This month past, the media has been full of stories about the origins of Covid-19. Most of them are absolute crap, not even sensible enough to be called speculative. At the same time, geneticists at Temple University have published an important article on the topic.  (Cite.) How many working as science journalists and writing about the origins of Covid-19 will notice it? And read it? I suspect relatively few.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Grossberg permalink
    June 8, 2021 2:15 pm

    Because China is under a communist dictatorship, with a proven and widely reported history of deception, denial, intimidation, imprisonment and worse, the world may never know conclusively exactly how the COVID-19 virus entered the human population.
    For more than a year, there have been two plausible theories – neither proven, but with some serious evidence based on history, recent behavior and what is known about this new virus. Either the virus mutated and directly crossed a species barrier from (probably) Chinese Wuhan province bats, or it was accidentally leaked from a Wuhan bio lab, operated by dedicated scientists but nevertheless operating with lower bio-security levels than they could have had and should have had. And it’s been widely reported that there have been occasional similar leaks from labs around the world over the decades, as well as more recent leaks from Chinese labs – which so alarmed the Obama administration almost a decade ago that they investigated it with the WHO, sent over personnel to address the issue and also granted government money to fix it.
    So if leaks have happened before at Chinese labs, and recently, and occurred more than once, it’s not unreasonable to investigate the possibility that it happened again.
    Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from one of today’s magazine columns that I just read online:

    “Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that in May 2020, a study on the origins of COVID-19 prepared in May 2020 by the intelligence division of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory “made a strong case for further inquiry into the possibility the virus seeped out of the lab.”

    One more thought on the Chinese government’s otherworldly secrecy and intractable opposition to an independent, external review of what is known and recorded about the start of the pandemic: There’s a fairly wide consensus that the Chinese official statistics on the impact of COVID-19 in China are not accurate. According to the Chinese government, no variant of COVID-19 has touched the country in any significant way.

    But even if you believe the official statistics, the pandemic in China grew from 571 cases on January 22, 2020, to more than 76,000 cases on February 22, 2020. (And then, in China’s telling, the virus more or less just stopped spreading.) In that span, the number of deaths grew from 17 to 2,442. (On April 17, China adjusted its death toll to 4,632, and it contend only four people in a country of over 1 billion people have died from COVID-19 since.) A virus that kills more than 4,000 people in a short span is a really big deal. Any government, even the most ruthless and draconian, would want to get to the bottom of how the pandemic started, if for no other reason than to protect the ruling class and to minimize disruption to the economy that creates the wealth the rulers enjoy.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken keeps emphasizing that a full and transparent investigation “is profoundly in China’s interest to do this, as well.”

    Indeed, Mr. Secretary, why does the Chinese regime seem so adamantly opposed to doing something that is profoundly in its own interest?

    Is Beijing acting like a regime that is hell-bent on finding out how this whole calamity started? Or is it acting like a regime that already knows how this whole calamity started and wants to make sure no one else finds out?”

  2. rturpin permalink*
    June 9, 2021 4:20 pm

    Michael, I hope you realize how silly this question is, whoever asked it: “Is Beijing acting like a regime that is hell-bent on finding out how this whole calamity started? Or is it acting like a regime that already knows how this whole calamity started and wants to make sure no one else finds out?”

    Under what scenario, other than replacing its government with angels, do you envision Beijing acting as if it were “hell-bent on finding out how this whole calamity started”?? When you realize that first scenario is fantasy posed only as a convenient alternative to the other most damning one, you might start to allow yourself to ponder some scenarios that aren’t either of those. Beijing’s own knowledge about the origin might be uncertain. It might know some things it doesn’t want the rest of the world to know, despite that uncertainty. Its desire to investigate might be secondary to many other political considerations. And all of those possibilities I just outlined are compatible both with a natural origin not involving a lab leak, or an origin involving a lab leak.

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