A dozen questions to ask anyone who still believes (or pretends to) Sars-Cov-2 occurred naturally
I know yesterday's piece on the endless efforts to push the natural origins theory of Sars-Cov-2 was looong. Here's a TL:DR version, in handy question-and-answer form.
Probably my favorite meme ever:
i ain’t reading all that…
Last week, the same virologists who have spent three years insisting Covid must be natural put out a new preprint “proving” Covid is natural.
The paper did nothing of the sort, of course. It merely demonstrated - again - that raccoon dogs and other animals were sold a market in Wuhan that was also home to many early Covid cases. It did not show the animals had transmitted Sars-Cov-2 to humans, or even that they had the virus.
But the same media outlets who insisted for over a year that the lab leak theory was racist, or a conspiracy, or a racist conspiracy uncritically repeated its nonsense. The Atlantic (why is it always The Atlantic?) went so far as to call the paper “The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic.”
As I read the paper, and the coverage around it, I felt compelled to discuss in detail the reasons the natural origins theory is so farfetched.
Why? Because we are not just investigating the past. To ignore the reality that Covid almost certainly leaked from a lab is to encourage similar research that will inevitably produce similar - or worse - disasters.
There’s an old-school newspaper saw: Yesterday’s news wraps tomorrow’s fish.
And that little maxim came before the Internet and social media destroyed our attention spans. I have 16 books to prove I’m happy to write long, but emailed newsletters aren’t books. Stacks work best under 1,000 words - ideally with a dash of humor. (As an even older-school saying goes: Stories should be like skirts, long enough to cover the subject, short enough to keep your interest.)
But this time around, I had to go long. The details matter. The natural origins camp keeps offering the same (non)-evidence to argue that a live animal market in Wuhan must have been the source of the epidemic.
But understanding the scientific - and semantic - games they’re playing requires delving into the details. When they say raccoon dogs have been proven “susceptible” to Covid, for example, they don’t mean what you might think. They mean that in the controlled setting of a laboratory, researchers can infect raccoon dogs by spraying Sars-Cov-2 into their noses.
(That raccoon dog won’t hunt:)
So the piece got longer, and longer. I cut it, and then it got longer again. I knew I was in trouble when Substack sent an automated warning telling me the piece was about to be “too long for email.” (They’ll still send it, but gmail may clip it.) I did stay under that limit, barely.
Point is, it was loooong. Plus it’s paywalled through Sunday, so a lot of you haven’t had a chance to read it yet anyway. Thus, without more throat-cleaning, I offer a dozen quick questions you can ask anyone foolish enough to tell you that sure, a lab leak is possible, but the natural origins theory has plenty of evidence too, muah!
Chinese scientists led the effort to find the original source of the SARS virus. In early 2020, they were very involved in similar efforts to find the source of Sars-Cov-2. Then they stopped. Why?
How many times have raccoon dogs been found to be naturally infected with Sars-Cov-2 since the virus was invented? How many times have raccoon dogs been found to transmit Sars-Cov-2 outside of a laboratory? (Zero. And zero again!)
Does it make sense that an animal that has NEVER been proven to infect a human (or other animal) with Sars-Cov-2 is the original source for animal-to-human transmission of Sars-Cov-2?
Did any sample from any animal at the Wuhan market that is supposedly the original home of animal-to-human coronavirus transmission ever test positive for Sars-Cov-2?
Did researchers have this much trouble finding the animal host for the original SARS, or were they able to nail down the transmission chain within a year?
Furin cleavage sites make it much easier for viruses to infect humans. Sars-Cov-2 has such a site. Other, similar coronaviruses do not. Weird, huh?
Did a New York-based nonprofit connected with the Wuhan Institute of Virology ask for Pentagon funding in 2018 to pay for research adding furin cleavage sites to coronaviruses? Did the Pentagon - yes, the Pentagon! - reject the proposal as too risky?
Did a University of North Carolina professor named Ralph Baric work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2015 to create an artificial “chimeric” virus that included the spike protein from a newly discovered bat coronavirus? Did Baric and his Wuhan Institute co-authors write that their new virus could “infect human airway cells”?
Is the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan? Wait, isn’t Wuhan where Covid started?
Did Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control, just testify to a Congressional committee about the Wuhan Institute? Is this what he said?
In September 2019, three things happened in that lab. One, they deleted the [genetic] sequences [from bat viruses they had studied]. That is highly irregular—researchers don’t usually like to do that. Second, they commanded the command and control of the lab from civilian control to military control. Highly unusual. And the third thing they did, which I think is really telling, is they let a contractor re-do the ventilation system in that laboratory. There is strong evidence there was a significant event in that laboratory in September 2019.
A three-parter: Did an American virologist privately warn Dr. Anthony Fauci only weeks after seeing the genetic code for Sars-Cov-2 that he and his colleagues believed it appeared to be “engineered”? Did those virologists then have a secret conference call with Dr. Fauci and suddenly decide to insist publicly that the virus probably wasn’t engineered at all? Did some of these virologists then get multi-million grants from Fauci’s division at the National Institutes of Health?
Is that enough questions, or do you want a dozen more?