Long article about lab escape theory

Two theories for origin of covid:

  1. Jumped from animal to human
  2. Escaped from a research lab

  3. Wuhan is home to world leading cengter for research into coronaviruses

  4. Initial speculation of non-natural origin was condemed by scientists
  5. Initial letter condeming Wuhan lab escape theory was authored by a funder of that same lab. The letter concealed/denied conflict of interest.
  6. Condemation is based looking for older style markers of viral manipulation. New "seamless" methods for viral manipulation are less easy to detect than old methods

Two arguments against lab escape theory from one of those letters:

  1. Spike protein is physically compatible with ACE2 receptor in humans, which implies natural selection as opposed to intelligent design. Counter argument is scientists can use/accelerate selection process.
  2. Coronavirus research is based off DNA backbones, and the SARS2 virus is not based off any known DNA backbones. Counter argument is DNA backbones are easy to make.

More harshly worded counter argument is here: https://harvardtothebighouse.com/2020/03/19/china-owns-nature-magazines-ass-debunking-the-proximal-origin-of-sars-cov-2-claiming-covid-19-wasnt-from-a-lab/, titled "China owns Nature magazine’s ass: ...". Claims China censored 1,000 articles in Nature magazine over last several years.

As a counter factual, author cites the research into SARS1 and MERS:

So far (15 months into outbreak) no intermediary host species has been identified for SARS2.

Research into viral manipulation is called "Gain of function" research. Some examples:

(! Sounds pretty crazy and dangerous)

In 2015, head of the Wuhan lab and a U of North Carolina researcher took backbone of SARS1 virus, and replaced the spike protein on it. This chimera virus was able to attach to human cells.

Author argues that in retrospect, gain of function research was not valuable, but potentially dangerous. First part I agree with, since it was mRNA technology that produced the most effective vaccines.

Head of Wuhan lab received funding from a US organization to produce a new coronavirus with the highest possible level of infectuousness for human cells. This is publicly documented due to US government grant disclosure rules.

Quote from the US grant provider in an interview in December 2019:

Dr. Daszak: And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new sars-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS...coronaviruses — you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happen with coronavirus, in zoonotic risk

And then a denial in April 2020:

Dr. Daszak: The idea that this virus escaped from a lab is just pure baloney. It’s simply not true

Some info on gain of function safety levels:

Summary of 2 scenarios:

1) Place of origin

2) Natural history

3) Furin cleavage site

4) Codons

Final theory from the author: what if coronavirus researchers travelled around China, and naturally contracted SARS2 on one of these trips?

Author finds arguments for lab escape more compelling, primarily beacuse of lack of naturaly history evidence for natural emergence, and the implausbility of the furin cleavage site DNA.