The Volokh Conspiracy

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"The Possibility of a [Wuhan] Laboratory Accident or Leak" "Must Be Investigated"


So wrote the Washington Post editorial board Friday:

Many scientists have speculated that the virus leaped from animals, such as bats, to humans, perhaps with an intermediate stop in another animal. This kind of zoonotic spillover has occurred before, such as in the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014.

But there is another pathway, also plausible, that must be investigated. That is the possibility of a laboratory accident or leak. It could have involved a virus that was improperly disposed of or perhaps infected a laboratory worker who then passed it to others. Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is a major transportation hub and a center of virus studies in China, with at least six facilities with BSL-3 laboratories for handling infectious agents. Published papers show that some of these institutions have been very active in coronavirus research. The most active is the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where Shi Zhengli leads a research team that has extensively studied and experimented on bat coronaviruses that are very similar to the one that ignited the global pandemic.

Dr. Shi said that when news of the outbreak first became known, she checked her laboratory records to see whether there had been any mishandling of experimental materials. She also asserted that the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus did not match viruses that her team had sampled from bat caves in China. "That really took a load off my mind," she told Scientific American. "I had not slept a wink for days."

But that must not be the end of the story. China actively covered up the early stages of the pandemic, concealed the transmissibility of the virus from its own people and the world, and punished Wuhan doctors who expressed worry about it in late December 2019….

Bruce Carroll (PJ Media) notes that, a year ago, the Post mocked Sen. Tom Cotton making a similar argument, in a news story titled "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked":

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) repeated a fringe theory suggesting that the ongoing spread of a coronavirus is connected to research in the disease-ravaged epicenter of Wuhan, China.

Cotton referenced a laboratory in the city, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, in an interview on Fox News's "Sunday Morning Futures." He said the lab was near a market some scientists initially thought was a starting point for the virus's spread.

Yet Cotton acknowledged there is no evidence that the disease originated at the lab. Instead, he suggested it's necessary to ask Chinese authorities about the possibility, fanning the embers of a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked by experts.

"Now, we don't have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China's duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says," Cotton said. "And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all."

To be sure, this is a different lab, and it's possible that a theory could be rightly criticized as unfounded last year but then viewed as more plausible given more recent developments. Still, it would have been good for the more recent editorial to acknowledge that maybe Sen. Cotton's "fringe theory" wasn't quite "bunk" after all; and it's a reminder that it's hard to tell such things within the first months of a developing story like the coronavirus.

NEXT: Well, Have You Ever Seen Dr. Octopus and Sen. Klobuchar Together?   

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  1. "must be investigated"

    Ah, the use of the passive voice to ignore political realities. This is Communist China. There will be no real investigation of anything. End of story.

  2. C’mon, we’ve always been at war with Eastasia. Only a thought criminal would suggest that a Party publication had ever said otherwise.

    1. Get real, y81. China's actions with respect to SARS-Cov-2 was nothing short of criminal. Let's see of Ole White Joe's are not too shriveled to racket up the pressure.

    2. I think y81 has half of it.

      The other half of it is "any port in a storm". Online discourse is a series of mini-outrages and debates. And yes, Both Sides Do This. They attach onto whatever the Outrage of the Day is, and flog it to signal solidarity with their tribe. And often times very little real thought is put into these things.

      And it is often the case that another Outrage of the Day, sometime later, features people switching sides and making completely inconsistent arguments. While sometimes that can just be a change of mind (which is a totally legitimate thing to happen), often it is just a sign that no thinking went into the earlier position.

      1. Except that the original postulation of a lab leak as a possible source for the spread of C-19 was roundly decried by the left...including prominent members/leaders thereof and their lackies in inherently without merit, and the mere suggestion of such a thing racist by its very nature.

  3. Here's a more important question to ask.

    This was deemed a "conspiracy theory" and "fake news". And as such, any such stories would've been banned from Twitter, de-listed from Google, eliminated from Facebook, and those who would publically promote such conspiracy theories would quickly find themselves banned from the platforms.

    Crazy, I know. And yet....that is exactly what happened with the more recent events, and is currently happening now. And we all know China has a good amount of...influence...over certain companies. And China has a vested interest in suppressing such stories.

    All items to consider.

    1. Yeah. People are saying.

      Armchair, ask yourself a simple question. Suppose for the sake of argument that coronavirus escaped naturally from animals to people in the vicinity of Wuhan. Where in Wuhan would the first evidence that that had happened turn up and be recognized? I suggest that a virus lab familiar with that type of virus, and which undoubtedly tests its workers as a safety precaution, is overwhelmingly likely to be the first recognized site. Almost anywhere else, initial cases of a novel epidemic which somewhat mimics flu would go misdiagnosed—likely for long enough to enable the virus to become generally prevalent.

      Take it the next step. If a naturally originated virus did begin circulating among the Wuhan population, which is more likely—that a lab equipped and organized with procedures to contain such a virus let it escape accidentally, or that some member of lab staff contracted the virus prevalent outside the lab, and then got recognized at work?

      Except by motivated reasoning, I don't think it can even seem rational to suppose for the virus source some kind of evil plot, or even maladministration at a lab. As explanations, those are so much less likely to be correct that proponents confront daunting burdens to present specific proofs that the far-more-likely explanation of natural origin did not happen. You would need who, what, when, where, why, all documented, in China. Good luck.

      1. I would not be surprised if someone was selling lab animals for food.

        China *is* that corrupt...

      2. SL

        On that same line of questioning, what are the odds that, out of all the places that this novel coronavirus could show up, it just happens to be where China has multiple laboratories studying coronavirus?

        I have exactly 0 confidence in anything the Chinese government says, or "allows" people to say.

        1. Vinni, by reasoning similar to what I offered before, the odds are high. If Covid-19 had first turned up in the U.S., I think it would first have been noticed in the U.S. at some location with a high level virus laboratory. As in China, that includes quite a large number of locations, with many of them in or near population centers. The odds that the first outbreak of the virus would be somewhere in the geographic vicinity of one of those laboratories would be pretty good. The odds that it would first be noticed at one of those laboratories would be higher still.

          Of course, nothing I said implies any particular reliance on Chinese truth telling. In cases where shame and blame are possibilities, almost every culture on earth might be challenged. In China, both cultural and political factors suggest that problem could be especially acute. Getting truth out of the Chinese could even be as difficult as getting it out of Senate Republicans.

      3. SL,

        Regardless of what is more "likely," the real issue here is the shutting down of alternative viewpoints and options through censorship. Even if in 9 times out of 10, the more "likely" viewpoint is true, that means that 10% of the time you end up censoring the actual truth.

        And that's the real problem.

        1. Exactly.

          Heliocentrism serves as an example of this.

          1. You can say whatever you want in America - we have a right about that.

            You cannot demand that what you say be accepted as reasonable.

            1. You cannot demand that what you say be accepted as reasonable.

              Because "censorship" and "not accepting a claim as reasonable" are the same thing, right?

            2. You can say whatever you want in America – we have a right about that.*

              *But not on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any other platform that is the vast majority of how communication is done.

      4. On the other hand, the closest known wild relative of SARS-CoV-2 is RaTG13, which was found in Yunnan, China -- quite far from Wuhan. Samples of that virus (from miners who died from atypical pneumonia) were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for genotyping, which came back negative for then-known viruses, leading to the discovery of the bat reservoir for RaTG13 and many other coronaviruses.

        That same WIV research group conducts gain-of-function research, which could explain why the gene coding for the spike protein is more different from RaTG13 than the rest of the genome.

        But most of your presumptions include the Chinese government acting honestly and in good faith to report early infections in lab workers. That presumption is greatly undermined by their actual known behavior in December 2019 and January 2020.

        1. " the closest known wild relative of SARS-CoV-2 is RaTG13"

          Which might be what they created it from if they were working on a bioweapon. I'm of the opinion that they were, hadn't perfected it yet, and it escaped the lab. Possibly with help.

          I could see the "Bat Lady" working on RaTG13 without knowing that another lab in the same building was attempting to weaponize it. And she would be telling the truth that it doesn't have the genetic markers of any of her stuff -- which it wouldn't if it was genetically engineered.

          1. Dr. Ed is an expert virologist, microbiologist, and HIPPAologist.

      5. You are avoiding certain facts.
        1: The likelihood of catching a novel virus from a research animal is significantly higher because a large variety of rare viruses are present

        2: The Wuhan lab's own promotional photographs show an abysmal lack of safety equipment that Americans would barely consider sufficient to cook hamburgers. A bare mask and disposable gloves to handle infected animals. Animals with fangs.

        3: China has a dominating "save face" culture (often mistranslated as "honor" in media). If there is an accident, instinct number one is to pretend it did not happen to not cause embarrassment for anyone.

        4: The Chinese government is known to heavily punish people for mistakes, amplifying the problem in number 3.

        As the allegations from a Chinese scientific journal was that the virus came from a bat who bit a researcher, I see no reason to not believe this.

  4. Proclaiming it bunk was just another tactic. They decide what to say with zero regard for facts or truth or any other virtue associated with honesty.

    It's always just a tactic. Sometimes completely true because that’s advantageous. Other times completely false for the same reason. Often a mix. Ultimately they don’t care about truth or falsehood, only tactical success and power and money.

  5. The way Cotton put it, he made it sound like the virus was intentionally hatched and set upon the world by the Chinese. Who can say for sure? Those inscrutable Orientals!

    1. Well, it certainly did help get rid of Trump. And Trump was causing all sorts of problems for the Chinese.

      Now they have Biden there, and all sorts of connections with his son...

      1. If Trump had been competent he would have risen to the occasion and been re-elected easily. I think most politicians secretly hope for some kind of crisis so that they could show their leadership abilities and make opposition to them seem unpatriotic.

        1. It's amazing how destroying the economy can damage re-election prospects....

        2. Likewise, exacerbating a crisis and blaming it on the president is a good way to bolster your Orange Man Bad credentials, especially when the media (like, say, your brother) are eager to cooperate in casting that blame.

        3. Trump DID win -- the election was rigged.

          1. You're mentally ill.

      2. Yes! That's it!

        To get rid of Trump, the fiendish Chinese created a bioweapon, loosed it on their own people, killing thousands, then relied on happenstance to deliver the virus to Europe, from which it would inevitably get to the U.S., and wipe out Trump's election prospects.


  6. Jew boy wants the Chinese Communist Party to allow for an investigation...he is a dumb Ukrainian. USSA own CIA will not want the secrets out. Everyone has been working on a virus to attack the has been a military quest for decades. Give it up, why can't these jewish law professors recognize the real world in which we live. Jew boy professor does not realize that his beloved Israel was in on the work, as was Fauci, Pentagon, Fort Dietrich.

    Eugene has lost his marbles, but I suspect he never had many to begin with.

    1. I must say, I'm constantly amazed how you guys manage to get through daily life.

      With your everything-is-a-conspiracy way of thinking, how is it that you have not yet decided that (for example), the toothpaste industry is trying to kill us and have decided to use WD-40 to brush your teeth instead?

      Matter of fact, how do you even know how to use a computer or type words?

      You know the alphabet is an alien conspiracy, right?

      1. I doubt he's anything like this in real life, it's probably just a pose.

      2. Having had to deal with real antisemites, I can say with certainty that this ain't one. He/she/it isn't thinking in antisemitic concepts, it's just throwing in random language and thinking that people won't know the difference.

        It's a false flag of some sort -- it's being written by someone who does NOT hate Jews, who knows a lot about Judaism and quite likely *is* Jewish. *Why* it is being done is beyond me, my guess is some combination of wanting people to know that antisemitism exists (it does) and the sophomoric desire to write dirty words.

      3. And it's a conspiracy that goes way back! You know who invented Times Roman? Real Romans! More than 2000 years ago.

        Which is pretty interesting, when you think about it. Leave any language around for 500 years, and it evolves into something almost no one can recognize. But everyone can recognize the alphabet you write the language in, because that barely changes at all. Except when it does. Some folks think the Roman alphabet somehow descended from cuneiform.

  7. I would be quite surprised if this has not been investigated already. There has been worldwide attention on this virus and at least 20 different organizations around the world that could investigate. Trump himself probably already asked the CIA to look into it. The results may not be public but it I doubt no one has investigated.

    1. China kept Hubei province tightly sealed off for quite a while. Certainly long enough to eliminate most of any forensic evidence.

      1. Don Nico, you mean the Chinese killed everyone who noticed the plot, and nobody remembers now that it happened?

        1. Are you aware of the definition of "forensic evidence"?

          1. Yes. I was changing the subject to something sane.

    2. But Molly, do you honestly think the CIA would have helped Trump?

      Langley would have sat on anything they found.

    3. Well, of course it has. The question has been on everyone's mind who has a three digit IQ, and the U.S. government has been looking into it of course.

      Just as assuredly, if the COVID-19 originated from a lab in China (which is likely), it is 99.99% that it will never be proved and that China will be effective with its cover up.

  8. No one is permitted to be a hypocrite ... except me.

  9. "To be sure, this is a different lab, and it's possible that a theory could be rightly criticized as unfounded last year but then viewed as more plausible given more recent developments."

    That's not what the "correction" of Cotton said. It said he was wrong even to ask for an investigation, and it said nothing of him fingering the wrong lab.

    1. And it didn't say Cotton had no evidence, it said his claim was "debunked."

      1. Right - the evidence he was provided was shown to be not evidence of what he was JAQing off about.

        1. "Shown" by logic that is just as motivated as anything Cotton said. It's an argument from ignorance and from assuming that the most common approach to genetic manipulation is what would necessarily have been used, rather than a parsimonious explanation.

          1. It's pretty clear you don't know much about biology, much less bioengineering.

        2. "JAQing off"

          That's a real scientific way to refer to forming hypotheses to test.

          It seems like people are conflating "no evidence" with a falsified claim.

          1. You think Cotton was forming a hypothesis to test?

            Debunked does not require countervailing evidence. It means specifically that the evidence provided is found to not support your claim as much as you claim it does.

            1. "Now, we don't have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China's duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says,"

              So, yes, that's exactly what he was doing.

              1. No, that is not a hypothesis, it's JAQing off.

                1. No, that is not a hypothesis

                  It's the very definition of a hypothesis. But don't let that keep you from your 3rd grade wordplay.

  10. They were right then and wrong now.

  11. We know at least one lab in Wuhan had variants of CoVID-19. We know the outbreak seems to have started in Wuhan. You don't have to be some insane conspiracy nut to think "hmmm....maybe it was leaked out of of a lab in Wuhan...."

    1. Jimmy, see my 11:08, 2/8

    2. The protein spike that makes this dangerous to humans could not have been designed with current tech.
      Indeed, we wouldn't have known how it operated until we examined it.

      It wasn't designed; we don't live in a Tom Clancy book.

      1. Yeah, I guess you've never heard of "gain of function" research. Maybe it shouldn't be a real thing, but it is.

        Just because you couldn't design Covid 19 from first principles, does not mean you couldn't create it by just mashing things together and seeing what works. The way basically every modern plant variety was created, before genetic engineering came along.

        Mind, I'm not saying that it DID come out of gain of function research. Just that your argument doesn't really work.

        1. I know gain of function research. You are invoking it like magic.

          1. No, I'm pointing out that de novo design isn't the only way to alter a virus. You don't have to come up with a novel mechanism, then engineer a protein to carry it out, you can just make semi-random changes and see what works.

            1. But the spike protein is novel.

              I don't trust China, and think an accident from a lab is possible, though hardly the most likely rout of species jump.

              But I am quite satisfied that the possibility this was in any way intentionally created is very small. Neither the basic research foundation, nor the applied research capability is there.

      2. "Current technology" is a meaningful concept only to those outside of the community that furthers technology, i.e., those who know what is "current" form the conventional news stream.

        I know this from personal experience, having developed something that was considered not possible, and knew about it, therefore, before the interested public knew.

        So, just because you don't know doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

        1. Ah yes, it coulda been sekret tech.

          Some of you are so melodramatic.

          1. New tech is usually secret before it's not. That's not even the conspiracy part. The conspiracy part is anything involving the Chinese government. And, that's not even that much of a conspiracy when you don't even trust your own government. 😉

            1. It is not impossible that this was bioengineered through some tech we do not know about.

              But it is very, very unlikely.
              Because the issue is not just the quite large technical ability gap, it's also that our fundamental understanding of viruses mechanisms is insufficient to figure out this protein spike a priori.

              And fundamental understanding is generally published, so we have a pretty good idea of the state of knowledge there.

              1. You really don't get it! I'm saying that technology exists before the public knows about it. You say "fundamental understanding is generally published, so we have a pretty good idea of the state of knowledge there." And, before it's published? Geez!

                "Not long before he died, Ben Rich, head of the famous Lockheed Skunkworks where the SR-71 Blackbird was developed, gave a technical talk after which some discussion ensued. Rich said to the engineers gathered round that “anything you can imagine, we can already do”. This is an extraordinary statement coming from a person in charge of top-secret aerospace projects – and to engineers with good imaginations. In retrospect, it appears that he meant it."


                1. Basic research is not technology development.

                  I am not just talking about an engineering gap, there is also a fundamental knowledge gap.

                  Even if we could design the thing, we don't have the understanding to know what to design.

                  1. We didn't understand genetics when we bred most of our food crops, and food crops with actual designed genes are very rare even now. You don't HAVE to know how to design something like this to produce it. You just need to know how to select for the effect you want, and spam the genes with mutations. Evolution then does the rest.

                    1. This has sufficiently novel features that hybridization won't get you there. The bat virus doesn't have the spike. Nothing we knew of in early 2020 does.

                      Directed selection hitting the jackpot is the most likely intentional design method, and that's still very unlikely.

              2. Not "very, very unlikely" according to this source, from the Wapo link "laboratory accident or leak":

                An article in Independent Science News by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson discusses another mechanism, described by Nikolai Petrovsky of Flinders University in Australia, that could have resulted in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that produced the pandemic:

                Take a bat coronavirus that is not infectious to humans, and force its selection by culturing it with cells that express human ACE2 receptor, such cells having been created many years ago to culture SARS coronaviruses and you can force the bat virus to adapt to infect human cells via mutations in its spike protein, which would have the effect of increasing the strength of its binding to human ACE2, and inevitably reducing the strength of its binding to bat ACE2.

                Viruses in prolonged culture will also develop other random mutations that do not affect its function. The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus. Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.

      3. Is all military tech public knowledge?

        Or could the ChiComs possibly have some tech that we don't know about?

  12. There is as much or more evidence for the lab leak hypothesis as the 'mainstream' batburger hypothesis. The only difference is that it makes China look worse and by extension seemed to absolve Trump so the MSM and Big Tech carried water for the PRC dictatorship and labeled it a conspiracy.

  13. What a mess. The Washington Post in the linked article criticized Cotton for repeating the " fringe theory " that the virus "is connected to research in the disease-ravaged epicenter of Wuhan, China."

    The Post considered this "theory" to have been debunked:

    "There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” said Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University."

    "Vipin Narang, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it is “highly unlikely” the general population was exposed to a virus through an accident at a lab."

    “It’s a skip in logic to say it’s a bioweapon that the Chinese developed and intentionally deployed, or even unintentionally deployed,” Narang said.

    So, obviously, what the Post was claiming was that Cotton had "repeated" the "fringe theory" that the virus was a "bioweapon" and the Post claimed that that "theory" had been debunked.

    Cotton acknowledged that he had no evidence:
    “Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there. . ."

    Where did the Post get the idea that Cotton had "repeated" this "theory?" In the article, the Post linked to a video of Cotton being interviewed by Fox Business all purpose conspiracy theory crackpot Maria Bartiromo who said in introducing Cotton that he had been "Suggesting the virus may have come from China's biological warfare program." During the interview, Cotton, as far as I can tell, did not explicitly advance this "theory."

    Later on Feb 16 on Twitter, Cotton denied advancing the "fringe theory" about an "engineered bioweapon" and then went on to suggest that exact theory claiming it as a "hypotheses"

    "There’s at least four hypotheses about the origin of the virus:

    1. Natural (still the most likely, but almost certainly not from the Wuhan food market)

    2. Good science, bad safety (eg, they were researching things like diagnostic testing and vaccines, but an accidental breach occurred)

    3. Bad science, bad safety (this is the engineered-bioweapon hypothesis, with an accidental breach)

    4. Deliberate release (very unlikely, but shouldn’t rule out till the evidence is in)"

    Note that "hypotheses" 3 and 4 repeat the "fringe theory" that Cotton had just claimed he had not been spreading.

    So, the Post was criticizing Cotton for spreading a conspiracy theory about biological warfare, which he obviously did. The Post considered this conspiracy theory to have been debunked and explained why.

    Cotton admitted he had no evidence.

    So, the PJ guy is wrong (no surprise). The Post did not mock Cotton for making a similar argument as proposed by the Post recently.

    1. "The Post considered this conspiracy theory to have been debunked and explained why."

      Well, except for the "explained why" part. "Dismissed" and "debunked" aren't really the same thing, you know.

      What we saw on display in that Post article is a sort of pseudo-debunking. Somebody is suggesting a possibility that you want to dismiss, so you find somebody with credentials to dismiss it for you.

      Often you'll see in these cases that the credentialed dismisser will add details to the theory that the person being "debunked" didn't advance, and then 'debunk' their own strawman. Cotton suggests the virus might have "originated" in the lab, the designated debunker changes that to "was artificially created" in the lab, and asserts that there's no evidence of THAT.

      The other typical technique is somebody asks for a possibility to be looked into, and the debunker states that there's no evidence it's true. Well, duh, that's why you'd look into it, to see if there's evidence.

      The bottom line is that papers like the WaPo routinely call things they don't like "debunked", when at most they're "disputed".

      1. The bottom line is that papers like the WaPo routinely call things they don’t like “debunked”, when at most they’re “disputed”.

        Nope. "Disputed," implies evidence on both sides. Speculation without evidence (AKA "bunk') is what gets debunked.

  14. The virus is certainly a Chinese bio-weapon, and the reason the Chinese unleashed the virus when they did is very obvious to anyone who was up-to-date on the trends in classical music.

    There's an opera-- Puccini's last opera-- which is very challenging and not performed all that often, except by the really top-level companies, because it's so difficult for the singers. Puccini never finished it, but other lesser composers have composed endings. It's called Turandot and it is set in ancient Peking, or rather, in Puccini's fantasy of what ancient Peking was like.

    Turandot was experiencing renewed popularity early in 2020; it was a big fad in the opera world. The Met was scheduled to do it in April, and several other opera companies like San Francisco Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera were gonna do it, and even the "little-grand-opera" companies like Regina Opera in Brooklyn and West Bay Opera in Palo Alto -- companies which cast young, still-unknown singers to give them a start on their careers, and which perform in small venues for audiences of fewer than 150 people, were getting ready to do it.
    It was also trendy in Europe. (These trends come and go.)

    This opera Turandot is very offensive to Chinese nationalists, because it depicts the Chinese people as superstitious, bloodthirsty barbarians ruled by a sadistic tyrant. But because of COVID-19, the companies had to cancel their performances. This was obviously what the Chinese government was hoping to accomplish by unleashing the virus at that particular time-- to prevent Turandot from being performed in Europe and USA.

    That is cui bono in this case.

    Well, just look at this; you can see what motivated the Chinese:

  15. The Volokh Conspiracy

    Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent | Increasingly fond of media bashing

    1. "Increasingly fond of media bashing"

      Is that supposed to be a bad thing? Or is EV just bashing "the wrong media"?

  16. the Washington Post has had a change of administration, I mean heart. I am sure its just a coincidence, totally.

    1. OK then, what liberal agenda does this further?

  17. Clearly, WaPo editors and their billionaire owner are xenophobes. What other possible explanation could there be for this resurrected debunked conspiracy theory?

    A legal question. Suppose we find that the virus was in fact developed in a communist chinese lab, and released (whether by incompetence, accident, or design)?

    Can communist China be sued? If so, where? On what grounds?

    What legal recourse does the USA actually have here?

  18. The Post's editorial stance is whatever the DNC wants it to be. Wonder why the DNC wants to bash China now? With the election won, they don't need China's support as much, perhaps?

    1. You're sure there's a clear outcome-oriented agenda, but you're just not sure what it is.

  19. Lathering the rubes
    Lathering the rubes
    Most of this blog's content, just
    Lathering the rubes

  20. And this is a legal issue, why?

    Somehow, I don't have much confidence in the percipience (and intellectual honesty) of the guy who wrote, about a month ago

    "True, it's not Jan. 20 yet. But my prediction is that (setting aside the surface matters related to the epidemic) it will be a Jan. 20 of an inauguration year much like any other."

    Any thoughts on Trump's impeachment trial, professor?

    1. The weird thing about this obsession of yours is that it isn't even aimed at the right target. January 20 did go smoothly.

  21. Here is a Lancet article from 2018, so predating any political spin on gain of function research:

    "In 2014, several breaches of protocol at US government laboratories brought matters to a head. The news that dozens of workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) might have been exposed to anthrax, that vials of smallpox virus had been left lying around in an NIH storeroom, and that the CDC had unwittingly sent out samples of ordinary influenza virus contaminated with H5N1, shook faith in the country's biosafety procedures. Over 200 scientists signed the Cambridge Working Group declaration arguing for a cessation of experiments creating potential pandemic pathogens...The debate is focused on a subset of gain-of-function studies that manipulate deadly viruses to increase their transmissibility or virulence."

    Whether the benefits of GoF research are worth the risk is hotly debated among reputable scientists. That's why there was a moratorium for a while on doing such research in the U.S. - so the CDC contracted with the Wuhan Institute to do GoF research on coronaviruses.

    As mentioned above, even CDC labs have oopsies. If a CDC lab in Peoria was doing GoF research on the X Virus, and a novel X Virus happened to surface in the suburbs of Peoria, it's hardly a whacko conspiracy theory to take a careful look at that lab.

  22. So funny. One day, every media outlet is "debunking" as a wild conspiracy theory the true fact that there's a good chance COVID originated in a lab, and social media platforms are censoring and banning anyone who mentions this true fact. The next day, the controllers of the narrative deem it timely and convenient to allow this fact.

  23. The evidence points to COVID coming from a lab.

    For some reason the Associated Press recently deleted its press release of the following. Probably because someone is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.

  24. Now that China Joe is in charge, you can expect the fastest cover-up in recorded history.

  25. Accidents must be investigated like this as I work at car accident clinic and I have seen many people who don't investigate accidents. Covid-19 is a reason for millions of deaths that should be investigated at any cost.

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