Actually there are good reasons to keep quiet. For example there have been less than subtle threats to cut off drug shipments from China if the US criticizes the Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus.
Beijing is especially sensitive to criticism from the US government, and the vast majority of experts either work for the government or receive research grants from the government. A simple conversation about the potential repercussions of revealing the lab origin of the virus may be more than enough to keep researchers quiet.
The rest may simply be keeping quiet because colleagues are concerned that China may withhold needed drugs and information about the virus that may be necessary to save lives in the US. They also may wish to avoid being banned for life from any peer-reviewed journals.
I expect it may take several years for the full truth to come out. We did not learn about details of several Soviet bioweapons and nuclear accidents until many years later when Soviet archives were finally open to foreign researchers. The archives revealed the Aral smallpox accident of 1971, the Sverdlovsk anthrax accident of 1979, the Koltsolvo incident with Marburg virus of 1990. All of these accidents resulted in fatalities, but fortunately the Soviets were smart enough to locate their labs in remote parts of Siberia and central Asia, so the loss of life was nothing like we see with the current epidemic.
For now the question of the exact origin of the virus not very important to fighting its spread. On the other hand, lab-source pandemics may become much more frequent and severe if we fail to understand the true origin of the disease. Perhaps once we have proven vaccine and the pandemic is behind us experts may be more willing to admit what they knew all along.
Propaganda for Chinese consumption, empty threats.
How is China going to ban American and western scientists from peer reviewed journals? 99.99% of serious scientists are interested in the truth first and foremost. If they thought this virus was engineered, they would say so. As to accidental release of a natural virus that had never crossed to humans before, I don’t think we’ll ever really know, but the evidence is far from conclusive and weak at best. If that is however what happened, it would strongly suggest that they knew about it even earlier than we think they did. Even in China though, clinical laboratory safety is taken very seriously and it seems unlikely.
China got the publisher of Nature to censor hundreds of papers. How is that possible if scientific journals are only interested in the truth?
In real life journals and scientists face real financial and political pressure that has nothing to do with scientific truth.
A curious (or perhaps suspicious) update to the Nature Medicine paper from the OP is that six refences in the original submission are missing from the current version. For links and discussion related to references in the original submission see:
If the journal publisher willingly censored their papers in China for financial gain, then perhaps they are willing to compromise scientific truth in other ways under financial or political pressure?
The recent Nature Medicine paper represents opinions about the origin of the coronavirus as scientific facts. At the same time it leaves out many references and arguments that would show that a possible lab origin is not only possible but entirely consistent with the available information about the virus and research in Wuhan. (For background discussion see post 65 and 60.)
The paper’s conclusions conveniently fit into the party line from Beijing, and the paper has been used as a primary basis for shutting down discussion about the origin on social media and news media outside of China.
Is it just a coincidence that Nature published this paper while it continues to censor papers in China?
How can anyone trust the motivations of the publisher?
You are speculating, they have a solid reputation in the free world. I agree that it would be better if they didn’t bow to the pressure within China, much better. If you travel to Saudi Arabia, would you not follow their laws though?
They had a solid reputation. The journal was bought out by Springer in 2015, and the buy out appears to have included their integrity.
What amazes me is to see all the questions about the risks related to accidentally release of viruses created by gain-of-function research done in the US and Europe several years ago. Now the suggestion that the current virus came from as a result of that kind of research has been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theory even though the safety record in China is much worse than in the US, and the technology for producing dangerous viruses has greatly advanced. The Nature paper ignored much of the earlier research and many of the concerns.
Personally I think this commentary about the current status of Nature’s reputation has a lot of merit, especially as it relates to the origin of COVID-19:
They aren’t going to stop stealing as long as we’re there. It should have terrified everyone when they threatened to wash us in an ocean of coronavirus because we get our medicine ingredients from them an they were threatening us that they would withhold them.l from us.
Seems like the generations before us were smart enough not to put all our manufacturing in the Soviet Union, but Communist China the greed outweighed the possible negatives which have been in full view for awhile now, as we have enriched a totalitarian government.
The Daily Telegraph in Australia recently published excerpts from a leaked intelligence study assembled by western governments about the origin of the virus and the early response in China:
. . .major themes include the “deadly denial of human-to-human transmission”, the silencing or “disappearing” of doctors and scientists who spoke out, the destruction of evidence of the virus from genomic studies laboratories, and “bleaching of wildlife market stalls”, along with the refusal to provide live virus samples to international scientists working on a vaccine. . . “the suppression and destruction of evidence” and points to “virus samples ordered destroyed at genomics labs, wildlife market stalls bleached, the genome sequence not shared publicly, the Shanghai lab closure for ‘rectification’, academic articles subjected to prior review by the Ministry of Science and Technology and data on asymptomatic ‘silent carriers’ kept secret”.
The article points reviews published papers that describe gain-of-function experiments associated with the Wuhan lab and risks associated with accidental release from a lab, but it plays down the likelihood that the current virus is a result of similar experiments.
My observation is that 96% of the virus genome is virtually identical to that of a natural virus studied at the lab and reported in published papers. The remaining 4% appears to be from another virus entirely, and that 4% is directly related to the ability of the virus to infect humans. My opinion is that the most likely origin is that scientists in the Wuhan lab were responsible for the insertion of the new genes into an existing bat coronavirus.
A senior Russian scientist agrees and speculates that the virus may have been developed as part of research not intended as a weapon. Other scientists have speculated that the virus may have been developed as part of research into possible HIV vaccines :
Democrats have been all along and keep trying to blame Trump.
Given what he knew and the timeline I can’t see it. I wanted earlier and more draconian actions all the way back in January but there just wasn’t enough justification nor the political will to support them at the time.
A blogger notes that a comparison between the COVID-19 virus and the alleged bat virus (RaTG13) is its closest relative shows unusual patterns that are in consistent with natural evolution. Interestingly, Dr. Zhengli Shi from the Wuhan Virology Lab reported the RaTG13 virus as being collected in 2013, but it was not described in published papers until 2020, after the COVID-19 virus epidemic. The blogger concludes this about the origin of the viruses:
A safe conclusion is that, between the Wuhan coronavirus and RaTG13, at least one is non-natural. If one is natural, then the other one must be not. Of course, the other possibility also exists – neither of them came from nature.
Here are figures from the link that shows the differences appear to be inconsistent with natural evolution:
Figure 3. Comparing the nucleotide sequences of different spike proteins on the synonymous mutations (green curve) and non-synonymous mutations (red curve) reveals evidence of human manipulation. A. comparison between two related bat coronaviruses ZC45 (MG772933) and ZXC21 (MG772934), which are nature-borne. B. comparison between the Wuhan coronavirus (NC_045512) and RaTG13 (MN996532) shows a pattern inconsistent with natural evolution.
The blogger raises an interesting point that should be easily verified by other researchers. If the alleged bat virus RaTG13 was really generated in a lab to match features of the COVID-19 virus, then it further supports the claim that the COVID-19 virus is also a product of a lab. This analysis could be a smoking gun showing the depth of deception that has gone on in China.
As the blogger points out, the genetic differences between the two viruses are not consistent with natural evolution. If RaTG13 virus really is a natural virus from a bat, then the COVID1-19 virus has to be man-made. On the other hand if RaTG13 is really man-made, then then a basic assumption of analysis in the Nature paper is false, and RaTG13 appears to be a sham to hide the true origin of COVID-19. Either way the blogger’s analysis shows that the COVID-19 virus almost certainly came from a lab and was most likely the result of genetic manipulation.
I suspect that the blogger’s analysis may be something that government researchers already knew in many parts of the world, but the work has been classified. Now researchers outside of government labs can easily confirm the analysis, which means that secrecy is no longer possible.
We may be approaching an “emperor-has-no-clothes” moment.
Recent research from biologists in the US and Canada shows that COVID-19 virus was already highly optimized for transmission in humans when the first samples came from the Wuhan wet market. Evolution of the virus has been remarkable slow since then, which is much different from the behavior of earlier human viruses with an natural origin from animals.
For example, the earlier SARS virus showed rapid evolution that slowed as it adapted to humans. The difference in evolution supports the idea that the COVID-19 originated as result of development in a lab, and it did not come from animals in a wet market.
Here an excerpt of news story about the recent work that includes a link to a preprint of the paper:
The new research is clear in its finding. ‘The publicly available genetic data does not point to cross-species transmission of the virus at the market,’ said Alina Chan, a molecular biologist, and Shing Zhan, an evolutionary biologist. . .They point to ‘multiple branches of evolution in both humans and animals in the 2002-04 epidemic’, adding: ‘In contrast, Sars-CoV-2 appeared without peer in late 2019, suggesting there was a single introduction of the human-adapted form of the virus into the human population.’
UPDATE: Chinese dissident virologist Dr. Li-Ming Yan and three other Chinese scientists have published a preprint of a paper that details the genetics and likely pathway for the laboratory production of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Dr. Li-Ming Yan posted the paper on a new Twitter account, and Twitter has move quickly to shutdown her account after less than two days.
According the “JC on a bike”, the second author, Dr. Shu Yang, is the author of the “Nerd Has Power” blog. A link to that blog appear in post 196 above.
Twitter has not provided any rational for the deletion of the account, but it is consistent with Twitter’s stated policy to suppress information that contradicts WHO and CCP orthodoxy about the coronavirus and its origin.
The proposed pathway for production of the virus involves combining genes from several viruses with an estimated development time of about six months. For the full text of the paper and a description of its brief history on Twitter see: