Evidence indicating a live-animal market was the source of SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in humans

It is an article that is accelerated for publication and if you click on the link you'll see that watermark on the pages. I've attached the final paragraph in the discussion section. It isn't a matter of if, but more of guessing when it will happen again. Will we be expending the effort to be ready.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-04532-4_reference.pdf


Bat coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 and infectious for human cells
----------------------

To conclude, our results pinpoint the presence of new bat

sarbecoviruses that seem to have the same potential for infecting

humans as early strains of SARS-CoV-2. Guano collectors, or certain

ascetic religious communities who spend time in or very close to caves,

as well as tourists visiting caves, are particularly at risk of being exposed.

Further investigations are needed to assess if such exposed populations

have been infected, symptomatically or not, by one of these viruses,

and whether infection could confer protection against subsequent

SARS-CoV-2 infections. In this context, it is noteworthy that SARS-CoV-2

with the furin site deleted replicates in hamsters and in transgenic mice

expressing hACE2, but leads to less severe disease while protecting

from rechallenge with wild-type SARS-CoV-2


Here is a report on the results from using a combination of genetic analysis and geographic patterns to show that a wildlife market was the place COVID-19 made the jump to humans.

https://zenodo.org/record/6299600#.YhrYVRPMK7G

Geographical clustering of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and the proximity of positive environmental samples to live-animal vendors suggest that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic


PeterWick said:

Here is a report on the results from using a combination of genetic analysis and geographic patterns to show that a wildlife market was the place COVID-19 made the jump to humans.

https://zenodo.org/record/6299600#.YhrYVRPMK7G

Geographical clustering of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and the proximity of positive environmental samples to live-animal vendors suggest that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic

unfortunately they can amass multiple mountains of data showing this evidence, and millions of people will still blame a "lab leak."


I'm glad further research has gone into this, but also had some thoughts on the general context around this question.

In 2020, I do not think it was prudent to have a highly visible investigation on this. At the time, Pres. Trump was desperately trying to shift blame away from his disastrous response by blaming China, and was pushing the lab leak idea as part of that campaign. His followers likewise were doing the same. There was, unsurprisingly, a spike in violence against Asian-Americans. In that context, most people pushing the lab leak theory were doing so in a bad-faith attempt to exonerate Trump at best, or using it to justify hatred and even violence against Asian Americans at worst. It would have been very difficult to even run a real investigation in that context, and irresponsible to try to do so in a public, visible manner.

Some people might try and argue that science should not be swayed by such considerations, but that's a very naive view. People were materially harmed by Trump, his supporters, and racists pushing the lab leak theory, and someone pushing it while claiming they were just asking legitimate questions would be guilty of helping fan those flames for very little in return. Knowing the origin of Sars-Cov-2 had no bearing on immediately pressing concerns such as how to treat it, and the major blocker to such an investigation was lack of Chinese cooperation, which would not have been resolved in the circumstances of 2020.

With Trump's leaving office, and with our growing ability to treat covid (and especially with the arrival of vaccines), those circumstances changed, and now there was a real chance to do an investigation that had a real chance of getting answers with less risk of encouraging Trumpist partisans and racists (admittedly often a heavily overlapping group, but not 1:1).

Another point worth making -- when people say "lab leak" there's really two completely different claims. The first was that the virus was deliberately manufactured and released. That was always a stupid theory. I suppose if someone insists on details I can go into why, but I have no problem flat out saying that was stupid.

The other theory was of an accidental leak, and that was always plausible but unlikely. As the adage goes, when you hear hooves thinks "horses" not "zebras." This particular zebra was plausible enough that, once time and resources allowed, I'm glad we've been able to run that possibility down and say "nope, not a zebra."


ml1 said:

PeterWick said:

Here is a report on the results from using a combination of genetic analysis and geographic patterns to show that a wildlife market was the place COVID-19 made the jump to humans.

https://zenodo.org/record/6299600#.YhrYVRPMK7G

Geographical clustering of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and the proximity of positive environmental samples to live-animal vendors suggest that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic

unfortunately they can amass multiple mountains of data showing this evidence, and millions of people will still blame a "lab leak."

More precisely, a lab leak of an enhanced function version of the virus funded by Dr. Fauci - the Rand Paul view of the world.


ml1 said:

unfortunately they can amass multiple mountains of data showing this evidence, and millions of people will still blame a "lab leak."

I agree with you. 

There is so much to unpack about this hard held belief that the virus escaped a lab in Wuhan. Racism and xenophobia are the most intractable causes. But you also have a news media appetite for attention-grabbing headlines. “Wuhan Lab Leak!” is more exciting than a 67 page article detailing how the origin of the pandemic can be traced to that market. 




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