Wednesday, October 20

Did the coronavirus escape from a laboratory?


  • Simen gaure
    Simen gaure

    investigator, National Security Authority

A woman is being examined for corona in Wuhan earlier this month. It was in this Chinese metropolis that the corona pandemic began in late 2019.

Strange things have happened in scientific circles in relation to hypotheses about the origin of the coronavirus.

Knowledge is Aftenposten’s commitment to research and science, where researchers and professionals from all over the country contribute articles.

During the summer break, on July 8, the magazine published British medical journal on Article from Paul D. Thacker. The journalist wonders if the press has fallen into a disinformation campaign about the origin of covid-19.

When the first speculations emerged that the virus might have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, it was quickly dismissed as a conspiracy theory.

The main sources for that were a couple of articles in scientific journals. There are no clear laboratory traces in the DNA of the virus, but modern genetic engineering does not leave such traces, so what do you have to follow?

Troubled conclusion

An item is one open letter in the medical journal Lancet on February 19, 2020. There, 27 scientists affirmed that there is overwhelming evidence that the virus has a natural origin.

By examining the DNA of the virus, you can look for patterns. And that Article which was cited often, was published on March 17, 2020 by immunologist Kristian Andersen et al. on Nature medicine. They claim to have found strong indications that the virus is not the result of human manipulation. The argument is that there are ways to produce a virus of this type that makes it more contagious.

The argument and the conclusion are not connected.

Legitimate experiments

The question was not whether someone had created the virus with the intention of being as contagious as possible, but whether someone had legitimately experimented, for example, for research purposes, and then the virus had been released.

It has been known since 2015 that an institute in Wuhan did such experiments with coronavirus, as published by Zhengli-Li Shi et al. on Nature medicine November 9 of that year. States that have such intentions are also careful to follow the principles “Credible denial”.

It happened before infectious agents were released from high-security laboratories: in 1978, the copper virus was released. loose from a lab in Birmingham. One person died. There are many more examples.

Has anyone been fooled?

I do not completely agree with Thacker that the press has fallen for a disinformation campaign. On the other hand, I think it seems like parts of the scientific medical community have become entangled in something like this.

Gruppen US right to know I have discovered that the open letter in Lancet where organized by Peter Daszak, who has a strong interest in the type of studies that the Wuhan Institute conducted with funding from the United States through Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance organization. The ceiling i found no reason to inform readers of this conflict of interest.

In defense of other scientists, it must be said that China practices state censorship of all research on the origin of the virus. Therefore, information from China on the circumstances surrounding the virus is unreliable. the There are many researchers who are dissatisfied with knowledge of the origins of the virus, including David Relman at Stanford.

The cleanup job of science

There are some other indications that Covid-19 is not treated like other viral illnesses.

For example, have Nature medicine equipped Shi’s article from 2015 with a comment that the article does not indicate that the covid virus is man-made. It is very unusual for scientific journals to add instructions to the articles they publish.

All things considered, I think the scientific community has a job to do on this matter, to a greater extent than the press.

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