Readers on the “Lab Leak Theory” #5

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From TPM Reader AS

I am a neurobiologist PhD, not a virologist, but I may be able to provide some perspective on what is spilling into your inbox.

I don’t know COVIDs ultimate origins and neither do the people writing in to tell you that various studies “proved” this came from the wildlife market.  First, it is entirely possible that a lab leak occurred at WIV but COVID began circulating more widely in humans through the market.  If so, it would not be that big of a coincidence – there is a reason tightly packed commercial spaces are considered hotspots for the spread of pathogens and there is no requirement that a disease spread widely at the point of spillover. 

What is happening is that people are conflating evidence of a potential geographic concentration of early cases (at the market) with evidence that animals were infected at the market.  In fact, we have not found any of the supposed intermediate hosts (which were not difficult to find for SARS and MERS) despite the much heightened gravity of the COVID outbreak.

Furthermore, what we do know about WIV is extremely troubling.  They were traveling to cave systems around China looking for viruses similar to SARS without adequate protection, bringing them back to WIV, and then working with them under grossly inadequate BSL-2 conditions.  I will repeat that I don’t know the origin of COVID-19, but I can guarantee that if you work with enough potentially infectious viruses under BSL-2 conditions, you will have spillover. 

I don’t know what to make of the Vanity Fair article ( arguing that there seems to have been an accident at WIV, but I suspect that what is at the crux of the DOE report that reignited the issue was additional evidence that some kind of accident occurred, probably by seeing what steps would be taken in the U.S. in the event of a spillover event and then comparing this to the information they have about WIV.

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