On February 26, 2023, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) concluded that “the COVID pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak.” No details were provided. Two days later, on February 28, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, said that “the FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident.” Again, no details.
You might mention that Department of Energy runs Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, which is tasked with national biosecurity. Investigating the origin of dangerous pathogens is their job.
Thank you for your thought.
With all due respect, the evidence you point is just theoretical and anecdotally. The same Sagan's sentence could apply for appraising it and it doesn't seem "extraordinary" at all. At best, it just supports the "first human known epidemic chain" in Wuhan.
I'm not saying which theory is the right one because I truly don't know, I'm just saying I've seen compelling arguments from both sides (on the "lab leak theory" side Matt Ridley and Alina Chan, for example).
If we want to reach some truth I think we have to embrace some epistemic humility, listen to both sides and trying to apolitical appraise the arguments without discarding them as just diversion.
But, who am I...
Thank you again for all your work and I'll keep reading your thoughts.
Re: "Examining samples from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market first taken in January 2020, the international research team found genetic evidence for SARS-CoV-2 virus in raccoon dogs that had been sold illegally, further proving the origin of the virus."
The only real evidence from that is that there had been raccoon dogs in the raccoon dog cages, which was already known.
In the northeast corner of the market, in a deli-meat type stall, they also found SARS-CoV-2 plus the DNA of pork and cows, but virtually no human DNA. That doesn't mean the meat was the source of the virus.
What about the emails about the genetic sequencing being suggestive of an engineered virus?
Welcome to substack! You state that the two government agencies didn't give any evidence of why they believe it is a lab leak, but then you do no more in saying it is a racoon dog was the reason. There is no more evidence of that than there is of a lab leak. Please share the evidence showing it jumped from animal to human which if you listen to people in that feel is unlikely. Hmm wonder if you have a vested interest in one story over the other!
Look at figure 1, B here: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0140673620301835?token=4B35DAB55949F49CFAB1CBAA28E0DFCE2AB2191CF9D4CBD37925E3C1EFB88FB8DE1AE2E6AC275609FC0BA6F57DF03B53&originRegion=us-east-1&originCreation=20230330063539
The first case did not have contact with the market, and neither did 2 or of three of the next ones.
It's also worth noting that contact with the market was part of the initial case definition in Wuhan, so that will likely have skewed the collected data to some extent.
"The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market is located north of the Yangtze River, about 9 miles from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is south of the river. If the pandemic virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute, it would have had to have leapt across the river without infecting anyone in between."
Are you kidding? An infected WIV employee could have driven in his/her car to the seafood market on the way home. Thus infecting people in the market. Too extraordinary an event?
But you need to explain how infected animals were transported 1000 miles to the seafood market without infecting anyone. The bat caves are a 1000 miles away from Wuhan. The raccoon dogs must have come from near the bat caves to be the infection source.
Carl Sagan’s statement that “extraordinary claims should be backed by extraordinary evidence is used here, as in many situations, to deny new information.
A lab leak is not an "extraordinary claim". You are simply showing that you are completely incapable of updating your beliefs with new facts.
Dr. Offit, MD, your claims for spillover from animal to human sound reasonable but a hyperlink, bibliography, citations, and/or footnotes would’ve been appreciated.
Support your claim with evidence next time, please.
I’m likely to believe someone with your reputation but many others won’t.
Edit: I appreciate the citations, Dr. Offit, MD.
Hey. I tried to email you about your Jan 11th NEJM article criticizing the bivalents. Two weeks later you voted in unison with the VRBPAC to have the bivalents replace all of the vaccines. Can you explain your position? Thanks.
I agree with you. A zoonotic origin from the Huanan animal market fits the data, while lab leak does not.
I think more people would have agreed with you if the lab leak theory hadn't been censored. People don't like being told what they can and can't believe, especially by social media companies who censored true stories like Hunter Biden's laptop. Instead, they ask what the censors are trying to hide.
They also don't like being called ‘racist’ for thinking that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab—but not racist for thinking it leaked from a Chinese animal market.
I don’t know for certain the origin and I’m sure most experts don’t either. And the actions of the Chinese government invited assumptions of culpability
But I must say Dr Offit, that referencing The Atlantic and Bloomberg is beneath you.
anyone know if Offit or Racaniello work as Primary Investigators as RFK Jr describes the roll of PI’s within the research grant system?
Dr Offit, fan of your work, and have appreciated your humility and grace the past few years - I hope you continue to keep this stack open for comments, most of your peers that publish here keep them paywalled or completely closed (Topol, Nerdy Girls, etc)
HIV-like segments in SARS-CoV-2 is the smoking gun that the virus originated in a lab. Wuhan lab was fooling around with HIV plasmids and SARS-like COVs.
Root cause of COVID-19? Biotechnology's dirty secret: Contamination. Bioinformatics evidence demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a laboratory, unlikely to be a bioweapon but most likely a result of sloppy experiments
There are 40,000 wet markets in China. What's the probability that the one near their GOF virus lab will be the location where the virus jumps to humans? 1 in 40,000. Incredibly stupid to even consider natural origin. You'd have to be an intel agency to get this wrong.