Closer to the Truth

NYTIMES’s Ezra Cheung reports:

#BREAKING: South China University of Technology biologist Xiao Botao exposed that the #COVID19 might have originated from an animal research lab 280m away from the epicentre of the outbreak. The scientists were reportedly bitten by bats used for a test on louse. H/T:
@mantaichow https://t.co/uZEXHmvbTU

We are inching closer to the truth. A lab has finally been allowed to be mentioned in the context of the coronavirus.

4 thoughts on “Closer to the Truth”

  1. The text of the removed article may be seen here.

    I note that it mixes up several things. On the one hand, the Wuhan CDC is very close to the seafood market that may have been the source of the outbreak in Wuhan. On the other hand, it also talks about another lab 12 kilometers away, part of Wuhan university, where they were studying SARS.

    This Nature paper from 2015 is cited, as reference 10, and they say “A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak from the laboratory.” But reading the Nature paper I see no such statement. Instead, they are talking about the possibility that bats could be a SARS reservoir from which a mutated version of SARS could reemerge, and they make an artificial recombinant virus in order to investigate the possibilities.

    So for people unfamiliar with molecular biology, I will point out that transgenically modified organisms are made all the time in genetics labs, including bacteria and viruses which are modified to include new genes, and it’s not done to create bioweapons, it’s done for a variety of reasons; in this case, to explore the potential infectiousness of a new SARS strain.

    The fact that this quickly-removed preprint conflates Wuhan CDC and a distant Wuhan university lab, makes me think that it may be yet another exercise in propaganda. The experts in creating designer stories and designer rumors meant to spread, understand online forums very well, and how to post something there, and then quickly take it down after it has been observed. A significant test of what’s going on here, will be whether Botao Xiao says he actually wrote the paper. If he denies it, the whole thing may be yet another psy-op.

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    1. I wrote the above in haste and it’s probably wrong in a few technical particulars, e.g. the 2015 Nature paper is not about SARS living on in bat populations, but about a SARS-like virus (“SHC014”) whose coronavirus spike was added to SARS, to model how quickly SHC014 might spread, if it crossed the species gap by mutating. But I believe the gist of what I wrote is accurate.

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  2. Don’t know whom to believe. Are Israeli officials PC or is the daughter spoiled by good life in Israel with complaining re unsuitable for Westerners food?

    “Israeli officials visit coronavirus victims hospitalized in Japan
    Head of infectious diseases at Hadassah hospitals says patients being cared for well by Japanese team, only showing light symptoms”

    OR

    “Daughter of Israeli coronavirus couple says parents ‘thrown into hangar’
    The woman claims her parents who were aboard the infected ship, had been thrown into a remote military hospital in Tokyo where the doctors speak no English, the food is inedible, and the medical staff don’t know how to take basic blood tests”

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