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作者: 胡平   ZT:杰米.梅茨《SARS-CoV-2的起源》(中文版) 2021-02-28 21:07:51  [点击:3270]

NOTE: This is the Chinese translation of my English language blog post on the origins of SARS-CoV-2. The English blog was initially posted on April 16, 2020, and has been regularly updated since. This Chinese translation was posted on February 28, 2021 and reflects the text of the English version on that date. Further updates to the English page will likely not be reflected on this Chinese language page. As I did not do the translation myself and am not a Chinese speaker, I cannot vouch for the absolute accuracy of the translation. I do, however, have faith in the translator.

A number of people have reached out to me questioning the assertion I have been making since early 2020 that “the most likely starting point of the coronavirus crisis is an accidental leak from one of the Chinese virology institutes in Wuhan” (see this CNN interview, this Newsweek editorial, this WSJ editorial, this The Hill editorial, this second Newsweek editorial, this Toronto Sun Q&A, and this Fox interview). As referenced in this Forbes profile (“Jamie Metzl… was one of the first in Washington — as an ex-high level staffer for Bill Clinton and then-Senator Joe Biden — to say that the new SARS coronavirus was likely a Wuhan lab escapee”), this CBS News interview, and this FOX interview (“Jamie Metzl has been perhaps the leading international figure for the past year making the case that an accidental leak from this lab seems the most likely origin of the pandemic”), I have been making this claim consistently since January 2020. I will continue to do so until this issue gets the attention it deserves. A small, determined, and now growing community of people around the world are also making this claim and I’ve been very pleased to see that in early 2021 the lab leak hypothesis has moved from being considered a conspiracy theory to being recognized for what it has always been — a very real possibility.

有不少人联系过我,询问我在2020早期做出的断定,即“冠状病毒危机最有可能始于武汉某个中国病毒研究所的意外泄露”(见此CNN采访,此Newsweek评论,此WSJ评论,此The Thill评论,另一篇Newsweek评论,此Toronto Sun问答,此Fox采访)。参考此Forbes个人简介(“Jamie Metzl……是华盛顿——作为Bill Cliton和当时的参议员Joe Biden的前高级官员——中第一个提出新SARS冠状病毒可能是武汉实验室泄露导致的人之一),此CBS News采访,和此Fox采访(“称这场流行病的源头最为可能是实验室意外泄的人中,Jamie Metzl可能是过去一年的国际先锋”),我从2020年一月开始就一直作此断言。我会一直坚持下去,直到这个问题得到应有的关注。全世界有一个小而坚定的群体也在做一样的断言,这个群体在扩大,并且我很高兴能在2021年初看到,实验室泄露假设从被认为是阴谋论到以一直以来的本质被接受的转变——即一个非常真实的可能性。

We owe everyone who has died from COVID-19, all the people who have lost their loved ones and livelihoods, and future generations a thorough, unbiased, and unrestricted investigation of how the tragedy began and has unfolded.


I do not believe this was most likely a genome edited virus (although this paper suggests how it could have been and we should not discount this possibility), just that it had very likely been isolated and cultured in one of the Wuhan labs (the Wuhan CDC or, more likely, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, WIV). I also want to be clear that this is only highly informed inference based on publicly available information and my application of Occam’s razor (and mathematical probabilities). I have no definitive way of proving this thesis but the evidence is, in my view, extremely convincing. If forced to place odds on the confidence of my hypothesis, I would say there’s an 85% chance the pandemic started with an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or Wuhan CDC and a 15% chance it began in some other way (in fairness, here is an article making the case for a zoonotic jump “in the wild”). If China keeps preventing a full and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of the pandemic, I believe it is fair to deny Beijing the benefit of the doubt.

我不认为这很有可能是基因编辑过的病毒(虽然这篇文章显示了这种可能性,我们不应该排除这种可能性),只是这个病毒很有可能被分离并在武汉的某个实验室里被培养(可能是武汉CDC,更有可能的是武汉病毒研究所)。另外我想明确表示,这仅仅是我根据现有的公开信息和奥卡姆剃刀原理(和数学概率)做出的推测。我没有权威的方法来证明这一论点,但在我看来,证据是极度有说服力的。如果我不得不对我的假设的可信度给出一个概率,我会说有85%的可能,这个传染病是由武汉病毒研究所或武汉CDC泄露导致的,有另15%的可能起源于其他方法(公平起见,这篇文章讲了野生人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)可以如何发生)。如果中国一直拒绝国际社会全面而不加限制的针对此流行病起源的法医调查,我认为否认北京的疑点利益(benefit of the doubt)是合理的。

The purpose of this post is to present the evidence and my views so that readers can come to their own conclusions. If there is additional evidence I am missing, please let me know. I do not have a political agenda other than finding out why so many people around the world are dead from COVID-19 and how we can learn the lessons from this catastrophe to prevent the next ones. What we need, and should all be calling for regardless of our nationalities or political persuasions, is a full and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of COVID-19 with full access to all relevant data, lab records, biological samples, and people in China and beyond. Getting to the bottom of this essential question should be an unrestricted and unbiased data-driven pursuit. While access to essential information is being denied, we are forced to be more speculative that we otherwise would be.


Because there is a lot of material to get through below, let me just summarize what I believe to be the most likely scenario.


In 2012, six miners working in a bat-infested copper mine in southern China (Yunnan province) were infected with a bat coronavirus. All of them developed symptoms exactly like COVID-19 symptoms. Three of them died.
Viral samples taken from the Yunnan miner were taken to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the only level 4 biosecurity lab in China that was also studying bat coronaviruses.
The WIV carried out gain of function research, almost certainly on these and a range of related and other samples (which is different than genetically engineering the viruses). Chimeric viruses were likely developed in this process. There has never been a full and public accounting for what viruses are in the WIV sample set and database, and key elements of the database have been taken off line or deleted.
Given the close relationship of the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) in the development and constriction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it is fair to assume a connection between the PLA and the WIV.
In late 2019 the SARS-CoV-2 virus appeared in Wuhan. The closest known relative of this virus is the RaTG13 virus sampled from the Yunnan mine where the miners had been infected.
The difference between the RaTG13 virus and SARS-CoV-2 could potentially be explained by the gain of function research pushing the development of chimeric viruses.
It is also plausible that SARS-CoV-2 could have been among the viruses held in or derived from a different virus in the WIV repository.
In the earliest known stage of the outbreak, the virus was already very well-adapted to human cells.
In the critical first weeks after the outbreak, Wuhan authorities worked aggressively to silence the whistleblowers and destroy evidence that could prove incriminating.
When Beijing authorities got involved a bit later, they likely faced a choice of implicating the Wuhan authorities, and, in effect, taking blame for what was quickly emerging as a major global problem, or turning into the curve and going all in for the coverup. I believe they likely chose the second option.
The Chinese government then massively lobbied the WHO to prevent the WHO from declaring COVID-19 as an international emergency and prevented WHO investigators from entering China for nearly a month.
In late January 2020, PLA Major General Chen Wei was put in charge of containment efforts in Wuhan. This role included supervision of the WIV, which had previously been considered a civilian institution. General Chen is China’s top biological weapons expert. Allegations that the PLA was conducting covert dual civilian-military research on bat coronaviruses at WIV have not been proven.
The Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to destroy evidence and silence anyone in China who might be in a position to provide evidence on the origins of COVID-19.
Although nothing can be fully conclusive in light of Chinese obfuscation, the continued absence of any meaningful evidence of a zoonotic chain of transmission and mutation in the wild and the accretion of other evidence is pointing increasingly, in my view, toward an accidental lab leak as the most likely origin of COVID-19. Given the extent to which China would benefit from discovering evidence of a transmission in the wild, we can assume Chinese authorities are doing all they can to find this kind of evidence without success. This failure would explain why Chinese officials have recently begun, with little credible evidence, asserting that the outbreak started in India or Bangladesh.
In light of all of this, only a full and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of the pandemic, with complete access to all samples, lab records, scientists, health officials, etc. will suffice.
Ensuring the most thorough and highest quality investigation exploring all possible hypothesis is and should be in all of our interest, including that of the Chinese government and people.
几乎可以肯定,武汉病毒研究所针对上述病毒和其他相关病毒样本进行了功能获得(gain of function)研究(需要与对病毒进行基因工程改造进行区分)。嵌合病毒(chimeric virus)在这个过程中可能被制造出来。武汉病毒研究所样本集和数据库从来没有过病毒所所持病毒的公开完整记录,数据库里一些关键元素被下线或者删除了。
RaTG13病毒和SARS-CoV-2病毒之间的差异或许可以解释为,功能获得(gain of function)研究推动了嵌合病毒(chimeric virus)的出现。

I want to be clear that I am a progressive who believes in asking tough questions and seeking the truth. I in no way seek to support or align myself with any activities that may be considered unfair, dishonest, nationalistic, racist, bigoted, or biased in any way. I also believe that whatever the original reasons for the outbreak, the reason why so many more Americans have died from COVID-19 than most anyone else is the catastrophic failure of the Trump administration to respond effectively.


As I argued in my Newsweek piece:

Just as we wouldn’t imagine having a plane crash and not immediately trying to figure out what happened, we can’t let the COVID-19 crisis unfold without urgently understanding how our systems have so spectacularly failed. There are plenty of fingers to point, and we must thoughtfully point them now, at all of us, for our own good. For all we know, a new and even worse pandemic could begin even before we have overcome this one… Until we get to the bottom of all these failures and work to fix them, we remain dangerously susceptible to the next pandemic… Whatever the origins of the outbreak, including the possibility of an accidental leak from the Chinese virology lab in Wuhan, China’s dangerous and ongoing information suppression activities are the foundations of this crisis. We have to find out fast where and how this outbreak began… The WHO could have raised hell when China denied access to WHO experts for those critical early weeks, did not need to initially parrot Chinese propaganda and could certainly have sounded the alarm earlier. We have to ask how we can help the WHO do better… The United States had all the information it needed by January to mount a massive response, but Trump actively undermined the findings of his own intelligence and health officials. Worse, he passed misinformation to the American people that potentially led to many thousands of deaths. We’ve got to ask why this happened… Until we get to the bottom of all these failures and work to fix them, we remain dangerously susceptible to the next pandemic… We are all on the same plane with a shared interest in not letting it crash… Let’s work together to safely land the plane.



Although I do not necessarily ascribe to all of the assertions made in each of these documents, my sources include:

This Nature Medicine study
This Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article
This Lancet piece
This Washington Post article
This The Diplomat editorial
The Nature article
This Project Evidence site
This Cell study
This Science Direct study
This New York Times report
This Newsweek article
This Washington Post article
This Daily Telegraph story
This Guardian article
This Bloomberg article
This Asia Times story
This NBC News story
This New Yorker piece
This NPR report
This E-PAI (Electronically Available Public Information) report
This BioRxiv pre-publication research paper
This Atlantic piece
This National Review article
This Associated Press story
This Nerd Has Power post
This Nature article
This Telegraph piece
This QRB Discovery manuscript
This Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists editorial
This Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article
This Independent Science News piece
This Daniel Lucey blog post
This Science article
This Independent Science News piece
This Wiley preprint essay
This Wiley preprint letter
This Cell Host & Microbe paper
This Frontiers in Public Health article
This Unherd post
This New York Times story
This BioEssays paper
This BioEssays paper
This PNAS opinion piece
This New York Times article
This Daily Mail article
This Associated Press article
This Quantitative Biology paper
This New York magazine article
This Nature Medicine editorial
This France Culture article
This Wall Street Journal editorial
This Telegraph editorial
The Washington Post editorial
The Frontline documentary


该《自然-医学》研究(Nature Medicine)
该《原子科学家公报》文章(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
该《华盛顿邮报》文章(Washington Post)
该《外交家》评论(The Diplomat)
“项目证据”网站(Project Evidence)
该《纽约时报》报道(The New York Times)
该《华盛顿邮报》文章(Washington Post)
该《每日电讯报》报道故事(The Daily Telegraph)
该《亚洲时报》报道故事(Asia Times)
该《NBC新闻》报道故事(NBC News)
该《纽约客》文章(The New Yorker)
该“E-PAI”报道(Electronically Available Public Information)
该《国家评论》文章(National Review)
该《美联社》报道故事(Associated Press)
该“书呆子也有力量”网站(Nerd Has Power)
该《QBR Discovery》稿
该《原子科学家公报》评论(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
该《原子科学家公报》文章(Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
该《独立科学新闻》文章(Independent Science News)
该Daniel Lucey的博客文章
该《独立科学新闻》文章(Independent Science News)
该《细胞宿主与微生物》文章(Cell Host & Microbe)
该《Frontiers in Public Health》文章
该《纽约时报》报道故事(The New York Times)
该《纽约时报》文章(The New York Times)
该《每日邮报》文章(Daily Mail)
该《美联社》文章(Associated Press)
该《定量生物学》论文(Quantitative Biology)
该《纽约》杂志文章(New York magazine)
该《自然-医学》评论(Nature Medicine)
该《France Culture》文章
该《华尔街日报》评论(Wall Street Journal)
该《华盛顿邮报》评论(Washington Post)

I am extremely open to other perspectives and welcome any additional information. If you have anything you believe relevant, I would be grateful for you to pass it along. I am not wedded to any particular outcome other than getting to the deepest possible understanding of what went wrong and how we can fix it.


As I have already stated publicly, “Even if the coronavirus is an accidental leak from a Wuhan lab, we are all one interconnected humanity who must work together to get through this crisis.” It is my view that Chinese researchers at these institutes were studying these viruses with the best intentions of developing surveillance systems, treatments, and vaccines for the good of humanity. Countries make mistakes, even terrible and deadly ones. I was in the White House when the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. We believed it was an accident but many Chinese people thought it was a deliberate act. I understood why.


Moments like these are inherently difficult and we should all do our very best to find the answers to our most important questions in the most honest, careful, and considered manner possible.


We must also be doing everything we can to build the surveillance, response, treatment, vaccine development, and public health capacities we need to make all of us safe. COVID-19 has been a terrible catastrophe, but there could very well be much worse facing us in the future.


In this spirit, I have compiled this summary of the available evidence. Because China is still restricting access to the relevant data and people, the case remains speculative by necessity.


Beginning on December 10, 2019, increasing numbers of people, many of who had visited the Hunan Seafood Market in Wuhan, fell ill due to a new disease. (Note: I believe it is intended to say Huanan here)
The novel coronavirus outbreak did not originate in the seafood market (Lancet). (This was clear early on but Chinese officials held to this story until late May 2020, when the evidence against this claim became wholly indefensible, more below.)
The Huanan Seafood Market didn’t have bats for sale, and most bats species in Wuhan would be hibernating at the time of outbreak. It was reported that 34% of cases had no contact with the market, and ’No epidemiological link was found between the first patient and later cases.’ (Lancet)
According to a DIA report, “about 33 percent of the original 41 identified cases did not have direct exposure” to the market. That, along with what’s known of the laboratory’s work in past few years, raised reasonable suspicion that the pandemic may have been caused by a lab error, not the wet market. (Newsweek)
A Broad Institute study asserts that genetic examination of four samples containing the virus from the seafood market to those taken from the Wuhan patient are ‘99.9 per cent’ identical. This suggests it came from infected visitors or vendors, indicating ‘Sars-CoV-2 had been imported into the market by humans’. The authors found no evidence ‘of cross-species transmission’ at the market.
一个Broad Institute的研究表明,四个从生鲜市场获取的样本中带有的病毒与从武汉病人身上获取的病毒在基因上有“99.9%”的重合度。这也就是说,病毒来自被感染的客人或者卖家,暗示“Sars-CoV-2是由人类带到生鲜市场的”。作者没有在生鲜市场发现“跨物种传播”的证据。
This market is less than 9 miles away from The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Chinese Academy of Sciences, which:
Developed chimeric SARS-like coronaviruses
Conducted ’dangerous’ gain-of-function research on the SARS-CoV-1 virus, some of which had been funded by the US government (Asia Times)
Established a 96.2% match with SARS-CoV-2 and a virus they sampled from a cave over 1,000 miles away from Wuhan
Injected live piglets with bat coronaviruses as recently as July 2019
Published a paper on a close descendant of SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, in November 2019
Was hiring researchers to work on bat coronaviruses as recently as November 2019
United States embassy and consular officials who visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in January 2018 were deeply concerned. Their cable sent to the State Department noted:
“the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory”
“the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases. From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention.” (Washington Post)
(For more on laboratory safety in China, see this link.)
The market is also less than 3 miles away from the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control, which:
Was accused of being the source of the outbreak from a now-withdrawn academic paper from a notable Chinese scholar at the South China University of China (See next note)
Once kept horseshoe bats, a known reservoir of SARS-CoV-1, within its labs
Once performed surgery on live animals within its labs
Had a researcher who quarantined on two separate occasions; once upon coming into contact with bat blood after being ’attacked’ and another time when he was urinated upon in a cave while wearing inadequate personal protection
Had previously done bat virus research funded by the US NIH (in a grant to EcoHealth Alliance)
possessed the virus that is the most closely related known virus in the world to the outbreak virus, bat virus RaTG13. This virus was isolated in 2013 and had its genome published on January 23, 2020. Seven more years of bat coronavirus collection followed the 2013 RaTG13 isolation. One component of the novel-bat-virus project at the Wuhan Institute of Virology involved infection of laboratory animals with bat viruses. Therefore, the possibility of a lab accident includes scenarios with direct transmission of a bat virus to a lab worker, scenarios with transmission of a bat virus to a laboratory animal and then to a lab worker, and scenarios involving improper disposal of laboratory animals or laboratory waste. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
began its gain of function research program for bat coronaviruses in 2015. Using a natural virus, institute researchers made “substitutions in its RNA coding to make it more transmissible. They took a piece of the original SARS virus and inserted a snippet from a SARS-like bat coronavirus, resulting in a virus that is capable of infecting human cells.” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
曾被指控是某篇学术文章事件的起源,该文章现已被撤销,作者是华南理工大学的某个著名中国学者(Note: it is referencing either South China University of Technology or University of South China. If it is the latter, replace “华南理工大学” with “南华大学”)
曾在美国国立卫生研究院(US NIH)的资助下(资金来源于一笔对EcoHealth Alliance的拨款)进行蝙蝠病毒试验
对蝙蝠冠状病毒的功能获得(gain of function)研究项目从2015年开始。研究人员从一种自然界的病毒开始,制造“RNA编辑的替换使之更容易传染。他们对原始的SARS病毒插入一个类SARS蝙蝠冠状病毒片段,其结果是产生一种能够感染人类细胞的病毒。”(《原子科学家公报》)
Even before this outbreak, China had a very poor safety record at many of its biosecurity facilities.
In the years since the SARS outbreak, many instances of mishaps involving the accidental release of pathogens have taken place in labs throughout the world. Hundreds of breaches have occurred in the U.S., including a 2014 release of anthrax from a U.S. government lab that exposed 84 people. The SARS virus escaped from a Beijing lab in 2004, causing eleven infections and one death. An accidental release is not complicated and doesn’t require malicious intent. All it takes is for a lab worker to get sick, go home for the night, and unwittingly spread the virus to others. (Newsweek)
Although it does not appear likely this virus was engineered (Nature Medicine), trying to determine the exact pattern and genomic ancestry of the virus is difficult, particularly as many of the recombinant regions may be small and are likely to change as more viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 are sampled. (Cell)
Using the current standard genetic engineering technology, many alterations of several bases in the RNA genome would be undetectable, including construction of a chimeric coronavirus encoding an unpublished spike protein in an unpublished genome. (Independent Science News)
如果使用现在标准的基因工程技术,许多RNA基因组里一些基型的修改是无法探查的,包括通过在一种未经发表的基因组里编译一种未经发表的棘突蛋白,制造一种嵌合冠状病毒(chimeric coronavirus)。(《独立科学新闻》)
After months of speculation and with the market origin story indefensible, the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally admitted only in late May 2020 that it has ruled the site out as the origin point of the outbreak. According to Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese CDC, “It now turns out that the market is one of the victims.”
Niko­lai Petro­vksy and col­leagues at Flinders Uni­ver­sity in Aus­tralia have found that SARS-CoV-2 has a higher affin­ity for hu­man re­cep­tors than for any other an­i­mal species they tested, in­clud­ing pan­golins and horse­shoe bats. He sug­gests that this could have hap­pened if the virus was be­ing cul­tured in hu­man cells, adding that “We can’t ex­clude the pos­si­bil­ity that this came from a lab­o­ra­tory ex­per­i­ment.” (Wall Street Journal)
澳大利亚弗林德斯大学的Nikolai Petrovksy和同事发现,相对于他们测试过的其他动物种类,包括穿山甲和菊头蝠,SARS-CoV-2对人体细胞受体有更高的亲和性。他表示如果这个病毒是在人体细胞内培养的,这就有可能发生,并补充到,“我们不能排除病毒来自某个实验室的试验的可能性。”(《华尔街日报》)
According to the WHO (need link), “the virus has been remarkable stable since it was first reported in Wuhan, with sequences well conserved in different countries, suggesting that the virus was well adapted to human transmission from the moment it was first detected.”
据世界卫生组织称 (need link),“病毒自从第一次在武汉被上报以来,就不同寻常的稳定,在不同国家里,基因序列都能得到很好的保存,这意味着从病毒第一次被发现起,这种病毒就非常适应人与人传播。”
This Quantitative Biology paper by Nikola Petrovsky et al makes the very strong case that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was already pre-adapted to humans by the time it appeared in late 2020.
由Nikola Petrovsky等人发表的这篇《定量生物学》论文有力地论证了SARS-CoV-2病毒在2020年末出现之前就已经预适应于人体。
Similarly, Sirotkin and Sirotkin assert in their Wiley essay: “Unless the intermediate host necessary for completing a natural zoonotic jump is identified, the dual‐use gain‐of‐function research practice of viral serial passage should be considered a viable route by which the novel coronavirus arose. The practice of serial passage mimics a natural zoonotic jump, and offers explanations for SARS‐CoV‐2’s distinctive spike‐protein region and its unexpectedly high affinity for angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2), as well as the notable polybasic furin cleavage site within it. Additional molecular clues raise further questions, all of which warrant full investigation into the novel coronavirus’s origins and a re‐examination of the risks and rewards of dual‐use gain‐of‐function research.
Sirotkin和Sirotkin在刊登于《威立》的文章里也表示了类似的看法:“除非人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)发生的中间宿主被确定,在这个双重用途的功能获得(gain-of-function)研究实验中发生的病毒连续感染应该被当做这种新冠状病毒发生的可能途径之一。实验室里的传染模仿自然界的人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump),对SARS-CoV-2中独特的棘突状蛋白区域、该蛋白对血管紧张素转化酶(ACE2)的意外的高亲和性、其中引人注意的多元furin切位点都提供了解释。其他的分子层面的线索引起了更多的疑问,这些疑问全都使全面调查新冠病毒起源、重新审查双重用途功能获得(gain-of-function)研究的风险与回报显得必要。
The two known coronaviruses genetically closest to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13 and RmYN02, were discovered in bats in Yunnan, China. The genome of RaTG13 is 96.2% similar to SARS-CoV-2. That of RmYN02 is 93.3 % similar. Given that the SARS-CoV-2 genome is made up of 30,000 nucleotides (aka letters), the genetic distance between RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 is a significant 1,200 nucleotides. Under normal circumstances in wild, this would suggest that the two viruses diverged decades ago. But an essential question is whether gain of function research could have massively sped up this evolutionary rate, including by inducing the development of chimeric viruses well adapted to human cells. This type of research could have been done using the tools of genome editing (which I believe is highly unlikely in this case) or by exposing different viruses to human cells or humanized mouse or other animal cells in a laboratory.
两种与SARS-CoV-2基因最接近的已知冠状病毒,RaTG13和RmYN02,是在中国云南的蝙蝠身上发现的。RaTG13的基因型与SARS-CoV-2有96.2%的相似性,RmYN02有93.3%的相似性。鉴于SARS-CoV-2的基因型由3万个核苷酸(即字母)组成,RaTG13与SARS-CoV-2在基因上相差了显著的1200个核苷酸。在一般野外条件下,这通常意味着两种病毒在几十年前就开始出现偏离。但一个重要的问题是功能获得(gain of function)研究,包括研发适应人体细胞的嵌合病毒,是否大大加快了进化速度。这种研究可能靠生物编辑完成(我个人认为这种可能性在这件事上非常小),也可能靠将不同的病毒暴露给人类细胞、人源化小鼠、或者其他实验室里的动物细胞。
Stanford’s David Relman states: “SARS-CoV-2 is a betacoronavirus whose apparent closest relatives, RaTG13 and RmYN02, are reported to have been collected from bats in 2013 and 2019, respectively, in Yunnan Province, China. COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 more than 1,000 miles away in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Beyond these facts, the “origin story” is missing many key details, including a plausible and suitably detailed recent evolutionary history of the virus, the identity and provenance of its most recent ancestors, and surprisingly, the place, time, and mechanism of transmission of the first human infection… Some have argued that a deliberate engineering scenario is unlikely because one would not have had the insight a priori to design the current pandemic virus. This argument fails to acknowledge the possibility that two or more as yet undisclosed ancestors (i.e., more proximal ancestors than RaTG13 and RmYN02) had already been discovered and were being studied in a laboratory—for example, one with the SARS-CoV-2 backbone and spike protein receptor binding domain, and the other with the SARS-CoV-2 polybasic furin cleavage site. It would have been a logical next step to wonder about the properties of a recombinant virus and then create it in the laboratory… there is probably more than one recent ancestral lineage that contributes to SARSCoV-2 because its genome shows evidence of recombination between different parental viruses. In nature, recombination is common among coronaviruses. But it’s also common in some research laboratories where recombinant engineering is used to study those viruses.”
斯坦福的David Relman表示:“SARS-CoV-2是一种乙型冠状病毒,据记录显示,它们最显著的近亲,RaTG13和RmYN02,分别于2013年和2019年在中国云南从蝙蝠身上采集 。COVID-19在2019年第一次被报道时是发生在1000英里以外的中国湖南省武汉市。除了这些事实之外,“起源说”缺少很多关键细节,包括一个令人满意的、细节丰富的病毒进化史,该病毒最近的原型的确认和出处,以及第一个感染病人令人惊奇的地点、时间和机制……一些人认为有意图的基因工程这种设想是不太可能的,因为没有人能够有远见设计出病毒引发现在这场流行病。这种观点忽略了一种可能,即两种和可能未公开的其他病毒原型(即比RaTG13和RmYN02更接近的原型)已经被发现,且被用于实验室研究——例如,一个实验使用了SARS-CoV-2的主干和棘突蛋白受体结合域,另一个使用了SARS-CoV-2的多元furin切位点。符合逻辑的下一步是想到一个重组病毒的成分,并将之在实验室里制造出来……SARS-CoV-2有可能不止一种近亲谱系,因为它的基因组显示出不同父系病毒重组的痕迹。在自然界中,冠状病毒之间的重组是常见的。但在一些实验室里,使用重组工程来研究病毒也是常见的。”
(Alina Chan, a junior scientist at the Broad Institute demonstrates how shoddy much of the pangolin research has been in this important Twitter thread.)
(Broad Institute的初级研究员Alina Chan在这个重要的系列推文里展示了许多穿山甲研究是如何粗劣。)
The Brufsky et al Wiley pre-print letter lays out the underlying science which seems to explain why the gain of function research at the WIV is the most likely origin of the pandemic. To be fair, the conclusion these authors draw is extremely cautious: “These unique features of SARS–CoV–2 raise several questions concerning the proximal origin of the virus that require further discussion.” They do not list he question but the implication is clear enough.
Brufsky等人在这一封《威立》刊登的预印信中展示了科学原理,该原理似乎解释了武汉病毒研究所的功能获得(gain of function)研究是这场流行病最有可能的起源。公平地讲,作者给出的结论极度谨慎:“SARS-CoV-2这些独特的性质引起了关于病毒大致起源的几个疑问,这些疑问应该得到进一步讨论。”他们没有列出问题,但是这个含义已经足够明显。
The analysis by Boni, Robertson, and their colleagues made those researchers believe that despite the genetic closeness, RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 split up quite a long time ago, possibly in 1969. This analysis, however, does not account for the ability of gain of function research to speed up the evolutionary timeline and potentially push the “natural” formation of chimeric viruses.
Boni,Robertson和他们的同事进行的这篇分析使他们相信,尽管有基因上的相似性,RaTG13和SARS-CoV-2很长时间之前就开始出现偏离了,可能在1969年。这篇分析没有考虑到功能获得(gain of function)研究可以加速进化的能力,这种能力可能潜在推动了嵌合病毒的“自然”形成。
It could also be possible that SARS-CoV-2 might be the result of gain of function research on another virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology repository. Quoting a private communication from a scientist I trust (who chose to remain anonymous out of personal safety concerns), “the issue is that there is this internal database at the WIV that even other Chinese scientists can’t access. Even the first team to point out the similarity of SARS2 to the 4991 sequence — they had no idea that 4991 aka RaTG13 had been fully genome sequenced. What other viruses are in this database? Was the pangolin CoV RBD also in this database by mid 2019?”
还有一种可能是,SARS-CoV-2来自对武汉病毒研究所库里的另一种病毒进行的功能获得(gain of function)研究。引述一个我信任的科学家的私下交流(这个科学家出于个人安全考虑希望匿名),“问题是,武汉研究所里有其他中国科学家无法接触的内部数据库。就连第一个指出SARS2与4991序列相似性的团队,他们也不知道4991,即RaTG13,之前就被进行了完整的基因测序。数据库里还有什么其他的病毒?穿山甲CoV的受体结合域在2019年中期的时候是否也存在于数据库?”
In an August 12, 2020 BioEssays paper, Sirotkin and Sirotkin assert that the WIV is sitting on somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 undisclosed wild viruses, and Dr. Shi herself disclosed that 9 previously undisclosed betacoronaviruses that had been held in a WIV lab repository. The database issues are further explored in in this thread as well as in this thread.
All the Wuhan Institute of Virology virus databases were taken down early in 2020 and remain offline. There are estimated to be at least 100 unpublished sequences of bat betacoronaviruses in these databases which need to be sequenced by international scientists. Based on information and links provided here, these databases include:
WIV Database 1:http://batvirus.whiov.ac.cn/ (Archive seems to be unavailable)
WIV SQL online Database 2: http://csdata.org/p/308/, Archived:https://web.archive.org/web/20200507214518/http://csdata.org/p/308/ and:http://archive.is/HLuio
WIV Database 3:http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/vri.jsp, Archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20200125203943/http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/vri.jsp, Discussion of significance here: Guoke Faji 2019/236 and the SARS-CoV-2 Outbreak http://archive.is/uHqSw#selection-29.0-29.47
WIV Database 4:http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/chinavpi, Archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20200404100024/http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/chinav, Referenced in a paper by Zhiming Yuan of the Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, (+86-27-87197242, Email: yzm@wh.iov.cn), “Investigation of Viral Pathogen Profiles in Some Natural Hosts and Vectors in China”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178075/
WIV Database 5: http://www.wfcc.info/ccinfo/collection/col_by_country/c/86/, Archived:https://web.archive.org/web/20200515223251/http://www.wfcc.info/ccinfo/collection/col_by_country/c/86/ which in turn links to: http://wfcc.info/ccinfo/collection/by_id/613, Archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20200108181714/http://wfcc.info/ccinfo/collection/by_id/613 links to: http://www.virus.org.cn/ (404 for the database in question), Archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20191230091754/http://www.virus.org.cn/, And an archived description of the WIV database: https://web.archive.org/web/20200117011358/http://www.whiov.ac.cn/xwdt_105286/zhxw/201804/t20180423_5000795.html
武汉病毒研究所数据库3:http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/vri.jsp,存档:https://web.archive.org/web/20200125203943/http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/vri.jsp,重要的讨论:Guoke Faji 2019/236和SARS-CoV-2爆发 http://archive.is/uHqSw#selection-29.0-29.47
武汉病毒研究所数据库4:http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/chinavpi,存档:https://web.archive.org/web/20200404100024/http://www.viruses.nsdc.cn/chinav,被武汉病毒研究所研究员、武汉生物安全实验室的袁志明(+86-27-87197242, Email: yzm@wh.iov.cn)在一篇论文中引用,《Investigation of Viral Pathogen Profiles in Some Natural Hosts and Vectors in China》。https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178075/
Sirotkin and Sirotkin also state: “Unless the intermediate host necessary for completing a natural zoonotic jump is identified, the dual‐use gain‐of‐function research practice of viral serial passage should be considered a viable route by which the novel coronavirus arose.”
“The long‐standing practice of serial passage is a form of gain‐of‐function research that forces zoonosis between species, and requires the same molecular adaptations necessary for a natural zoonotic jump to occur within a laboratory, leaving the same genetic signatures behind as a natural jump but occurring in a much shorter period of time… serial passage through a live animal host simply forces the same molecular processes that occur in nature to happen during a zoonotic jump, and in vitro passage through cell culture mimics many elements of this process—and neither necessarily leaves any distinguishing genetic traces.”
“A coronavirus that targets the ACE2 receptor like SARS‐CoV‐2 was first isolated from a wild bat in 2013 by a team out of Wuhan. This research was funded in part by EcoHealth Alliance, and set the stage for the manipulation of bat‐borne coronavirus genomes that target this receptor and can become airborne. Many more viruses have been collected in Wuhan over the years, and one research expedition captured as many as 400 wild viruses, which were added to a private repository that has since grown to over 1500 strains of virus, meaning that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a massive catalogue of largely undisclosed viruses to draw from for experiments… But for whatever reason, the Wuhan Institute of Virology has refused to release the lab notebooks of its researchers, which are ubiquitous in even the simplest laboratories and are expected to be meticulously detailed given the sensitive and delicate work that takes place in BSL‐4 research labs intent on documenting their intellectual property, despite the fact that these notebooks would likely be enough to exonerate the lab from having any role in the creation of SARS‐CoV‐2.”
“The prospect that serial passage through lab animals or on commercial farms may have played a role in the creation of SARS‐CoV‐2 is also raised by an April 2020 preprint, which appears to have been retracted after Chinese authorities implemented the censorship of any papers relating to the origins of the novel coronavirus.” (For the last point, see this link.)
“These data do not support the idea that SARS‐CoV‐2 was circulating in humans prior to the outbreak began in Wuhan in the early winter or fall of 2019, making a zoonotic jump even more unlikely since natural jumps leave wide serological footprints in their new host populations as early variants of a prospective virus make limited and unsuccessful jumps into individuals of the new host species, a trial‐and‐error that must occur before mutations that allow adaptation to a new host species are selected.”
Sirotkin和Sirotkin还表示:“除非人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)发生的中间宿主被确定,在这个双重用途的功能获得(gain-of-function)研究实验中发生的病毒连续感染,应该被当做这种新冠状病毒发生的可能途径之一。”
“长期以来的系列传递操作是能够促使跨物种人畜共患疾病的功能获得(gain-of-funciton)研究的形式之一,实验室里该操作需要与自然界人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)同样的分子调试,这会留下跟自然条件下的跳跃一样的基因痕迹,却可以在短得多的一段时间内发生……通过活动物宿主发生的系列传递可以使自然界中同样的分子过程经由一个人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)发生,而通过体外培养细胞的传递模仿了这个过程的很多构成,这两种情况都不会留下不同的基因痕迹。”
“一种与SARS-CoV-2类似的、对ACE2有针对性的冠状病毒在2013年首次被来自武汉的团队分离。这个研究的资金部分来自EcoHealth Alliance,为蝙蝠冠状病毒基因组的改动、使之能针对这个受体和通过空气传播打下了基础。这些年来,武汉方面采集了许多其他病毒,其中一个加速研究采集了400种野生病毒,这些病毒之后被添加到了一个私密库,该私密库至今采集了1500株以上的病毒,这意味着武汉疾控中心有一个包含了很多来自实验的未公开病毒的巨大名录……但出于某种原因,武汉病毒研究所拒绝放出研究人员的研究笔记,而这样的研究笔记即使在最简单的实验室里也非常普遍,更何况一个4级生物安全实验室出于考虑到实验敏感而精细的内容,以及对产权的保护,更应该有做非常仔细的笔记,尽管这些笔记可能足以证明实验室没有参与SARS-CoV-2的诞生。”
“这些数据不支持SARS-CoV-2在武汉爆发之前就已经在人群中传播的观点,这种情况使人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)更加不可能,因为由于潜在病毒早期变种有限的成功率,自然的跳跃会在新宿主人群中留下大量的血清痕迹,经过一个为了选择适应新宿主物种的变异而必须发生的试错过程。”
In a BioEssays paper, issued November 17, 2020, authors Deigin and Segreto assert: “Severe acute respiratory syndrome‐coronavirus (SARS‐CoV)‐2′s origin is still controversial. Genomic analyses show SARS‐CoV‐2 likely to be chimeric, most of its sequence closest to bat CoV RaTG13, whereas its receptor binding domain (RBD) is almost identical to that of a pangolin CoV. Chimeric viruses can arise via natural recombination or human intervention. The furin cleavage site in the spike protein of SARS‐CoV‐2 confers to the virus the ability to cross species and tissue barriers, but was previously unseen in other SARS‐like CoVs. Might genetic manipulations have been performed in order to evaluate pangolins as possible intermediate hosts for bat‐derived CoVs that were originally unable to bind to human receptors? Both cleavage site and specific RBD could result from site‐directed mutagenesis, a procedure that does not leave a trace. Considering the devastating impact of SARS‐CoV‐2 and importance of preventing future pandemics, researchers have a responsibility to carry out a thorough analysis of all possible SARS‐CoV‐2 origins.” At very least, this paper credibly raises a serious hypothesis worthy of far deeper exploration. Some key points made in the paper include:
“the two main SARS‐CoV‐2 features, (1) the presence of a furin cleavage site missing in other CoVs of the same group and (2) an receptor binding domain (RBD) optimized to bind to human cells might be the result of lab manipulation techniques such as site‐directed mutagenesis.”
“In order to evaluate the emergence potential of novel CoVs, researchers have created a number of chimeric CoVs, consisting of bat CoV backbones, normally unable to infect human cells, whose spike proteins were replaced by those from CoVs compatible with human ACE2. These chimeras were meant to simulate recombination events that might occur in nature… Synthetically generating diverse panels of potential pre‐emergent CoVs was declared a goal of active grants for the EcoHealth Alliance, which funded some of such research at WIV, in collaboration with laboratories in the USA and other international partners.”
“Due to the broad‐spectrum of research conducted over almost 20 years on bat SARS‐CoVs justified by their potential to spill over from animal to human, a possible synthetic origin by laboratory engineering of SARS‐CoV‐2 cannot be excluded… SARS‐CoV‐2 could have been synthesized by combining a backbone similar to RaTG13 with the RBD of CoV similar to the one recently isolated from pangolins.”
“Another open question is the reason for modification and subsequent deletion of WIV’s own viral database.”
“两个SARS-CoV-2的主要特点,(1)不存在于其他同种冠状病毒的furin切位点,和(2)一个被优化以结合人体细胞的受体结合域(receptor binding domain)可能是实验室修改技术——比如特定位点基因变异——的结果。”
“为了评估新的冠状病毒的出现的可能,研究者制造了很多带有蝙蝠冠状病毒主干的嵌合冠状病毒,通常这些病毒不能感染人类细胞,这些嵌合病毒的棘突蛋白被其他能够与人类ACE2作用的病毒对应的部分取代。这些嵌合体原本是用来模拟自然界发生的重组现象……合成性地制造多组尚未出现而具有潜力的冠状病毒是EcoHealth Alliance所称的积极拨款的一个目标,这些拨款部分资助了武汉病毒研究所的相关研究,并与美国及国际其他伙伴进行合作。”
China has taken a series of steps since the beginning of this crisis which seem consistent with a coverup. Although the coverup began with local and provincial Wuhan authorities, it later involved decisions made by the Chinese leadership at the highest level. These steps include:
On December 31, Chinese authorities started censoring news of the virus from search engines, deleting terms including “SARS variation,” “Wuhan Seafood market” and “Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia.” (Daily Telegraph)
Officials closed the market the day after notifying the WHO and sent in teams with strong disinfectants. Samples from animals were taken but, four months later, the results have not been shared with foreign scientists. The actions led to claims that they were deliberately wiping away crucial traces. (Daily Telegraph)
Many China scholars noted that it was quite unusual for Chinese government authorities to identify Wuhan’s Huanan South China Seafood Market so quickly as the source of the outbreak. They thought this behavior so uncharacteristic that it raised suspicions in their minds.
The Hubei health commission ordered genomics companies to stop testing for the new virus and to destroy all samples.
On January 1, an employee of a genomics company in Wuhan received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and to destroy all existing samples. (Caixin Global)
On January 1, Wuhan Institute of Virology’s director general, Yanyi Wang, messaged her colleagues, saying the National Health Commission told her the lab’s COVID-19 data shall not be published on social media and shall not be disclosed to the media. And on January 3, the commission sent this document, never posted online, but saved by researchers, telling labs to destroy COVID-19 samples or send them to the depository institutions designated by the state. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
On January 3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions or destroy them. (Caixin Global)
Even with full sequences decoded by three state labs independently, Chinese health officials remained silent. (AP)
China sat on releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information. Tight controls on information and competition within the Chinese public health system were to blame, according to dozens of interviews and internal documents. (AP)
WHO officials complained in internal meetings that they were making repeated requests to the Chinese authorities for more data, especially to find out if the virus could spread efficiently between humans, but to no avail. “We have informally and formally been requesting more epidemiological information,” WHO’s China representative Galea said. “But when asked for specifics, we could get nothing.” (AP)
Beijing did not notify the World Health Organization of the outbreak for at least four days after Wuhan officials were notified. A WHO investigation team was not allowed to visit Wuhan until three weeks after that, and the team was not given full and unrestricted access even during this preliminary field visit
The Chinese government closed the laboratory in Shanghai that first published the genome of COVID-19 on January 10, explaining that it had been shuttered for “rectification.” Chinese citizens who reported on the coronavirus were censured and, in some cases, “disappeared.” These have included businessman Fang Bin, lawyer Chen Qiushi, former state TV reporter Li Zehua and, most recently, Zhang Zhan, a lawyer. They are reportedly being held in extrajudicial detention centers for speaking out about China’s response to the pandemic. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Chinese government labs only released the genome after another lab published it ahead of authorities on a virologist website on Jan. 11. Even then, China stalled for at least two weeks more on providing WHO with detailed data on patients and cases, according to recordings of internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency through January — all at a time when the outbreak arguably might have been dramatically slowed. (AP)
Although international law obliges countries to report information to WHO that could have an impact on public health, the U.N. agency has no enforcement powers and cannot independently investigate epidemics within countries. Instead, it must rely on the cooperation of member states. According to WHO’s chief of emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan, this type of obfuscation and interference “would not happen in Congo and did not happen in Congo and other places.” (AP)
Not only did China block the WHO investigation team from going to Wuhan for nearly a month, it also severely curtailed its activities after that.
On Jan. 14, the head of China’s National Health Commission said in a confidential teleconference with provincial health officials that the situation was “severe and complex,” that “clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible,” and that “the risk of transmission and spread is high.” The Commission issued a 63-page document on response procedures that same day that was labeled “internal” and “not to be publicly disclosed.” The next day, the head of China’s disease control emergency center, announced on state television that “the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low.” This same message was delivered to the World Health Organization. (Washington Post)
Between the day the full genome was first decoded by a government lab on Jan. 2 and the day WHO declared a global emergency on Jan. 30, the outbreak spread by a factor of 100 to 200 times, according to retrospective infection data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP) Chinese officials actively lobbied the WHO to prevent the emergency declaration, which almost certainly slowed the international response,
Offers from the United States to send medical experts Wuhan in early January were rejected by the central government. (Diplomat)
This Chinese preprint paper was released in February 2020 and then mysteriously retracted. In it, two Chinese experts assert that, ” Somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan… Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.”
Although WIV officials have commented publicly about social media posting alleging that one of their prior researchers may be “patient zero,” the WIV has not provided any information about that person
A WIV researcher who publicly accused the director of the Institute of selling infected lab animals to vendors on Weibo (with pictures of herself and her employee ID included) later claimed she was ’hacked’ and disavowed her prior allegation
In contrast to its earlier (and inaccurate) assertion that the outbreak originated in the Wuhan seafood market, a Ministry of foreign Affairs spokesperson on March 12 accused the United States Army of intentionally bringing SARS-CoV-2 to Wuhan
Beijing disinfected the Wuhan market before a full international investigation could be conducted and has yet to provide U.S. experts with samples of the novel coronavirus collected from the earliest cases.
The Shanghai lab that published the novel coronavirus genome on Jan. 11 was quickly shut down by authorities for “rectification.” Several of the doctors and journalists who reported on the spread early on have disappeared. (Washington Post)
On Feb. 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a new biosecurity law to be accelerated. On Wednesday, The Chinese government has placed severe restrictions requiring approval before any research institution publishes anything on the origin of the novel coronavirus. (Washington Post)
This was followed immediately by a China Ministry of Science & Technology announcement of new guidelines for laboratories, especially in handling viruses. Almost at the same time, the Chinese newspaper Global Times published an article on “chronic inadequate management issues at laboratories, including problems of biological wastes.”
Labs analyzing the pathogen were instructed to destroy samples, a health center that had published the virus’s genome sequence was temporarily shut down the following day, and doctors were prevented from submitting case information to the country’s infectious disease tracking network. (Diplomat)
Reports of health care workers falling ill, an early indicator of human-to-human transmission, were suppressed. More indirectly, state media coverage of doctors being penalized reportedly had a chilling effect on other medical professionals who might have sounded the alarm. (Diplomat)
In an official document marked “internal document, please keep confidential” reported out by CNN, Hubei provincial officials listed 5,918 new cases for Feb. 10, more than twice what was reported publicly for all of China on that day. On March 7, the total death toll in Hubei was listed in the report at 3,456 but publicly stated as 2,986. According to the Washington Post, “the Hubei documents add weight to the conclusion that China deliberately hid the true dimensions of the disaster.”
In March 2020, Beijing announced the expulsion of American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, the media organizations who have exposed some of the most significant misdeeds and coverups by the Chinese government over recent decades
In April 2020, with the outbreak in full swing, the WIV deleted a press release detailing the January 2019 U.S. State Department visit
The Chinese government has now banned any researcher from publishing anything on the origins of this crisis without prior approval of the Ministry of Science and Technology (Nature)
On April 24, the New York Times reported that Beijing has successfully pressured European Union officials to water down references to China an an EU report. The original language had stated, “China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image… Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.”
It appears there may have been a sudden drop in cellphone usage at WIV in early October followed be a cellphone blackout, suggesting the possibility of an accident inside WIV on October 6 followed by a traffic closure. Without further detail about sourcing, however, this information remains speculative. (E-PAI report)
Zhang Zan, a Chinese citizen journalist arrested by Chines authorities in May for asking tough questions about the origin of the pandemic and accused, absurdly, of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” was sentenced to four years in prison on December 28, 2020. According to Quartz: Three other citizen journalists—Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, and Li Zehua—all disappeared in February as soon as their coverage of Wuhan during the pandemic started to gain traction online. Li Zehua resurfaced in April, saying he had been taken by police on suspicion of disturbing public order but was later released as the authorities did not press charges. Meanwhile, Chen and Fang’s whereabouts still aren’t known, though Chen is reportedly staying under home surveillance at his parents’ house.
On November 25, 2020, Kyodo News reported that “Chinese authorities warned doctors, who responded to the novel coronavirus in the early stage of the outbreak in Wuhan, that they could be punished for espionage if they revealed what went on during the period.”
Also in November, 2020, the this Chinese government launched a concerted propaganda campaign claiming, without meaningful evidence, that the pandemic began in the Indian subcontinent.
This December 19, 2020 New York Times article outlines in stunning detail the extent to which China actively and aggressively suppressed information about the pandemic, silenced whistleblowers and people raising essential questions, the manipulated outgoing information in order to hoard essential supplies from abroad. This history, in the context of COVID-19 and many other “sensitive” issues, suggests that an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 that relies primarily on data gathered and information provided by the Chinese authorities, as the WHO investigation appears to do, can not be considered legitimate.
According to a December 30, 2020 AP article, “More than a year since the first known person was infected with the coronavirus, an AP investigation shows the Chinese government is strictly controlling all research into its origins, clamping down on some while actively promoting fringe theories that it could have come from outside China. The government is handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to scientists researching the virus’ origins in southern China and affiliated with the military, the AP has found. But it is monitoring their findings and mandating that the publication of any data or research must be approved by a new task force managed by China’s cabinet, under direct orders from President Xi Jinping, according to internal documents obtained by the AP. A rare leak from within the government, the dozens of pages of unpublished documents confirm what many have long suspected: The clampdown comes from the top.”
Here is a link to the official Chinese regulation.
尽管国际法律要求国家履行向世界卫生组织报告可能影响公共健康的信息,联合国组织却没有执行的权力,也不能在各个国家内对传染病进行独立调查。相反,他们必须依赖成员国的合作。根据世界卫生组织的紧急事件负责人Michael Ryan医生,这种混淆和干预“不会发生在刚果,过去也没有发生在刚果或者其他地方。”(《美联社》)
据2020年11月25日《共同通讯社》(Kyodo News)报道,“中国当局警告那些疫情爆发早期对新冠病毒做出回应的医生,说他们如果揭露那段时间发生了什么,可能会以间谍行为被惩罚。”
On April 18, 2020, Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an interview that “there is no way this virus came from us.”
In early May, the World Health Organization’s representative in China, Gauden Galea, publicly complained that China had refused repeated requests to permit the WHO to participate in whatever investigations the Chinese government was undertaking itself. He said that the WHO had not been given access to laboratory logs at the WIV or the Wuhan Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
5月早期,世界卫生组织的中国代表Gauden Galea公开抱怨中国多次拒绝世界卫生组织参与中国自己正在进行的调查的请求。他说世界卫生组织没有被给与接触武汉病毒研究所实验室记录或者武汉疾控中心记录的权限。(《原子科学家公报》)
On May 3, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “There is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.” China’s Global Times, run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial responding to this interview that “The Trump administration continues to engage in unprecedented propaganda warfare while trying to impede global efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”
5月3日,美国国务卿Mike Pompeo说,“有大量的证据表明这个来自武汉的实验室。”中国共产党官报《人民日报》下的《环球时报》在一篇评论文章里回应了这个访谈,称“Trump政府依然在进行前所未有的信息宣传战,同时在尝试阻碍全球的抗疫行动。”
On May 4, the Guardian claimed its sources insisted a “15-page dossier” highlighted by the Australian Daily Telegraph accusing China of a deadly cover up was not culled from intelligence from the Five Eyes Network, an alliance between the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Bloomberg reported on May 5 that a majority of the 17 agencies that provide and analyze intelligence for the U.S. government believe the pandemic started after the virus was leaked from the Wuhan lab, but based mostly on circumstantial evidence.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center recently issued a statement saying hackers are “actively targeting organisations … that include healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, medical research organisations, and local government.” This was widely construed as suggesting that state-sponsored Chinese hackers were attempting to steal COVD-19 research. (NPR)
On May 19, the World Health Assembly agreed to an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international response to COVID-19. China did not object to the resolution but Chinese president Xi Jinping said the investigation should only take place after the pandemic is contained. This is not likely to happen any time soon.
5月19日,世界卫生大会(World Health Assembly)同意对COVID-19的国际抗疫做出“公正的、独立的、全面的评估”。中国没有反对这个决议,但中国主席习近平说调查应该只在疫情得到控制之后发生。这应该不会在近期发生。
Investigating the range of possible spillover sites—from the wet market, to an accidental lab or fieldwork infection, or an unnoticed lab leak—requires a forensic investigation. Obtaining case histories, epidemiological data, and viral samples from different times and places, including the earliest possible samples from infected individuals and samples from wildlife, is paramount… A forensic investigation would additionally involve auditing and sampling viral collections at relevant labs that had been studying coronaviruses, examining the types of experiments carried out and the viruses used, and reviewing the safety and security practices in place… A COVID-19 origins investigation will need to be negotiated and begun rapidly before relevant data diminishes or disappears entirely as time passes. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Determining whether WIV had anything to do with the virus will require a forensic investigation, say several scientists. Investigators would be looking for viruses that matched the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and, if they found one, any evidence that it could have escaped. To do that, authorities would need to take samples from the lab, interview staff, review lab books and records of safety incidents, and see what types of experiment researchers had been doing. An independent investigation at the WIV facility is probably the only way to convincingly rule out the lab as a possible source of the outbreak, but such a probe is still being blocked by the Chinese authorities. (Nature) This is outrageous.
On June 7, China issued a white paper called, “China’s Actions to Fight the Covid-19 Epidemic.” This document asserted: “China’s action composes the heroic paean to the people’s lives above all else, highlighting the responsibility of a great power to life, the people, history and the international community. China has always adhered to the concept of a community of a shared future for mankind. It has always worked hand in hand with other countries and fought side by side, making unremitting efforts to fight for an early global epidemic prevention and control.” Some observers noted this narrative did not reflect an accurate assessment of the historical record of the COVID-19 pandemic or Chinese history more generally. It is estimated that 47 million people died senselessly under former Chinese Leader Mao Tse Tung.
On July 10, the WHO announced that a two-member advance team of experts has left for China to organize an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus. It is unlikely this team will have the authority to conduct the type of full forensic investigation that is required.
In fact, the WHO has agreed with the Chinese government that investigations into the first patients in China and the market’s role in the outbreak will be led by Chinese scientists, with WHO experts able to review and “augment, rather than duplicate,” studies undertaken by China officials. The exact language from the WHO Terms of Reference document(need link) states that “Some of the abovementioned work may already be partially done or documented by the time the international team initiates its work, and the study will therefore build on existing information and augment, rather than duplicate, ongoing or existing efforts.” It also asserts that “The final composition of the international team should be agreed by both China and WHO.” In light of all the evidence of active efforts by the Chinese government to destroy evidence, deny access to key records, and silence relevant domestic (and even international) voices, this level of deference to Beijing falls well below the standard of even basic accountability. As I have written elsewhere, it would be wrong to blame the WHO for this given the designed weakness of its mandate, the result of efforts by many states over decades to defend state sovereignty at the expense of our common good as humans sharing the same planet (sorry to throw in more idealism here, but I invite you to join OneShared.World if you are interested in addressing our world’s dangerous collective action problem).
Here is an annotated version of the WHO Terms of Reference with comments provided by Giles Demaneuf. It is abundantly clear that the Chinese government aggressively negotiated compromises, structural limitations, and borderline falsehoods into the document. I have great faith in the personal integrity of many of the ten people chosen to represent the international community in this investigation, but they will almost certainly not be able to fulfill their obligation to humanity and future generations if they follow the terms of reference to the letter. It is my hope they will demand the most thorough investigation of all possible hypotheses, demand full access to all relevant people and materials, demonstrate full transparency, and speak publicly and forcefully, in their collective and/or personal capacities, if they don’t have full access to everything and everyone they need.
这个链接指向一个由Giles Demaneuf标注的世界卫生组织“职权范围”版本。”它十分充足地显示了中国政府非常激进地协商,将妥协、结构性限制、和几乎是错误的内容写进这个文件。这次调查中代表国际社会的十个人里,我对其中许多人个人的正直有很大的信心,但几乎可以肯定他们如果遵循这个文件的内容,就不能履行对人类和子孙后代的义务。我希望他们如果无法接触所有需要接触的人和物,也能要求对所有假说做最彻底的调查,要求完全接触所有相关的人和材料,展现完全的透明度,以个人或团体公开而坚定地发表讲话。
On July 15, Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli, the noted WIV bat virus specialist, sent written comments to Science magazine refuting allegations of a leak. Nothing in her comments in any way reduces the pressing need for a full and unrestricted international investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
In my July 29, 2020 Washington Post editorial, I write: “The closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 is a virus sampled by Chinese researchers from six miners infected while working in a bat-infested cave in southern China in 2012. These miners developed symptoms we now associate with Covid-19. Half of them died. These viral samples were then taken to the Wuhan Institute of Virology—the only facility in China that’s a biosafety Level 4 laboratory, the highest possible safety designation. The Level 4 designation is reserved for facilities dealing with the most dangerous pathogens. Wuhan is more than 1,000 miles north of Yunnan province, where the cave is located. If the virus jumped to humans through a series of human-animal encounters in the wild or in wet markets, as Beijing has claimed, we would likely have seen evidence of people being infected elsewhere in China before the Wuhan outbreak. We have not. The alternative explanation, a lab escape, is far more plausible. We know the Wuhan Institute of Virology was using controversial ‘gain of function’ techniques to make viruses more virulent for research purposes. A confidential 2018 State Department cable released this month highlighting the lab’s alarming safety record should heighten our concern. Suggesting that an outbreak of a deadly bat coronavirus coincidentally occurred near the only level 4 virology institute in all of China—which happened to be studying the closest known relative of that exact virus—strains credulity.”
在我7月29日的《华盛顿邮报》的评论文章中,我写道:“与SARS-CoV-2最接近的是一种被中国研究者采集的病毒,该病毒来自6个矿工,他们于2012年在中国南部一个蝙蝠寄居的洞里工作时被感染。这些矿工当时出现了被我们现在认为是Covid-19的症状,其中一半人死亡。这些病毒样本被采集送往武汉病毒研究所,中国唯一一个4级生物安全实验室,即最高生物安全级别实验室。4级生物安全的特定对象为处理最危险的病原体的设施。武汉距离洞穴所在处,云南省北部有1000多英里的距离。如果病毒如北京所宣称,在野外或者生鲜市场经由一系列动物到人的传染,我们很可能已经在武汉疫情爆发之前就在别的地方见到了有人被传染的迹象。我们却没有。另外一个解释,即从实验室泄露,可能性要大很多。我们知道武汉病毒研究所出于研究需要,在使用有争议的“功能获得”(gain of function)技术使一些病毒更就有传染性。一个2018年国务院的私密电报在这个月被解密,其中强调了这个实验室令人担心的安全记录,这个报告应该加强我们的警觉。认为一个致命蝙蝠病毒碰巧发生在距离中国唯一的4级病毒实验室边上——这个实验室又恰好正在研究这个病毒已知的最接近的病毒——是没有可信度的。”
Understanding the link between the Chinese miners exposed in the Yunnan cave in 2012 and the potential outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019 is essential. Anyone with a serious interest in getting to the bottom of the origins questions should be require to read the July 15 Latham and Wilson Independent Science News paper in full. It states: “We suggest, first, that inside the miners RaTG13 (or a very similar virus) evolved into SARS-CoV-2, an unusually pathogenic coronavirus highly adapted to humans. Second, that the Shi lab used medical samples taken from the miners and sent to them by Kunming University Hospital for their research. It was this human-adapted virus, now known as SARS-CoV-2­, that escaped from the WIV in 2019.” This Frontiers in Public Health article raises similar questions.
It is impossible to overstate the implications of the SARS-CoV-2­ virus being so well adapted to humans from the outset. Zhan and Chan in theit May 2 paper state that “by the time SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in late 2019, it was already pre-adapted to human transmission to an extent similar to late epidemic SARS-CoV. However, no precursors or branches of evolution stemming from a less human-adapted SARS-CoV-2-like virus have been detected… In comparison to the SARS-CoV epidemic, the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic appears to be missing an early phase during which the virus would be expected to accumulate adaptive mutations for human transmission. However, if this were the origin story of SARS-CoV-2, there is a surprising absence of precursors or branches emerging from a less recent, less adapted common ancestor among humans and animals.” The Latham and Wilson July 15 paper provides by far the best explanation: this virus that escaped from the lab had likely come from a human sample (one of the miners).
In my Washington Post editorial, I say: “Not getting to the bottom of this crisis would be the height of absurdity. Too much is at stake. To ensure everyone’s safety, the WHO and outside investigators must be empowered to explore all relevant questions about the origins of the pandemic without limits. This comprehensive forensic investigation must include full access to all of the scientists, biological samples, laboratory records and other materials from the Wuhan virology institutes and other relevant Chinese organizations. Denying that access should be considered an admission of guilt by Beijing.”
In my August 17 editorial in The Hill, I state that “Congress should immediately establish a bipartisan national commission, modeled on the 9/11 Commission, to prepare a full, complete account of four essential failures and what we can do to address them.” These four failures are ones made by China, the WHO, the US government, and all of us in not preparing for ht full panoply of global existential threats. “Some may feel that establishing such a commission while the pandemic still rages would be like launching the 9/11 commission while the Twin Towers were still falling. But would it not have been better to do exactly that, rather than blindly charge into two wars without deep analysis and a long-term strategy? Getting to the bottom of our current crisis is not just an intellectual exercise. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over but there are no guarantees that an even worse pandemic, possibly supercharged by a synthetic pathogen, might be just around the corner.”
在我的《The Hill》8月17日的评论文章里,我表示:“国会应该立即依照911委员会建立一个跨党派的国家委员会,为四大重要失败和如何解决它们做完全的报告。”四大重要失败分别来自中国,世界卫生组织,美国政府,和我们所有没有为全球生存威胁做全套准备的人。“一些人可能觉得疫情仍在蔓延,建立这样一个委员会就像双子塔还在倒塌的时候建立一个911委员会。但是,相比在没有深度分析和长远计划的情况下盲目发动两场战争,早先这样做不是更好吗?对现在的危机寻根究底不是一次脑力练习。COVID-19流行病远没有结束,但没有任何保证一次更糟糕的流行病不在不远的未来,还很可能还因为合成病原体而变得更严峻。”
In September 2020, the Lancet released the first statement of its COVID-19 commission. The statement asserts: “The origins of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are yet to be definitively determined, but evidence to date supports the view that SARS-CoV-2 is a naturally occurring virus rather than the result of laboratory creation and release. Research into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should proceed expeditiously, scientifically, and objectively, unhindered by geopolitical agendas and misinformation.” It makes little sense for an investigation commission to claim an initial finding before a full investigation has been carried out. It would be far more credible to state that the commission would explore all possible hypothesis to help get to the bottom of the origins issue. Further, by contrasting “a naturally occurring virus rather than the result of laboratory creation and release,” the commission completely disregards the possibility of gain of function work followed by a lab leak, the exact scenario that could potentially compromise commission chair, Peter Daszak.
2020年9月,《柳叶刀》发布了其COVID-19委员会的第一个声明。声明表示:“这次重度急性呼吸道综合症冠状病毒2(SARS-CoV-2)的源头还没有被明确确认,但目前的证据所支持的观点是,SARS-CoV-2是自然发生的病毒,而不是实验室制造和释放的病毒。对SARS-CoV-2起源的研究应该快速、科学、客观地进行,且不受地缘政治和错误信息的限制。”对一个调查委员会来说,在一场完全的调查被进行之前宣布初步发现是不合理的。该委员会如果声明会探查所有的假说以探明起源的全部真相,会可信得多。更何况,将“是自然发生的病毒,而不是实验室制造和释放的病毒”两种情况对立起来,委员会完全忽视了功能获得(gain of function)和之后实验室泄露的可能,这种可能恰好会对委员会主席Peter Daszak的信誉受损。
Selecting Peter Daszak to lead the Lancet commission is also questionable. As I wrote in my message to Lancet editor, Richard Horton: “Peter’s organization worked closely with the Wuhan Institute of virology and supported gain of function research on bat coronaviruses. If the pandemic stems from an accidental leak of one of these viruses, Peter would potentially be implicated. I am not at all suggesting that he did anything wrong, just that one of the possible origin stories includes him. Because so much is riding on this investigation, I think it essential that we make sure the commission itself represents a balance of perspectives, while excluding conspiracy theorists and people with political axes to grind… Putting together a commission that is both impartial and balanced and seen as being impartial and balanced will be critical for everything that follows.” (Here is a Twitter link to Peter describing in his own words the process for manipulating the spike proteins of coronaviruses in a lab. For more on US financial support for EcoHealth Alliance, see this link)
选择Peter Daszak来带领《柳叶刀》的这个委员会也是有问题的。在我写给《柳叶刀》编辑Richard Horton的信息里,我提到:“Peter的组织与武汉病毒研究所联系紧密,而且支持蝙蝠冠状病毒的功能获得(gain of funciton)研究。如果流行病起源于一次这些病毒其中之一的意外泄露,Peter可能会受到影响。我不是在暗示他做了什么不对的事情,只是疫情起源的可能性之一会涉及他。因为这场调查至关重要,我认为我们有必要确保委员会自身在代表不同视角上做到平衡,同时排除掉带着政治目的虎视眈眈的阴谋论者和其他人……建立一个客观平衡的委员会,使之看上去也客观而平衡,对让每个人都能关注是非常重要的。“(这个链接指向Peter的推特,推文中他描述了在实验室里操控冠状病毒的棘突蛋白的过程。想了解更多美国对EcoHealth Alliance的资助,看这个链接)
In November, 2020, The WHO released the names of the 10 scientists selected in coordination with the Chinese government to visit Wuhan to assess the origins of the pandemic. Surprisingly, Peter Daszak was on this list. As I mentioned in a 11/27 tweet, “I have great respect for Peter but his clear conflict of interest and [prior] funding relationship with WIV should preclude him from these types of roles.” I also tweeted that the key to making this a legitimate process will be “ensuring full & unrestricted access to all samples, records, scientists, etc. as part of a deep forensic investigation with no political interference” and the ability to “interview any scientist in China in conditions of complete privacy & security.” I have deep reservations about the leading role the Chinese government will play in this investigation on its own failure, which already includes significant oversight of which scientists are selected as investigators and the ability to have Chinese government and government-related scientists doing the primary investigations (would we let the DRC negotiate these kinds of terms as Ebola raged?). Doing a serious investigation will absolutely require significant whistleblower protections for any Chinese scientists who may wish to come forward. This should include an anonymous and safe digital portal and significant protective safeguards including the possibility of asylum.
2020年11月,世界卫生组织公布了10个科学家的名字,这些科学家被选中前往武汉,与中国政府合作探测疫情起源。令人惊讶的是,Peter Daszak在这个名单上。在我11月27日的推文里,我提到:“我对Peter抱有十分尊敬,但他明显的利益冲突和之前与武汉病毒研究所的资金往来关系应该使他不能担任这样的角色。”我还发过推表示,保证这个过程合法性的关键是“进行不带政治干扰的深度法医调查,保证调查过程中有完整而不加限制的接触所有样本、记录、科学家等等的权限”,以及“对中国境内的科学家进行完全私密而安全的采访。”中国政府在这次关于自己的失败所进行的调查中起领导作用,我对此深度保留,中国政府的领导显然包括监督哪些科学家被选作调查员,以及让中国政府和与政府相关的科学家做初步调查(埃博拉病毒肆虐时,我们会让刚果民主共和国协商类似的职权范围吗?)。进行这样一次研究调查绝对需要给可能愿意站出来的科学家提供吹哨者的重度保护。这需要一个匿名安全的电子平台和重要的保护措施,包括以难民接收的可能。
This open letter to the WHO COVID-19 international investigations team outlines essential questions which must be addressed by the WHO investigation. A question not included in hte petition but which I believe must be asked is: “What was and is the relationship between the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Was the PLA engaged in any research at the WIV and did the PLA store any viral samples in the facility prior to the outbreak?”
On January 6, 2021, after the Chinese government failed to provide visa’s for members of the WHO COVID-19 expert committee, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stated: “on the issue of COVID-19 origin-tracing, China has always been open, transparent and responsible and taken the lead in carrying out scientific cooperation in tracing the origin with WHO with the purpose of promoting international research on origin-tracing. In February and July last year, when China was faced with daunting domestic epidemic prevention and control tasks, China invited WHO experts to China twice to carry out cooperation on origin-tracing and formulate the China part of a global scientific cooperation plan on origin-tracing. In October last year, the Chinese side reached agreement on the members of the international expert group. Since then, the experts of the two sides have maintained frequent interactions. Four video meetings were held on October 30, December 3, December 10 and December 18 respectively. With a scientific attitude, Chinese experts shared the outcomes of China’s origin-tracing efforts in a science-based and candid manner, and the cooperation between the two sides has made positive progress. Recently, in a positive and constructive attitude, China has maintained close communication with WHO on the expert panel’s trip to China for cooperation on origin-tracing. At present, the global pandemic situation remains very serious, and China is also making all-out efforts to prevent and control the epidemic. Chinese health and epidemic prevention departments and experts are devoting themselves to intense anti-epidemic work. Having all this said, in order to support international COVID-19 cooperation, China has overcome difficulties, accelerated preparatory work at home and tried its best to create favorable conditions for the international expert team’s visit to China. WHO knows that clearly. The issue of origin-tracing is very complicated. In order to ensure the smooth progress of the work of the international expert group in China, necessary procedures need to be fulfilled and relevant specific arrangements need to be made. At present, the two sides are in negotiating on this.” This (technical term, baloney) answer begs the question that has been clear from the earliest days of the pandemic — what is China trying to hide?
Nature Medicine published on January 13, 2021, an opinion piece by Angela Rasmussen seeking to debunk what she called “often contradictory and sometimes outright ridiculous conspiracy theories that spread faster than the virus itself.” As a foundation of her argument, she asserted that “A favorite version of the laboratory-origin stories relies on the fact that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered for gain-of-function studies that were also previously performed with bat SARS-like coronaviruses to understand cross-species transmission risk (Nat. Med.21, 1508–1513; 2015). The irony is that those gain-of-function studies provided valuable information about the biology of SARS-CoV-2. Gain-of-function research is also subject to intense scrutiny and governmental oversight, precisely because of the high risk involved in conducting it safely; thus, it is extremely unlikely that gain-of-function research on hard-to-obtain coronaviruses (such as bat SARS-like coronaviruses) could occur under the radar.” By definition, therefore, this argument would fail if it were shown that animal pathogen research was being carried out at WIV in secret and “under the radar.”
《自然医学》杂志于2021年1月13日发表了一篇观点文章,作者Angela Rasmussen试着揭露“常常互相矛盾、有时出离荒谬的阴谋论,这些阴谋论传播得比病毒本身还快。”她的论证基础之一是“一个实验室起源说受欢迎的版本基于一个事实,即SARS-CoV-2是由功能获得(gain of function)研究制造出来的,该研究方法过去也被用来研究蝙蝠类SARS冠状病毒以理解跨物种传播的危险(Nat. Med.21, 1508–1513; 2015)。讽刺的是,这些功能获得(gain-of-function)研究对SARS-CoV-2的生物学特征提供了有价值的信息。也正是因为其高风险,功能获得(gain-of-funciton)研究也会经过政府严格的审查和监督。因此,在监视之外对难以获得的冠状病毒(比如蝙蝠类SARS冠状病毒)进行功能获得研究是极度不可能的。”如果证明了武汉病毒研究所进行了动物病原体研究秘密的“监事之外”的研究,那么根据定义,这个论证是不成立的。
On January 15, 2021, the US State Department issued a Fact Sheet in which the following assertion was made: “Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.” This claim was vetted with all relevant US government agencies and appears credible. In my Twitter response to this assertion I call for additional evidence of this claim to be released and for Five Eyes intelligence services to issue a joint statement assessing this claim.
It has always been, and remains, my position, that we need to actively examine all possible origin hypothesis. This certainly includes both zoonotic jump and an accidental lab leak. Any credible investigation into the origins of COVID-19 must actively explore both of these hypotheses.
我的立场过去一直是、将来也会是一样的,我们必须积极地检查所有可能的疫情起源假说。这当然包括人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)和一次实验室意外泄露。任何对COVID-19起源进行的可信的调查必须积极地调查两种假说的可能性。
In my January 22, 2021 Newsweek editorial, I make the following assertions:
US intelligence reports that suggest the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was conducting secret animal research with highly contagious viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, without notifying the World Health Organization even after the pandemic began, raise new questions about the possible laboratory origins of COVID-19 that must be addressed.
This and other evidence of Chinese obfuscation and malfeasance make abundantly clear that an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 overly relying on Chinese transparency and goodwill, including the current and critically important WHO-led effort, can no longer be considered fully credible unless immediately proven otherwise. For all of our sakes, the time has come for an impartial and thorough investigation into how this terrible crisis began.
Although the failures of many governments and international organizations during the pandemic must all be analyzed and addressed, knowing how this crisis started is the essential foundation for prioritizing next steps.
If the Chinese government feels the current WHO-led investigation has the potential to clear the necessary bar of scope and credibility, it now has a perfect opportunity to prove it. As a first step, it can immediately provide the WHO investigators presently in Wuhan a full account of all research carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Virology over the past five years, all laboratory notes and records, and a full list of all viruses currently or previously held along with their available sequenced genomes.
If the Chinese government fails to immediately change course, however, the Biden administration should bring allies and partners around the world together to demand an impartial and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of COVID-19, with full access to all necessary records, databases, biological samples and key personnel.
Updating the terms of reference for the WHO investigation to make this type of process possible is clearly the best way forward, particularly because Chinese participation in the investigation is essential for gaining access to the most relevant information. The Chinese government should be invited to play a central role in the investigation and given every opportunity to present evidence, but only in support of a credible international forensic investigation with the unrestricted ability to do its job.
Should China fail to agree to update the terms of the WHO-led investigation, the Biden administration should work with partners across the globe to establish a parallel investigation relying on the collaboration of specialists around the world, the work of national intelligence services, transparent public hearings, generous whistleblower provisions and other means.
On January 28, 2021, the WHO investigators left their quarantine and began their process in Wuhan. In an encouraging sign, the WHO tweeted that day that “All hypotheses are on the table as the team follows the science in their work to understand the origins of the #COVID19 virus.” For this assertion to be meaningful, the credible hypotheses of both zoonotic jump and accidental lab leak must each be examined with equal energy and resources.
2021年1月28日,世界卫生组织调查员结束了隔离,开始了在武汉的进程。一个令人鼓舞的信号是,世界卫生组织当天发推说,“我们的团队成员依据科学进行他们的工作,了解COVID-19病毒的起源,所有的假说都摆在桌面上。”为了让这个表示变得有意义,对可能的假说要投入一样的精力和资源调查,包括人畜共患疾病跳跃(zoonotic jump)和实验室意外泄露。
As I tweeted on January 27, “The @WHO COVID19 investigation team now in Wuhan should demand full access to all relevant records, samples, & personnel as part of an unrestricted int’l forensic investigation. If this request is denied, they should leave. A compromised investigation is worse than none at all.”
On February 9, 2021, the WHO COVID-19 investigation team, alongside their Chinese counterparts, held a press conference to announce their preliminary findings. After outlining the four possible hypotheses (direct from bats, from bat through intermediate hosts, from somewhere else through frozen food or other means, and accidental lab leak), the speakers asserted that although they didn’t know much about how the pandemic began, they believed that only the lab leak hypothesis should not be investigated further. This is, in my view, outrageous. We basically have no evidence supporting the other three hypotheses, so why would it make sense to reject the hypothesis that, as seen above, is at very least highly credible and possible? As I tweeted out that day, “As I’ve been saying for a year, we need a full & unrestricted int’l forensic investigation into the origins of #COVID19 w/ full access to all relevant records, samples, & personnel. Without that access & overly managed by #China, the @WHOinvestigation doesn’t meet that standard.”
On February 10, 2021, I issued my statement on the investigation linked here.
The day after I released this statement, on February 11, 2021, WHO Director General Adhanom wisely stated in a briefing event for member states: “I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study.” It is certainly my hope that this statement makes clear that all hypotheses, including the possibility of an accidental lab leak, be fully explored by the WHO expert committee and others.


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