THBT The Lab Leak Theory is Similarly Likely as the Spillover Hypothesis
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Lab Leak Theory (LLT): The hypothesis that COVID-19 was originally from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Henceforth the WIoV) and, for whatever reason, COVID-19 came out of the lab and began to infect people.
Spillover Hypothesis (SoHt): The hypothesis that COVID-19 was originally in an animal and not dangerous to that animal that, for whatever reason, spread to humans (e.g. A mutation occurred in a Coronavirus in a bat that allowed it to become infectious to a Pangolin that then infected a human).
Similarly likely: In the context of the debate, this means that neither theory is considerably/significantly more plausibly the case than the contrary and both deserve to be considered as theories for the origin of COVID-19 that deserve investigation. This is to say that there is not considerably/significantly more evidence for the SoHt than the LLT.
Pro must prove that the LLT is similarly as likely OR MORE likely than the SoHt while con must prove that the LLT is sufficiently/considerably less likely than the SoHt.
I will make a considerable effort to ensure I don't hold any bias towards China, Chinese people, the WIoV or scientists at the WIoV, nor the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I will also make considerable effort to ensure I am not biased by media reports of China, the LLT/WIoV, the CCP, political figure's opinions on the LLT or SoHt, nor the actions of the CCP unrelated to COVID-19 and I ask that con make those same efforts for the sake of a productive debate. All things mentioned can still be drawn upon, the point is to ensure I don't use, for example, the Uighur genocide to frame China as an evil nation in lieu of actual evidence or let my preconceived beliefs cloud my logic.
Please comment for questions or any requests for changes. Constructive feedback is always welcomed!
1.1 Key Terms
2.1 Burden of Proof
2.2 Pro's Case
3. Constructive Arguments/Analyses
3.1 The Likelihood of SARSr-CoVs and the SOHT in Wuhan
3.2 The Case for the LLT Regarding the WIoV
3.3 What Makes the LLT an Equally Plausible Hypothesis
- Lab Leak Theory (LLT): The hypothesis that COVID-19 was originally from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and, for whatever reason, COVID-19 came out of the lab and began to infect people.
- Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIoV): (See citation 1 for more info) A lab located in Wuhan, China that has conducted 'Gain of Function' research on viruses and also does research on or even creates new viruses, the most notable of which in this context are CoVs/SARSr-CoVs.
- Gain of Function Research (GoFR): Research/experiments conducted with the goal of increasing transmissibility or virulence of a pathogen with the hope to better understand the nature of those pathogens. "... usually aims to improve understanding of disease causing agents, their interaction with human hosts, and/or their potential to cause pandemics. The ultimate objective of such research is to better inform public health and preparedness efforts and/or development of medical countermeasures."
- Spillover Hypothesis (SOHT): The hypothesis that COVID-19 was originally in an animal and not dangerous to that animal but, for whatever reason, spread to humans (e.g. A mutation occurred in a SARSr-CoV in a bat that allowed it to become infectious to a Pangolin that then infected a human).
- Similarly likely: In the context of the debate, this means that neither theory is considerably/significantly more plausibly the case than the contrary and both deserve to be considered as theories for the origin of COVID-19 that deserve investigation. This is to say that there is not sufficiently/considerably more evidence for the SOHT than the LLT.
- Coronavirus: A coronavirus, henceforth referred to as a CoV or a SARS-Related Coronavirus (SARSr-CoV) is a kind of virus, typically carried by bats, that has been responsible for both the SARS epidemic and MERS epidemic and typically results in respiratory conditions.
- The risk of a SARSr-CoV spreading directly or indirectly from a bat to a human is significantly more likely to occur in south China, but Wuhan is located in central China. Moreover, most bats were hibernating when COVID-19 allegedly began to spread.
- We haven't located an animal that carries COVID-19. While evidence shows that COVID-19 has an incredibly similar genome to SARS-CoVs found in bats (96%), that much alone is not enough evidence that COVID-19 directly came from bats when humans also have a genome that is 96% identical to apes.
- The first COVID-19 case had no relation to the Huanan seafood market.
- The sheer coincidence that, in combination with the previous three bullet points, COVID-19 began in the only place on Earth that: 1. Has BSL 4 laboratory that is also one of thee labs on Earth conducting GOFR, 2. Does research on SARS-CoVs, 3. Has also routinely failed to be transparent, and 4. Constantly hinders efforts at investigation.
- Scientists at the WIoV were hospitalized with COVID-19-like symptoms a month before the first reported cases.
- Concerns were raised about safety precautions at the WIoV years prior to the pandemic which were ignored.
- The CCP has not only failed to cooperate in investigations as to the origins of COVID-19 but was also actively hostile and promoted alternative conspiracy theories that COVID-19 originated in a US lab. It is self-evident that if the CCP had nothing to fear, it would be in their own best interest to cooperate.
- The director of the World Health Organization (WHO) said the investigation done by the WHO which said it was "extremely unlikely" that COVID-19 came from a lab was not a sufficient investigation. It was conducted by researchers who, not only had already made up their minds that the SOHT was the only plausible conclusion, but also by researchers who had direct ties to the WIoV, meaning that the LLT, if it were proven true, may impact their funding. They clearly could not have been impartial.
- Arguing "This is how most pandemics begin" is not sound evidence.
- There is very little or no non-circumstantial evidence for the SOHT, and similarly there is very little or no non-circumstantial evidence for the LLT. However, the evidence for SOHT is largely based around the fact it usually occurs this way, not proving it didn't happen a different way this time.
" “I had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.” Her studies had shown that the southern, subtropical provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan have the greatest risk of coronaviruses jumping to humans from animals—particularly bats, a known reservoir. If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “Could they have come from our lab?” " -Scientific American
- Wuhan is home to one of the three labs on Earth conducting GOFR.
- Staff at the WIoV once built a new CoV from an existing one and have done prior research on SARS/SARSr-CoVs.
- Wuhan is not located in the area of China where CoVs are most likely to go from an animal to a human, so much so that it is almost similar to all of eastern China in that regard.
- The location in Wuhan that was theorized to be ground-zero for COVID-19 was found to likely be nothing more than the host of a superspreader event.
- The WIoV is known for a lack of transparency.
- A researcher at the WIoV humoured the thought that COVID-19 could have originated from the WIoV, meaning they must have or have had in the recent past some amount of SARSr-CoVs that are capable of infecting humans.
“The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable, which I obtained, also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.“During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” states the Jan. 19, 2018, cable” -Washington Post, with regards to two diplomatic cables sent to D.C. by inspectors at the WIoV expressing their concerns.
- China being incredibly selective with what information gets out and who can publish information.
- Chinese scientists stubbornly persistently defending unreasonable positions (e.g. believing SARS was Chlamydia and not Coronavirus).
- Chinese labs significantly failing to follow safety protocols.
- Shi Zhengli, the ‘bat woman’, leading a team that some considered to be taking unnecessary risks in understanding how SARS infects humans.
- A lack of relevant training or requirements for employment regarding high-risk research. Interdisciplinary research give unqualified individuals access to dangerous viruses.
- There was no health monitoring of staff and no report was made even after a researcher was hospitalized and multiple members were reporting fever.
- The director of the WHO, the person that commissioned the study, said the investigation was not extensive enough.
- In a WHO report, it was shown they had difficulty acquiring data or flat out did not have access to certain data because of a lack of assistance from China.
- They failed to declare competing interests despite the fact Dr. Peter Daszak’s NGO received $39 million dollars from the Pentagon, some of which was then used to fund the Wuhan Lab.
- The team began the investigation already believing that the LLT was ridiculous.
“I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out, to the best of our ability, exactly what happened,” he said during a panel discussion with the Poynter Institute earlier this month. “Certainly, the people who have investigated say that it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out.” -Dr. Fauci, with regards to the LLT
- I had to figure out where Wuhan was on this map myself because holy shit good data is hard to find. Trust me. I was looking for a while. It's the next best thing to a bat population density map. https://imgur.com/a/QPdOpLM
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32087122/ (take particular note of Peter Daszak a contributor)