Hamilton: Virus may well have come from Wuhan lab

At News:

Author Clive Hamilton says the idea the coronavirus originated in December in a Wuhan wet market “simply doesn’t stack up,” as evidence mounts that the virus in fact leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. US and UK intelligence agencies are currently reviewing private analysis of cell phone location data which purports to show the Wuhan Institute of Virology shut down from October 7 through to October 24. Mr Hamilton told Sky News host Sharri Markson there is a great deal of evidence which shows many cases of COVID-19 befell people in Wuhan who had “no contact” with the wet markets, nor contact with anybody who did. “The only other plausible explanation is that it was a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology”. He said this hypothesis has been supported by Chinese scientists as the laboratory notoriously handled the “most dangerous viruses in the world, including some bat coronaviruses”.

As said many times, there is evidence it came from a lab, it’s just not conclusive. Lot’s of other pandemics have started this way. It’s worth watching the entire Hamilton video.

Check out these four Aussie experts:

Expert Reaction

These comments have been collated by the Science Media Centre to provide a variety of expert perspectives on this issue. Feel free to use these quotes in your stories. Views expressed are the personal opinions of the experts named. They do not represent the views of the SMC or any other organisation unless specifically stated.

Professor Edward Holmes is an evolutionary virologist and a member of the Charles Perkins Centre and the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at the University of Sydney
“There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are commonly found in wildlife species and frequently jump to new hosts. This is also the most likely explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

The closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2 is a bat virus named RaTG13, which was kept at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. There is some unfounded speculation that this virus was the origin of SARS-CoV-2. However:

(i) RaTG13 was sampled from a different province of China (Yunnan) to where COVID-19 first appeared; and
(ii) the level of genome sequence divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 is equivalent to an average of 50 years (and at least 20 years) of evolutionary change.

Hence, SARS-CoV-2 was not derived from RaTG13.

In addition, we know that viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 are also found in pangolins. This suggests that other wildlife species are likely to carry relatives of SARS-CoV-2.

In summary, the abundance, diversity and evolution of coronaviruses in wildlife strongly suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is of natural origin. However, a greater sampling of animal species in nature, including bats from Hubei province, is needed to resolve the exact origins of SARS-CoV-2.”

Last updated: 17 Apr 2020 12:20pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.
Professor Nigel McMillan is the Director in Infectious Diseases and Immunology at Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University

“All evidence so far points to the fact the CVOID19 virus is naturally derived and not man-made.

The genetic changes in the virus can be found in two other coronaviruses from bats and pangolins and these are the source hosts. If you were going to design it in a lab the sequence changes make no sense as all previous evidence would tell you it would make the virus worse. No system exists in the lab to make some of the changes found.

Finally, analysis shows that the sorts of mutations found in the virus are clearly natural and not man-made. All this is outlined in serious detail in an article by Christian Stevens from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York (here).”

Last updated: 17 Apr 2020 12:17pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.
Nikolai Petrovsky is a Professor in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University. He is also Research Director, Vaxine Pty Ltd

“An extremely important but still unanswered question is what was the source of COVID-19 virus. While COVID-19 has close similarities to SARS and other bat viruses no natural virus matching to COVID-19 has been found in nature despite an intensive search to find its origins. This raises the very legitimate question of whether the COVID-19 virus might be the result of human intervention.

Certainly, our and other analyses of the genomic sequence of the virus do not reveal any artificial gene inserts that would be the hallmark of a gene jockey, genetic engineers who manipulate or even create viruses by splicing in artificial inserts into their genome. These are generally easily recognisable and hence clear signatures of human intervention in the creation of a virus. The fact that these artificial inserts are not present has been interpreted by some to mean this virus is not the result of human manipulation.

However, this logic is incorrect as there are other ways in which humans can manipulate viruses and that is caused by natural selection. What do I mean? All viruses and bacteria mutate and adapt to their environment over time, with selection of the fittest individuals for survival in that particular environment.

Take a bat coronavirus that is not infectious to humans, and force its selection by culturing it with cells that express human ACE2 receptor, such cells having been created many years ago to culture SARS coronaviruses and you can force the bat virus to adapt to infect human cells via mutations in its spike protein, which would have the effect of increasing the strength of its binding to human ACE2, and inevitably reducing the strength of its binding to bat ACE2.

Viruses in prolonged culture will also develop other random mutations that do not affect its function. The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus. Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.

My group in collaboration with other Australian researchers have been using a modelling approach to study the possible evolutionary origins of COVID-19 by modelling interactions between its spike protein and a broad variety of ACE2 receptors from many animals and humans.

This work which we will publish on a prepress server next week shows that the strength of binding of COVID-19 to human ACE2 far exceeds the predicted strength of its binding to the ACE2 of any of the other species. This points to the virus having been selected for its high binding to human ACE2. In the absence of evidence of historic human infections with this virus, which could result in such selection, this either is a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention.

This, plus the fact that no corresponding virus has been found to exist in nature, leads to the possibility that COVID-19 is a human-created virus. It is therefore entirely plausible that the virus was created in the biosecurity facility in Wuhan by selection on cells expressing human ACE2, a laboratory that was known to be cultivating exotic bat coronaviruses at the time. Is so the cultured virus could have escaped the facility either through accidental infection of a staff member who then visited the fish market several blocks away and there infected others, or by inappropriate disposal of waste from the facility that either infected humans outside the facility directly or via a susceptible vector such as a stray cat that then frequented the market and resulted in transmission there to humans.

Whilst the facts cannot be known at this time, the nature of this event and its proximity to a high-risk biosecurity facility at the epicentre of the outbreak demands a full and independent international enquiry to ascertain whether a virus of this kind of COVID-19 was being cultured in the facility and might have been accidentally released.”

Last updated: 17 Apr 2020 12:14pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
Vaxine Pty Ltd has a COVID-19 vaccine in advanced preclinical development that is anticipated to commence human clinical trials in the near future.
Associate Professor Hassan Vally is an Epidemiologist and Senior Lecturer in Public Health at La Trobe University

“There is no substance to this claim and other conspiracy theories about the origin of COVID-19.

We’ve been aware for some time that another coronavirus, like SARS and MERS before it, could cause a pandemic, and so in many ways, the emergence of a new coronavirus with pandemic potential is not a surprise.

Whilst there is absolutely no evidence to support the conspiracy theories being propagated by a few individuals, there actually is evidence to support the natural emergence of the novel coronavirus, with preliminary genotyping studies showing its relationship with other bat viruses. We have to be careful to not aid those irresponsibly using this global crisis for political point-scoring by giving any oxygen to these and other rumours.”

The lab theory cannot be discounted.

Let’s investigate!

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

  1. what is definite that the virus with these characteristics: incubation period (median 5.1 day) and infectiousness R0 of somewhere between 2 and 3 did not start in late December 2019 because as of end of January China had 10k confirmed cases and it would take a virus more than two months to spread to that number of people (there were probably more than 10 times as many infected people that were not tested by that time)

    • You may laugh, but I’m pretty sure I read that the Shanghai lab had multiple accidents associated with major holidays (sorry, don’t have links nor time to google).

  2. CCP Pure Evil

    It doesn’t really matter where it came from. I think it would be safe to say China were cooking up all kinds of viruses in their labs.

    The issue is the silencing, disappearing and murdering of people who merely tried to alert the Chinese public to the plague sweeping through Wuhan.

  3. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    ZH was suggesting it came from a lab back in Feb, there was a thread from back then with some interesting links posted in the commentary.

    https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/02/weekend-reading-1-2-february-2020/#comment-3651059

    By the middle of March I’d come to the conclusion it definitely escaped from a Chinese lab:

    Occam’s razor suggests it was arrogant Chinese scientists or researchers blasé approach to health and safety, accidently releasing something into the wild. Then their dismissive, inept, ass covering bureaucracy first refused to believe it, then did their best to cover it up so it didn’t appear ‘on their watch’, the dithering obviously took place all the way up the line up to and including Winnie the Pooh Xi, and before long it was a massive problem for China. China then chose to DELIBERATELY make it the worlds problem.

    Personally while I think the ‘Wet Market’ theory is complete preposterous NPC propaganda, I still remain undecided as to whether or not its genetic code had been tampered with.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      The virus definitely did spread through the Wuhan ‘Wet Market’. A large number of people who worked there got COVID-19 before everyone else, and it was one of the largest seafood market in Wuhan.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Without a doubt it did spread through the Wuhan wet markets, as it did throughout Wuhan itself, but that was not its point of origin. IMHO it was the CCCP’s lower level 2 virus laboratory 250m up the road from the wet market and directly across from the Doctor’s Rooms where the first cases of Wuflu were first detected.

        • Yes, I’m inclined to agree it likely the lower security lab, as coronavirus normally level 3 labs in west. Also remember reports of animal carcasses from experiments being dumped outside/or sold alive & reports of them likely being taken for animal feed or similar by the very poor for resale etc,

          The lab telephone info & job ads would only seem to increase the likelihood.

  4. There’s no way Biden wins against Trump. None.

    The Dems are trying to out wait Bernie so as he’s no longer the clear number 2 to replace Biden, or are content to leave this one up for the Repubs to fumble (not that we actually have 2 parties in the US, but it does keep up appearances…).

      • Have a look at some of his more recent interviews (there aren’t that many, which is a big part of the problem) and compare them to even 2018. They hopped him up on something for the Bernie debate (which Bernie threw…) and he was out of the public eye for more than a week after that. Biden will wilt in any debate with Trump all the while making Trump look like the more level headed one (look to Biden’s recent “gaffs” regarding name calling and otherwise agitation). And all that’s before Trump has at Biden in TV spots.

        Biden is basically Trump; less a lot of connotative sharpness (yea… let THAT sink in). AND Trump is out left’ing him!?! Not sure what the Dems are doing other than NOT electing Bernie (and that may well be their best hope this time ’round).

    • Jumping jack flash

      well, there is that recent business about Biden’s assault allegations now.

      I’m waiting to see how that will play out, if it even does.

      The entire US left wing population is curled up with their fingers in their ears and their eyes tightly shut, whispering “Biden, we love you” and rocking back and forth until it all blows over, or the election happens.

  5. Jumping jack flash

    “However, this logic is incorrect as there are other ways in which humans can manipulate viruses and that is caused by natural selection. What do I mean? All viruses and bacteria mutate and adapt to their environment over time, with selection of the fittest individuals for survival in that particular environment.”

    “This points to the virus having been selected for its high binding to human ACE2. In the absence of evidence of historic human infections with this virus, which could result in such selection, this either is a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention.”

    BINGO!

    And I reckon that the RATG13 was an actual virus that was an ancestor of the SARS2, and refined using natural selection processes until we arrived at the SARS2 virus we all know and love.

    It is simply too perfect a virus to not have been detected before, or humanity has simply been very, very lucky for the past few thousand years.

    • McbobbingsMEMBER

      It is the job of intelligence agencies to collect information. It is the job of politicians to act on that information. Pretty clear to me who was doing their job and who wasn’t

  6. Ronin8317MEMBER

    The 2003 SARS was traced back to civet cats, and it spread into human through the wild meat trade.

    In 2020, the first big cluster of COVID-19 patients in China were found at the seafood market in Wuhan, which also happens to sell “wild bush meat”. We don’t quite know who ‘Patient Zero’ is, but the virus definitely become uncontrollable through the ‘Wet Market’ due to the number of people who visit it.

  7. The theory that it was cooked up in a lab, is the least probable hypothesis on its origin, and there is considerable evidence that this is not the case. The whole lab story smells like a poorly executed cousin of the Iraq WMD debacle and that propaganda effort was far from a success, apart from for MSM ‘journalists’ whom miraculously turned out to be orders of magnitude more credulous that the general public.
    Here is a research paper that the first of the listed experts, Edward Holmes, wrote with colleagues: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9

    • Agree, a bit of research suggests nothing to see but seasonal illness in an old peoples home:
      https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/outbreak-investigation-assisted-living-facility-springfield
      Update: July 26, 2019
      The outbreak of respiratory illness in Greenspring has concluded, as there have been no additional cases reported since July 15. A total of 63 residents became ill within the assisted living and skilled nursing areas (Garden Ridge) during the outbreak.  Several residents in the independent living sections of Greenspring became ill but the number who were sick was similar to what is expected at this time of year and there was no evidence of an outbreak affecting independent living.  Despite extensive testing of multiple specimens, no specific pathogen was identified as the cause of the outbreak.

  8. MajulesMEMBER

    china’s withholding of information, persecution of early warners from medical industry and exaggerated rhetoric since let alone acting like a 5yr old caught with hand in the cookie jar really leaves us no choice but to blame china. Action speaks loader than words

  9. It makes sense that the virus came from the lab in Wuhan. Whether it was manufactured or natural is impossible for us to really do more than speculate on, but the truth does have a habit of coming out, eventually. Regardless, the CCP’s behaviour in this matter has been atrocious and just shows that Winnie-the-Pooh and company have utter disregard for human rights. Their failure to act, attempts to muzzle the whistleblowers, their attempts to force foreign countries to maintain air links when China needed quarantining, their bullying of the WHO – who is clearly China’s [email protected] – etc…

    Whether we in the West like it or not, the CCP are coming after us on many fronts. We can pretend they aren’t, we can allow ourselves to become useful idiots, or we can defend ourselves and what we believe in.

  10. The experts are discounting the man made theory. Fair enough.
    That doesn’t tell us though whether it was a natural virus that leaked from the lab by accident.

  11. The reproductive rate (R0) of SARS-CoV-2 is too high to be a natural random animal-to-human then human-to-human zoonotic event, estimated by one group at 5.8 (High Contagiousness and Rapid Spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Steven Sanche et al)

    It takes a virus time to become adapted to its new host as documented in Wildlife and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases: The Biology, Circumstances and Consequences of Cross-Species Transmission by James E. Childs. See the Chapter on SARS.

    A virus takes multiple attempts to establish in a new host species. Almost all of these attempts fail to acquire Human-to-Human (HtH) sustained transmission (R0<1).

    SARS-CoV-2 is too well adapted to Human-to-Human transmission to be a random animal-human then Human-to-Human process. An example that we have is Hendra Virus. There is Bat – Horse – Human, but no Human-to-Human transmission have been documented (CDC https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/hendra/transmission/index.html ). The Hedra virus is not adapted to humans. Sure, it will make you sick and kill you, but you can’t pass it on to someone else.

    SARS-Cov-2 is almost certainly a Gain-Of-Function (GoF) laboratory event. This was first demonstrated in 2012 where aerosol transmission of Influenza was created by serial passage of an Influenza strain through ferrets: Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10831

    The key give away is SARS-Cov-2 is too well adapted to Humans. This level of Human-to-Human right from the start almost certainly rules out an animal-to-human event in the wild.

    As an aside, a recent Nature pre-print in which the authors demonstrate creating a viable SARS-CoV-2 virus just from the sequence using a process called Reverse Genomics. They purchase commercially available sequences, express them in yeast, join them together, insert into a human cell and the virus is manufactured. All within a week. No gene jockey technology required, and no evidence of inserts. Rapid reconstruction of SARS-CoV-2 using a synthetic genomics platform. ( https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2294-9_reference.pdf )

    • Luca BiasonMEMBER

      Thank you for this, interesting points. It’s also interesting that the scientific community in China is conspicuously silent, as the only (strictly controlled) narrative is provided by the government. I sense there’s a fundamental split internally: the universal banner and integrity of science on one side, the CCP propaganda machine on the other. No surprise that the CCP is now compelling all scientific papers around SARS-Cov-2 to be vetted by before publication, lest they disclose some uncomfortable truths.

      • MajulesMEMBER

        Oh come on, you’re all debating this like Tianamen Sq never happened. Consider that history will always be adjusted to suit those in charge. Now trust your instincts and assess in your own mind as to Who Wants the power?

  12. graphicMEMBER

    The claim the virus was man-made has been falsified. Pompeo has withdrawn his claim that the source was the lab. He doesn’t have evidence that it was:
    https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-with-jack-heath-of-the-jack-heath-radio-show/
    QUESTION: And what was the source of this? Did it – do we have evidence it came from the Wuhan lab or did it go bat-to-human?
    SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning. And so those are great and important questions. With respect to the source of the virus, look, we know this much: We know that this originated in Wuhan, China. That was challenged by the Chinese at the front end. This administration was very clear we weren’t going to accept that disinformation, pushed back. I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan. Where exactly it came from, it matters. We want to know the answers to that. There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong. We need to get the answer to that. It matters because we need to know where patient zero came from.

    Given that this virus is extremely infectious, it is impossible to know who was the first human infected by a bat. We really don’t need to know where it happened. We need to understand how to deal with future coronavirus infections.

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