The Chinese Covid cover-up

Just about everyone (including me) believes the Chinese government covers up embarrassing information. But what sort of information?

The New Republic has an article severely critical of a new book suggesting that Covid escaped from a lab in Wuhan:

A series of recent discoveries, however, has undermined Viral’scentral themes: Newly discovered wild bat viruses from Laos have proven not only more genetically similar to the Covid-19 virus than any previously known to science, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s RaTG13 sequence, but also directly infectious to humans via the same mechanisms that the Covid-19 virus uses to infect human cells. These findings make Viral’s breathless speculation about the Mojiang mine and the origins of RaTG13 completely obsolete. This discovery also suggests that whatever “preadaptation” was needed to make Covid-19 infectious to humans could have happened in the wild over many years of natural selection. The Laos bat preprint was published in mid-September, by which time it may have been too late to address it in the book.

The article also explains why it’s so difficult to resolve these theories—the whack-a-mole problem:

The through line in all of these possible scenarios is that there is no through line. There’s no overarching coherent narrative about when or how this “lab leak” happened. And in making that clear, Viral also shows why the very weakness of the lab leak case is also its greatest strength: The great part about suspicions—from a conspiracy theorist’s perspective—is that they don’t have to gel into any coherent theory. You can just have a bad feeling that becomes someone else’s job to resolve for you.

This is why the lab leak theory will never die, no matter how much evidence virologists are patiently accumulating on the side of natural origin. It’s all about suspicion and innuendo. And when one supposedly suspicious event is unpacked, it’s usually a long and boring explanation nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile, the theorists have already found 10 more things that seem spooky to them. Conspiracy theories, we’re learning, are even harder to eradicate than infectious diseases.

Meanwhile The Atlantic has a somewhat more even-handed article comparing the lab leak and animal market hypotheses:

The mere existence of these two opposing arguments doesn’t make them equal. One coincidence may seem bigger than the other, and thus more likely to reflect the true origins of COVID-19. I tend to think that the market theory has a bit more heft, based on what we know right now—but what we know right now remains limited to disclosures by Chinese authorities. This much is clear: Both circumstantial cases, for a laboratory origin and for a market spillover, have been made in the absence of crucial evidence that might very well exist.

In my view, there is far more evidence of a Chinese government cover-up of the animal market than a lab leak. Some people make a big deal about a WIV data set being taken offline on September 12, 2019, but that’s far too early to be plausibly part of a Covid cover-up. Meanwhile, there’s lots of evidence that the Chinese government destroyed evidence pointing to the animal market.

The National Review has a piece quoting from CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s recent book, World War C. Here’s Gupta:

Gao did not even know that there had been an outbreak of respiratory illness in the Wuhan Institute of Virology back in the fall of 2019. (The antibody testing of those lab workers did not reveal coronavirus exposure, but those lab results were not independently confirmed.) Three researchers from the lab got sick enough to seek hospital care. This was weeks before Beijing later said its first confirmed case was a man who fell ill on December 8.

In November 2019, Wuhan was in the midst of a major flu outbreak. And unlike in the US, it’s normal for people in China to go to the hospital when sick, in order to get an excuse to present to their employer. So that evidence means nothing.

Had Redfield been able to better assist his friend with twenty or thirty people on the ground in those first few weeks in January, he thinks the pandemic’s plotline would have changed.

Really? How would it have changed?

There was other evidence the Chinese knew and were not telling. Toward the end of January, as we wall watched the Chinese hastily build two massive coronavirus hospitals in just over a week, people like Redfield and Fauci thought, Wait a minute. Why are building hospitals overnight if you’re not that worried?

I’m confused. By late January the Chinese had announced that the virus could be transmitted between humans. I was hiking in New Zealand at the time, but even I was aware enough about Covid to attempt to buy a mask in a NZ drug store in late January (they were sold out.) If I knew this, why weren’t American authorities preparing for a pandemic?

By late January, the Chinese had banned travel to and from Wuhan. The disease was rapidly spreading through Wuhan. Why shouldn’t they have built temporary hospitals? I don’t get it–what makes Dr. Gupta suggest the Chinese were claiming that there was no reason to worry?

The National Review article itself is even worse:

We also know that the Chinese government as a whole kept putting out false information — otherwise known as lies — about the contagiousness of the virus for at least three weeks, and perhaps as long as six weeks.

Actually, we don’t know that.

The U.S. is sitting on a giant mountain of evidence that we are in year three of a pandemic that has killed more than 5.3 million people around the world, with more than 271 million known diagnosed cases, because of the actions of the Chinese government.

This is a strange charge. It’s true that the Wuhan local government did not move aggressively enough at the beginning of the outbreak, worried about tourism. What else is new? But at that time no one knew how bad it would become. It’s likely that local officials thought it would be no worse that the 2003 SARS outbreak. The governments of the US and various European countries have no such excuse. In February, we sat around twiddling our thumbs while Covid ravaged Wuhan, acting like it would never come here. Chinatown parades in NYC. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We were acting out a real life version of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death.

The National Review wants us to believe that it’s all China’s fault, and use that information to whip up nationalistic hysteria in favor of a new cold war with China (which would hurt both countries.)

We’re in this mess because of the Chinese government’s decisions and actions. And for some odd reason, the Biden administration doesn’t want to dwell on that — even though that would seem to be a powerful and galvanizing argument for those seeking to isolate the Chinese regime.

Last year, I argued that the Chinese government was somewhat incompetent in the way they handled the initial outbreak. But once I saw our own response, I recalibrated what it means for a government to be incompetent. Remember when Trump said we shouldn’t test so much because it makes the situation look bad?

I don’t approve of the repressive tactics of the CCP, but if controlling Covid is the National Review’s criterion, then consider the following:

China: 4636 Covid deaths (fewer than Slovenia)

USA: 822,076 Covid deaths, and counting

And China had no advance warning!

China has had zero Covid deaths in the past 10 months. If the rest of the world had taken Covid as seriously as China, then the virus would have been eradicated from the face of the Earth by the summer of 2020. The only reason China still faces any Covid threat is because other countries did not contain it, and it occasionally leaks back into China.

I’m happy to accept a million Covid deaths in America as the price we pay for freedom. I don’t want to live in a country controlled by the CCP. China’s been too restrictive. But let’s not pretend this global crisis is caused by Chinese government incompetence. That lets Western governments off the hook far too easily. The virus escaped from China before the Chinese leadership understood the severity of the problem (which was roughly when they imposed the travel ban on Wuhan), and once it got out the Western world did almost nothing to contain it for many weeks.

PS. For those who still believe in the lab leak hypothesis, check out this podcast.



39 Responses to “The Chinese Covid cover-up”

  1. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    16. December 2021 at 06:30

    This is a bad take. Wuhan was working with the Laos bat viruses too. There is also no evidence of a zoonotic origin…Not a single intermediary host despite 10s of thousands of animals tested, far different from the first SARS where lots of intermediate hosts were found as well as multiple attempts by the virus to jump species. In contrast, COVID arrived on the scene perfectly adapted for humans but, hilariously, doesn’t even spread well in bats!

    This sentence is nonsense, “Some people make a big deal about a WIV data set being taken offline on September 12, 2019, but that’s far too early to be plausibly part of a Covid cover-up.” Baloney. Community cases were happening in November. 6 weeks is about the right amount of time for a lab leak to get some noticeable traction in Wuhan. Remember that most cases are mild/asymptomatic.

    This sentence is incredibly naive. “China has had zero Covid deaths in the past 10 months.” Do you seriously believe this?

    You think the wet market is a plausible origin? How? Where’s the intermediary species? How did the virus spread? We know it spreads through aerosols not bodily fluids. The wet market was almost certainly just one of the first identified person to person super spreader events.

    BTW, after two years of knowing how dangerous COVID is there was just a COVID lab leak in Thailand that was almost covered up.

    Finally, the grant funding of the virologists interviewed in the media would be severely curtailed if a lab leak origin was revealed. This is why Peter Daszack and others pushed the “lab leak is a conspiracy story” from the beginning despite initially and privately having concerns that it was engineered and came from a lab.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    16. December 2021 at 08:39

    Skateman, Almost everything you say is wrong. With all due respect, you are in way over your head.

    “Wuhan was working with the Laos bat viruses too.”

    No evidence of that, but even if true it would be completely immaterial. Do you really not understand what the Laos discovery is such a problem for the lab leak theory?

  3. Gravatar of bill bill
    16. December 2021 at 10:46

    Great take.

  4. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    16. December 2021 at 11:12

    You mean the same Gupta that was destroyed by comedian Joe Rogan?

    The same Gupta that has less than 15 academic publications?

    I presume Peter McCullough, the most published academic in history, is now a “conspiracy theorist” because he has the courage to tell the truth?

    You still don’t know what you are talking about.

    real facts: Japan and India are now using ivermectin as a first line defense. It’s working.

    CDC admits that omicron is most prevalent in vaccinated states. For those who read Lancet, this finding is not surprising. Most scientists were concerned that mass vaccination would lead to variants. The good news is that omicron is a very boring and tame variant.

    Countries that completely opened, without restrictions, have a low number of cases. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are great examples.

    The prevailing view amongst most of the scientific community is that covid started in a lab during gain of function research. Again, anyway who reads lancet understands this. If you get your news from Gupta, a paid political commenter, then you probably have a different view. Science trumps political quackery.

    And once again, the hard data doesn’t support your view Sumner.

  5. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    16. December 2021 at 11:32

    Ssumner, funny thing is I was going to say the same thing to you.

    I know a bit about this. This is me.

    And tell me more about how Laos proves zoonotic origin.

  6. Gravatar of henry henry
    16. December 2021 at 11:33

    You should have your head examined after quoting Sanjay Gupta.

    And there is nothing “incompetent” about liberty and individual choice.

    A judge in Virginia recently ordered a hospital to provide Ivermectin to a patient on a ventilator, and the patient recovered within 24 hours.

    Zinc and Hydroxychloroquine have also proven effective. There are at least 10 academic studies that now show their efficacy at treating Covid-19.

    I believe, like other scientists, that the pharmaceutical industry worked overtime to suppress potentially life saving treatments (as early as january of 2020) so that they could gain approval for a vaccine that would earn them billions.

    In this global race to be first, these companies – along with the government – cut corners.

    We still don’t have all the data. And the data that has been provided doesn’t look good. Indeed, it looks like they knew that heart inflammation and blood clots had a higher probability than advertised. It’s a shame that the FDA has still not released the data to the general public.

  7. Gravatar of ankh ankh
    16. December 2021 at 12:29

    You say that you are “confused”.

    I think that is the most honest you’ve been in a long time.

    You support the CCP for their “competence” and “efficiency”. What competence are we talking about here? Please elaborate? Are you talking about road blocks, security guards on every street corner, welding doors shut, or the passports necessary to grocery shopping? Are you talking about restricting inbound international and domestic flights, while permitting outbound international flights?

    You then say more bizarre things such as you would support 1M deaths. What about 1,000,001 deaths? Would that arbitrary and subjective number suddenly force you to rethink your approach to liberty and give you the power to – on a whim – suppress the population?

    When you say the United States is inefficient are you referring to the lack of unconstitutional mandates that force/coerce mRNA gene therapy upon those who would like to see more data (like 10 years of data). Is it inefficient to take drugs off the market that have 50+ deaths? Because that is actually the norm. A vaccine with thousands of deaths is not normal. It’s not in line with the countless life saving vaccines that have come before. Is it inefficient to file lawsuits against the federal government, lawsuits that seek to demand accountability for those in power. Is it inefficient to file lawsuits against Pfizer, a company that settled a billion dollar lawsuit not too long ago because they hid information about breast cancer side effects to millions of woman?

    Or perhaps you are referring to the federal governments need for a grand jury to subpeona telecommunication company – a law that seeks to prohibit the type of social credit system and mass surveillance that exists in china. If this is your view, then you are correct. Safe guarding data is inefficient. It’s also absolutely necessary to avoid a totalitarian state.

    But precisely what is inefficient? Do elaborate…if you can

  8. Gravatar of steve steve
    16. December 2021 at 12:53

    Saw Peru mentioned. It has the highest covid death rate in the world. Nearly 3 times that of the US. Americans tend to not know what goes on in the rest of the world.


  9. Gravatar of Ken P Ken P
    16. December 2021 at 19:44

    FOIA (white coat waste project lawsuit) released in November, verified that NIH and Eco Health collected bat samples of corona viruses from Laos from 2016 – 2018 and shipped samples to Wuhan lab.

    A document leaked in September detailed how in 2018 Dr Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, spelled out plans to work with his collaborators in Wuhan and elsewhere to artificially insert novel, rare cleavage sites into novel Sars-like coronaviruses collected in the field, so as to better understand the biological function of cleavage sites.

  10. Gravatar of Martin Martin
    16. December 2021 at 19:50

    Anyone who puts the blame on China in terms of Covid is either incompetent or a shill for the US regime.

    The covid scam was a collaboration between the US and China regime and others but mainly led by the US regime.

    With Covid-19 it all comes down to this…

    “If you’ve ever wondered whether you would have complied during 1930s Germany, now you know.” — Banner of a Covid-19 protester

    Rather than smugly (falsely feeling “superior”) and misleadingly pointing the finger at the “bad Germans”… NOW the REAL truth ABOUT NEARLY EVERYONE ANYWHERE is likely confronting everyone While at it let’s continue with real truths…

    The saying goes “SEEK the truth and you shall find it” –and NOT that you find the truth by passively ACCEPTING what authorities tell you is the “truth” like herd animals unthinkingly obey their shepherds’ orders. Yet almost nobody ACTIVELY SEEKS the truth, they only PASSIVELY ACCEPT as “truth” what the (medical, religious, political) authorities tell them and so become UNthinking members of “herd stupidity.”

    Do YOU actually SEEK the truth or are you a mindless member of “herd stupidity”?

    I suggest you carefully check out “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” at

    You can ONLY see the official lies IF you SEEK the truth…. it means you must LOOK “behind the curtain” — behind the official narratives.

    “The inhumane abominations, issued by the highly credentialed professional class of psychopaths-in-control and their lauded sycophantic minions, of “No Jews Allowed” and “No Colored People Allowed” of yesterday is the “No Unvaccinated People Allowed” of today.” (from cited article above)

    If your employer (even educational or federal employers) wants you to take a Covid vaccine give him/her one of these form letters of exemption found at

    “[…] when you do things to people against their will and force them it destroys their spirit, it destroys the integrity of their body. […]. Being an adult is meaningless if you cannot even protect the integrity of your own body.” — Jennifer Daniels, MD, MBA, Holistic Doctor

    One of the ways psychopaths show their hate for the public is by rubbing the public’s stupidity in their own faces. Eg with the letters of “omicron” an alleged Covid variant you can spell “moronic”… And indeed most of the public NEVER recognizes their stupidity as the believe, trust, and follow any explanation or demand of the psychopaths-in-power.

    And further speaking of stupid herd people not getting the glaringly obvious truth/ie not getting the constant onslaught of BIG lies of the official authorities……

    “2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into…3 shots to feed your family!” — Unknown

  11. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    16. December 2021 at 20:06

    I will play the whack a mole game, but start with the observation that John Stewart made to Stephen Colbert, and anyone with a lick of common sense can make.

    There are a large number of cities in China, and frankly Wuhan. It is one hell of a coincidence that the first city in China to have a large outbreak of the new virus also happens to be the same city to house the world’s foremost research lab on bat coronaviruses. It is far more likely that the first outbreak would have started in another of China’s cities if it were not a lab leak.

    Second, as the WHO report on the origins of the virus notes, all of the data from Wuhan and Hubei was only produced and examined by Chinese authorities. Auditors are fond of the saying “trust, but verify,” except really we shouldn’t trust what Chineses authorities say because they are the Chinese authorities. So whatever they claim, unless we have independent corroborating evidence, we should put very little faith in. And unlike Chinese GDP, we don’t have measures similar to air pollution, light pollution, or electricity generation to serve as check for two or three months of healthcare data from Wuhan. So when Chinese authorities say “November flu spike,” I say, well, we just don’t know until some reliable foreigners have audited the hospital/clinic data and run the lab test themselves.

    So, based on my prior that the location of the first outbreak is very likely due to the presence of the lab, I am unconvinced by the weak evidence presented so far of a natural spillover.

  12. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    16. December 2021 at 20:09

    I mean to write that the WHO report claims that all of the data from October and November of 2019, and lab tests of samples for flu monitoring, were only examined by Chinese authorities. It wasn’t nearly as clear what kind of access the WHO team had to samples and data from November.

  13. Gravatar of nick nick
    16. December 2021 at 21:35

    sumtard is promoting CCP style totalitarianism again on his blog. he’s subliminally trying to plant the idea that the CCP govt is better and that the U.S. should follow in their footsteps. CCP pays him to do this, along with Schwab.

    He tried to ban my IP address to censor me, and he uses cross scripting on his blog now to track your data across the web. He also told his google/youtube thugs to censor Peter McCullough and ban RT news.

    Sumtard wants to be the next Stalin. We won’t let it happen.

  14. Gravatar of Harry Harry
    16. December 2021 at 21:47

    strange & scary times when doctors are canceled for not subscribing to a certain view.

  15. Gravatar of D.O. D.O.
    17. December 2021 at 06:45

    I don’t have any insights into the matters under discussion, just want to tell Prof. Sumner that his coronovirus posts are read not exclusively by the crazies and encourage him to continue to post on the topic.

  16. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    17. December 2021 at 11:08

    “I’m happy to accept a million Covid deaths in America as the price we pay for freedom. I don’t want to live in a country controlled by the CCP.”
    I agree, even though I’m not sure what part is the price we pay for freedom and what part is just the price we pay for having a pandemic during an outbreak of stupidity.

  17. Gravatar of LC LC
    17. December 2021 at 12:20


    I am not happy to accept a million Covid deaths in America. This is a lot of unnecessary death that could be prevented. We should not compare ourselves to CCP controlled China but to East Asian democracies such as Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Taiwan has handled the outbreak very well and has contained the last Delta outbreak effectively. Our leaders have a myopic focus on vaccine and vaccine only, but forget the other aspects of pandemic containment, such as test and trace, data driven analytics to prevent super spreader events and building a public support for effective counter measures. Like Carl commented above, this is a price we pay for having a pandemic during an outbreak of stupidity and insanity.

  18. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    17. December 2021 at 15:09

    For those interested in hard data, and not virtue signaling here is a good baseline: unlike other outlets, the actual links to the source data is included in their article.

    Think about this concept for a moment. More people die everyday from Fentanyl overdose than from Covid-19, yet when have you ever seen Scott Sumner write or talk about the inefficiency of government in dealing with these “deaths”.

    Do you see the contradiction here? Sumner wants you to believe he cares about ‘saving lives’, but that is not what Sumner cares about. What Sumner cares about is virtue signaling his position on a politically charged issue that is extremely complicated: one that involves individual rights, the centralization of power, the rights of supranationals, the rights of certain “institutions” such as the CDC, etc. For Sumner, and this a very dangerous position, he believes the government has the right to mandate whenever they feel like it: i.e., during “times of emergency”. However, there is nothing more subjective than the word “emergency”. Is Fentanly an emergency; if so, why are you not virtue signaling your position on this issue? After all, people are dying in greater numbers than from Covid. Is the common flu an emergency? Is heart disease an emergency? Should we ban coca cola, because of the high sugar intake? Should we ban fortified cereals with 100 grams of sugar per serving? Or should we simply let people decide what is best for them, and assume the risk of consumption?

    If you do believe in government determining your risk, then you cannot by definition believe in freedom. And the argument that one’s decision may erode the freedom of another – creating a sort of externality – (e.g, death from catching the virus) has already been settled in a 1905 court case, in which the Supreme court specifically said that a disease would have to pose a “great danger” to society. The small pox outbreak in 1905 had a fatality rate of 30%, hence the courts upholding of the “fine”, not forced injection. Covid has a fatality rate of about 1%, and probably less when you consider that so many people have had covid without knowing (it’s that mild). Not to mention, scientists argue about the risk the vaccine poses. There have now been 54 professional athletes worldwide who have collapsed from myocarditis. There are children who are now hospitalized from heart inflammation. The vaccine itself is not risk-free. Indeed, there has never been any tests on the long term side effects of mRNA in humans. And the current short term side effects are greater than all other vaccines combined. Clearly, such a finding is NOT GOOD!

    In addition to all of this, you have medical experts disagreeing over the efficacy of the vaccine. Any short perusal of lancet shows this debate in real time. Some studies show the efficacy is lower than 1%. That is not “worth the risk”.

    Sumner often quotes CNN as his source of information. But CNN is not a medical journal. CNN medical contributors are paid analysts to express the view of CNN. The people you watch on primetime are all expressing their opinions and their narrative within a larger scope of permissibility outlined by the board. They are actors, on a stage. You will never find the truth watching a 24/7 media outlet. Pick up the journal, and read it.

    You might learn something.

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. December 2021 at 17:23

    Skateman (and Ken), You are hopeless. Laos proves that the features that supposedly could not occur naturally in fact could occur naturally. Understand now?

    Steve, Yeah, it’s hilarious that they’d mention Peru.

    Lizard, And it’s even a bigger coincidence that most of the early cases popped up right around an animal market, not the lab, and an animal market also happens to be the source of a previous SARS outbreak. Occam’s Razor?

    And as for not trusting the Chinese data, you don’t seem to understand that the Chinese government has focused far more effort on covering up the animal market hypothesis than the lab leak hypothesis.

    BTW, there’s an enormous amount of data suggesting the Chinese GDP data is roughly correct, and I also think their claim of no Covid deaths in the past 10 months is roughly correct, and I think there really was a flu outbreak in November 2019. If there was, it was already in the public record. Do you think they’d fake a flu outbreak in November 2019 in order to cover up a Covid outbreak that they didn’t even know about at the time?

    Some of these conspiracy theories are borderline insane.

    Carl, Yes, both.

    LC, I just meant the lesser of evils. Sure, the Taiwan outcome would have been much better.

  20. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    17. December 2021 at 19:24

    Laos – straw man and weak sauce. Lab leak hypothesis doesn’t preclude something similar being found in nature. But Laos bat virus has no furin cleavage site anyway…that’s what’s so unusual and what makes COVID so contagious. And how, pray tell, did the virus first emerge in Wuhan? Oh, the WIV was literally working with the Laos (and lots of other bat) viruses? Interesting. And you’re telling me of all the gin joints in the world where the virus first emerged, it happened in the only place outside the US. where gain of function on bat coronaviruses was occurring? I mean seriously, man, are you on the CCP payroll or something? If not, I have a bridge to sell you.

    If the CCP is so afraid of the wet market zoonotic hypothesis, why have they allowed reporters there repeatedly but follow, harass, and block them from going to the Mojiang mine? When are they going to bring those databases back online and share their records from the WIV?

    But you just keep believing the Chinese government and the small global community of virologists, many of whom were literally working with the WIV and have A LOT to lose if the lab leak is ever confirmed.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    18. December 2021 at 08:31

    It is not clear why Scott has been making such an effort here for months to show that the CCP is supposedly obfuscating the animal market theory even more than the lab leak theory. The CCP has apparently been concealing almost everything about the real origins of Covid-19 for months. Seeing some kind of “outbidding competition” between those two theories makes no sense. The CCP doesn’t want to share relevant information at all.

    I continue to think that the lab leak theory, with the few information that we have, is almost equally likely.

    There is also a time factor. These animal markets must have existed for thousands of years. Virological laboratories have only been around for a short time.

    So when an entirely new disease appears, one should always ask: is this sheer coincidence or has it something to do with pretty recent changes?

    This is the actual key question here. Was it sheer coincidence or not? As I’ve said many times before, a lab origin would be so much better for all of us, simply for the sake of prevention.

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    18. December 2021 at 09:13

    Skateman, You said:

    “Laos – straw man and weak sauce. Lab leak hypothesis doesn’t preclude something similar being found in nature.”

    Have you ever considered changing your name to strawman? You still don’t get it? You keep attacking a position I never. It was the lab leak proponents who said the virus looked manmade. Was the Laos virus also manmade? This is getting silly.

    Christian, You said:

    “The CCP doesn’t want to share relevant information at all.”

    That’s the point. The CCP wants to muddy the waters so that no single theory looks solid.

  23. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    18. December 2021 at 11:11

    “It was the lab leak proponents who said the virus looked manmade.”

    Not true. It’s possible and acknowledged by DRASTIC that the virus was collected from somewhere and then leaked from the lab without being manipulated. However, the more likely scenario (since it’s so unusual and we can’t find it anywhere in nature – Laos doesn’t have the furin cleavage site) is that it was serially passaged through humanized mice, which is what they were working on. This is Ralph Baric’s “no see-um” method that can speed up the evolutionary process from something that would normally take decades to a matter of weeks. Moreover, through this process it would be impossible to tell if the evolution was natural or occurred in a lab, as Baric has said.

    I’ve now read many of your other comments and see that your level of knowledge concerning the origin of the virus is roughly equivalent to someone that read an NPR article or two. Yet you display an amazing level of arrogance for someone who obviously knows so little.

    You don’t seem to know anything about the locations of the first cases, the massive differences in how the first SARS unfolded, how unusual this virus is (furin cleavage site), what the WIV with the help of other foreign virologists like Baric and Holmes were working on, how Peter Daszak and others orchestrated a campaign at odds with their private emails to cover their asses and promote the zoonotic theory, how insane it is that COVID doesn’t even spread in bats yet showed up perfectly adapted to humans, how not a single intermediary species has been identified, how the CCP made it impossible to visit the mine or access the WIV records/databases, I could go on and on. I’m not sure what your agenda is, but do some homework for Christ’s sake.

  24. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    18. December 2021 at 14:37

    Scott: “If the rest of the world had taken Covid as seriously as China, then the virus would have been eradicated from the face of the Earth by the summer of 2020.”

    Are there more than 50 people on the planet who believe this? Covid was already in Italy and the U.S. in December 2019.

  25. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. December 2021 at 08:32

    Skateman, Here’s Nature:

    “When SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced, the receptor binding domain didn’t really look like anything we’d seen before,” says Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. This caused some people to speculate that the virus had been created in a laboratory. But the Laos coronaviruses confirm these parts of SARS-CoV-2 exist in nature, he says.

    “I am more convinced than ever that SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin,” agrees Linfa Wang, a virologist at Duke–NUS Medical School in Singapore.”

    I’m sure the people who publish in Nature are ignorant, and you are the expert. Stop commenting on things you know nothing about.

  26. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. December 2021 at 08:42

  27. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    19. December 2021 at 11:15

    Literally from your article:

    “The Laos study offers insight into the origins of the pandemic, but there are still missing links, say researchers. For example, the Laos viruses don’t contain the so-called furin cleavage site on the spike protein that further aids the entry of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses into human cells.”

    I am so embarrassed for you.

    Holmes has been in bed with China for a long time, a visiting professor there, collaborating with their scientists. The CCP asked him to withhold the COVID genome in the beginning of the crisis for purely political reasons and he did, perhaps criminally. Here he is admitting it:

    Holmes was also convinced (80% certain) early on the virus was not natural until the infamous conference call with Fauci, Farrar, Anderson, etc. on 2/1/2020 – a few days later they all did a 180 in their opinions calling any such opinion a conspiracy theory.

    Springer Nature, like almost all our scientific journals today, has deep financial ties to China ( even going so far as to censor articles for them (

    I assure you the people running Nature are not ignorant. They know exactly what they’re doing.

    But these massive conflicts of interest are, once again, an example of something you are blithely unaware of. And yet you remain so embarrassingly arrogant. If you’re still teaching I feel sorry for your students. Hopefully in economics you’re bringing more to the table than you’ve brought here.

  28. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    20. December 2021 at 07:55

    COVID leaking from labs 2 years into the crisis. But the handful of virologists playing around with making these viruses more dangerous claim it’s a conspiracy. Also, it’s racist, lol.

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. December 2021 at 10:41

    Skateman, So now we are playing whack a mole. You implicitly admit I was right about the Laos virus, and shift to the FCS, which is another red herring. There’s nothing about the FCS that suggests its manmade.

    Ad hominem attacks on the scientists are simply a sign of your desperation. Most of the top virologists disagree with you. Deal with it.

    I suppose this guy’s also being paid by the CCP?

    On your second comment, sure lab leaks occur quite often. It’s why I’ve done numerous posts calling for a ban on gain of function research.

  30. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    20. December 2021 at 12:19

    I’m not sure you’re sane.

    Laos proves nothing one way or the other. You said that it does. I showed you why it doesn’t (FCS). That’s not shifting the goalposts, you dork. That’s showing you why you’re wrong. So we can stop talking about it. The end.

    Through serial passaging there would be no way to know whether a virus was manmade because it’s just evolution on steroids. You seem to be arguing against a straw man that the virus was engineered like a computer program. I have not claimed that. It could have just been serially passaged on humanized mice. It could have just been found somewhere and taken back to WIV where it leaked out (I think this is less likely, though).

    Pointing out that someone or organizations have huge professional and financial incentives to carry water for another party (like the CCP) is a legitimate reason to be skeptical, not ad hominem. I understand that as an academic, you have no idea how the real world actually works, so your confusion on this matter isn’t unexpected.

    Stuart Neil is one virologist with opinions I’ve read for much longer than you (did you just google search for a virologist that agrees with you?). I don’t agree with him and neither do many other scientists researching this matter. Academics like yourself tend to be fabulous at constructing complicated narratives but remarkably bad at actually arriving at the truth. Note, for instance, how the geniuses at Harvard are still telling us to avoid saturated fat….but I digress.

    I’m glad you’re against gain of function at least. All the virologists you have so much faith in have fully supported it from the beginning, despite its humanity ending risks (something non-street smart academics can’t comprehend) and still haven’t changed their tune. You think you know so much better than them, lol?

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. December 2021 at 15:00

    Skateman, I’m going to make it really simple, because you have trouble with reading comprehension:

    1. Lab leak nuts claimed that certain characteristics of the virus (and I’m not talking about the FCS) looked manmade.

    2. Laos proves they occur in nature.

    Neither I nor anyone else suggested Laos “proves” they couldn’t be manmade. It proves these features can occur naturally. That’s what lab leakers denied

    Not sure why you still don’t understand; it’s such a simple point.

    And saturated fat?? That’s your rebuttal!

  32. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    21. December 2021 at 18:03

    Really bizarre thread you’re hanging on to here. So some unspecified people said one thing that was wrong and this somehow proves a zoonotic origin or something. That’s a devastating argument you’ve got there.

  33. Gravatar of Student Student
    22. December 2021 at 07:23

    Not only can it occur in nature, it’s does all the time. This is the 3rd corona virus to break out in the last 20 years… the previous two were very likely natural. Furthermore, the sequence of events seems to be quite similar to the the Russian flu pandemic of 1889, which has increasing evidence of having been caused by coronavirus OC43.

    As most people would agree, it could possibly have been manmade… but… 1.) a natural origin in looking even more likely now, and 2.) who gives a crap real what the origin was. The cats out of the bag. Whatever the cause, we are on a pace for one of these viruses emerging about every 7 years.

  34. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    23. December 2021 at 05:37

    Student – Here’s what you’re missing.

    The first SARS showed multiple attempts by the virus to evolve enough to jump species. These attempts through the intermediary species were identified fairly easily. We could literally trace the evolution. Zero intermediary species have been found for SARS2, which showed up perfectly adapted for humans (but not bats, hilariously). Moreover the virus showed up in the one city in the world outside of the U.S. where chimeric bat viruses were being created/handled in less than optimal safety conditions (now we hear BSL-2!).

    The fact that most diseases are natural in history should be expected since humans have only been experimenting with dangerous viruses for a short time. But there have been tons of lab leaks over that time frame (and many near misses) including with the first SARS, the Russians accidentally releasing a flu virus in the 1970s, and even the current SARS2 in Thailand.

    You seriously don’t understand why it matters? Experimenting with dangerous viruses could literally wipe out the human race. There is probably no greater threat to our species than an accident with this type of research. Putting safeguards in place to stop something like this from ever happening is of paramount importance. If this was a lab leak, we need to know how and why it happened to help prevent an even worse one in the future.

  35. Gravatar of Student Student
    23. December 2021 at 05:56

    Statesman, your read of the data is bad. The intermediate hosts could take a decade to find. This happens all the time, about every seven years of late. The virus infects white tail deer population, cats, dogs, rodents… all via realities droplets. A wet market is a perfect place for animal transmission. The cases all originated near the wet market. A closer genetic relative was circulating in bat populations in Laos. Half the deer in North America have it. There are 7 known corona viruses that infect humans with 2-4 having emerged in the last 100 years.

    Occam’s razor captain conspiracy. Where is the smoking gun… and it was take a smoking gun to overcome the fact this has been happening very frequently in the last couple of decades

    And Gain of function research is out the bag. Sorry, but it’s like nuclear weapons. You can’t take them away once they are discovered. It’s now just yet another potential source of novel viruses. It’s never going away.

  36. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    23. December 2021 at 08:32

    “This happens all the time.” No intermediate hosts found after 2 years with a virus like SARS2 absolutely does not happen all the time. This virus is nothing like the first SARS or other zoonotic viruses, which I invite you to learn a little about.

    The first cases did not originate in the wet market.

    Occam’s Razor would tell you the odds of a unique bat virus perfectly adapted to humans first emerging on the doorstep of the one place in the world outside the U.S. doing gain of function on bat coronaviruses is too much of a coincidence. Also, as noted above, the first cases didn’t come from the wet market.

    I’m for banning gain of function. But at the very least it should be heavily regulated and regulations should be based on learning from our mistakes, which is why an investigation into what happened is of critical importance. If you’re too stupid to understand this, I don’t know what to tell you.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. December 2021 at 16:26

    Skakeman, You aren’t going to impress me with 18-month old articles by Alina Chan. There is nothing in the virus that suggests it’s engineered.

    And the even older article on the origin of Covid is now obsolete. Keep up with the literature please:

  38. Gravatar of Skateman Skateman
    23. December 2021 at 18:37

    Single zoonotic scientist makes claims about first COVID case based on number crunching from questionable Chinese data. You’d bet your life on that? Here’s an excellent counter to Worobey. Effectively, huge excess China death numbers Jan. 1 – Mar. 31 strongly suggest a much earlier timeline.

    COVID’s perfect adaption to humans is not just the opinion of Alina Chan (who is great and incredibly brave, by the way).

    Also, I don’t see that the Nov. 17 2019 case of the 55 year old has been discredited.

    Finally, you keep saying there’s nothing to suggest it was engineered. You know this is a straw man. With serial passaging, you’re just speeding up evolution and there would be no sign the virus was man made. How many times do you need this explained to you?

  39. Gravatar of Doug Bates Doug Bates
    6. January 2022 at 01:25

    “I’m happy to accept a million Covid deaths in America as the price we pay for freedom.”

    Clearly the stupidest sentence you’ve ever written. But also clearly the path the Republican party is taking, not only with respect to COVID but now with respect to any sort of future public health intervention.

    Public health interventions save a lot more than a million lives every couple of years. All the childhood and adulthood vaccinations, sewage treatment plants, handsoap in restrooms, food safety requirements, seatbelt requirements, transportation safety boards, supplying first responders with Narcan, I’m going to stop now and hope that you’ll recognize how stupid that throwaway sentence was.

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