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Pier None
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The American Spirit of Resilience

About That New York Times Report About New 'Evidence' for COVID's Natural Origins...

AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

Late last month, the Biden Energy Department joined the FBI and a growing list of experts in publicly announcing its conclusion that the lab leak theory is the likeliest explanation for how the COVID pandemic originated. The once-verboten 'conspiracy theory' has since become the leading theory.  Others remain wedded to the 'natural origins' story, which also happens to be the preferred narrative of the Chinese Communist Party, which tellingly bent over backwards to prevent a thorough and independent investigation into the question.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci is also a supposedly open-minded proponent of the latter tale, twisting himself into pretzels to justify his ongoing faith in it:

The Faucist tribe continues to dig its heels in, on multiple COVID-related fronts.  Wild, disturbing stuff to see in early 2023:

But late last week, the New York Times reported on potential new evidence that could lend credence to the claim that COVID's roots are natural.  There's lots of circumstantial evidence pointing to the lab leak, but this at least seemed significant on its face:

An international team of virus experts said on Thursday that they had found genetic data from a market in Wuhan, China, linking the coronavirus with raccoon dogs for sale there, adding evidence to the case that the worst pandemic in a century could have been ignited by an infected animal that was being dealt through the illegal wildlife trade. The genetic data was drawn from swabs taken from in and around the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market starting in January 2020, shortly after the Chinese authorities had shut down the market because of suspicions that it was linked to the outbreak of a new virus. By then, the animals had been cleared out, but researchers swabbed walls, floors, metal cages and carts often used for transporting animal cages. In samples that came back positive for the coronavirus, the international research team found genetic material belonging to animals, including large amounts that were a match for the raccoon dog, three scientists involved in the analysis said. The jumbling together of genetic material from the virus and the animal does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected. And even if a raccoon dog had been infected, it would not be clear that the animal had spread the virus to people. Another animal could have passed the virus to people, or someone infected with the virus could have spread the virus to a raccoon dog.

Out: Bats. In: Raccoon dogs. This topic hardly falls within my wheelhouse of expertise, but if there's new credible evidence on 'natural origins' side of the ledger, that should be taken into consideration. But wait. Jerry Dunleavy at the Washington Examiner has some serious doubts about the 'credible' part of that caveat:

A group of scientists who have long pushed the theory that COVID-19 may have emerged from a Wuhan, China, wet market has now pushed fresh claims involving raccoon dogs that have not been peer-reviewed — after the Wuhan lab leak possibility gained credence in recent weeks. On Thursday, both the Atlantic and the New York Times published stories contending that raccoon dogs sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan may have been an intermediary host for COVID-19 and that the fox-like mammals may have helped start the pandemic at the Chinese wet market.  The scientists did not publish their findings or have them peer-reviewed but rather described them to the outlets. But the raccoon dog theory has only emerged following increasingly firmer intelligence assessments in recent weeks pointing to the Wuhan lab as the source of the outbreak that resulted in a pandemic.

These details seem highly relevant, do they not? 

Chinese government scientists had previously published their own study related to this alleged data in February 2022, and the New York Times reported Thursday that Debarre had discovered that new data had been posted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control on the GISAID genetics website last week but that the data were allegedly removed after international scientists began asking questions about it. Richard Ebright, the lab director for the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University, told the Washington Examiner on Friday that the raccoon dog claim “adds little to the discussion” because “the data do not indicate that a raccoon dog was infected with SARS-Cov-2, much less that a raccoon dog was infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to a human.” Ebright added that “the claim should not be taken at face value” in part because the data cited in the article has “not been made available for analysis.”

Five of the scientists — Andersen, Holmes, Rasmussen, Worobey, and Goldstein — were authors of a controversial study whose preprint was also shared with and written about by the New York Times in February 2022, while Debarre was thanked in the acknowledgments of the study. The February 2022 preprint claimed that their analyses “provide dispositive evidence for the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 via the live wildlife trade and identify the Huanan market as the unambiguous epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The preprint also claimed there was “incontrovertible evidence” of a “clear conduit” for natural emergence at the wet market. But none of those quoted claims appeared in the version of the paper that was eventually published by Science in July 2022 after a peer review. The five scientists said “we thank” Debarre “for comments and assistance” when the peer-reviewed version was published last summer. Ebright argued that “their track record of past false claims on the subject warrants extreme caution about their new claims on the subject, especially claims for which the data are not presented.”

It's very hard to argue with Ebright's skepticism.  This group hasn't shared its data -- and they're the same people who claimed they had "incontrovertible evidence" for the natural origin theory last year, when they in fact did not.  The new claim, which is also not backed by publicly-available data, is both less dramatic than the previous, unverified one.  And as Ebright notes, even if it this particular data is legitimate, it doesn't come close to proving that COVID developed in nature.  A great deal of caution is warranted here.  Since I mentioned the CCP cover-up earlier, I'll leave you with this:

Students at Brown University this weekend are hosting a senior Chinese official who escalated the suppression of Hong Kong’s protest movement. The official is CY Leung, the city’s former chief executive, who ordered a crackdown on the 2014 Umbrella movement, escalating the violence used against pro-democracy demonstrators. Leung now serves as a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a massively important political-influence organ within the Chinese political system. He will appear at the Brown China Summit, an annual student-organized conference, via a videoconferencing platform for a panel with former senior U.S. diplomat Chas Freeman.

Leftists lose their minds over the platforming of Trump supporters and conservatives. What will be the reaction to Brown giving a platform to this actual, unequivocal menace to democracy and human rights?


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