Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists were already working on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This is expected in any outbreak: scientists will review the probable origins, transmission routes, contact traces, viral sequences, etc. But, as in any other field of study that turns out to be controversial, many unqualified individuals have the strong desire to share their own perspective; some more acceptable than others, and some come out as pure quackery or conspiracy. I have already slightly been in some conspiracy theories back in 2009-2010, maybe 2011, when I used to listen to alternative news (Alex Jones’ www.InfoWars.com), which was also the decade in which the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic occurred. Today, some follow The Epoch Times alternative news, and it proves to be highly unreliable at times. In 2009-2010, I was still learning how to fact check, evaluate sources, and review rabbit trails as objectively as I could. In 2012, I remember writing my final paper under Prof. Lorenzo DiTommaso at Concordia University, in his “History of Satan” class, where I referred to http://survive2thrive.net, www.infowars.com, and www.coasttocoastam.com as well as www.abbaswatchman.com. When I referenced these sites in 2012 in my final paper, it was not to support my arguments on how the figure of Satan developed from the Old Testament into modern times, but to exemplify how alternative radio shows, news, and digital resources use the figure of Satan to apply it on political figures amidst political debates and disagreements. Of course, we all have biases and cognitive inclinations, but there are scientific and scholarly methods that we can all learn to practice in other to avoid biases in order to research as objectively as possible. There is also a difference between holding a personal belief that cannot be proved (I have those beliefs and I do not share them on this blog) and making claims about something that can be studied but that must also be interpreted carefully as well as weight the possibilities and probabilities (which is what I do on this blog). This is the reason why I initiated my blog in 2019 with the following posts:
- hermeneutics and exegesis (Feb. 13, 2019);
- logical or rhetorical fallacies to avoid (Feb. 13, 2019);
- peer review in the sciences and the humanities (Mar. 6, 2019);
- academic research and the Internet since 2006-2008 (Mar. 8, 2019);
- research and resources (Mar. 9, 2019), and;
- reiteration on peer review, Internet research, and resources (Mar. 12, 2019).
Is there evidence that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab? No. Of course, those who read alternative news would say “yes!” I know, I am aware. But those are not reliable resources or sources of information. They contain mistakes that are evident for those who truly know the field. The Internet, and now YouTube, allows almost everyone to be able to give their informed or very ill-informed understanding and interpretations on any subject. We have to learn to filter what people claim to know.
On February 26 2020, a paper was published in Emerging Microbes & Infections 2020, VOL. 9, “No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering of SARS-CoV-2,” by Shan-Lu Liu et al. Many weeks later, on March 17 2020, this Nature Medicine correspondence appeared, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” by Kristian G. Andersen et al. Comparing these papers with self-published posts on the Internet by unreliable individuals or groups of alternative news, and the like, one must wonder the epistemology of each point of view. How do you know what you know? What are your sources? Are the sources even correct?
Anyhow, in everything that can be known about viruses in Virology, Immunology, Epidemiology, and other related specialized fields, it does not make sense that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a laboratory nor that perhaps it was not engineered, but that it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. In the light of Virology, SARS-CoV (2003), and MERS-CoV (2012), there is only evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is of zoonotic origin (i.e., the virus spilled over from birds/animals to humans). CIDRAP News has published, “Scientists: ‘Exactly zero’ evidence COVID-19 came from a lab,” by Mary Van Beusekom, dated May 12, 2020. More recently, a paper was published in Nature Communications entitled, “Evidence for SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses circulating in bats and pangolins in SE Asia,” by Supaporn Wacharapluesadee et al. (Feb. 9, 2021). This is the paper that Amy Rosenfeld refers to in the TWiV interview 734 hosted and directed by Prof. Vincent Racaniello down below:
Lab escaped SARS-CoV-2 virus? Watch from 26:30 mins – 39:00 mins.
In TWiV 729, they also discuss this issue for some minutes with Matthew B. Frieman, PhD:
Lab escaped SARS-CoV-2 virus? Watch from 9:45 mins – 13:00 mins.