COMMENT: Hi Martin,
I totally agree with you that there is absolutely ZERO evidence to support any conspiracy theories about a “weaponized virus”.
But I would like to stress that I still think there is no coincidence that the epicenter occurred in Wuhan where the only Chinese BSL-4 lab exists – a lab that only became fully operational last year, first major “bug” studied was SARS and one of the main researchers working there has published papers regarding novel coronaviruses and bats. I will point out that there have only been three further SARS incidents and TWO of them were due to lab problems with protocols.
I have worked in a few companies where we had BSL labs. There were always “accidents” – most due to typical human attempts to reduce work by ignoring protocols. If you step back and objectively look at probabilities for a novel SARS-like virus to suddenly erupt at exactly this point in time due to some random “shady seafood market” it just seems…highly improbable.
But I will point out that there are some confounding factors if you add in a brand new BSL-4 facility in the vicinity. There are a couple of obvious “vectors” for anyone who has worked in these labs and also understands China – my wife is from Sichuan and I’ve been to China (more than 10 cities across the cardinal directions).
#1: Lots of work at a BSL-4 lab actually takes place at a BSL-2 level. CDC and Chinese officials have pointed out that BSL-2 protocols are completely inadequate for 2019-nCoV.
#2: BSL-4 (and any serious study of both virii and bacterial agents) requires both incubations as well as “test subjects”. These can (and often do) bite…or at least escape from cages.
There is a good Lancet article on the Wuhan origins. Again, having worked in BSL related to study for infectious agents, the Lancet overview of infections and also knowing Chinese “culture” there are a couple of salient points:
#1 Gloves. If BSL-2 protocols were not sufficient and yet lots of tests were being run there….Gloves got contaminated. For the lab – no problems, just toss them out – but for any poor person picking through the garbage and suddenly finding a “treasure trove” of “hardly used” gloves…Well. I’ve been to these markets and the sellers all wore gloves. Filthy gloves.
The massive spike of infected people going to some random market suddenly got an incredible boost as a disease vector.
#2: Serious study of bats for SARS-like virii requires a LOT of bats. Likely brought from the original SARS site. If there is trade in bats…well…overstock is easily sold in the market.
The most interesting facet is not really the origin but the long-term effects on China. Both cultural and, for you models, financial. I think we are about to see a significant “step function” that will impact globally.
It is very significant to me that your model seems to have landed on the “tipping point” for the 2019-nCov. This is extremely significant and, from my perspective, likely to have much broader implications than even your models may predict.
take care and stay warm,
REPLY: We may never know the precise origin. Whether the impact of this virus will be significant and run into 2022 is of extreme interest. There is no question the fact that this took place on the ECM turn date holds the potential for this to be very important. With the American CDC going to China, perhaps this will help to verify the true death rate and stop all the conspiracy stories which do not help us get a true picture of what is taking place. Conspiracy claims that it’s always far worse are the very foundation of the Climate Change activists.