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A laboratory escape is the most likely source of COVID

Summary:
Many virologists are involved in research to make viral infections more dangerous.  The argument for doing this "gain of function" research is that it allows virologists to be prepared for the next pandemic.Gain of Function research relies on the biosafety of laboratories.  It would be very dangerous to produce a virulent, pandemic virus and then accidentally allow it to escape.A study of high safety US virological laboratories by Lipsitch and Galvani (2014).  produced a figure of there being a 20% risk of a laboratory worker getting infected every 10 years by a lab escape and 5-60% of such escapes causing a pandemic. In other words, as a result of laboratory experiments in the USA alone, the world is running a similar risk of a pandemic from laboratory escapes in any 10 year period as

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Many virologists are involved in research to make viral infections more dangerous.  The argument for doing this "gain of function" research is that it allows virologists to be prepared for the next pandemic.

Gain of Function research relies on the biosafety of laboratories.  It would be very dangerous to produce a virulent, pandemic virus and then accidentally allow it to escape.

A study of high safety US virological laboratories by Lipsitch and Galvani (2014).  produced a figure of there being a 20% risk of a laboratory worker getting infected every 10 years by a lab escape and 5-60% of such escapes causing a pandemic. In other words, as a result of laboratory experiments in the USA alone, the world is running a similar risk of a pandemic from laboratory escapes in any 10 year period as getting two sixes in two throws of a dice.  

There are virological laboratories all over the world doing these experiments.  The risk posed by laboratories is so high that Furmanski (2014)  wrote a review called 'Laboratory Escapes and “Self-fulfilling prophecy” Epidemics' in which he identified numerous lab escapes.  The section on SARS is particularly interesting.  In 2004 the Chinese National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Beijing, which is part of China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC), had four lab escapes of SARS.  In 2003 Singapore and Taiwan had one escape each.

The WHO was moved to report that: 

“The possibility that a SARS outbreak could occur following a laboratory accident is a risk of considerable importance, given the relatively large number of laboratories currently conducting research using the SARS-CoV or retaining specimens from SARS patients. These laboratories currently represent the greatest threat for renewed SARS-CoV transmission through accidental exposure associated with breaches in laboratory biosafety." WHO 2003

So the WHO, in 2003, warned that laboratory escapes were a high risk when dealing with coronaviruses but in 2021 dismisses even the possibility that such escapes could happen (See Independent article). 

We know that the Wuhan Virological Institute was performing gain of function experiments on coronaviruses using genetic engineering.  It was their main business.  How safe was the Wuhan Institute of Virology? 

A group of dignitaries and scientists visited the lab in 2018 and cables sent to the US State Department warned: 

"about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable .. also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic."

"During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory"  (Washington Post).

So in 2018 scientists actually warned that biosafety was so bad in Wuhan that it "..represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic."

A brief survey of the two labs in the WIV by Xiao and Xiao (2020) which was undertaken at the start of the epidemic in Wuhan noted that "The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were [the] source  of  pathogens."

It is strange that the WHO team in Wuhan in 2021 simply dismisses a laboratory escape as the source of COVID 19.  Haven't they read the WHO's own warnings about biosecurity in Chinese labs during the SARS epidemic in 2003?

The case could not be clearer:
  • There is no animal source for COVID-19 
  • Chinese labs have a poor record for lab escapes, 
  • The WHO had warned about lab escapes in 2003
  • The WIV was performing "gain of function" experiments on coronaviruses
  • The biosafety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had prompted officials to send cables to the US State Department warning of a potential disaster from poor safety whilst performing coronavirus experiments.

The big question is why aren't the mainstream media mentioning some of the points above when reviewing the WHO reports?  

They might at least mention that one of the leading "Western" virologists in the WHO team is Peter Daszak*, who is president of EcoHealth Alliance, which has funded some of the work of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and hence an interested party.


*Daszak, along with most of the WIV virology staff, has his name on a paper (Lei-Ping et al 2016) describing the genetic engineering of viruses. 

References

Martin Furmanski MD. (2014) Laboratory Escapes and “Self-fulfilling prophecy” Epidemics. Scientist’s Working Group on Chemical and Biologic Weapons. Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.  https://armscontrolcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Escaped-Viruses-final-2-17-14-copy.pdf

Lei-Ping Zeng, Yu-Tao Gao, Xing-Yi Ge, Qian Zhang, Cheng Peng, Xing-Lou Yang, Bing Tan, Jing Chen, Aleksei A. Chmura, Peter Daszak, Zheng-Li Shi. (2016) Bat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Like Coronavirus WIV1 Encodes an Extra Accessory Protein, ORFX, Involved in Modulation of the Host Immune Response.  Journal of Virology Jun 2016, 90 (14) 6573-6582; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.03079-15

Almost all the authors come from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Notice that "bat woman" Zheng-Li Shi was involved.  https://jvi.asm.org/content/90/14/6573

Lipsitch, M and Galvani, A.P. (2014). Ethical Alternatives to Experiments with Novel Potential Pandemic Pathogens PLoS Med. 2014 May; 11(5): e1001646.  Published online 2014 May 20. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001646

WHO. WHO post-outbreak biosafety guidelines for handling of SARS-CoV specimens
and cultures. 18 Dec 2003. Accessible at: http://www.who.int/csr/sars/biosafety2003_12_18/en/

Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao.  The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. https://web.archive.org/web/20200214144447/https:/www.researchgate.net/publication/339070128_The_possible_origins_of_2019-nCoV_coronavirus

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