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The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic

  

Category:  Health, Science & Technology

Via:  hallux  •  last year  •  98 comments

By:   Katherine J. Wu - The Atlantic

The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic
A new analysis of genetic samples from China appears to link the pandemic’s origin to raccoon dogs.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



For three years now, the debate over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic has ping-ponged between two big ideas: that SARS-CoV-2 spilled into human populations directly from a wild-animal source, and that the pathogen leaked from a lab. Through a swirl of data obfuscation by Chinese authorities and politicalization within the United States, and rampant speculation from all corners of the world, many scientists have stood by the notion that this outbreak—like  most others —had purely natural roots. But that hypothesis has been missing a key piece of proof: genetic evidence from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, showing that the virus had infected creatures for sale there.

This week, an international team of virologists, genomicists, and evolutionary biologists may have finally found crucial data to help fill that knowledge gap. A new analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market shows that raccoon dogs being illegally sold at the venue could have been carrying and possibly shedding the virus at the end of 2019. It’s some of the strongest support yet, experts told me, that the pandemic began when SARS-CoV-2 hopped from animals into humans, rather than in an accident among scientists experimenting with viruses.

“This really strengthens the case for a natural origin,” says Seema Lakdawala, a virologist at Emory University who wasn’t involved in the research. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist involved in the research, told me, “This is a really strong indication that animals at the market were infected. There’s really no other explanation that makes any sense.”

The findings won’t fully convince the entrenched voices on either side of the origins debate. But the new analysis may offer some of the clearest and most compelling evidence that the world will   ever   get in support of an animal origin for the virus that, in just over three years, has killed   nearly 7 million people   worldwide.

The genetic sequences were pulled out of swabs taken in and near market stalls around the pandemic’s start. They represent the first bits of raw data that researchers outside of China’s academic institutions and their direct collaborators have had access to. Late last week, the data were quietly posted by researchers affiliated with the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on an open-access genomic database called GISAID. By almost pure happenstance, scientists in Europe, North America, and Australia spotted the sequences, downloaded them, and began an analysis.

The samples were already known to be positive for the coronavirus, and had  been scrutinized before  by the same group of Chinese researchers who uploaded the data to GISAID. But that prior analysis, released as a preprint publication in February 2022, asserted that “no animal host of SARS-CoV-2 can be deduced.” Any motes of coronavirus at the market, the study suggested, had most likely been chauffeured in by infected humans, rather than wild creatures for sale.

The new analysis, led by Kristian Andersen, Edward Holmes, and Michael Worobey—three prominent researchers who have been looking into the virus’s roots—shows that that may not be the case. Within about half a day of downloading the data from GISAID, the trio and their collaborators discovered that several market samples that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were also coming back chock-full of animal genetic material—much of which was a match for the common raccoon dog, a small animal related to foxes that has a raccoon-like face. Because of how the samples were gathered, and because viruses can’t persist by themselves in the environment, the scientists think that their findings could indicate the presence of a coronavirus-infected raccoon dog in the spots where the swabs were taken. Unlike many of the other points of discussion that have been volleyed about in the origins debate, the genetic data are “tangible,” Alex Crits-Christoph, a computational biologist and one of the scientists who worked on the new analysis, told me. “And this is the species that everyone has been talking about.”

Finding the genetic material of virus and mammal so closely co-mingled—enough to be extracted out of a single swab—isn’t perfect proof, Lakdawala told me. “It’s an important step; I’m not going to diminish that,” she said. Still, the evidence falls short of, say, isolating SARS-CoV-2 from a free-ranging raccoon dog or, even better,  uncovering a viral sample swabbed from a mammal for sale at Huanan from the time of the outbreak’s onset . That would be the virological equivalent of catching a culprit red-handed. But “you can never go back in time and capture those animals,” says Gigi Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. And to researchers’ knowledge, “raccoon dogs were not tested at the market and had likely been removed prior to the authorities coming in,” Andersen wrote to me in an email. He underscored that the findings, although an important addition, are not “direct evidence of infected raccoon dogs at the market.”

Still, the findings don’t stand alone. “Do I believe there were infected animals at the market? Yes, I do,” Andersen told me. “Does this new data add to that evidence base? Yes.” The new analysis builds on extensive  previous   research  that points to the market as the source of the earliest major outbreak of SARS-CoV-2: Many of the earliest known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic were clustered roughly in the market’s vicinity. And the virus’s genetic material was found in many  samples swabbed  from carts and animal-processing equipment at the venue, as well as parts of nearby infrastructure, such as storehouses, sewage wells, and water drains. Raccoon dogs, creatures commonly bred for sale in China, are also already known to be one of many mammal species that can easily catch and spread the coronavirus. All of this left one main hole in the puzzle to fill: clear-cut evidence that raccoon dogs and the virus were in the exact same spot at the market, close enough that the creatures might have been infected and, possibly, infectious. That’s what the new analysis provides. Think of it as finding the DNA of an investigation’s main suspect at the scene of the crime.

The findings don’t rule out the possibility that other animals may have been carrying SARS-CoV-2 at Huanan. Raccoon dogs, if they were infected, may not even be the creatures who passed the pathogen on to us. Which means the search for the virus’s many wild hosts will need to plod on. “Do we know the intermediate host was raccoon dogs? No,” Andersen wrote to me, using the term for an animal that can ferry a pathogen between other species. “Is it high up on my list of potential hosts? Yes, but it’s definitely not the only one.”

On Tuesday, the researchers presented their findings at a hastily scheduled meeting of the World Health Organization’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, which was also attended by several of the Chinese researchers responsible for the original analysis, according to multiple researchers who were not present but were briefed about it before and after by multiple people who were there. Shortly after the meeting, the Chinese team’s preprint went into review at a Nature Research journal—suggesting that a new version was being prepared for publication. (I reached out to the WHO for comment and will update this story when I have more information.)

At this point, it’s still unclear why the sequences were posted to GISAID last week. They also vanished from the database shortly after appearing, without explanation. When I emailed George Gao, the former China CDC director-general and the lead author on the original Chinese analysis, asking for his team’s rationale, I didn’t immediately receive a response. Given what was in the GISAID data, it does seem that raccoon dogs could have been introduced into and clarified the origins narrative far sooner—at least a year ago, and likely more.

China has, for years, been keen on pushing the narrative that the pandemic didn’t start within its borders. In early 2020, a Chinese official suggested that the novel coronavirus may have emerged from a U.S. Army lab in Maryland. The notion that a dangerous virus sprang out from wet-market mammals echoed the beginnings of the SARS-CoV-1 epidemic two decades ago—and this time, officials immediately shut down the Huanan market, and  vehemently pushed back   against assertions  that live animals being sold illegally in the country were to blame; a WHO investigation in March 2021  took the same line . “No verified reports of live mammals being sold around 2019 were found,” the report stated. But just three months later, in June 2021, a team of researchers published a  study  documenting tens of thousands of mammals for sale in wet markets in Wuhan between 2017 and late 2019, including at Huanan. The animals were kept in largely illegal, cramped, and unhygienic settings—conditions conducive to viral transmission—and among them were more than 1,000  raccoon dogs . Holmes himself had been  at the market in 2014  and snapped a photo at Stall 29, clearly showing a raccoon dog in a cage; another set of images from the venue, captured by a local in December 2019 and  later shared on Weibo , caught the animals on film as well—right around the time that the first recorded SARS-CoV-2 infections in humans occurred.

And yet, Chinese researchers maintained their stance. As Jon Cohen   reported for   Science   magazine last year , scientists from several of China’s largest academic institutions posted a preprint in September 2021 concluding that a   massive nationwide survey of bats —the likeliest original source of the coronavirus before it jumped into an intermediate host, such as raccoon dogs, and then into us—had turned up no relatives of SARS-CoV-2. The implication, the team behind the paper asserted, was that relatives of the coronavirus were “extremely rare” in the region, making it unlikely that the pandemic had started there. The findings   directly   contradicted   others showing that cousins of SARS-CoV-2 were indeed circulating in China’s bats. (Local bats have also been found to harbor   viruses related to SARS-CoV-1 .)

The   original Chinese analysis   of the Huanan market swabs, from February 2022, also stuck with China’s party line on the pandemic. One of the report’s graphs suggested that viral material at the market had been mixed up with genetic material of   multiple   animal species—a data trail that should have led to further inquiry or conclusions, but that the Chinese researchers appear to have ignored. Their report noted only humans as being linked to SARS-CoV-2, stating that its findings “highly” suggested that any viral material at the market came from people (at least one of whom, presumably, picked it up elsewhere and ferried it into the venue). The Huanan market, the study’s authors wrote, “might have acted as an amplifier” for the epidemic. But “more work involving international coordination” would be needed to suss out the “real origins of SARS-CoV-2.”

The wording of that report baffled many scientists in Europe, North America, and Australia, several of whom had, almost exactly 24 hours after the release of the China CDC preprint, published  early   versions  of their  own   studies , concluding that the Huanan market was the pandemic’s probable epicenter—and that SARS-CoV-2 might have made its hop into humans from the venue  twice   at the end of 2019. Itching to  get their hands on China CDC’s raw data , some of the researchers took to regularly trawling GISAID, occasionally at odd hours—the only reason that Florence Débarre, an evolutionary biologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, spotted the sequences pinging onto the server late last Thursday night with no warning or fanfare.

Within hours of downloading the data and starting their own analysis, the researchers found their suspicions confirmed. Several surfaces in and around one stall at the market, including a cart and a defeathering machine, produced virus-positive samples that also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs—in a couple of cases, at higher concentrations than of human genomes. It was Stall 29—the same spot where Holmes had snapped the photo of the raccoon dog, nearly a decade before.

Slam-dunk evidence for a raccoon-dog host—or another animal—could still emerge. In the hunt for the wild source of MERS, another coronavirus that caused a deadly outbreak in 2012, researchers were eventually able to identify the pathogen in   camels , which are thought to have caught their initial infection from   bats —and which still harbor the virus today; a similar story has played out for   Nipah virus , which   hopscotched   from   bats to pigs to us .

Proof of that caliber, though, may never turn up for SARS-CoV-2. (Nailing wild origins is rarely simple: Despite a years-long search, the wild host for Ebola still has not been definitively pinpointed.) Which leaves just enough ambiguity to keep debate about the pandemic’s origins running, potentially indefinitely. Skeptics will likely be eager to poke holes in the team’s new findings—pointing out, for instance, that it’s technically possible for genetic material from viruses and animals to end up sloshed together in the environment even if an infection didn’t take place. Maybe an infected human visited the market and inadvertently deposited viral RNA near an animal’s crate.

But an infected animal, with no third-party contamination, still seems by far the most plausible explanation for the samples’ genetic contents, several experts told me; other scenarios require contortions of logic and, more important, additional proof. Even prior to the reveal of the new data, Gronvall told me, “I think the evidence is actually more sturdy for COVID than it is for many others.” The strength of the data might even, in at least one way, best what’s available for SARS-CoV-1: Although scientists have  isolated SARS-CoV-1- like   viruses  from a wet-market-traded mammal host, the palm civet, those samples were taken months after the outbreak began—and the viral variants found  weren’t exactly identical  to the ones in human patients. The versions of SARS-CoV-2 tugged out of several Huanan-market samples, meanwhile, are a  dead ringer  for the ones that sickened humans with COVID early on.

The debate over SARS-CoV-2’s origins has raged for nearly as long as the pandemic itself—outlasting lockdowns, widespread masking, even the first version of the COVID vaccines. And as long as there is murkiness to cling to, it may never fully resolve. While evidence for an animal spillover has mounted over time, so too have  questions  about the possibility that the virus escaped from a laboratory. When President Joe Biden asked the U.S. intelligence community to review the matter, four government agencies and the National Intelligence Council  pointed to a natural origin , while two others guessed that it was a lab leak. (None of these assessments were made with high confidence; a bill  passed in both the House and the Senate  would, 90 days after it becomes a law, require the Biden administration to declassify underlying intelligence.)

If this new level of scientific evidence does conclusively tip the origins debate toward the animal route, it will be, in one way, a major letdown. It will mean that SARS-CoV-2 breached our borders because we once again mismanaged our relationship with wildlife—that we failed to prevent this epidemic for the same reason we failed, and could fail again, to prevent so many of the rest.


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Hallux
Masters Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    last year

Don't forget to take Fauci outback and shoot him with but-but-but bullets for something or other.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @1    last year

meh, why blame the incompetent ass in the white house in 2019 that delayed getting in front of the pandemic when the Dr is handy...

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
1.1.1  Ronin2  replied to  devangelical @1.1    last year

But Brandon the Human Fuck Up Machine has done such a great job at handling Covid; and the spread of all of it's variations./S

So why hasn't Brandon resigned yet?

Also, Fauci lied to Congress. Waiting for Garland to get off his boney, partisan, decrepit ass and prosecute him.

Leftists will believe any piece of drivel that lets China and Fauci off the hook.

All they need to do prove it is find the animal that had the original virus. Then the animal(s) it jumped to and then patient 0 to verify it is indeed the same. Oh wait; China destroyed/hid all that. 

Also, their analysis leaves out one very glaring detail. Covid can be transmitted from humans to animals. 

.

What You Need to Know
  • The risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to people is low.
  • The virus can spread from people to animals during close contact.
  • More studies and surveillance are needed to understand how SARS-CoV-2 is spread between people and animals.
  • People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, including pets, livestock, and wildlife.
Animals infected with SARS-CoV-2 have been documented around the world. Most of these animals became infected after contact with people with COVID-19, including owners, caretakers, or others who were in close contact. We don’t yet know all of the animals that can get infected. Animals reported infected worldwide include
  • Companion animals, including pet cats, dogs, hamsters, and ferrets.
  • Animals in zoos and sanctuaries, including several types of big cats (e.g., lions, tigers, snow leopards), otters, non-human primates, a binturong, a coatimundi, a fishing cat, hyenas, hippopotamuses, and manatees.
  • Mink on mink farms.
  • Wildlife, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, a black-tailed marmoset, a giant anteater, and wild mink near mink farms.

So all of those people trying to claim Covid originated in bats, jump to another animal, and on and on; might be working in the wrong direction. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @1.1.2    11 months ago

a few more covid variations = less rwnj's

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
1.1.4  Sean Treacy  replied to  devangelical @1.1.3    11 months ago

Death wishing minorities.. Just another day that ends in Y with the progressives on newstalkers. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.5  devangelical  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.4    11 months ago

you can pray for me tomorrow at the next mackerel snapper fund raiser at the madrasa...

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
1.1.6  Sean Treacy  replied to  devangelical @1.1.5    11 months ago
you can pray for me tomorrow at the next mackerel snapper fund raiser at the madrasa...

Cool, cool. Bigotry and death wishing. Have a Day Mr. Duke!

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.7  devangelical  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.6    11 months ago

thanks paddy I will, and you try and steer clear of the church basement...

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    last year
But an infected animal, with no third-party contamination, still seems by far the most plausible explanation for the samples’ genetic contents, several experts told me; other scenarios require contortions of logic and, more important, additional proof.

MAGA will not believe it. At this point this "argument" is set in stone. 

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
3.1  Ozzwald  replied to  JohnRussell @3    last year
MAGA will not believe it. At this point this "argument" is set in stone.

They need an excuse to avoid blaming Trump's disastrous response.  Blaming China is just convenient despite Trump's constant praising of China and Xi, during 2020 and 2021.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
3.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1    last year

The reason that there are competing theories on the origin and spread of COVID is that the CCP decided that withholding critical data was in its best interest and the world be damned.  That's not just the opinion of US leaders but of the WHO as well.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.1    last year

Citation needed.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1    last year

What was so disastrous was his non-response - waiting months knowing how transmissible and deadly it was.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
3.1.5  Ozzwald  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.1    last year
The reason that there are competing theories on the origin and spread of COVID is that the CCP decided that withholding critical data was in its best interest and the world be damned.

Just like our country and certain states withheld information on the spread of COVID.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
3.1.6  Ozzwald  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.3    last year
What was so disastrous was his non-response - waiting months knowing how transmissible and deadly it was.

His own hand picked White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Deborah Birx, stated that Trump's response to the pandemic was responsible for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of deaths due to COVID.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
3.1.7  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1.5    last year

Exactly, perfect equivalency.  The WHO couldn’t get US cooperation.  Maybe we are responsible for COVID.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
3.1.8  Sean Treacy  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1.5    last year
Just like

Next, tell us how the virus really originated at Fore Detrick.   The CCP, I'm assure, is pleased with your diligence in spreading their talking points. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.9  Tessylo  replied to  Ozzwald @3.1.6    last year

I agree - I'm sure it was in the hundreds of thousands.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
3.1.10  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.4    11 months ago

Dude isn't going to read it.  

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
5  Kavika     last year

Some on NT will blame everyone, Fuchi et al for the pandemic.

They are not changing their minds no matter what facts one has.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
6  Buzz of the Orient    last year

I'm convinced that we will never be absolutely sure of the source, notwithstanding that certain NT members are absolutely convinced even though the theories they swear by are only  "low confidence" and are only opinions as being "most likely".  IMO those NT members have nefarious reasons for attempting to convince us that the opinion they support is the only possible correct one. 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Junior Guide
7  Right Down the Center    last year

Interesting.  Of course I have to wonder about the timing since the lab leak theory is picking up steam, why it took three years and the chain of custody of the sample.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
8  Greg Jones    last year

"Still, the evidence falls short of, say, isolating SARS-CoV-2 from a free-ranging raccoon "

Right, a raccoon dog just wandered into the wet market and somehow set the pandemic in motion....within walking distance from a virology lab doing gain-of-function research on these very same types of virus. Just one isolated animal? Why wouldn't traces of the virus be in at least a few locations besides the wet market?

The virus could have as easily come from a infected person from the lab shopping at the wet market. But we'll probably never know for sure thanks to the lack of cooperation from the Chinese authorities and their silencing of their doctors and scientists. This new theory doesn't really do much to clear up the ultimate cause of the pandemic, offers no new tangible facts, and must be considered "low confidence"

 But in the meantime, it's much more convenient to, by default, put the entire blame on Trump for not having developed a perfect response to the pandemic, when no one knew much about how to deal with it, and that includes flip-flop Fauci.

 

 
 
 
George
Sophomore Guide
8.1  George  replied to  Greg Jones @8    last year

Protecting the approved propaganda at all costs, that's all this article is. The new scientific method, come to a conclusion then make the evidence fit the approved conclusion and then belittle or destroy any dissenters. 

 
 
 
George
Sophomore Guide
9  George    last year
A new analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market shows that raccoon dogs being illegally sold at the venue could have been carrying and possibly shedding the virus at the end of 2019.

It's official, the scientific method has now bowed to politics, talk about a conclusion looking for evidence, could have? possible?  FFS 

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
9.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  George @9    last year
FFS

Indeed @!@. In the meantime study up on scientific theory:

 
 
 
George
Sophomore Guide
9.1.1  George  replied to  Hallux @9.1    last year

[deleted]

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
9.1.2  seeder  Hallux  replied to  George @9.1.1    last year

Do you now? The article came to no conclusions which suggests a wanting ability to read on your part.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
9.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  George @9.1.1    last year

So you know about scientific theory?

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

Yeah, I'll take your word over the experts.

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

Speaking of worthless fucks . . .

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
9.2  TᵢG  replied to  George @9    11 months ago

"could have" and "possibly" are exactly what the scientific method would produce when dealing with a lot of unknowns but with the presence of evidence (and logic) that reasonably enables one or more possibilities.   Science is all about likelihood and patterns;  it routinely offers findings with confidence weights and with explanations with such adjectives.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
10  JBB    last year

Yet lab created viruses have genetic markers not present in Covid-19. Meaning it wasn't manmade.

 
 
 
George
Sophomore Guide
10.1  George  replied to  JBB @10    last year

It wasn't created in a lab. it was modified using gain of function on a natural virus. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  George @10.1    last year

That has not been determined to be true (and not determined to be false either).   There are biological arguments against this being man-made and logical/situational arguments that it is.

I really wish we could get to the bottom of this so that people like you do not continue to assert as TRUTH that which has not been determined.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
10.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  TᵢG @10.1.1    last year

The truth could be written in neon lights across the sky and some will never accept it

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  Trout Giggles @10.1.2    last year

Good point.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
10.1.4  Greg Jones  replied to  TᵢG @10.1.1    last year

Aren't you asserting that an animal host is the TRUTH?

Why do believe a lab leak source is not the source?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.1.5  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @10.1.4    last year
Aren't you asserting that an animal host is the TRUTH?

All of the hypotheses presume that coronavirus fundamentally evolved naturally.   The gain-of-function hypothesis is that a naturally evolved coronavirus was enhanced by human beings to become more infectious and deadly.   Nobody is asserting that (mad scientist) human beings literally whipped up COVID-19 from scratch.

And I have never asserted that the coronavirus we experienced (COVID-19) necessarily occurred naturally (i.e. all of its deadly properties evolved naturally without human intervention).   I have noted that this is a possibility.   I have also noted (two years ago even) that I think the lab leak hypothesis is more likely.   That is, I see Wuhan as more likely the epicenter than the Wet Market.

Why do believe a lab leak source is not the source?

Quit presuming to know what people believe based on your flawed stereotype and instead carefully read what we write.   Seems I am constantly correcting your wild presumptions about my positions.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
10.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @10    last year
“I have a completely open mind about that, despite people saying that I don’t,” Fauci said, when asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about the theory that the virus may have leaked from a lab in China in 2019.

Fauci acknowledged that a group of international, respected virologists has written that strong evidence shows the virus jumped from animals to humans, but said it “hasn’t been definitively proven.”

“Even when there’s nothing to hide, they act in a suspicious, non-transparent way,” Fauci said of the Chinese government.

A report this fall from Vanity Fair and ProPublica, which said the Wuhan Institute of Virology dealt with an unspecified emergency at the time Covid-19 began, brought back to the forefront a debate about whether the virus might have come from a lab.

Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in a separate interview Sunday, Fauci said he’d like to know “all of the details of what went on with the original people who were infected.”
 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.2.1  TᵢG  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @10.2    last year

Fauci never stated definitively the source and origin of the COVID-19 coronavirus.   He has stated that he believes it more likely that it evolved naturally rather than a result of gain-of-function.   But he has never eliminated the gain-of-function hypothesis.

And this is exactly what you would expect of a scientist.   Scientists know all too well that dealing with reality is almost never 100% conclusive.   And especially when the evidence is very weak, you will not find a credible scientist stating certainty.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
10.2.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  TᵢG @10.2.1    last year

Yes.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.2.3  TᵢG  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @10.2.2    last year

But what you will find are partisans taking words of people like Fauci, twisting them into a false meaning of certainty and then condemning the certainty.   It is intellectual dishonesty (the modus operandi of extreme partisanship).

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
10.2.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  TᵢG @10.2.3    last year

Yes, Fauci like all of us, has made some mistakes, but I've never understood the deep resentment some feel towards him.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
10.2.5  TᵢG  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @10.2.4    last year

Yeah it is strange.   The anti-Fauci sentiment appears to be a MAGA phenomenon.   That is, it appears to be partisan politics (thus understandably irrational).

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11  Nerm_L    last year

Blowing more smoke is only intended to obfuscate and mislead.  The viruses used by the Wuhan Laboratory were of animal origin, too.  Genetic sequencing cannot differentiate between viruses found in a wet market and viruses used by the Wuhan Laboratory.

Genetic sequencing won't provide an answer to how the Wuhan outbreak started.  Finding a progenitor virus in an animal population won't preclude the Wuhan Laboratory conducting gain-of-function research on viruses from that same animal population.

Looking at the virus, itself, cannot answer the question.  It's a pointless exercise only intended to feed politics.

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
11.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Nerm_L @11    last year

Your constant negativity is tiresome.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
11.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Hallux @11.1    last year

But he's right.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
11.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Greg Jones @11.1.1    last year

No, he is not, about anything.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11.1.3  Nerm_L  replied to  Hallux @11.1    last year
Your constant negativity is tiresome.

Do you believe gain-of-function research should be defended and continued?  That's what the argument over origin of the pandemic is really about.

Finding the original virus has been important for developing treatments and vaccines.  The use of mRNA to develop vaccines has made that science obsolete.  We already have vaccines and treatments so finding the original virus has become unimportant.

The significance of animal to human transmission is to prove that gain-of-function research wasn't responsible for the pandemic.  At this point that's the only thing that finding the origin of the Wuhan outbreak would accomplish. 

What we know for certain is that an outbreak of COVID happened in Wuhan.  The global pandemic was caused by infected people travelling out of Wuhan and spreading the virus to uninfected populations.  International travel was the root cause of the global pandemic.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
11.1.4  JBB  replied to  Nerm_L @11.1.3    last year

Proving a negative is impossible. Nobody can prove that something didn't happen.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11.1.5  Nerm_L  replied to  JBB @11.1.4    11 months ago
Proving a negative is impossible. Nobody can prove that something didn't happen.

There are two options; animal transmission or a lab leak.  Proving one will disprove the other. 

As long as gain-of-function research remains a possible origin of the Wuhan outbreak then concerns over the risks of gain-of-function research will remain.  Advocates for gain-of-function research are motivated to prove animal transmission was responsible thus proving the negative for gain-of-function research. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.1.6  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @11.1.5    11 months ago
There are two options; animal transmission or a lab leak.  Proving one will disprove the other. 

There are several hypotheses:

  • naturally evolved, infection outside of lab (e.g. Wet Market)
  • naturally evolved, intentionally acquired by lab for research, accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others
  • naturally evolved, unintentionally brought into lab (via infected samples), accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others
  • gain-of-function variant of natural, accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others

Then there is the question of intent.   Was this accidental or intentional ... maybe a malicious act by a rogue Wuhan lab worker?   Worse, (conspiracy theory now), was this an intentional act by the CCP?   Let the conspiracy theorists at this and they will come up with even more speculation.

Thing is, we do not have enough facts to even determine whether or not the COVID-19 coronavirus was a result of human tampering.

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11.1.7  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @11.1.6    11 months ago
There are several hypotheses:
  • naturally evolved, infection outside of lab (e.g. Wet Market)
  • naturally evolved, intentionally acquired by lab for research, accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others
  • naturally evolved, unintentionally brought into lab (via infected samples), accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others
  • gain-of-function variant of natural, accidentally infected lab worker, lab worker (leak) infects others

Then there is the question of intent.   Was this accidental or intentional ... maybe a malicious act by a rogue Wuhan lab worker?   Worse, (conspiracy theory now), was this an intentional act by the CCP?   Let the conspiracy theorists at this and they will come up with even more speculation.

Thing is, we do not have enough facts to even determine whether or not the COVID-19 coronavirus was a result of human tampering.

Yes, there are several hypotheses.  But all the hypotheses begin with an animal virus meaning that SARS-CoV-2 originated in an animal population.  The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not a genetically modified organism meaning the DNA or RNA was not edited to insert specific genetic material into the DNA or RNA.  SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a human pathogen from a natural evolutionary process.

The mechanism for an animal virus to evolve into a human pathogen is the same for all the hypotheses.  The animal virus must be capable of entering human cells and must be compatible with human biology for replicating DNA and RNA.  The virus cannot replicate itself; replication depends upon a host cell performing that function.  That replication performed by the host cell is the cause of mutations in the virus; a natural evolutionary process.

Gain-of-function research mimics the mechanism found in the wild.  Human cells are exposed to an animal virus.  Infected cells from that first exposure are introduced into a media containing uninfected cells.  And that process is repeated in a series of exposures that mimics spread of the virus in the wild..  The mutations are monitored in each stage of the sequence to attempt to determine what influences the evolution of the animal virus into a human pathogen.  Unlike conditions in the wild, the experimental conditions are controlled which favors evolution to a human pathogen.  Since gain-of-function research mimics the mechanism found in the wild, genetic sequencing cannot differentiate between a human pathogen that evolved in the wild and a human pathogen that evolved under controlled experimental conditions.  Both utilize the same mechanism for evolutionary adaptation to a human host.

Gain-of-function research begins with an animal virus found in the wild.  So identifying an animal population as source of the virus doesn't tell us if the virus evolved in the wild or evolved under controlled experimental conditions.  It's not possible to differentiate between human pathogens emerging in the wild or in a laboratory.

That's why tracing the spread of COVID in Wuhan and laboratory records are important for determining whether the outbreak originated in the wild or from a lab leak.  Looking at animal populations and looking at the virus won't provide an answer.  As long as the origin of the COVID outbreak remains unresolved there will be concerns over the risks of gain-of-function research.  Advocates for gain-of-function research are motivated to find definitive proof that the COVID outbreak originated in the wild to overcome concerns over the risks of gain-of-function research.  But looking at animal populations and looking at the virus won't provide that definitive proof.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.1.8  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @11.1.7    11 months ago
But all the hypotheses begin with an animal virus meaning that SARS-CoV-2 originated in an animal population. 

Correct.   It is a bit ridiculous to hypothesize that the COVID-19 virus was created by a mad scientist from scratch.   The hypotheses are based on a naturally forming virus and some hold that it may have been modified by human beings.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not a genetically modified organism meaning the DNA or RNA was not edited to insert specific genetic material into the DNA or RNA.  SARS-CoV-2 emerged as a human pathogen from a natural evolutionary process.

That has not been determined.    That is, however, Fauci's view due to the lack of markers indicating human involvement.

So identifying an animal population as source of the virus doesn't tell us if the virus evolved in the wild or evolved under controlled experimental conditions. 

True.  To distinguish one would need telltale signs of tampering.

As long as the origin of the COVID outbreak remains unresolved there will be concerns over the risks of gain-of-function research. 

Yes

Advocates for gain-of-function research are motivated to find definitive proof that the COVID outbreak originated in the wild to overcome concerns over the risks of gain-of-function research. 

Logically.   But anyone who is motivated to find evidence to support their desire is not looking for truth.   They should be looking for truth regardless of whether or not they desire that truth.

 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11.1.9  Nerm_L  replied to  TᵢG @11.1.8    11 months ago
Logically.   But anyone who is motivated to find evidence to support their desire is not looking for truth.   They should be looking for truth regardless of whether or not they desire that truth.

The arguments about where COVID started is really about whether or not to continue gain-of-function research.  We really don't have a good handle on the risks associated with that research.

Finding the 'truth' of how the COVID outbreak in Wuhan began really depends upon tracing the spread of the virus, laboratory records, hospital records, and other information that isn't related to animal populations or genetics.  The 'truth' about the start of the outbreak cannot be provided by science.

Even if we finally determine if the outbreak started by either animal transmission or a lab leak, the ultimate 'truth' is that infected people travelling out of Wuhan and spreading the virus to uninfected populations is the direct cause of the global pandemic.  The controversy over animal transmission or a lab leak distracts from the ultimate 'truth' of how the global pandemic started.  That ultimate 'truth' provides a lesson for dealing with future outbreaks.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
11.1.10  Tessylo  replied to  Nerm_L @11.1.9    11 months ago

WE?

LOL!

 
 
 
Nerm_L
Professor Principal
11.1.11  Nerm_L  replied to  Tessylo @11.1.10    11 months ago
WE?

Add two more and the little piggy can go all the way home.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.1.12  TᵢG  replied to  Nerm_L @11.1.9    11 months ago
The arguments about where COVID started is really about whether or not to continue gain-of-function research. 

It is more than that.   We naturally want to know how a worldwide pandemic could accidentally start (assuming it was accidental).   Obviously we would like to know so that we can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a repeat.

Finding the 'truth' of how the COVID outbreak in Wuhan began really depends upon tracing the spread of the virus, laboratory records, hospital records, and other information that isn't related to animal populations or genetics.  The 'truth' about the start of the outbreak cannot be provided by science.

That is a large part of it.   But I will not dismiss the possibility of gaining scientific evidence based on the nature of the virus.  

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
11.2  cjcold  replied to  Nerm_L @11    last year

Just as with anthropogenic global warming, right wing science deniers are making up their own reality on COVID that has nothing to do with science. 

Hatred of the "other" knows no bounds with some folk.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
11.2.1  Greg Jones  replied to  cjcold @11.2    last year

Actually, it seems to be left wing China apologists that are denying the science. AGW is not settled science, by the way. Mostly speculation at this point

 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.2.2  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @11.2.1    last year
AGW is not settled science, by the way. Mostly speculation at this point

Absolutely wrong.   AGW is settled science.   We absolutely know that human beings have (and continue to) substantially increased CO2 (and other) emissions and these are causing (substantially contributing to) global warming.   There is no doubt about this.

What is not settled are the predictions of what this will do to our climate and when.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
11.2.3  Tessylo  replied to  Greg Jones @11.2.1    last year

Oh FFS.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
11.2.4  Greg Jones  replied to  TᵢG @11.2.2    11 months ago
"What is not settled are the predictions of what this will do to our climate and when."

You're right...temps are alleged to be slowly going up, probably because of better and more precise measurements. And the oceans are rising about a tenth of an inch a year.

 I'm not denying that, but you admit in the sentence above that all the sky is falling predictions have failed to alarm the public. The average person, world wide, is much more concerned with their health and being able to pay their bills and having enough to eat.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
11.2.5  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @11.2.4    11 months ago
You're right...temps are alleged to be slowly going up, probably because of better and more precise measurements. And the oceans are rising about a tenth of an inch a year.

A perfect example of irrational denial.   Instead of following the science you leap to alternate explanations that ignore the findings of science.  Just amazing.

I'm not denying that, but you admit in the sentence above that all the sky is falling predictions have failed to alarm the public.

I did not admit anything, I made an observation.

The average person, world wide, is much more concerned with their health and being able to pay their bills and having enough to eat.

Yeah, it is human nature to place the highest priority on local, short-term issues.   That does not change the facts of our environment.   The problems will continue and ignoring them will not cause them to go away.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
11.2.6  Thrawn 31  replied to  Greg Jones @11.2.4    11 months ago

Greg, as I have already explained to you in a different seed, climate change is a real thing having real effects on a lot of people. Just because it isn't effecting you personally, does not mean it isn't happening. Again, in the southwest we are in a 20+ year megadrought, apparently it is the worst in almost 1000 years. Scientists are already saying this isn't just a drought, this is aridification, which more or less means a permanent change in climate. And that is going to be very bad for the world's food supply. We do actually produce a lot of shit down here, agriculture is our biggest water drain as a matter of fact (in many areas using 80-90% of all available water). 

We are experiencing a historically good winter, and we need every single drop of water, but just because you blow out a team and are now 1/25, that doesn't mean you don't still suck. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
12  Tacos!    last year

What a waste.

The genetic sequences were pulled out of swabs taken in and near market stalls around the pandemic’s start.

"Around?" We can't have something a little more specific than "around?" A day? A week? A month? A year? And why would they be collecting swabs anyway unless an outbreak had already occurred? Just wondering.

Any motes of coronavirus at the market, the study suggested, had most likely been chauffeured in by infected humans, rather than wild creatures for sale.

Not an unreasonable conclusion considering humans have now been shown to transmit the virus to several species.

a match for the common raccoon dog

So . . . Not a bat? Not a pangolin? I thought we were told this virus had to come through bats. Not so anymore? And anyway, I think the bats that carry this stuff live hundreds of miles from Wuhan anyway. Seems like it would have to be transported there - maybe by a lab that does research into this kind of thing. I don't see why that's such an offensive idea.

Here's the real problem, though: NONE of us should have to engage in these investigations, speculations, and debates. The lab in Wuhan should have been 100% transparent from Day 1. We should all have the kind of access that inspires such confidence as to leave no doubt. Instead, we're three years in and still wondering what goes on behind closed doors at the Wuhan Institute.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Tacos! @12    11 months ago
 "Instead, we're three years in and still wondering what goes on behind closed doors at the Wuhan Institute."

And, I'm sure, we will NEVER know the actual source, but it makes a good topic for mudslinging and ignorant commentary. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
12.1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @12.1    11 months ago

So in your mind, the lab has no responsibility for the modification of these virus and its spread??

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
12.1.2  TᵢG  replied to  Greg Jones @12.1.1    11 months ago
So in your mind, the lab has no responsibility for the modification of these virus and its spread??

Read what the man wrote.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
12.1.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  Greg Jones @12.1.1    11 months ago

Are you fluent in English? British, American, or otherwise? 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
12.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  Thrawn 31 @12.1.3    11 months ago

What words in his post did you not understand?

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
12.1.5  Tacos!  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @12.1    11 months ago
we will NEVER know the actual source

Quite possibly. Many sources of disease are still mysterious. Even so, transparency would make it so much easier to eliminate one or two of the possibilities.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  TᵢG @12.1.2    11 months ago
"So in your mind, the lab has no responsibility for the modification of these virus and its spread??"
"Read what the man wrote."

I'm sure he read it, but maybe he didn't understand plain clear English or he just thought he would fool the world by putting words in my mouth that I did not say.  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1.7  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Thrawn 31 @12.1.3    11 months ago

LOL.  It's either "whatever" or fluency in intentionally misleading. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @12.1.4    11 months ago

Thrawn 31 understood perfectly that it was such an ignorant or misleading comment that it deserved what he wrote.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
12.1.9  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @12.1.8    11 months ago

lol, sure, whatever gets you through the day!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1.10  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @12.1.9    11 months ago

Yep, and whatever trolling gets you through YOUR day.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
12.1.11  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @12.1.10    11 months ago
Yep, and whatever trolling gets you through YOUR day

LOL.

Spoken like a man who doesn't know what trolling is.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
12.1.12  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Texan1211 @12.1.11    11 months ago

Of COURSE I know what trolling is - I've been fishing since I was a little kid. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
12.1.13  Texan1211  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @12.1.12    11 months ago

oops, sorry, couldn't tell from your post.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
13  Ed-NavDoc    11 months ago

I may have missed it, but I saw zero explanation of how said racoon dogs got infected with the virus to begin with. Am I the only one who thinks said animals may have been laboratory test animals at Wuhan that may have somehow got away or been released?

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
13.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @13    11 months ago

It is hardly surprising for infections to spread through populations of animals.  Feline leukemia, kennel cough, brucellosis, anthrax, rabies - I could keep on naming infections that spread through animal populations for quite a while.  Some jump species fairly easily - rabies, for example, can infect pretty much any mammal.  Some, like anthrax, were frequent dangers for people living in close proximity to livestock.  And some, like cowpox, have even jumped species and provided protective effects for humans - immunity to smallpox.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
13.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  sandy-2021492 @13.1    11 months ago
It is hardly surprising for infections to spread through populations of animals.

Agreed. But if that were the case, you’d think the forests surrounding Wuhan would be thick with animals infected with Covid.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
13.1.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  Tacos! @13.1.1    11 months ago

They may be. Are we testing wild animals?

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
13.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  sandy-2021492 @13.1.2    11 months ago

Much easier to use domesticated ones.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
13.1.4  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @13.1.3    11 months ago

When Tacos referred to animals in the forests around Wuhan, I assumed he was referring to wild ones, rather than domesticated.

Which raises another point - domesticated animals have been infected with Covid-19.  In fact, several different species of both wild and domesticated animals have shown infection, which means this is virus is adept at species-jumping, lending support to the hypothesis of an animal origin.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
13.1.5  Tacos!  replied to  sandy-2021492 @13.1.4    11 months ago

I have no idea if China is testing the animals, but I would think that if they thought that was the source, they’d have exhibited some obvious concern in that direction. For example, when Mad Cow Disease breaks out, we slaughter whole herds of cattle.

Instead, in the earliest days of the virus, the Chinese focus was on people - using the military to keep them in their homes. That tells me that’s where they probably thought the source of the virus was. That could be wrong, but I think it’s logical, absent other evidence.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Expert
13.1.6  sandy-2021492  replied to  Tacos! @13.1.5    11 months ago

Fair enough point.

It's also possible that they're not testing animals because it's hard to do much about populations of wild animals, whereas humans are able (usually) and willing (somewhat less often) to modify their behavior to prevent spread.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
14  Thrawn 31    11 months ago

I have just come to accept that we will never know the origins of that virus. If it was a lab leak, then the only people who could tell us are the Chinese govt and they will NEVER admit it. 

An animal, well until we find it in a wild species is just legitimate speculation that will likely lead nowhere. 

All that matters is the virus is here and we need to deal with it. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
14.1  Tacos!  replied to  Thrawn 31 @14    11 months ago

I do think it could be helpful to know the source, if only so we might take steps to prevent something similar from developing in the future.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
14.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Tacos! @14.1    11 months ago

No matter where it came from, Xi and the CCP has insured that there will never be any reliable or trustworthy info on the virus coming out of China that in any way implicates China. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
14.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @14.1.1    11 months ago

If they didn’t want to cooperate with us, why  spurn the WHO as well?

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
14.1.3  Tacos!  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @14.1.2    11 months ago

If they really did let this virus out of the bottle, they will quash any avenue of inquiry that might reveal their culpability.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
14.1.4  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Tacos! @14.1.3    11 months ago

Bingo!

 
 
 
zuksam
Junior Silent
14.1.5  zuksam  replied to  Tacos! @14.1    11 months ago

These people who are convinced it came from the wet market seem to think animals magically appear in the market but there is a whole industry that serves the wet market. The hunters and trappers in small villages capture the animals, then then there's middlemen who buy and arrange transport, there's the truck drivers. The reason the animals are kept alive is it takes weeks or longer for the animals to reach the market. If it were from the wild animal meat trade the epicenter would likely be the small village where the animal was first captured not the center of a major city down the street from a virology lab.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
14.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  zuksam @14.1.5    11 months ago

Before China eradicated abject poverty it may have taken weeks to get any product from remote villages to a major city, but one of the methods to alleviate poverty was to improve access by building highways and roads to enable bus and truck traffic so that people are no longer isolated - they no longer have to walk for many miles with a load on their backs as they did before.  A number of months ago I posted an article about that. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
16  Ed-NavDoc    11 months ago

Probably because the US is a member state of WHO and heavily involved in it's activities.

 
 

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