• On OSINT, risk factors and competing origin hypotheses

    When you are in a hole, @stuartjdneil, don't keep digging:

    DRASTIC was looking at both dates (8 and 16th Dec), reflecting the difficulty of analysis.

    Even before Worobey published his piece, which reused sources investigated by DRASTIC, I had put the two dates on the DRASTIC map I share, with the 16 first and the still official (8 Dec) behind, as 16(8?) Dec:

    So again, you are proven totally wrong.

    To be clear:

    - @MichaelWorobey reused sources already investigated by DRASTIC.
    - DRASTIC members had already mentioned the difficulty with the official date, and the 16 was clearly already shown on the map.
    - Worobey got the dental records very wrong

    Still @MichaelWorobey - to his credit - did not actually state that the onset date of Chen was definitely the 16th Dec.

    He left it open, with a lot of 'ifs' and still mentioning that Mr Chen suspected that he may have gotten sick during his hospital visit on the 8th.

    Also @MichaelWorobey introduced a problematic statement about a 'travel North of Huanan market shortly before his symptoms began'.

    This sentence insinuates that he could have been infected there by getting through or close to the market.

    This is wrong and should be corrected.

    He actually went to a very common attraction in the mountains 90 km by road north of Wuhan - absolutely nothing to do with the market.

    All reference to the market in that context is misleading.

  • Nuclear heads risk management - The Walske criteria

    March 2020:

    June 2021:


    November 21:

    The questions asked are not the same, the methodologies are different, so one has to be somewhat careful when comparing the numbers.
    Still there seems to be a trend.

    Also the 76% asking for reparations is not helpful.
    That is a non-starter.

    Better learn from our collective mistakes and plug the biosafety and research gaps to make us all safer.

    Plenty to do there starting with better oversight of laboratories, at home and abroad.

  • Le Duc emails

    Read these emails. It’s amazing.

    So much for the paper-thin fake consensus published in Lancet and Nature at about the same time.

    When we raised exactly the same questions we were called conspiracy theorists.
    Time to come clean.

    Le Duc:
    “If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them and get them corrected. I trust that you will take my suggestions in the spirit of one friend trying to help another during a very difficult time.”

    That looks exactly like the questions that DRASTIC and the Paris Group have been asking for ages.

    Except that we are rabid conspiracy theorists, right?

    Check the emails here:


    Then you have that damning exchange between Russell and Le Duc:

    Just what I, rabid trumpist conspiracy theorist, kept pointing to also:

    You made your own bed. Don’t complain if you have to sleep in it.

    Treating the American public like idiots has a price.

    By the way I have recently quoted a weird paper by Le Duc and Franz, with a rather conflicted conclusion:
    See journals.asm.org/doi/10.1128/mB…

    Le Duc has been rather quiet publicly, just about hinting at some possible lab issues:

  • Sampling in Laos and the WIV

    I really like that quote from EcoHealth Alliance:

    “Any samples or results from Laos are based on WIV’s work, funded through other mechanisms,” says a [EchoHealth Alliance] spokesman.‘

    Because - guess what - that's exactly what Alexei and Daszak were telling the NIH would happen:
    "Samples will be collected by either our current China field team personnel working directly with our collaborators in these countries or by respective in-country personnel"

    And they will be no extra expense under the grant, since it will be done by collaborating partners and existing co-investigators:

    "All efforts expended in the countries will be from collaborating partners and not funded under our award".

    It's pasted all over their accepted request to go and sample bats in markets and in the wild (free-ranging), in Laos. Myanmar, etc.

    With the effort undertaken by 'collaborating partners' and 'Co-invistigators' with their own funding.

    All testing done at the WIV too, so that
    "There are no planned in-country costs associated with these foreign sites."

    Makes it easier to re-scope the grant half way through without having to discuss money.

    And the Chinese field-team (WIV + East China Normal University) already has great contact in these countries:

    So if the WIV ever sampled there as part of the R01Al110964 grant that has nothing to do with EcoHealth Alliance. Somehow.

  • November Cases

    Going back to the existence of Nov cases that have since then been 'cancelled' by China, please remember the US intel Nov 19 warning.

    Also remember the nine Nov confirmed cases from the SCMP (based on official Chinese sources).

    My Silent Numbers give you all the sources (inc. the SCMP without firewall).
    I also graphed the SCMP numbers (SCMP tab at top)


    @jbloom_lab @MichaelWorobey

    One of the best papers I read about dating the index case is actually co-authored by Worobey himself.

    That's Pekar et al with its mid-Oct to mid-Nov estimate - which we referred to extensively in our 'October Surprise'.
    Pekar et al: science.org/doi/10.1126/sc…

    In the 'October Surprise' you can also read my analysis of the game played by China - walking the epidemiological trail AWAY from the earliest known cases.


    Also, do you really think that China would have suppressed the Nov cases and the early Dec ones if they pointed to the market?

    Please take a second to think about it.

    So one can believe in fairies and a December 'patient zero'.

    Or one can look at the epidemiological and genomic evidence, plus the data leaks and various ham-fisted 'cancels', which point us to cases in Wuhan in Nov 19.

    Nov 19 cases that could be detected from space and via com intercept, as the NCMI did.

    And it showed a reliable enough picture for the US to alert Nato and Israel at the end of that very month.


    @thedeadhandbook @ianbirrell @thackerpd @KatherineEban

    In the end we have two likely 'ground zeros'.

    One in particular is centered on the WIV, the Wuhan Uni ABSL-3 (worked with the WIV) and the PLA hospital of central military command (which shows up in relation to early cases, inc. Nov ones from US intel)

    I'll leave the fairies to the MSM, and the December data illusion to the 'Perspectives' section of Science mag.

  • A big twist in his knickers

    Anybody who has been following DRASTIC on this will know that we always highlighted the fact that the database had a private section.

    For some reason @stuartjdneil discovers this close to a year later and gets a big twist in his knickers.

    Our first work on the database was the analysis we published in Feb 21 (with more than 37,000 reads now).

    It's there as the 3rd finding:

    We also explained carefully what that meant:

    We even digressed into the legal issue of access to the confidential data, in the immediately following finding (Finding #4)

    I have been on TV, podcast and in articles clearly stating that the DB had a private section.

    For instance the Washington Post on 5th Feb 21:

    Or the Sun on 19 Mar 21:

    Or in my interview with Dana Lewis:

    Whatever the audience, we made sure that the message was clear about the password protected section.

    For some reason Stuart lives in a world of his own and does not check the sources.

    Not surprising. I have seen a lot of desperate pearl-clutching from that quarter recently.

  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence Assessment

    Let's get a few things clear about this declassified ODNI assessment (ODNI: Office of the Director of National Intelligence) :

    First as is written on page 2:
    "This assessment is based on information through August 2021."

    In other words it does NOT include any information that has come up since the summary assessment of 26th Aug 21.

    In particular it does not include the DEFUSE revelations (especially about the FCS).

    Or the latest revelations that show that GoF on BatCoVs was indeed happening within the WIV.

    It is based on data frozen in time - nothing new since the summary report: dni.gov/index.php/news…

    In a way it is rather misleading to publish such a declassified assessment without including the latest information available.

    What I would instead expect is an updated assessment.

    There is at least one factual error, which is a bit surprising:

    RaTG13 is not RaTG16 - in other words it was collected in 2013 not 2016.
    (h/t @TheEngineer2)

    There is also a rather surprising logical error - which has no place in an intel report (@dasher8090).

    The reports uses naive probabilities instead of properly conditioned ones:

    - 99% or so of hunters/farmers/merchants infections will NOT result in a first breakout in Wuhan

    Wuhan is just one of 100+ cities in China with more than 1mln inhabitants, wet markets and transport links.

    - but close to 100% of Wuhan laboratory workers infections during a field sampling trip WILL result in a first breakout in Wuhan.

    Hence if you observe a first breakout in Wuhan, the relative probability of it being the result of a field sampling infection is orders of magnitude more than if you observed a first breakout in an average village or city from which nobody goes sampling BatCoVs for a lab.

    The error is repeated in the next paragraph, which again ignores that the first breakout was very clearly in Wuhan.

    Additionally the logic there ignores the equivalent chance of asymptomatic field sampler or lab worker.

    It's rather sloppy intel work, or a badly worded doc.

    All the more surprising that the asymptomatic researcher point is correctly made later in the report:

    Last, one of the statements may unfortunately lead to people mixing up a distance argument with the location argument.

    The point below is only about complicating the search for a zoonotic spillover. It does not affect at all the validity of the Wuhan location argument.

    The Wuhan location argument is not a distance argument. It is a location of first breakout argument - basically an exclusivity argument.

    One intel agency got it right and correctly concluded that a research-related accident was more probable than a zoonosis:

    Not only that but they also noted the key point that:
    "WIV researchers who conducted sampling activity throughout China provided a node for the virus to enter the city."

    This is exactly what I highlighted many times before.

    A bit of logic and analysis work is all you need - but I am surprised to see that many of the intel agencies did not pick it up.


    Overall my impression is that some intel agencies did a bit of a superficial work not thinking this through in probabilistic ways.

    Also the form of the document makes it a bit disjointed - it's a summary of positions, not an intel briefing that would formulate a cohesive view.

  • Gottlieb: 'Lab leaks happen all the time'

    Gottlieb: 'Lab leaks happen all the time'

    “These kinds of lab leaks happen all the time, actually. [-]And in China, the last six known outbreaks of SARS-1 have been out of labs, including the last known outbreak, which was a pretty extensive outbreak that China initially wouldn't disclose that it came out of lab,”

    The overall idea is perfectly right and important.

    To be very precise:
    Not really 'outbreaks' but LAIs (Lab Acquired Infections) except for the Beijing-Anhui outbreak that indeed spread to the community.

    Outbreak -> transmission into the community.

    There were 6 primary cases, meaning 6 cases of initial infections in labs.

    Primary case -> not from someone

    3 labs were involved (SGP, TWN, CHN), over 4 incidents (by which one means related infections happening at the same time in the same place), and 6 primary cases.

    For the Beijing lab (the very top P3 in China at the time - the CDC 'Institute of Virology'):

    1st incident in February 04 which was indeed covered up to save face.
    We know about it thanks to Caixin: 2 primary cases, names unknown, very little details.

    We cannot even tell if the cases were detected and handled accordingly at the time. Zero transparency on these.

    So they were either covered-up at the time, or undetected.

    Antibody tests done during the investigation of the April cases eventually brought them back to attention.

    2nd incident in April: 2 more primary cases, 9 infections in all (with a chain of 8 on one primary case), 1,000+ people in isolation.

    This is the only incident mentioned in the very limited extracts of the Chinese report that were made available.

    Note that the WHO effectively gave up and eventually left the investigation and (partial) reporting to the Chinese.

    China won and learnt that it could ignore the WHO and grind it down. A taste of things to come.

    @ScottGottliebMD #DRASTIC

  • Reassessing Biosafety risk factors

    An interesting assessment of current trends in biosafety, being presented at the WHA:

    WHA Provisional agenda item 20. 28 April 2021
    A74/18 'Enhancement of laboratory biosafety'

    Under 'The way forward' section at the end:

    This is all too correct.

    The technologies mentioned are NGS, which made sequencing faster, easier and so much cheaper but may also mean GoFs, in silico modelling, genome editing, 'de silico' creation, etc. i.e.: the biotechnology revolution toolkit.


    And yes it is an issue that we are still using some dated risk evaluation when we are rushing ahead with all these new tools, deployed in so many new labs.

    There is not even a reliable count of P3s and P4s.

    The globalbiolabs.org/map is first step for P4s.

    For P3s it is a jungle. In China but also in other countries to be fair.

    For instance @RdeMaistre and I did a detailed count of Chinese P3s in China and ended up way above all the official numbers.
    And every month that goes by more are coming in service.

    From the Chinese point of view they are just trying to catch with the US, and the faster the better.

    Sometimes there is no proper overall plan, infrastructure design, qualified resources, or simply maintenance budget.

    The Chinese P3s should thus be a big concern - money and human resources go to the P4s and some key P3s - but they are P3s that have to do with little - especially when built ahead without much consideration.

    Annex D6 of the China-WHO report has a good example of that:

    Which is in line with what Yuan Zhiming (manager of the WIV P4) was saying back in October 2019 about P2s and P3s in China:

    @threadreaderapp compile

  • Another important editorial by the Washington Post


    For more details of that little-known Feb 20 paper by Chinese scientists that calculated a likely start in November or even earlier, see:

    Last, for a review of the various counts, official and through leaks - including the CDC papers seen by the SCMP, see the Silent Numbers (I keep updating this).

    Notice that there are multiple tabs.
    - The SCMP tab is SCMP_Mar20.
    - Check the CDC tabs too.

    Also here is a thread that takes in the China-WHO report and some of the issues with the CDC data, especially around jump on the 1st Jan 20.


    The 1st Jan is the day the WHO decided to activate Article 10 of the International Health Regulations which started an incident management process.

    A formal request for information under Article 10 had to be sent on the 3rd Jan.

    See the timeline:

    @threadreaderapp compile

  • The story of the Sverdlovsk anthrax lab accident is fascinating.

    The story of the Sverdlovsk anthrax lab accident is well worth exploring for the incredible parallels.

    Without prejudice to the actual origins of SARS-CoV-2, the attitudes of the media and of the governments are very similar.


    You get the same 'It happens all the time in nature' line, which implicitly makes an idiot of anybody who dares doubt the official version.

    Nice way to close the debate without having to show any evidence.

    You get Nature journal jumping in and questioning the US government determination to doubt the Soviet stories.

    You get the same dismissal of circumstantial evidences (fodder for conspiracy theorists) - while the US government and the CIA were rather puzzled by them.

    You get the same cover up, unavailability of samples, silencing of doctors and families, and eminent experts being rolled out to make presentations with slides and all which clearly explain that it was just a natural gastric anthrax occurrence.

    You get the denial of courageous journalists poking for the truth and connecting the dots:

    You get Milton Leitenberg (member of the Paris Group and signatory of our three letters to the WHO) raising serious questions:

    And in the end you get the truth - 13 years later:

    The National Security Archives are well worth checking for this - with many declassified documents:


    By the way, if you think that anything changed after that accident, think again:

  • A nostalgic review of some great Chinese papers

    There was a time before the GGOs (Great Gag Orders) when Chinese scientists were publishing some very useful research

    #1 on my list - 20th Feb 20:

    'Analysis of the variation and evolution of SARS-CoV-2'
    Points to a mean emergence date around 8th Nov 2019

    Main conclusion 95% C.I. for emergence of SARS-CoV-2 is: [Sep 23, 2019 - Dec 15, 2019].

    Average tMRCA time of 73 days, which gives an emergence around the 8th Nov 2019.

    Research from BSL-3 Laboratory, School of Public Health, Southern Medical University Guangzhou

    Also reported by Caixin, which did some good work too before the GGOs.


    #2 on my list - published on a preprint site 21st Feb 2020, the day before the small WHO team was in Wuhan.

    They point to a November emergence, dump the wet market story without much ceremony, complain about limited sequences, and try to figure out RaTG13

    A remarkable paper indeed. It feels like we have been walking backward since then.

    It was written by some of the most unlikely scientists:

    Somehow two of these scientists are from the Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden in Yunnan, which was on the 2012 WIV/EcoHealth sampling trip which intersected with the miners getting infected while shovelling bat guano not that far away

    You can't make that up

    Then the GGOs (Great Gag Orders) were issued and the party suddenly stopped.

    First there was the CDC gag order, issued in the 25th Feb 20 on the exact day the WHO mission left China. Bye Bye!

    Here it is: documentcloud.org/documents/7340…

    Then there was the Confidential State Council gag order one week later on the 3rd March.

    It also recommends organising publications with the propaganda dep, like a game of chess. documentcloud.org/documents/7340…

    One does not mess up with the State Council - breaking its laws can be qualified as treason.

    And for good measure it was followed by clear threat.

    I look with nostalgia at this few days in February 2020, when at least two remarkable papers were published while the WHO team was in China.

    Then the very day the WHO team left China that was the end of it.

    It's quite amazing to imagine that the same CDC people who were interfacing with the WHO at the time must have been busy writing/reviewing that gag order.

    They are clearly good at multi-tasking.

    Anyway forget. It's time for more pangolin papers.

    @threadreaderapp compile

  • Back to the future: when party officials were telling the truth about the initial delays

    It's worth remembering what Ma Guoqiang, the municipal Communist Party secretary for Wuhan told on CCTV back in Jan 20:

    In particular Ma said the restrictions should have been brought in at least 10 days earlier and expressed regret/guilt for the delays.

    Today, after the party totally changed the narrative, it all sound very odd. But yes, that is what the party itself was saying at the time:

    He also confirmed at the time that 5 million residents had left Wuhan before it went into lockdown. This includes people who travelled for the lunar new year festival, as well as those who fled to escape the virus and impending shutdown.


    And Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, confirmed that in his own interview with CCTV:

    Here is the mayor's interview back in late Jan 20:

    When it comes to understanding what really happened before the first Thai case was reported (which forced China into action), we will have to wipe out the official narrative that China has imposed since then.


    Such as that 'reality check' from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

    'China took the most stringent measures within the shortest possible time, which has largely kept the virus within Wuhan. Statistics show that very few cases were exported from China'
    See bit.ly/3eCuN3l
  • The well-respected Xu Dezhong and his funny conspiracy theories about SARS1 and H7N9 (avian flu)

    No official backing?

    Look a bit better, it's not difficult.

    He enjoys a special State Council allowance (usually reserved for academicians) and was an outstanding party member of the General Staff (PLA command headquarters).

    And his book was published by nothing else than the official Military Medical Press.

    He is very well perceived at the highest levels:

    But that is not the end of it.

    He was back at it with longdom.org/open-access/un… 'Unique Epidemiological Patterns and Origin of the Outbreak of Human Infection with H7N9 AIV in China from 2013 to 2015', where he hinted at an unatural introduction of H7N9 avian flu in China:

    All dressed-up in party mumbo-jumbo about the "Chinese Theory of Infectious Disease Epidemiology”:

    Such a nice professor who has supervised 100+ students at the 4th Military University where his theories seem to be very popular.

    But yes, this is not new.
    I and my co-author (@RdeMaistre) actually mentioned his book as a perfect example of Chinese conspiracy theories in a probabilistic paper on SARS-CoV-2 back in August 20:

    Reference #6 of:

  • A bit of history: the Sverdlovsk Anthrax outbreak

    A bit of history: the Sverdlovsk Anthrax outbreak.

    In 1979 there was an outbreak of anthrax disease in Sverdlovsk, USSR. 100+ people died.

    The Russians explained that these deaths were due to eating meat (possibly game meat) processed by black-market butchers.

    Actually the anthrax bacillus had been endemic to that region for centuries.

    There were at least 200 previous known cases of animal infections in the region, nothing special

    The soviet had done comprehensive studies - even going as far as inoculating 2 mln high risk workers.

    Anthrax is actually very common in the former USSR. It's a well known and documented danger in nature and can be lethal when eating infected game meat

    The soviets were doing a top job vaccinating livestocks against the bacillus. They were the best at it.

    But still some conspiracy theorists in the US immediately started saying that the anthrax must have come from a secret lab (in breach of the 1975 BW convention).

    Their baloney conspiracy theories were relayed by the usual rag-tag soviet emigres in the US with an axe to grind.

    In 1988, 9 years later, some distinguished soviet officials went to the US and visited the National Academy of Sciences to expose the simple truth of the natural origins, at the invitation of respected US scientists (inc. from Harvard).

    They gave three-hour talk at the National Academy of Sciences, presenting facts and figures and even slides of gut tissue from autopsies.

    It was a very usual case of intestinal anthrax outbreak - exactly what happens when contaminated meat is eaten.

    Pseudo-scientists will always put 2 and 2 together to get 5.

    They look at slim circumstantial evidence and the proximity of know military facilities to reach their fancy conclusions.

    There was no need for a secret lab - nature does it all the time.

    Except that it was respiratory anthrax released from a soviet lab, in breach of the 1975 bio-weapon convention...

    The party had instructed the destruction of all samples and organized a cover up.

    It took until 1992 and the analysis of samples that were not destroyed (against orders) to prove that it was respiratory anthrax, not intestinal anthrax, that killed 100+ people.


    Nature does it all the time, yes.
    But nothing beats humans when it comes to screwing up and lying about it.

    - Expert opinion without data is nothing.
    - Circumstantial evidence cannot be simply ignored.
    - Proximity to labs matters a lot
    - Raw data is best.

  • The most likely zoonosis in the wild is a sampling accident

    Here is a nice visual way to summarise the various hypotheses:

    Source: peer-reviewed #DRASTIC paper www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7993900

    • a Direct infection from bats to humans either natural or due to virus sampling.
    • b Infection of humans via an intermediate host such as pangolins or other mammals.
    • c Sampling from wild bats followed by some laboratory steps such as RNA extraction and sequencing, virus isolation or synthesis from a given sequence, growth in cell culture and infection assays, genetic engineering, passage in humanized mice or other animal models.

    Both a/ and b/ cover a possible lab-related accident.
    a/ Allows for infection of a sampling staff in the wild, or infection of a lab worker when handling a sample in a lab.

    Actually the vast majority of direct trips from the bat colonies to Wuhan are done by sampling staff!

    They are not done by coffee/banana farmers in Mojiang going for a quick trip to Wuhan. Sorry. They are instead done by samplers going to these sites and coming back to Wuhan.

    So if you believe in the possibility of a zoonosis in the wild, you MUST consider a possible sampling accident.

    And given that there is a demonstrated lack of PPE protection during these trips, it means that a sampling related accident should be #1 on the list of anybody considering zoonosis in the wild.

    That so many scientists fail to acknowledge that is amazing.
    See Shi Zhengly's presentation

    @threadreaderapp compile

  • What is Pakistan up to? Why is Nature so fawning?

    This is very important (H/T @Byron_Wan):

    "However, China, Russia, Syria and Pakistan specifically ask to delete a reference that would include the WHO’s coronavirus origins study in this report".

    Why does Pakistan pop up?

    Pakistan is in full collaboration with China under the Belt & Road Initiative.
    See for instance the Nature series of article, written by Ehsan Masood, 'Editor of Editorials' (!) at Nature, in particular #2 in the series:

    This collaboration includes civilian research with the WIV.

    With in particular Ali Zohaib having been trained by Shi Zhengli:

    For some of the research with the WIV or Huazhong Agricultural University (Wuhan), see:

    So far so good. All civilian research by the look of it, even if some of it may have dual purpose value.

    The precedents are not very good, so one may be justified in keeping a close eye on these developments, especially given the geopolitical situation

    On that subject the French services had some concerns:

    Ali Zohaib has just been appointed Topic Editor for a specific topic in Frontier in Microbiology-Virology, a post he shares with 3 Chinese researchers of the WIV.

    That was just 24 hours ago:


  • Military-civilian cooperative emergency response to infectious disease prevention and control in China

    Here is an interesting article worth discussing.
    This was published in 2016 in the journal of Military Medical Research, a Springer Nature journal which is edited by the PLA.

    [Nature and its pangolins papers, the PLA... Yes, I know!]

    The paper is about the positive role the PLA is playing in infectious disease prevention and control.

    The 2nd sentence of the paper gives you the theme, praising the contribution of the PLA to the prevention of SARS.

    Maybe they have in mind keeping secret military files that made it impossible for the WHO to control and monitor the spread of SARS in Beijing in 2004.

    Or maybe they have in mind the fact that patients were hidden in PLA hospitals, who them moved them out temporarily when the WHO was eventually allowed to visit these hospitals.
    Transparency in the local fashion.

    But anyway, clearly the Editor (the PLA) had no problem peer-reviewing this paper written by 4 PLA members, and published in the prestigious and highly professional Nature.

    So we are good with that and let's move on to some interesting insights.

    One of the reasons for the PLA involvement in outbreaks control is to 'maintain social stability'.

    It's also a rehash of Xi Jinping's move for a tighter civil-military integration in all parts of society.
    Nice to see that they did not forget to mention him.

    Some recommendation:
    'the military immediately initiates the emergency research mechanism, [--] and deploys emergency research tasks to scientific research institutions'

    We saw that with Major Chen Wei

    Another recommendation: Informatization of military-civilian collaborative management means

    We saw that with the 'public' early-cases database (managed by Pr Chuanhua) effectively being a front that was 'sanitised' while the military had its own private database of early cases.

    The real database was managed by the National University of Defense Science and Technology, and informed some key modelling based on the actual movements of early cases.

    Powerful modelling was available to the Chinese government based on the real data.


    Last, the military must play a key role in identifying the index case and in the early 'disposal of local epidemic outbreaks'.
    'Successful past experiences that resulted in preferable public effects can be attributed to the army'.

    I wonder what preferable public effects means.

  • More labs in China: a recipe for disaster given the weak institutional framework

    What could go wrong?

    'The ministry has examined and approved the construction of three biosafety level-4 labs [on top of already 3], or P4 labs, and 88 biosafety level-3 labs, or P3 labs, in China'

    Well, first and foremost, Chinese experts have been very concerned about the lack of qualified biosafety personnel, adequate budgets, and proper regulation for years.


    Yes you read it correctly:

    […] several high-level BSLs have insufficient operational funds for routine yet vital processes. Due to the limited resources, some BSL-3 laboratories run on extremely minimal operational costs or in some cases none at all.

    It's a typical case of scientists and experts forced to pick up the pieces of a decision coming from Beijing.

    Never mind they are not ready and that the institutional factors are wrong.
    What Beijing wants, Beijing must have.

    The key institutional factors are:
    1- Administrations Transparency
    2- Gov. willingness to learn from mistakes
    3- Free press that can contribute to transparency

    In China all these 3 are now totally missing.
    At least during the 2004 Beijing SARS leaks we still had #3. All gone.

    So instead we are getting a Wuhan Show - a remake of the Truman show.

    That's not the right conditions in which to build more labs,
    ...while Chinese experts keep decrying the fact that China is not ready to build and manage so many labs:

    And by the way, for a proper count of BSL3 labs in China, you need to use #DRASTIC work. Because no one else will give you the right number.

    We counted 112 labs over 62 complexes. Most likely there are about 120 BSL-3 today (plus 3 BSL-4).

    And #DRASTIC can also show you multiple examples of bad practices and errors in Chinese labs:

    Last, I must add that I am fed up with the lying habits of some of the people involved with these labs.

    Shi Zhengli, Yuan Zhiming and the WHO joint study team told us that nobody tested positive at the WIV.

    Fat chance: 1/10th of a billionth of it being true.

    Yes: 0.0000000001 chance of it being true.
    You can check it, it's fairly easy maths: pihabeach.micro.blog/2021/04/08/chinafocus-sorry-chinafocus.html

    Will someone eventually call these white lies before it is too late?

  • A few observations on DRASTIC

    Nice words from @Ayjchan .

    One aspect that is missed here is that many of these improvised analysts (i do not like the word sleuths) are actually very qualified in their fields and have top academic backgrounds.
    That's why they succeeded. Make no mistake.

    What will eventually dawn on people is how masterful the setup of DRASTIC was.
    It's an informal organisation that is very open, very resilient and flexible by design.
    It allows for a mix of styles, from the rebellious taunt to the peer reviewed article.

    DRASTIC people worked the coal mine, jumped into the mudbath.
    But they were also able to interface with top media (Washington Post, WSJ, Spectator, Le Monde, etc) without forgetting the more mainstream ones (TVs, Daily Mail, Sun, etc).

    Then they were able to raise their game and work with other groups such as the Paris Group, then start framing this into a constructive engagement once the guerrilla warfare was settled.

    This does not happen by chance. It happens because the design and thoughts are there.

    IMHO Billy (and others) did a stellar job.

    It's a masterpiece of 'grassroot intelligence', which covers collection, interpretation and last communication (at different levels).
    And that's why I don't like 'internet sleuth' because that gets stuck at the collection level.

    @threadreaderapp compile

  • SCMP article: the best parts

    The SCMP makes for some very interesting reading this morning.

    I cannot fail to recall that Beijing is forcing Jack Ma to sell the SCMP and more of his media assets. bloomberg.com/news/articles/…

    These are the best pieces:

    If you are interested in the full - uncensored - story of the Beijing SARS lab-leaks, with a discussion of the institutional factors when comparing the Singapore, Taiwan and Beijing answers to their leaks, please see: https://gillesdemaneuf.medium.com/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-a-review-of-sars-lab-escapes-898d203d175d

    If you are interested in an evaluation of the Lab Escape risk by the Chinese authorities before the pandemic, please see: https://gillesdemaneuf.medium.com/evaluation-of-the-lab-escape-risks-by-the-chinese-authorities-33450c4a4ea6


  • SCMP article on lab risks and transparency issues in China

    A courageous article by @ParkSuAm1996 in the HK South China Morning Post.

    Well done Eduardo and the SCMP, the questions of transparency and willingness to oppenly learn from mistakes are essential. archive.is/ECbSC

    It is also very nice to see Tony Della Porta, one of the foremost experts on lab safety, stepping in.

    His work on the 2003 Singapore and Taiwan SARS lab leaks set the standard.
    Unfortunately he was not selected for the bad Beijing SARS leak in 2004. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346413716_A_review_of_SARS_Lab_Escapes_in_2003-2004

    We cannot keep going back to the same transparency failures.
    This is really starting to feel like a Truman Show.

    So we need to escape that silly staged world which is totally uncompatible with a country running many (and building many more) labs.

    What has really changed since SARS1?

    It's basically the same immediate obstruction of the truth.
    Except that today the Chinese media are much more muzzled, and that China is much better at 'guiding' the narrative.

    It's actually worse in many ways. https://pihabeach.micro.blog/2021/04/02/anybody-who-really.html

    • Whatever the exact origin, how do we move forward?
    • How do we face the contradictions and dead hopes that SARS-CoV-2 has exposed?
    • How do we avoid SARS-3 when labs are so badly regulated, with not even a global database of labs?

    Please support our call:

    @threadreaderapp compile

subscribe via RSS