SA, I’m surprised, but now I must take the same line with you as with Node; politics must not sway scientific considerations.
Various early genetic indications suggested that NCoV-2019 (as SARS-CoV-2 was then called) had arisen in a lab. Its entry spike had no close match in nature, and the closest found at that time (a 70% match) was with a patent for a lab virus that had been genetically engineered for the attempted development of a vaccine against SARS. That vaccine had been abandoned because it sensitised the test animals (ferrets) such that on exposure to real SARS, they suffered cytokine storm. Interestingly, covid-19 now seems to be displaying a similar trait.
SA, my argument is that there shouldn’t be any biolabs in cities at all. Trying to use the lab-escape argument to blame China is propaganda; governments all over the world permit biolabs in city centres. On the other hand, in China the authorities did shut down a discussion forum between the first doctors to notice that they were dealing with a new disease. So the Chinese government suppressed information, the UK government pretended everything was fine, and President Trump outright bullshitted – all three typify government corruption of information. Only a handful of governments have come out of this with a decent record. We the people must unite and demand better of our governments, but maybe, hopefully, SARS-CoV-2 will teach that lesson in time to avert massive climate catastrophe.
The general message is that technology is now so powerful that unregulated capitalism presents risks so great that they cannot be insured against. This first arose with nuclear power; only nation states will underwrite the risk of power reactors, and it is this more than anything else that has slowed the expansion of nuclear power. So I argue that the lab-escape theory must not be swept under the carpet.