- This topic has 1,202 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 3 months, 4 weeks ago by Dave.
May 21, 2020 at 10:46 #53977Clark
Michael, what are you actually advocating? Removing all restrictions would guarantee protracted agony for around a million people in the UK, mostly pensioners. Are you saying you think that’s a high price, but worth it?
Unrestricted, covid-19 would rapidly infect almost the entire working population. It is impossible to isolate the care homes from all workers.
A public health crisis needs public health solutions. Economic problems need economic solutions. Politics is meant to coordinate the two, but it refuses to alter the latter so it fucks up the former.May 21, 2020 at 11:48 #53981michael norton
Yesterday whilst out cycling I met a chap I slightly know who works at a main Waitrose Depot, there are over two thousand people working there in shifts and as drivers and office staff, he said as far as is common knowledge, not one employee has had covid-19 and they have worked all the way through, including eating together in the canteen.
No, not advocating all restrictions should go but am suggesting we have devastated our economy for little good.May 21, 2020 at 12:39 #53984Clark
Michael, the care home holocaust is a direct result of government policy:
Practically, these pieces of policy are merely details, because the vulnerable need care, but if covid-19 is permitted to run riot the carers will be carriers.May 21, 2020 at 17:34 #53995SA
There seems to be a mistaken school of thought that just carrying on as normal will not affect the economy. With no lockdown soon places will have to close anyway because of staff sickness. It is not just the deaths it is the fact that 20% at least if those infected will be ill enough to be admitted to hospital and many more will stay at home with less serious illness.May 21, 2020 at 18:42 #53998michael norton
Twelve countries now each have had more covid-19 victims each more than China, the world’s most populous nation.May 21, 2020 at 19:06 #53999Clark
Michael, that’s not that unlikely. According to the ICL model, on the day the stay-at-home order as imposed, March 23, new infections had risen to about 280,000 per day. Only six days earlier it had been 100,000 per day. The stay-at-home order immediately reduced it to about 80,000 per day, and it has now (or had) fallen to below 10,000 per day.
Those are figures for the whole UK, but most of the actual infections were concentrated in London and a few other major cities:
Remember that people get better (or die) and become non-infectious. When R is less than 1, by definition it means that people are becoming non-infectious faster than other people are becoming infectious. So lets say each infected person is infectious for six days. At 10,000 infections per day there are only 60,000 infectious people in the UK, and if R is less than 1 that number is reducing all the time. So it isn’t that hard to find 2000 people together and no one has had it, especially away from hot spots.
This also shows how easy it could be to snuff out if only the government had half a brain. Infection numbers went up fast because R was about 4, so if we can get R down to 1 / 4 = 0.25, infection numbers will go down as fast as they went up, plus just the few days that a person remains infected.
The government needs to explain what we need to do, and why we’re doing it. They have to say “see this number, we have to reduce it to zero, and the harder we all work on this the sooner we go back to normal”.
You’re right that the first stay-at-home order was wasted. When you try to eradicate pests, you have to eradicate all of them or you were wasting your time; they just breed back. The solution isn’t just to put up with them.May 21, 2020 at 19:13 #54001Clark
Bloody government is making me furious, because they’re giving up without a fight. They threw a few punches, and they were winning, for God’s sake, and then they said “no the British people are bored with this, let’s give up”. Winston Churchill must be turning in his grave!May 21, 2020 at 19:20 #54002Clark
I suppose they took the care home deaths as failure. No. Half a million is failure. Johnson tells the British people to take it on the chin; bloody Boris should take it on the chin. He should have said “yes, I apologise deeply, the care home deaths were our fault, my fault, for a bad plan and starting restrictions too late. But we’re getting there, the death rate is falling fast and now we need to tighten the screws as tight as they go and together we’ll beat this. Our target is zero.”May 21, 2020 at 19:46 #54003Clark
SA, they’ll impose stay-at-home again before 20% of staff are off sick. If they’ve reserved 100,000 mortuary spaces they’re presumably planning to let it run through a fifth of the population before they reapply the brakes. Damn risky game if you ask me. And five shutdowns of the economy when we could do it with just two; the March to May false start, and one proper one.
I guess they want to reopen Eurotunnel and air passenger transport to business for the City, so they’ve assumed that zero infections is an unrealistic target. Maybe the rest of the country should seal off the City and its damn airport, like a white blood cell 😀
Damn hypocrites. They gained power by banging on about how they’d control the borders, but they were never going to secure the City against incoming viruses in Business Class.May 21, 2020 at 20:01 #54004Clark
Excellently researched article from The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (who keep the Doomsday Clock):May 22, 2020 at 02:58 #54012N_
Report from a Tesco branch in Scotland…
Today when serving me at one of the checkouts a staff member looked out of the window into the car park and said something about “[***], Man and a Van”. I asked what she was talking about, and she said that she had seen those words written on the side of a van, with [***] being the name of another Scottish town about 200 miles away.
“I don’t know what HE’s doing here,” she said, referring to the driver, before speculating as to what main road he may have driven a long distance along to reach where he now was. She then said “It’s AMAZING what you notice if you keep an eye out for people who aren’t supposed to be here”.
Those were her exact words: “people who aren’t supposed to be here.”
Put this against the currently promoted “issue” regarding whether or not to shake money out of the pockets of NHS workers who happen to be foreign citizens in return for “allowing” them treatment for illnesses they have – an “issue” which has been reported using dogwhistle words such as “migrant” and “overseas” before the more accurate word “foreigner” took their place. So much for saying “thank you, oh thank you, thank you so much” to “NHS workers”! Clearly the “gratefulness” applies only to some “NHS workers” and not others, given that generally it is not considered an act of gratefulness to allow a person who has helped you to die on the street unless they hand over some money. I have said before that what the excrement about “Thanks, NHS” really means is “Hail the government, hail the state, hail the Nation, and hail all experts and those who are in positions of hierarchical and professional authority” and that for that reason it is utterly contemptible. It is fascist. Those who don’t realise the purpose of communal clapping understand little about conditioning. Ask any trained salesman about the “yes ladder” or “lowballing”.
Now we see quite clearly that nurses and hospital cleaners and other health workers who happen to be from foreign countries are excluded from the supposedly automatic respect that the far-right Tory government supported by the so-called “opposition” tells us that “NHS” “workers” so richly deserve…Britain this, national that, Britons the other…but wait…should “migrants” and “overseas” types get HEALTH TREATMENT for FREEEEE? Should “we” give it to them? Are people getting the message here?
This woman working in Tesco’s certainly seems to have got some kind of message, some kind of OK for expressing not only her cretinous fear of those who aren’t “from here” but also her now constant vigilance against
black people walking down the streetsuch outsiders.
How so many people have become so corona-batsh*t needs to be mass-sussed within a very short space of time or else what is happening, which is essentially FASCISM and WAR, will shoot up a curve that is far more likely to lead to mass flatLINING than “flattening”.May 22, 2020 at 03:05 #54013N_
For what it’s worth, I’ve been noticing an unusual amount of coughing by ewes, which can be a symptom of ovine pneumonia.May 22, 2020 at 07:04 #54016Dave
A fear of the other is a natural response to a fear of a contagion, everywhere, and shows why the deep state PLAN-demic is proving so effective to intimidate the government and public with fear.
The only people not sharing the fear are those who think the whole things been hyped to serve non-medical purposes.
Hence why ironically, despite his distractors, Trump is acting against fear (and all the threats fear poses to governance and civil liberties) by saying “Keep America Open”!May 22, 2020 at 08:55 #54021Clark
N_, this man with a van was black, was he?
Or were you ranting about nothing, and the shop assistant was just complaining that someone was breaking the travel restrictions during a pandemic?
Go ahead, just ignore me…May 22, 2020 at 09:05 #54022Clark
Dave, do you realise that you can basically just walk into universities and talk to people? They’ll be glad to talk to you and explain what they’re researching about. It’s not like the MI6, you know. OK, these days they have a bloke on the gate, but an appointment with any member of staff will get you in. Try it. Mind, I do suggest you pick a subject you’re genuinely interested in and find someone to talk about that. If your approach is like it’s all a big conspiracy and you act all cloak-and-dagger you probably won’t get an appointment.May 22, 2020 at 18:00 #54076michael norton
Not now you can’t Clark don’t you know there is a PANDEMIC going on.May 24, 2020 at 09:07 #54127michael norton
The French have suspended letting us know how many have died from covid-19
https://www.france24.com/en/20200522-covid-19-france-doesn-t-provide-daily-death-rate-as-hospitalisations-continue-to-fallMay 28, 2020 at 15:17 #54354michael norton
Profiting from coronavirus
Covid-19 is either man-made or just a complete fluke of nature, a leading team of scientists have concluded. Australian scientists at Flinders University in Adelaide and Latrobe University in Melbourne have studied how COVID-19 is transmitted among humans compared to other animals. Nikolai Petrovsky, Professor of Medicine at Flinders University, said the coronavirus is “almost perfectly human adapted” after the striking study found humans were the most susceptible to the virus compared to other animals; including bats.
Now that is strange, more adapted to humans than bats, very fishy.
Sky News Australia – COVID-19 ‘perfectly adapted to humans’ from day one (YouTube)
Where did this virus come from?May 28, 2020 at 20:02 #54356Dr Edd
Nope. Not fishy at all, Michael.
How “scientific” is this claim? Well for one thing it’s not an empirical finding. The claim is based on reasoning about scientific epistemology. Prof Petrovsky only claims we can’t say for certain that it came from animals – but that’s a very subjective claim for which he’s setting his own standards of proof. Presumably he would only concede the point if we found the animal it came from and tested it. But there are other ways we can deduce the origin.
To work on an RNA virus you must turn it into DNA and put it in a cloning vector so bacteria will grow it. This leaves traces: half restriction enzyme sites, for example. There are no such signs in the viral genomes of SARS-CoV-2. To assess the likelihood of synthesising it in a laboratory without leaving any traces, you’d have to quantify all the known synthetic RNA viruses and express those that show no signs of manipulation as a proportion of that total. But there aren’t any, to my knowledge. We can therefore deduce that the likelihood of the virus being synthetic is negligible.
But … but … it attaches so perfectly to human ACE2 (hACE2) receptors that it must have been designed specifically for humans – right? Wrong. It’s a product of natural selection rather than intelligent design.
“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'” (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt)
There are uncountable numbers of other novel viruses to which humans are exposed that are either blitzed by the immune system or cause no appreciable harm. This just happens to be a freak mutation that made it through all the obstacles. That’s why we’re talking about it. But don’t neglect all the other viruses that didn’t quite make it.
Bats have immensely strong immune systems which means they can host viruses but not get sick with them – which is what makes them powerful reservoirs of things like Ebola, SARS, MERS. So the fact that they are not as susceptible as humans to SARS-CoV-2 is hardly a surprise. Lots of mammals have ACE receptors in different configurations, and we don’t know how long this virus has been bouncing around between animals in the Wuhan wet markets and the hunters and market workers slowly getting adapted to people.
Thus Petrovsky’s musing may be derived from scientific fact, but the arguments based on it are epistemological – and philosophically ignorant. He fails to consider more plausible scenarios.
Here’s more information from Science Daily:
Possible origins of the virus
Based on their genomic sequencing analysis, Andersen and his collaborators concluded that the most likely origins for SARS-CoV-2 followed one of two possible scenarios.
In one scenario, the virus evolved to its current pathogenic state through natural selection in a non-human host and then jumped to humans. This is how previous coronavirus outbreaks have emerged, with humans contracting the virus after direct exposure to civets (SARS) and camels (MERS). The researchers proposed bats as the most likely reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 as it is very similar to a bat coronavirus. There are no documented cases of direct bat-human transmission, however, suggesting that an intermediate host was likely involved between bats and humans.
In this scenario, both of the distinctive features of SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein — the RBD portion that binds to cells and the cleavage site that opens the virus up — would have evolved to their current state prior to entering humans. In this case, the current epidemic would probably have emerged rapidly as soon as humans were infected, as the virus would have already evolved the features that make it pathogenic and able to spread between people.
In the other proposed scenario, a non-pathogenic version of the virus jumped from an animal host into humans and then evolved to its current pathogenic state within the human population. For instance, some coronaviruses from pangolins, armadillo-like mammals found in Asia and Africa, have an RBD structure very similar to that of SARS-CoV-2. A coronavirus from a pangolin could possibly have been transmitted to a human, either directly or through an intermediary host such as civets or ferrets.
Then the other distinct spike protein characteristic of SARS-CoV-2, the cleavage site, could have evolved within a human host, possibly via limited undetected circulation in the human population prior to the beginning of the epidemic. The researchers found that the SARS-CoV-2 cleavage site, appears similar to the cleavage sites of strains of bird flu that has been shown to transmit easily between people. SARS-CoV-2 could have evolved such a virulent cleavage site in human cells and soon kicked off the current epidemic, as the coronavirus would possibly have become far more capable of spreading between people.
If you’re scientifically literate, you can peruse this paper from the Scripps Research Institute – COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin – which debunks the rumours in more detail:
There are also rumours that the SARS-CoV-2 was artificially, or intentionally, made by humans in the lab, and this is highlighted in one manuscript submitted to BioRxiv (a manuscript sharing site prior to any peer review), claiming that SARS-CoV-2 has HIV sequence in it and was thus likely generated in the laboratory. In a rebuttal paper led by an HIV-1 virologist Dr. Feng Gao, they used careful bioinformatics analyses to demonstrate that the original claim of multiple HIV insertions into the SARS-CoV-2 is not HIV-1 specific but random . Because of the many concerns raised by the international community, the authors who made the initial claim have already withdrawn this report.
Evolution is stepwise and accrues mutations gradually over time, whereas synthetic constructs would typically use a known backbone and introduce logical or targeted changes instead of the randomly occurring mutations that are present in naturally isolated viruses such as bat CoV RaTG13. In our view, there is currently no credible evidence to support the claim that SARS-CoV-2 originated from a laboratory-engineered CoV. It is more likely that SARS-CoV-2 is a recombinant CoV generated in nature between a bat CoV and another coronavirus in an intermediate animal host. More studies are needed to explore this possibility and resolve the natural origin of SARS-CoV-2. We should emphasize that, although SARS-CoV-2 shows no evidence of laboratory origin, viruses with such great public health threats must be handled properly in the laboratory and also properly regulated by the scientific community and governments.
I would advise people to perform basic checks before circulating rumours from conspiracy theory sites. Try a web search for counter-evidence. If the contrary arguments have more credible scientific support than the controversial claim, either mention that fact explicitly and give references – or even better, don’t post anything at all.May 29, 2020 at 15:18 #54385michael norton
Seems that lack of jobs will do more damage to the young than the virus.
The Lock-Down is causing a global employment shock, not seen since The Great Depression, the effect may last decades
The International Labour Organisation has said young people are disproportionately being affected by the coronavirus health crisis.
In a new report the ILO, which is a United Nations agency, warns there is a risk they could be scarred throughout their working lives.
They could become what the report calls a “lockdown generation”.
It says young women have been especially hit by the increase in unemployment.
Young people have been affected by what the report calls “a triple shock”.May 29, 2020 at 15:53 #54388michael norton
China changing its tune on origin of viral pandemic
The Wuhan wet market was a ‘victim’ of coronavirus rather than the cause, according to the Chinese Centre of Disease Control and Prevention.
Genetic evidence has confirmed that the virus originated in Chinese bats before it jumped to humans, but the exact location of the transition is unknown.
Chinese authorities previously said the first cases of the virus emerged at a local seafood market in Wuhan.
But a study of the animals being sold there rules this theory out, after all samples of the animals in the market tested negative for COVID-19, meaning they could not have infected shoppers.June 1, 2020 at 19:36 #54506SA
It is sad that instead of us all uniting to expose the incompetence of the current Tory government we ae indulging in senseless conspiracy theories about covid 19 and about vaccines in another forum. I found myself spending too much time refuting silly conspiracy theories about how vaccines are used to reduce world populations and how the establishment wants us all to die slowly by spreading contaminated vaccines, and not spending more time on the current dire situation.
A very important documentation of the timeline of how our government dealt with the crisis of covid-19 shows a continuous serious of inadequate or late or incomplete responses and in some cases outright lies. These were not only perpetrated by the politicians but they seem to have recruited some of the medical or scientific advisers. But what is most galling is that SAGE, the supposedly independent scientific body is no such thing as Dominic Cummings sits on this committee which therefore completely invalidates its supposed neutrality. This is also bolstered by the fact that the decisions and how they are reached are not transparent. But what comes out of this extremely detailed and valuable timeline is that the government has decided from an early stage to go it alone in the face of the rest of the world, the WHO, and the EU. It is quite clear that the herd immunity theory was going to be the only way that the government will manipulate all its action. The herd immunity concept may have had a very small chances of succeeding if as they hoped, 60% of the population will have got the virus by now. But as it happens the figure is probably less than 5% and you can never achieve herd immunity with such low levels.
The government declared a triumph when the curve was ‘flattened’ and the NHS did not totally collapse. But what we have managed after about 10 weeks of wishy washy lockdown, with active quarantining of those infected in the community is a reduction of daily cases to about 2000 per day, far higher than plateau levels achieved by many European countries. This will mean that the disease will continue to be transmitted at high to very high levels the moment any easing of lockdown is permitted. But things have now gone out of hand already and I think that continued lockdown is not going to be achievable for a second wave, especially after the Cummings breaking of the law.
I would recommend
It is an excellent depository of contemporaneous documentation of this debacle.June 2, 2020 at 15:48 #54536Clark
SA and Dr Edd,
SA: I agree that the debate on the “vaccine contaminants and safety” thread seems mostly unproductive, but I regard that debate as being more about conspiracy theory itself rather than the merit or otherwise of any specific proposition advanced on the thread.
SA and Dr Edd: but the debate about the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be ongoing in the scientific community and the scientific literature, and I don’t understand why you dismiss one side of it, in a public forum. Dr Edd, your May 28, 20:02 argument seems convincing, but there are elements of it which, as a non-specialist, I would have to take on trust.
There are both scientific and political consequences associated with this debate. As I understand it, there are both political bodies and scientific institutions seeking to investigate SARS-CoV-2’s origin in China, but the Chinese government is preventing this. Surely such opacity is in opposition to the spirit and objectives of science? Yet your dismissal of possible lab origin would argue for such investigation being unnecessary. This could appear partisan, and I request clarification of your objectives.
There are serious concerns with such laboratories wherever they are located, and I have no doubt that, say, the US government would be opposing Chinese investigation in the US had the pandemic originated near a US biolab. That wouldn’t be right either.June 3, 2020 at 14:40 #54632SA
“SA and Dr Edd: but the debate about the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be ongoing in the scientific community and the scientific literature,….”
Forgive me asking for a reference to this as I am not aware that there is a scientific debate about this. What I am aware of is this.
This is really not a piece of research but merely an opinion piece. The supposed authors postulate that the lab was the source of the infection on circumstantial evidence. This has been grasped upon by some in the right wing media, bolstered by Trump and Pompeo’s accusations against China for political reasons.
Here are some refutations of this, here and here
Now just to be clear what exactly we are discussing. I take it you fully agree with what Dr Edd has written and which is the consensus amongst many scientists that this is a natural virus because this has been proven beyond doubt. The next level of suspicion therefore is to say that the Wuhan lab stumbled across this virus before it started to infect humans. But where would they have got this virus from? A bat? Again this is highly implausible, even though they have a repository of many bat viruses as this is an important area of research post the SARS epidemics. The closest then known BAT virus had 96% homology with the SARS-Cov2 virus but lacked the determinants in the spike protein with specific affinity to the human ACE2 receptor. If they have isolated the active virus, it would have therefore very likely originated from another animal such as a civet or a pangolin or some other unknown animal and this would have been fishing in the dark. I guess another possible scenario to obtain such a virus is to ‘passage’ the virus in the lab, through some other animal or tissue culture and hope for the emergence of a mutated virus that can attach to ACE2. This would be a deliberate programme and would then involve a conspiracy within the Chinese authority to develop a bioweapon.
I guess one of the above scenarios are remote possibilities but until someone comes with more evidence it remains speculative, and I am afraid that there is no easy way to prove it in this heated atmosphere of antagonisms.June 3, 2020 at 14:45 #54633SA
And Clark, I can’t help but comment on what you wrote in the other forum. You bade Paul good bye but then went back for more. I have to say I was tempted to do the same, but it seems that that forum thread is thriving on Pauls prolific input of misinformation. He must be a dedicated follower of the vaccine-autism-WHO-world government-bill gates community and there will be no way to refute his claims. You will be spinning round in ever changing topics around these.June 3, 2020 at 17:22 #54638Clark
SA – “I take it you fully agree with what Dr Edd has written and which is the consensus amongst many scientists that this is a natural virus because this has been proven beyond doubt.”
No, I lack sufficient technical knowledge to either agree or disagree with Dr Edd’s May 28, 20:02 argument. I already expressed this as accurately as I could:
– “[…] the debate about the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be ongoing in the scientific community and the scientific literature. […] Dr Edd, your May 28, 20:02 argument seems convincing, but there are elements of it which, as a non-specialist, I would have to take on trust.”
Regarding my first sentence above, “the debate about the possible origins of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be ongoing in the scientific community and the scientific literature”,
(1) I have yet to watch Coronavirus may have been a ‘cell-culture experiment’ gone wrong, another video from Sky News featuring Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, which follows on from the one Michael Norton posted a link to before;
(2) I have seen a US scientist also refusing to rule out lab origin; I doubt I will be able to find the link again, but I think he was from a relevant field, though since I don’t remember the name it may have been Bret Weinstein;
(3) I have listened to a podcast by Prof. Bret Weinstein, biologist and evolutionary theorist, in which he claims that there is fairly compelling evolutionary evidence of lab manipulation of SARS-CoV-2’s genome, but that more “establishment” academics in relevant fields are pressuring less established scientists to avoid saying so, and
(4) a friend of mine who has been following this tells me that there are frequently papers either way appearing on the preprint servers of appropriate fields.
These are my reasons for regarding the question as open and ongoing within the relevant fields. My own take is that a lab escape cannot be ruled out, since bio laboratories keep libraries of natural viruses. Indeed I have heard it said that one of the Wuhan laboratories held the largest library of bat viruses in the world.
I don’t even care about the outcome particularly. SARS-CoV-2 is in the global human population now, and we need to deal with it however it got there, and I’m content to wait until more definitive evidence emerges, it it ever does. But I do find it curious that there is such strong pressure upon me from yourself and Dr Edd to conform to the “entirely natural” proposition, and I note that this question is far from neutral politically.June 3, 2020 at 17:32 #54639Clark
I suspect that Paul Barbara is in direct communication with various conspiracy theorists such as Wakefield. Note how he says he’ll get back on certain questions, and then does so a day or two later. He has stated that he meets with Twin Tower demolition theorists including Gage and Chandler. I tried discussing with him but he simply avoids engagement, so I have given up, but I don’t need to discuss to simply post evidence.June 3, 2020 at 22:33 #54642SA
A preliminary answer to your last but one post. What I meant is that the virus was not a genetically engineered virus as Dr Edd explains. Genetic engineering leaves tell tale traces. Therefore it is a natural virus. As I had previously explained, its presence in a lab would either be explained by a programme of injecting the virus into animals until it adapts or by a fluke, both somewhat unlikely.
I have not read in detail any of your references but they do not amount to any overwhelming evidence of anything. As to Petrovsky, my quick reading of what he says is that it is a theoretical possibility rather than that there is any proof.
I think the WHO and China are willing to collaborate on this but it is very difficult for China to accept the intrusive inspections that the US who wants to demonise both, would want to conduct any investigation. It also seems that the Australian government is also active in taking this anti China line.
This will never be solved by over-politicising. The US has form here whereas China has no such history. I would just be careful that this does not become a distraction given that China has managed the virus whereas US and U.K. have not.June 4, 2020 at 08:29 #54656Dr Edd
@ Clark 17:22
You’re wise to suspend judgement. Parts of my earlier post were reproduced from a recent email exchange with someone who has expertise in genetic analysis and manipulation. Although he hasn’t studied this coronavirus, he’s adamant that the results from other labs show that the virus has a natural origin. However, the science is very complicated.
The best explanation I’ve found is on stackexchange, in response to the question “Is it possible for coronavirus or SARS to be synthetic?”
It includes a diagram which shows where the SARS-CoV-2 genome fits on the natural coronavirus family tree:
It seems quite conclusive. However, new information is emerging which casts some doubt on that neat explanation. Apparently some researchers have found some tell-tale signs of genetic manipulation. This morning’s Telegraph has an exclusive article – Coronavirus began ‘as an accident’ in Chinese lab, says former MI6 boss.
International scientists have reached a near-unanimous consensus, however, that the virus emerged in animals – most likely bats or pangolins – before jumping to the human population.
But Sir Richard, 75, pointed to a scientific paper published this week by a Norwegian-British research team who claim to have discovered clues within Covid-19’s genetic sequence suggesting key elements were “inserted” and may not have evolved naturally.
Dearlove casts blame for the pandemic on the Chinese authorities and raises the prospects of demands for reparations. Is this politically motivated? In view of the fact he was Spook-in-Chief, there could be some counterintelligence briefing going on.
The explanation on stackexchange outlines the science behind detecting the telltale signs of genome synthesis pretty well. If those signs have actually now been found, then the Chinese government is really going to be in the crosshairs.June 4, 2020 at 09:27 #54663SA
Never mind what Dearlove Or The Telegraph says, what does the Norwegian paper actually say?June 4, 2020 at 10:26 #54666Dr Edd
You can read it yourself, if you like. It’s in the Cambridge Coronavirus Collection.
Sørensen, Susrud & Dalgleish (2020) – Biovacc-19: A Candidate Vaccine for Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Developed from Analysis of its General Method of Action for Infectivity
Bear in mind the authors may have an economic interest: they’re developing a rival vaccine with an approach based on targeting “inserted sections” of the genome.June 4, 2020 at 12:29 #54668SA
Thanks Dr Edd
This is a fascinating analysis but as pointed out by Sputnik this version does not seem to make out clear allegations that this is a man made virus.
The report is cited as warning that the SARS-CoV-2 spike differs greatly from any other Sars virus studied previously, and, accordingly, it is doubtful that efforts to develop a vaccine will result in success. The scientists are suggested as believing the true aetiology of the virus has been “misunderstood”, which has spurred them to develop their own vaccine, produced by Immunor AS, a Norwegian pharmaceutical company led by Sorensen.
The analysis offered by Professor Dalgleish and his colleagues, scheduled for release in the coming days, claims the virus possesses “unique fingerprints”, “indicative of purposive manipulation”, thus calling into question the theory that the coronavirus evolved naturally.
The research suggests COVID-19 is a “remarkably well-adapted virus for human co-existence”, and was likely engineered via a Wuhan lab experiment to develop “chimeric viruses of high potency”.
In the preprint you post, no such clear claims are made. From what I gather reading this paper the authors explain why they believe that the current understanding of how the virus is infectious and how it produces various tissue damage is related to some basic misunderstandings. They say that there is a second mechanism of cell invasion other than the ACE2 receptor and that there are other receptors which would allow the virus to infect and destroy other tissues which do not bear this receptor. This explains some of the other symptoms noted such as the loss of taste and smell, and gastrointestinal symptoms that some patients suffer from, and the effect on other tissues noted clinically, that do not have Ace2. This makes sense. The other point they make about the development of vaccines, is the choice of adjuvants, and how some adjuvants can enhance antibody responses, whereas others enhance T cell responses, and this is important as some antibody responses early on may actually be harmful. Similarly vaccines that contain human like epitopes may produce autoantibodies which may damage tissues and that is why they produce a chimeric protein that is made of polypeptides lacking the human like epitopes and joined together by scaffolding. Again this is a concept paper not producing any solid data yet, although they refer to unpublished safety data that is not analysed.
In other words, I can’t see that this paper you posted has anything to do with the sensational pronouncements of Dearlove who obviously has a specific anti-China agenda. Other scientific sources of attack come from Australia and it is obvious to me that these are orchestrated to prepare for a psychological demonization of China prior to some military action. Tensions between China and India are escalating, and so is US naval activity in that area. I have also noted a lot of conspiracy theories coming out of India from the beginning of this pandemic. In the political context there is a build up of anti China propaganda from US, UK , Australia and India. This of course is not in itself indicative of anything, just that one has to be extra careful as to look at sources of these allegations more carefully.June 6, 2020 at 07:03 #54727SA
In a previous discussion we mentioned reliance on mathematical modelling as one of the problems of why the government mishandled the management of this epidemic and why it says that it has relied on the science throughout.
This to me, being somewhat old fashioned, but at the same time not a technophobe, is an important question in order to understand what went wrong.
There has been heavy reliance on statistics, modelling and IT number crunching. Everything is dealt with in terms of data. This has been used probably with some success in manipulation of elections, but mostly with failure in most economic modelling. The reasons are that these methods do not take account of ideology and erratic human behaviour.
This modelling has been pitted against the old fashioned way of how public health has been formulated and conducted for many years with principles set out to deal with situations in a reflex and proactive manner. I remember that at the outset of the epidemic conversations in this forum centred on the science and the data. Some even prominent scientists advocated waiting for the data before taking decisions and everyone quoted that they were guided by the science when this was far from the case. Science and research is often reflective and retrospective because of the required data. The rise of the ‘modellers’ tried to overcome this by an attempt to predict, based on known variables. But many of these variables, including those related to human behaviour are difficult or impossible to predict. Added to this is that modellers have to rely, on the case of a new virus, to base their variables on what is known from other viruses, which has now been proven to be mistaken.
So if we were to replay the management of this crisis I would advocate the following: The primary focus should have been to obtain data fast, and this would be by testing as many people as possible, not only to make a diagnosis to isolate cases, but to try to understand the nature of this disease. You can only understand the full extent of a disease by studying not just the severe cases but also the mild cases and the asymptomatic carriers. These are relatively low key public health measures that were neglected from the outset in favour of ventilators and vaccines, concentrating at the apex of the pyramid rather than the base. Then having identified individuals who are infected, these should have had proper medical quarantine, which means proper enforced isolation with all facilities provided, for 14 days.
But what has happened is a game of catch up, first concentrating on the severe cases in the NHS, then realising that by doing so you have pushed the infection to the care homes, and when deaths mount there, you then realise that you have the massive reservoir in the community. I am afraid the ‘science’ has been misused here and the scientists have allowed themselves to be exploited and I am afraid will probably be ultimately scapegoated.June 6, 2020 at 08:20 #54730Clark
– ‘All this had to be fought for. Otherwise we’d have had the same sort of set-up that you objected to. Let me talk a bit of philosophy and sociology. Has it ever occurred to you, Geoff, that in spite of the changes wrought by science – by our control over inanimate energy, that is to say – we still preserve the same social order of precedence? Politicians at the top, then the military, and the real brains at the bottom. There’s no difference between this set-up and that of ancient Rome, or of the first civilisations in Mesopotamia for that matter. We’re living in a society that contains a monstrous contradiction, modern in its technology but archaic in its social organisation. For years the politicians have been squawking about the need for more trained scientists, more engineers, and so forth. What they don’t seem to realise is that there are only a limited number of fools.’
‘Yes, people like you and me, Geoff. We’re the fools. We do the thinking for an archaic crowd of nit-wits and allow ourselves to get pushed around by ’em into the bargain.’
‘Scientists of the world unite! Is that the idea?’
‘Not exactly. It isn’t just a case of scientists versus the rest. The matter goes deeper. It’s a clash between two totally different modes of thinking. Society today is based in its technology on thinking in terms of numbers. In its social organisation, on the other hand, it is based on thinking in terms of words. It’s here that the real clash lies, between the literary mind and the mathematical mind. You ought to meet the Home Secretary. You’d see straight away what I mean.’
Chris Kingsley, Professor of Astronomy and mathematical modeller, University of Cambridge, talking to Dr Geoff Marlowe, senior administrator of Mount Palomar Observatory; The Black Cloud, Fred Hoyle, 1957.June 6, 2020 at 08:45 #54733Clark
Ferguson has already been scapegoated. It started at Off-Guardian and UK Column, and now it’s in the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Sun. Ferguson’s presence on the SAGE Committee is about all that averted utter carnage. The corporate sector took to hating him for shutting down much of the economy and set a team of “reporters” after him, just waiting for him to put a foot wrong. Those “reporters” must have all been breaking the stay-at-home order too, but no mention of that…
The ICL model seems pretty good to me. It has served its purpose by dissuading the government from their murderous “herd immunity” plan. ICL’s “total infected so far” figure seems to match post-peak antibody studies within a factor of two, which is damn good modelling for a brand new disease. So if the UK has ~40,000 dead and ~6% infected so far, and infection would reach say 75% before causing the epidemic to self-limit, we could expect:
40,000 x (100/6) x (75/100) = 500,000 – Spot on the ICL figure!
ICL did very well indeed. They weren’t asleep when covid-19 cut through Wuhan. They collected their data and tweaked their model, and had their output ready to present when it arrived.June 6, 2020 at 09:11 #54734Clark
It’s lose/lose for the ICL team though. The 500,000 dead scenario assumed no social restrictions. The media now can bray “but the real deaths were less than a tenth of that”, but that’s with social restrictions, and after decades of dumbing-down and stupid “scientists say” stories, most of the public are gullible enough to regard the restrictions as unnecessary and “Ferguson” as needlessly alarmist.
My take on what happened is a bit different from yours, SA. I think the government were preparing to let covid-19 rip through the population, and orders were issued and preparations made hastily on that basis. Thus we got emergency mortuary plans, the Nightingale hospitals, and a crisis/overload policy of discharging back to care homes. But Ferguson put the ICL output on SAGE’s table, and the majority view was that such carnage couldn’t be permitted to happen. The SAGE committee were witnesses that the government had seen the numbers, denying the government the option of claiming ignorance post-disaster.
Widespread testing wasn’t possible at first because manufacturers were still gearing up to supply test kits. What should have happened was early, forceful restrictions, accompanied by a very clear message; “this disease spreads very fast, so we have to slow the spread with these restrictions until we’re ready with test kits, quarantine facilities and PPE”.
We have two curves; a rising curve of test-kit supply, and the curve of infections. Restrictions should have been applied forcefully – you brake hard immediately in a potential collision scenario – and then eased as test kit supply overwhelmed infection numbers.June 6, 2020 at 09:37 #54735Clark
How many tests per day are required to contain a given outbreak? This looks like a modelling problem to me. Obviously more tests are required than there are infections, but what’s the ratio? It probably depends on lots of things. 100 infections in one village are easier to contain that 100 infections dotted about all over the UK. 100 infected travelling salesmen would be a lot worse than 100 people working from home.June 6, 2020 at 10:27 #54741Clark
Of course, the corporate media and covert PR fronts have been attacking mathematical modelling for decades as a means to discredit climate science. The public were primed to distrust models. But remember that the planet Neptune was discovered through primitive mathematical modelling.
Modelling doesn’t affect underlying facts; greenhouse gases trap heat, and infections spread. But we want to know more than that; how will the world change with additional heat? How fast will a given infection spread? You can attempt a static calculation but you can only extrapolate so far without gross changes to your initial assumptions; a warmer world has different cloud cover, a more widespread outbreak has access to different population centres. This is where models become useful, running the same calculation over and over again, each run’s output being the next run’s input. This also makes models susceptible to accelerating divergence from reality, but it’s a modeller’s job to understand and allow for this, just as it’s a doctor’s job to understand symptoms from more than one cause, and interactions between drugs.June 6, 2020 at 10:58 #54742SA
I am not trying in any way to discredit mathematical modelling. I am just saying that it is one component. Tried and tested public health measures and trust in an international cooperative body is what should have been stressed and acted upon initially and the mathematical modelling follows to refine the response. But what has happened is that mathematical modelling became the lead here and that is wrong in my opinion, and the proof is that none of the basic public health actions to contain epidemics were applied properly. The politicians ignored public health not just advice but systematically over many the years through austerity, deliberate ignoring of advice since 2016 and privatisation and outsourcing with non-joined-up services. The modellers should have pointed this out also. In any case the scientists and the modellers should have made it very clear that their advice was not being followed or were politically interpreted and misapplied. But there has not been any open dissent, no resignations, and no complaints that Cummings and others have been sitting on SAGE meetings.
The situation of mathematical modelling and climate change is completely different from that of epidemics as many of the elements in climate change are well known and studied. But very little was known about SARS-cov2 when the modelling was started, and still much remains to be known. And on top of all of this it is the political interpretation of this mathematical modelling that the government uses to say that ‘we are guided by the science’.June 6, 2020 at 12:53 #54750Clark
SA, I haven’t followed corporate media coverage sufficiently to actually know the propaganda situation, but if I had this government’s motives, I would issue press releases and hold press conferences pushing the modelling to the fore, knowing it would be a prime target for the corporate media. It would draw the media’s criticism away from the government, and it would provide the government with a convenient and essentially defenceless scapegoat after or during the disaster.
The government of course want it both ways. They want it to look as though the “lockdown” is not their fault, but they want the death toll to look like it’s not their fault either. This is a fundamental weakness of democracy; to get re-elected, a government has a strong incentive to divert blame elsewhere. I suspect that Labour would have gone for strong and early lockdown, accepting that they’d then be ridiculed by the corporate media. There would have been a much lower death toll, but the Conservative’s high death toll would never have occurred for comparison, so the corporate media would then have blamed Labour for the ensuing recession all the way to the next election…
– “Tried and tested public health measures and trust in an international cooperative body is what should have been stressed and acted upon”
Absolutely! When faced with an emergency, use the tried and tested, reliable, age-old tools. Gain time to develop and deploy more advanced measures, certainly, but procrastinating is inexcusable.
In practice, the modelling is of very limited relevance. All we needed in order to estimate the eventual death toll was the infection fatality rate. Additionally, knowing that covid-19 was novel implied that the entire population was extremely vulnerable, and covid-19 would spread very rapidly. But all of this was obvious anyway, from Wuhan, Beijing, the Diamond Princess, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
The UK government had more than ample warning from other countries’ experience; it didn’t need the model, not in the slightest. Jeez, if I could see what was coming there’s no way the government could have been taken by surprise, not with all its additional staff and resources. It takes several days for the ICL model to produce output; probably the government just used that delay as an excuse for doing nothing for a little longer. It’s probably all about the Cheltenham Festival in fact, the Tories’ annual Spring piss-up and adultery opportunity.
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