The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?

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Re: The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?

Post by dyqik » Wed Mar 01, 2023 11:23 am

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Mar 01, 2023 6:21 am
bolo wrote:
Sun Feb 26, 2023 10:20 pm
For some reason all the headline writers have omitted the part of the DOE analysis that says it has "low confidence" in its conclusion.
FBI has made its own assessment and has "moderate confidence" in lab-leak theory.,, ... index.html
The difference between "moderate" and "low" confidence could just be different agencies having different criteria for grading confidence.

One potential problem I see with both of those assessments of confidence is that I don't know how much I trust either agency's assessment of the likelihood of a natural source - i.e. in the denominator. Both can probably assess evidence of lab leaks and particularly of a cover-up, but maybe not the evolution and spread of natural diseases.

On the numerator side: A lab leak occurring at some point is not necessarily in contradiction with a natural evolution and outbreak leading to a pandemic - a new disease that's found in the wild is likely to be studied in a infectious disease lab early in a pandemic. A leak from those activities might only be one, non-critical, path early in a pandemic.

A well-run disease lab is also likely to detect a natural outbreak in its locale among its own staff before it is detected in the wider population. In the case of a fairly secretive government regime, that could give the appearance of a leak and cover-up.

These last two points are along the lines of "agencies used to looking for deliberate cover-ups find deliberate cover-up in mixed bag of evidence". Assessing whether a lab leak was critical or incidental to the development of the outbreak, and whether it was real or a spurious detection as a consequence of vigilance to detect leaks, is a question for epidemiology rather than counter-terrorism/security services. Although those might be necessary to understand the epidemiology in China, which is pretty secretive.

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