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Thread: Coronavirus with an R0 of 3 or beyond

  1. #706
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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    P.S.: Chester, given that you have only recently returned to our Shire and that you may not have read all of this thread, a friendly word of warning is due. This thread is for reports about and honest discussions of the SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 pandemic, not for knee-jerk denial (or downplaying) of the facts. You have crossed the bridge between The One Truth and Project Avalon, and over here on this side of the inter-forum meadows, we do not share the same overall vantage as over yonder.

    Earlier on, two people were already banned from this thread here because they were disrupting and derailing the intended flow of communication of the thread. They had already repeatedly and explicitly been warned that we weren't going to stand for it, and yet they both persisted. A third person also had to be issued several shots across the bow before she finally got the message. Please don't make me ban you from this thread like I had to do to those other people.

    Unlike at Project Avalon, where the thread ban functionality was an ad hoc modification of the vBulletin code which only prevents one from posting to a thread they have been blocked from, here at The One Truth, the thread ban functionality is a vBulletin builtin, which not only prevents one from posting to a thread they've been banned from, but also prevents them from monitoring any further exchanges on the thread. So please, don't make me have to do that to you.

    In addition to the above, do please also take note that this is not censorship but moderation. There is a distinct difference, and you may proceed with your denial and post your opinions on your own thread, as well as on Aianawa's denial thread under the Proven Hoaxes & Misinformation category, but this thread here is by management decision protected against disruption and derailment, and we will remove anyone who transgresses on that decision from the discussion.

    Just so you'd know.
    Chester would not heed my shot across the bow, and I'm getting too old to keep repeating myself. He has now been banned from this thread.

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  3. #707
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    There's relatively little news on the Coronavirus front lately. The first wave of the pandemic seems to be passing, at least in Eurasia, though we're not out of the woods yet in the Americas. The real news seem to be the economic and geopolitical implications of the pandemic, we live in a completely different world now from 3-4 months ago.

    China is pretty much seen as a rogue terror state and it isn't even pretending to follow international norms any more, cracking down on freedom in Hong Kong for instance, provoking border clashes with India in the Himalayas and many of its neighbours in the South China sea. More and more people in high positions are calling this China's Chernobyl and I think there is a good chance that the CCP will lose its grip over China and we could see a fall, even splintering of the PRC. The Uighurs and Tibetans are suffering from the worst oppression any ethnic group has seen in modern times and I imagine they are counting the days until they can get rid of the communists.

    The USA has seen its international reputation and prestige diminish through the inept leadership of Donald Trump and the even worse wilful ignorance of the American people, who by and large have confirmed every negative stereotype about themselves and then some. Every paranoid, insane hare-brained theory and multiple levels of denial seem to originate from the US. The UK has seen a similar level of diminishment on the international stage, which has been compounded by Brexit and the pathological state of denial the UK leadership and to some extent, their electorate, finds themselves in. The Wake-up call will be harsh and rude.

    The EU was absent in action and has become and irrelevance in international affairs (though not economically, as Brexit is proving), Brazil and Russia (along with the UK and US) have proven how right-wing authoritarian leaders are mostly just bluster, but don't have any substance behind them in a true crisis situation. The one exception proved to be Hungary's Orbán, who has shown once again why he is considered smartest of the bunch. After some initial missteps, he quickly recognised the seriousness of the situation, took swift action (for which he was compared to Hitler by countless European commentators) and actually listened to the experts, of which Hungary has some of the best in the world. His success in stopping the pandemic may actually be down to a rigorous BCG vaccination programme, as discussed before, but he's milking his apparent success for all he's got and the electioneering propaganda has become relentless.

    Far more impressive were the likes of Slovakia, Czechia and Poland, which took the earliest possible action and were very strict in enforcing a quarantine, despite obstructionism and criticism from the EU. This worked really well and they escaped the worst of the pandemic, with most other countries in the region also getting off lightly. It was truly surprising to see how much better organised and rational the response from Central European nations has been compared to much richer and developed nations further West. As a result, there were few cases and even fewer deaths, almost negligible in terms of statistical relevance. The relative isolation of the region probably helped too, though perhaps only in the beginning. It was also the case during the black plague that this region and Poland specifically suffered the lowest casualties in all of Eurasia, due to a strictly enforced, watertight quarantine. Like now, back then it was Italy that suffered the worst and earliest outbreaks, because of its trading links to the Far East.

    Other things that have changed in a matter of months include people's increasing unwillingness to live in big cities, packed together like Herrings in apartment buildings. Again, just like during the black plagues, such places have often become death traps and more and more people are now looking to move away from the big cities into smaller towns and rural areas. This is also a result of the lockdown, which may become semi-permanent or seasonal, depending on subsequent waves of covid, which now appears to be iredicable for the foreseeable future.

    Entire industries are now dead and probably won't be coming back, especially in the travel and tourism sectors. Flying is now a risky proposition and Cruise Ships are floating death traps. Forget about checking into a large Hotel with central air-con or ever eating from a shared buffet ever again. Concerts and sport events are cancelled for the foreseeable future and will only go ahead without spectators. Again, these changes are at least semi-permanent and we must adapt accordingly.

    There are many other societal and economic changes that we are yet to grasp, but they'll become apparent as we continue trudging along this new path, which has been forced upon us by the smallest of microorganisms.

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  5. #708
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    It will be that, Chris, or an awareness of what's at stake will spur the innovation that futurists have been predicting for decades.

    On another note, I think I either hallucinated the .4 and .8 numbers that I heard or what I heard was 4% and 8%. CDC was the lower number and most cognizant medical professionals were believing the higher number.

    What's interesting about the whole thing is that the one site I wanted to visit was proffering that the lower number was reason enough to open up society. In retrospect, I'm not sure I would agree with even that.
    Last edited by NotAPretender, 26th May 2020 at 20:25.
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  9. #710
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    Here comes the Town Crier: Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: Yes!
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  11. #711
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    Exclusive: Coronavirus began 'as an accident' in Chinese lab, says former MI6 boss

    Sir Richard Dearlove tells Telegraph's Planet Normal podcast that new scientific report suggests key elements of the virus were 'inserted'

    Bill Gardner
    3 June 2020 • 9:17pm

    A former head of MI6 has said he believes the coronavirus pandemic "started as an accident" when the virus escaped from a laboratory in China.

    In an interview with The Telegraph, Sir Richard Dearlove said he had seen an "important" new scientific report suggesting the virus did not emerge naturally but was man-made by Chinese scientists.

    The apparent discovery will raise the prospect of China paying "reparations" for the death and economic catastrophe wreaked upon the world, the former intelligence chief said. It comes as Beijing faces growing pressure to explain precisely how coronavirus first began to spread late last year.

    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.

    From the outset, the Chinese government has endeavoured to "lock down" any debate about the origins of the virus and Beijing's handling of the crisis, he claimed.

    "I do think that this started as an accident," Sir Richard told The Telegraph's new Planet Normal podcast (listen through the player at the top of this story). "It raises the issue, if China ever were to admit responsibility, does it pay reparations? I think it will make every country in the world rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership."

    Sir Richard, who was the head of MI6 between 1999 and 2004, cited startling new peer-reviewed research produced by Professor Angus Dalgleish, of St George's Hospital at the University of London, and the Norwegian virologist Birger Sorensen.

    In their paper, the scientists claim to have identified "inserted sections placed on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike surface" that explain how the virus binds itself to human cells.

    "The SARS-CoV-2 spike is significantly different from any other Sars that we have studied," the paper says.

    It warns that current efforts to develop a vaccine are destined for failure because the true aetiology of the virus has been misunderstood. To remedy the problem, the researchers are developing their own vaccine, produced by Immunor AS, a Norwegian pharmaceutical company led by Mr Sorensen.

    Sir Richard described the study as "a very important contribution to a debate which is now starting about how the virus evolved and how it got out and broke out as a pandemic", adding: "I think this particular article is very important, and I think it will shift the debate."

    He revealed that the Dalgleish/Sorensen paper had been rewritten several times. An earlier version, seen by The Telegraph, concluded that coronavirus should correctly be called "Wuhan virus" and claimed to have proven "beyond reasonable doubt that the Covid-19 virus is engineered".

    "We are aware that these findings could have political significance and raise troubling questions," the authors originally wrote. The paper was widely circulated behind the scenes after being distributed for peer review, while intelligence officials reportedly examined its findings.

    However, one of the authors, John Fredrik Moxnes, the chief scientific adviser to the Norwegian military, asked for his name to be withdrawn from the research, throwing its credibility into doubt. Scientists from the Francis Crick Institute and Imperial College London also dismissed its conclusions, it is understood.

    Correspondence seen by The Telegraph shows that, in April, the initial paper was rejected by leading academic journals including Nature and the Journal of Virology, which deemed the research "unsuitable for publication".
    Much of the paper was watered down to remove explicit accusations against China, and the rewritten study was then judged to be of sufficient scientific merit to be accepted for publication in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, a journal chaired by leading scientists from Stanford University and the University of Dundee.

    A further analysis produced by Prof Dalgleish and his colleagues, due for release in the coming days, claims the Covid-19 virus has "unique fingerprints" that cannot have evolved naturally and are instead "indicative of purposive manipulation".

    Entitled "A Reconstructed Historical Aetiology of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike", the new study, seen by The Telegraph, suggests the virus is "remarkably well-adapted virus for human co-existence" and is likely to be the result of a Wuhan lab experiment to produce "chimeric viruses of high potency".

    The paper concludes: "Henceforth, those who would maintain that the Covid-19 pandemic arose from zoonotic transfer need to explain precisely why this more parsimonious account is wrong before asserting that their evidence is persuasive, most especially when, as we also show, there are puzzling errors in their use of evidence."

    The paper has not yet been accepted for publication in any scientific journal.

    "This [the first] article was submitted to a… journal, which refused it within a week of receiving it, and in the same period accepted for publication two or three Chinese articles that relate to the virus, within 48 hours," Sir Richard said.

    "So I mean, as this debate about the virus develops, I think all this material is going to be in print and is going to embarrass a number of people, I think. Let's suggest that the Chinese maybe have too much say in their journals, in what appears and what doesn't."

    The Chinese government has always insisted that the outbreak began in a "wet market" in the city of Wuhan late last year. But critics have questioned why some early human cases and their contacts appeared to have no connection to the area.

    Two laboratories in Wuhan studying bat coronaviruses – the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control – have been suggested as the possible true sources of the outbreak.

    Sir Richard suggested scientists may have been conducting secret gene-splicing experiments on bat coronaviruses when Covid-19 somehow escaped through a lapse in biosecurity.

    "It's a risky business if you make a mistake," he said. "Look at the stories... of the attempts by the leadership to lockdown any debate about the origins of the pandemic and the way that people have been arrested or silenced.

    "I mean, we shouldn't really have any doubt any longer about what we're dealing with."
    Sir Richard said he did not believe the Chinese had released the virus deliberately, but accused Beijing of subsequently covering up the scale of its spread.

    "Of course, the Chinese must have felt, well, if they've got to suffer a pandemic maybe we shouldn't try too hard to stop, as it were, our competitors suffering the same disadvantages we've got," he said.
    "Look, the Chinese understand us extremely well. They have made a study of us over the last decade or longer, particularly through attending our universities. We understand the Chinese very poorly. It's an imbalanced relationship in that respect."

    Last month, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, claimed there was "enormous evidence" that the coronavirus outbreak originated in a Chinese laboratory, but did not provide any proof. However, the US National Intelligence Director's office later said it had determined that Covid-19 "was not manmade or genetically modified".

    During a television interview on May 9, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: "We don't have any evidence that this is a man-made coronavirus."

    Scientists analysing Covid-19 have also reported no signs that the genetic sequence was manipulated or distorted in any way. Nevertheless, Beijing is facing growing pressure to reveal everything it knows about the origins of Covid-19 amid accusations that the rest of the world may have been misled.

    Sir Richard praised the Australian government for leading calls for an official inquiry after Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister, suggested that the World Health Organisation needed tough new "weapons inspector" powers to investigate the origins of Covid-19.

    "I think it's very courageous of the Australians to take China on," Sir Richard said. "I mean, there's an obvious, huge imbalance in terms of power, both economic and military and political, but they are showing the way. You have to have a critical relationship with China."

    He urged the UK Government to abandon plans to allow the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to have a role in building Britain's new 5G network, and to reduce the reliance on Chinese factories to make cheap personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS health workers.

    "We need to go into reverse," he said. "It's important that we do not put any of our critical infrastructure in the hands of Chinese interests. So telecommunications, Huawei, nuclear power stations, and then things that, you know, we require and need in a crisis, like PPE.

    "We have allowed China so much rope that we are now suffering the consequences, and it's time to pull the rope in and to tighten the way we do business. It's very, very important that we keep a keen eye on this and do not allow the Chinese to, as it were, benefit strategically from this situation that has been imposed on all of us."
    Sir Richard criticised George Osborne, the former Chancellor, for proclaiming that Britain would be China's "best partner in the West" during a charm offensive in September 2015.

    "I think the problem with young politicians, and when he was in office he was young, is that they lack experience and they lack depth of knowledge, and I don't think that George Osborne really understood what the leadership of a real communist party is like," Sir Richard said.

    "I spent most of my career dealing with the issue of communism, with the autocratic nature of the way that these parties are run and their immense disregard for law, for human rights, for all of these areas, and I mean George Osborne just conveniently disregarded all of that."

    Earlier this week, Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, said Beijing would welcome an international investigation into the origins of the pandemic, insisting his country had nothing to hide.
    "China's record is clean. It can stand the test of time and history," he said.
    Last edited by Chris, 4th June 2020 at 14:46.

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  13. #712
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    Distinguishing Artificial From Natural Is Possible, for Now

    WE LIKE TO tell ourselves that it's easy to distinguish between the natural and the artificial, but they have a knack for fooling us. When European colonists traveled through the patchwork of forests and meadows of New England, they thought they were exploring primeval nature. In fact, Native Americans had been tending it carefully with fires for centuries. When the Viking probe snapped a fuzzy picture of a mountain on Mars in 1976, some people were sure it showed a giant face carved by Martians. When another probe took a sharper picture in 2001, all trace of the face had vanished.

    Today the mystery of the natural versus the artificial is moving from mountains and forests down to the microscopic realm. Scientists can now synthesize DNA from scratch. They regularly add new genes to bacteria, plants and animals. They are learning how to manufacture whole genomes. Can we tell the difference between our growing menageries of engineered organisms and natural ones? A fascinating new study from scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California shows that we can – at least for now.

    Despite the philosophical nature of their study, the Lawrence Livermore researchers had a very practical goal in mind. They wanted to advance the science of tracing bacteria to their source – what's sometimes called "microbial forensics." When someone commits bioterrorism – like the anthrax attacks of 2001 – it is no simple matter to trace the bacteria to their source. The rise of genetic engineering raises the possibility, remote for now, that someone will unleash even more dangerous plagues. Another potential risk of genetic engineering is that a modified microbe may slip out of a lab and wreak ecological havoc. Should the day ever come when such a disaster does happen, it would be vital to quickly figure out if the cause is man-made. Yet no one has ever demonstrated a systematic way to tell genetically modified bacteria from natural ones.

    You might well imagine this was an easy thing to do. Consider the genetically engineered E. coli that produces much of the insulin that diabetics use these days. It makes insulin because scientists have inserted a ring of DNA, called a plasmid, into the microbe. On that plasmid is the human gene for insulin. If scientists were handed a beaker of these weird chimeras, it wouldn't take too long for them to identify the genes and figure out that the bacteria were engineered.

    But now imagine a different kind of genetic engineering. Imagine that some scientists decide to make the bacteria that cause bubonic plague easier to spread. Imagine that they manage to do exactly that by adding plasmids carrying a gene from a different pathogen. It would be a lot harder to determine whether this new strain was the work of humans, because different species of bacteria will sometimes naturally swap plasmids.

    DNA signatures for detecting genetic engineering in bacteria
    Jonathan E Allen, Shea N Gardner & Tom R Slezak
    Genome Biology volume 9, Article number: R56 (2008)

    Using newly designed computational tools we show that, despite substantial shared sequences between natural plasmids and artificial vector sequences, a robust set of DNA oligomers can be identified that can differentiate artificial vector sequences from all available background viral and bacterial genomes and natural plasmids. We predict that these tools can achieve very high sensitivity and specificity rates for detecting new unsequenced vectors in microarray-based bioassays. Such DNA signatures could be important in detecting genetically engineered bacteria in environmental samples.

    Synthetic vector sequences are of fundamental importance in molecular biology. Cloning and expression vectors are among a multitude of synthetic sequence types commonly used as part of a basic tool set for DNA amplification and protein production [1]. As the emerging maturity of synthetic biology research fast approaches [2], it is reasonable to imagine in the not too distant future the broad-scale manufacture of sophisticated synthetic plasmids to modify existing bacteria and possibly the construction of new functioning synthetic genomes [3]. The potential exists to address challenges in many areas, from food production [4] to drug discovery [5]. However, along with the potential benefit comes the increased risk of engineered pathogens [6, 7]. Thus, with improvements in genetic manipulation comes the need for tools to detect genetically modified bacteria in the environment.

    Large-scale computational pipelines have advanced bio-defense by efficiently finding polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay-based primers that are able to accurately identify dangerous bacterial and viral pathogens [8–10]. The development of random DNA amplification methods have highlighted microarrays as a potentially practical multiplexing complement to PCR [11] with DNA signatures on microarrays [12]. Recent progress has made DNA signature design tools widely available to pathogen research through the development of a publicly available computational pipeline for designing PCR-based signatures [13]. These advances demonstrate the utility of DNA signature pipelines, but the question remains whether such an approach could be used to detect genetically engineered bacteria.

    A computational analysis was performed on the available synthetic vector sequences, which form an important basis for current tools in genetic engineering [14]. One of the results of this work is a report on the presence of DNA signatures found to differentiate the vector sequences from the sequenced naturally occurring plasmid and chromosomal DNA. Candidate DNA signatures were found to cover nearly all artificial vector sequences using a wide range of signature lengths. The presence of these candidate DNA signatures opens the potential to develop assays in the future for detecting simple but widely available forms of genetic engineering. The vector sequence data was further leveraged to predict natural plasmids, which may form the basis for future vectors based on conserved functional sequences.

    Results and discussion
    Vector DNA signatures
    A total of 3,799 partial and complete artificial vector sequences totaling 21,132,057 nucleotides were collected from various sequence databases (details given in Materials and methods) and analyzed for conserved sequence elements. Sequences were compared using exact k-mer matching (a k-mer is a nucleic acid sequence of length k). This alignment-free comparative sequence approach [15, 16] contrasts with methods that use conserved order among compared sequences [17]. The alignment-free comparison is motivated by the abundance of similar artificial vector sequences, which can differ in the relative order of functional elements owing to differing sources of sequence construction. Conserved order comparison is further confounded by transposable elements and the need to efficiently compare several thousand sequences simultaneously.

    A k-mer found in the vector sequence but not in the natural plasmid or chromosomal DNA is a candidate signature. The length of k was varied to examine the change in candidate signature set size; the results are shown in Figure 1 (red line with circles). There is a large jump in the percentage of k-mers that are candidate signatures going from 15 to 18 with a continued gradual increase as k increases above 18. The other lines in Figure 1 show the percentage of vector k-mers shared exclusively with the natural plasmid sequence (blue triangles) and chromosome sequence (green triangles). More vector derived 15-mers are shared with the chromosome sequence (62%) than with the natural plasmid sequence (1%) which is not surprising since there are over 4 billion bases of background viral and microbial sequence and less than 66 million bases of sequenced natural plasmids. Nevertheless, the gap narrows considerably at k = 18 with the chromosomal sequence showing a much smaller percentage of k-mer matches, suggesting that many of the matches under 18 are a result of random chance.
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