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SARS-CoV-2 might have appeared in the lab, and we have to talk about it

The topic had been simmering for some time but two weeks ago The pot was removed by a group of scholars With suspicious protective credentials: We really need to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The virus could have been created in the laboratory.

Calls for further investigation come not from new evidence supporting the in vitro leak theory, but primarily from evidence that the first investigation on the topic, on which animal advocates is based, has flaws that cannot be ignored.

In addition to not investigating the Chinese laboratory in which the virus first appeared, the researchers who produced the report received false information from the Chinese government, and relied on it to reach their conclusions, the most important of which is probably that the virus is similar to SARS-CoV-2 that the Chinese admit to storing it was not In a laboratory with maximum safety.

For us, here, as media analysts, it is important to understand what is prohibiting debate that should not be outlawed. We need to discuss the validity of the thesis or the possibility that it was correct, but also the way in which the issue was handled by the media, and how political polarization has led to hasty conclusions.

As immunologist Akiko Iwasaki told the New York TimesAt Yale University, “Initially there was a lot of pressure against raising the issue because it was related to conspiracy theories and Trump supporters. There was very little rational discussion about it.”

The main point of discussions at this point is that although it is likely that the virus arose naturally, through the evolution of other viruses present in animals, and then adapted to infect humans, that confidence still cannot be said. The flip side of the discussion is precisely that: It appears to be a coincidence that a virus has mutated in animals and infected people exactly in a city that had a very similar virus in the laboratory.

The scientific discussion, which I will not take a risk in, deals with aspects of viruses, the similarities between previously observed mutations, and how they are more common in viruses that have mutated in nature than in viruses that are manipulated in laboratories. However, there are those who see roughly the opposite: there are mutations in SARS-CoV-2 that rarely occur in nature, and that this would be evidence that the virus has “leaked” from the laboratory.

The truth is that discussion is far from scientific certainty, but it has been banned for months, which is why we continue away from the answers as we were months ago. A good example of how problematic this is in terms of the media: Facebook has been removing posts indicating the possibility of creating the virus in the laboratory; Now he will start letting them go. However, the existence of a scholarly debate does not alter the fact that most of the posts produced and will be produced on the topic exist solely to propagate conspiracy theories, and nearly all of them have clear party goals. If the discussion is not closed, it is likely that we can already separate the chaff from the wheat, and prevent what should be banned.


This column is far from against the politicization of scientific issues, because everything related to humanity is, in a way, political. The goal here is to understand how each individual’s preferences, whether political or not, can make bias prevail, and how politicization can impede an investigation, in fact, they should seek information without bias.

The SARS-CoV-2 case is the most recent, but various biases have always been present in theories of eugenics, racism and misogyny, just to cite examples that are now widely recognized. It is not a question of pointing fingers and indicting the perpetrators: We will hardly invent a name, or an institution that can be blamed for the disaster, and even if it does, the international political situation is unlikely to allow accountability.

However, it is essential to understand what happened and how to try to prevent it from happening again. There are thousands of laboratories on the planet that store viruses of all kinds, and today there does not seem to be more stringent oversight over their storage and treatment, although there are international rules for this. Not only the likelihood of accidents can be ignored, but also the premise that governments or individuals want to use them with little pure intentions.

It is also worth noting that the Global warming is bringing frozen viruses back to life Tens of thousands of years ago, health protocols must also be prepared to deal with it.


  • The first tip today is especially helpful for drummers and anyone who loves percussion in general, and it’s from Professor Bruno Balan, with whom I took drum lessons: Primeiras Viagens album, compiled by a singer group. In the words of their record company: “The MUTRIB tribe was born from the convergence of the multicultural interests of some of the greatest musicians in the São Paulo music scene. Thinking of the cultural ties of the Eastern Mediterranean as a major axis of world culture, which since ancient times have linked the West. And the east in a cauldron of a large furan, the Mutreb tribe (which in Turkey means “the energy that springs from a meeting of musicians”) celebrates this union, with a repertoire that appreciates both the similarities and the diversity of the region’s musical cultures.

    The sound is too much, and it’s “broken”, it conflicts with our notions of rhythm, but I won’t try to explain my reason for being to understand it first! By the way, anyone who has seen Pulp Fiction will know about the track “Mizirlou” that appears in Dick Dale’s recording “Wave Music”. go there:


* Caio Maia posts every week on the Gizmodo Brasil website. The author’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the vehicle.

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