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It was announced today that we have now passed 25,000 deaths due to the virus, to put that into come sort of perspective, we are now a country of 37 million or so, during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 from a population of 8million, there were more than 50 thousand deaths.  

 

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Albertans line up at U.S. border for COVID-19 vaccinations in Montana

Tue May 18, 2021 - The Globe and Mail
Bill Graveland

KQ3WNCKFE5PF3HSRMPU5W3PHDQ.jpg
A teenage boy uses a skateboard to move up and down selling popcorn to southern Alberta residents lining up to get shots at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic offered by the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana near Carway, Alta., on May 18.

Linda Neilson had waited a long time to get her second COVID-19 vaccination and thanks to the generosity of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana her wait ended at the Canada-United States border on Tuesday.

Neilson, who is from nearby Cardston, Alta., was in one of hundreds of vehicles lined up at the Carway crossing in southern Alberta.

The Blackfeet Tribe, based 150 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alta., had an abundance of vaccine and decided last month to share it with Canada rather than let it go to waste. Initially it was just open to First Nations, but the tribe soon decided to offer it to everybody.

“I’m going to be all done, finally. It feels great. It’s been a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it,” said Neilson, who received her first shot of Moderna in March.

“I was amazed and grateful because it’s too slow getting it any other way. We’re just glad they were able to help us.”

Albertans who attend the clinic are given exemptions from having to quarantine for 14 days. They line up in their cars, drive through a loop that takes them just across the border, receive their shots through the window, are monitored for 15 minutes and return home.

Health workers from the Blackfeet Tribe and members of the Montana National Guard administer the vaccine.

Tuesday marked the second offering of shots. The lineup was more than a kilometre long by 9 a.m. Some people slept in their cars on the highway and on road allowances to ensure they got a turn before supply ran out.

That’s what happened to Ken Sawatzky when he drove from Calgary a couple of weeks ago. He wanted to get his booster shot because his wife is a cancer patient.

He drove down again Tuesday.

“She’s fully inoculated. This will make sure we’re both safe, because I’m her caregiver, too. I think it’s a great thing,” said Sawatzky.

“I’m looking forward to getting this done. I’ll sleep better.”

Bonnie Healy, health director for the Blackfoot Confederacy, helped co-ordinate the vaccination clinic. She said the response has been overwhelming.

“I had a hard time believing it was that hard to get a shot in Canada. A lot of people are coming for a second dose,” Healy said.

One man flew in from Toronto the last time around, drove to the site, got his shot and flew home, she said.

“We had a car full of 18-year-old girls and another car full of 18-year-old boys,” Healy said.

“They were all coming to get their first vaccination. They were all celebrating it.”

Catherine Bechard, regional Indigenous Affairs adviser for the Canada Border Services Agency, said she jumped at a chance to help out at the clinic.

“It’s just an amazing thing what they’re doing and a gift they’re giving to Canadians,” Bechard said.

Dave and Cathy Goodbrand also drove the 260 kilometres from Calgary to get their second shots.

“We’re happy to get down here. It’s a relief. Four months is too long to wait in between vaccines,” said Cathy Goodbrand.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. The Blackfoot Indians are just coming through (for us).”

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4 hours ago, Kargokings said:

It was announced today that we have now passed 25,000 deaths due to the virus, to put that into come sort of perspective, we are now a country of 37 million or so, during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 from a population of 8million, there were more than 50 thousand deaths.  

 

did you have a point or just tossing out information?

the mitigation rules and processes put into place kept that number low.  In short we did more to prevent the spread then they did (could do ) in  1918.  It worked.  not perfectly but it worked.

 

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12 minutes ago, boestar said:

did you have a point or just tossing out information?

the mitigation rules and processes put into place kept that number low.  In short we did more to prevent the spread then they did (could do ) in  1918.  It worked.  not perfectly but it worked.

 

The point    is that what is happening now could be much worse when you compare it to other pandemics such as the Spanish Flu (one that lots of folks have compared our latest pandemic to)

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From an Australian source:

World-first COVID-19 antiviral therapy developed in Brisbane and UStargets virus in the body
By Lexy Hamilton-Smith
Posted Mon 17 May 2021

Queensland researchers and a US team have developed an antiviral therapy that has killed off theCOVID-19 viral load in infected mice by 99.9 per cent.

Lead researcher Professor Nigel McMillan, fromGriffith University, called it a "seek and destroymission" where the therapy genetically targeted thepotentially deadly virus.

The international team of scientists from theMenzies Health Institute Queensland and the USresearch institute City of Hope began theircollaborative research last April.

They used a "next-generation" viral approach usinggene-silencing RNA technology to attack the virusgenome directly, which stops the virus spreading.

"It causes the genome to be destroyed and the virus can't grow anymore — so we inject thenanoparticles and they go and find the virus and destroy it just like a heat-seeking missile," ProfessorMcMillan said.

"This is the first time we have been able to package this up as a particle, send it through the bloodstream to attack the virus.

Key points:

  • Gene-silencing RNA technology is used todestroy the COVID-19 virus genomedirectly and stops the virus replicating
  • The treatment could be available as earlyas 2023, depending on the next phase ofclinical trials
  • The research has been published in Molecular Therapy
  • "It travels to the lungs and it will actually enter all the lung cells, but only in thelung cells with the virus will it destroy — normal cells are completely unharmedby this treatment."

Not a cure, but will save lives
Professor McMillan said although it was "not a cure", it was a therapy that could reduce the amount ofvirus in the lungs by 99.9 per cent, "so it is almost as good as a cure".
"It is really for those people who are suffering for example in ICU, where vaccines are too late," he said.
Professor McMillan said traditional antivirals like zanamivir and remdesivir reduced symptoms andhelped people recover earlier.

"Where this therapy actually stops the virus replicating, so the body can repair itself and the recoverywill be much quicker," he said.

"We basically should be able to eliminate people dying from this disease — iftreated soon enough.
"It allows us to treat those people who are suffering from the virus who are very sick, or those whomay perhaps be in danger of being exposed to the virus, such as those in hotel quarantine.
"They'd be assured they won't suffer from the disease itself."

He said US chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci had said while there were vaccines, there was a lackof direct therapeutics against the virus.

Professor McMillan said the treatment could be available as early as 2023.

"This is really one of the first cabs off the rank in terms of a direct therapeutic, so we are reallyexcited," Professor McMillan said.
"It is an injection that would be delivered daily into someone in ICU for four or five days, or as a singleinjection for someone just exposed."

He said the treatment could be available as early as 2023, depending on the outcomes of the nextphase of clinical trials.
"Remember this virus is not going away — we are going to be living with it forever now," ProfessorMcMillan said.
Co-lead researcher Professor Kevin Morris said the treatment was designed to work on allbetacoronaviruses such as the original SARS virus (SARS-CoV-1) as well as SARS-CoV-2 and MERS

"And any new variants that may arise in the future because it targets ultra-conserved regions in thevirus's genome," Professor Morris said.

"We have also shown that these nanoparticles are stable at 4 degrees Celsius for 12 months and atroom temperature for greater than one month, meaning this agent could be used in low-resourcesettings to treat infected patients."
The results suggest siRNA-nanoparticle formulations could be developed as a therapy to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as used for future coronavirus infections by targeting the virus's genome directly.

"These nanoparticles are scalable and relatively cost-effective to produce in bulk," Professor Morrissaid.

"This work was funded as an urgent call by Medical Research Futures Fund and is the type of RNAmedicine that can be manufactured locally in Australia."

The research has been published in Molecular Therapy.
Professor Kevin Morris said the treatment was designed to work on all betacoronavirusessuch as SARS.

 

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12 hours ago, boestar said:

 

the mitigation rules and processes put into place kept that number low.  In short we did more to prevent the spread then they did (could do ) in  1918.  It worked.  not perfectly but it worked.

 

This Corona situation has been quite interesting from a psychological POV.  Some people say; nothing is happening so why do we need any mitigation and others say nothing is happening because of the mitigation so we did the right thing. 

There's enough material here to keep the next 100 years of psychologists employed!  It has revealed the hidden belief system and personality that we operate under.  I am constantly surprised by the assuredness that people speak with when giving their view on the whole thing and the ease at which they can be coaxed into giving it.

If you were to ask some random person, co-worker or neighbour about their political views or their opinion on abortion you might be hard-pressed to get an answer but ask about their opinion on any aspect of Covid and you better step back so you don't get knocked over as they rush to get on the soapbox.  Of course you would never ask a co-worker about politics or abortion because we all know it's taboo but it seems that, as a society, we haven't figured out the rules-of-engagement for discussing Covid - it's a highly-charged topic and yet openly discussed.  A person's opinion says more about them than they might realize.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, seeker said:

it's a highly-charged topic and yet openly discussed.  A person's opinion says more about them than they might realize.

My takeaway from it all (and it alarms me a bit), is that it indicates a trend toward the acceptance of socialist (type/style) policies/restrictions and the willingness to accept the obvious downsides and conundrums as part of "a sacrifice for the common good". That concept of sacrifice is subtle, (and this is the important distinction) it never comes from the individual, it's an imposed duty from the state.... and thus it's the sort of sacrifice that has a thin veneer. Scratch the surface a bit and it unravels completely. 

It's then that you start to see things that don't make sense, like supply chain breakdowns amidst plenty, high unemployment during a critical labour shortage and inflationary pressures. 

You also see a diminished sense of collective proportion and discretion where neighbours report neighbours to "authorities" for minor infractions, those same authorities chase down a lone jet ski operator in the middle of the St Laurence Seaway and post 24hr guards around churches while gang wars rage a few miles away. Collective obedience becomes job one and crime escalates. 

Ya, I know, this is different right?

There's a reason that even a dumb grunt knows that line, that's because it's always different.

PS. Off topic but it's indicative of the sort of things you will see when collective proportion becomes skewed. Those who would have rightly rejected the concept as immoral if stood upon its head will accept and even welcome its evil twin without a second thought.

Beware things that don't make sense and vote based on policy. The next time someone tells you that getting rid of the police will get rid of crime, tell them about the chocolate cake diet book I'm writing.

https://www.foxnews.com/media/local-reporters-say-chicago-mayor-lori-lightfoot-will-only-grant-interviews-to-black-or-brown-journalists

Edited by Wolfhunter
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And then outside of Canada, the success stories are not longer that.  Maybe our approach was / is sound.  I guess only time will tell.

Covid-19: What went wrong in Singapore and Taiwan?

By Yvette Tan
BBC News, Singapore
ES

They've been hailed as virus success stories - places that have seen virtually zero or single-digit Covid cases since the start of the year.

But this month, Singapore and Taiwan have both seen a sudden and aggressive rise in cases - with Singapore logging 248 new cases just last week, and Taiwan 1,200 local infections.

Both places have gone into a heightened state of restrictions, limiting the size of social gatherings and closing schools.

By global standards, these numbers may seem small - but for these places, these figure would have been unthinkable just a month ago. So what exactly went wrong?

A tale of complacency: Taiwan

Taiwan was among the first places to ban foreign visitors almost as soon as China reported the emergence of the virus - and these tough border restrictions still remain in place.

Locally however, the population started to become complacent - as did its government.

Hospitals stopped aggressively testing people for Covid, even those with a fever - a common symptom of the virus, according to Associate Professor Lin Hsien-ho of the National Taiwan University.

According to online publication Our World in Data, Taiwan was administering just 0.57 virus tests per 1,000 people in mid-Feb. This compared to Singapore's rate of 6.21 and the UK's rate of 8.68 at around the same period.

"There was a general assumption even with people showing symptoms that the probability of having Covid-19 was essentially zero," Dr Lin told the BBC, adding that it stemmed from a belief that the virus could not break through Taiwan's strong borders.

"Doctors were not taking it seriously, hospitals were not alert, they were not doing a lot of contact tracing. There was definitely a certain sense of complacency."

This was especially highlighted when Taiwan relaxed its quarantine requirements for non-vaccinated airline pilots from an initial 14 day period, to five days - and then, just three days.

Shortly afterwards, a cluster broke out connected to a handful of China Airlines pilots who had been staying at a Novotel near Taoyuan Airport. Many of those linked to the this cluster were later found to have contracted the UK variant, known as B117.

The virus then spread through the community, eventually making its way to Taiwan's "tea houses" - adult entertainment venues.

 

"You had people singing, drinking, coming into frequent contact in an indoor ventilated setting. It was not just one teahouse but many on the same street - it was a very large super spreader event," said Dr Lin.

Professor Chen Chien-jen, an epidemiologist and former vice-president of Taiwan, says the fact that many who tested positive were unwilling to declare they had visited such adult entertainment venues made contact tracing even more difficult.

"It just reminds us that even when a very small proportion of the population breaks the rules, it will lead to leakages," said Dr Chen.

He also adds that Taiwan failed to look at Japan's adult entertainment industry - which at one point was also a hotbed of infections - before it was ordered shut.

"We didn't learn the lesson from Japan and reflect that Taiwan might have these same issues," he said.

According to Associate Professor Alex Cook of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Taiwan's situation is a "a reflection of the constant risk of a strategy that puts too much emphasis on border control and not enough on measures to prevent within country spread".

Cracks in the wall: Singapore

In Singapore however, it was a different story.

Measures here have always been stringent despite low cases - public gatherings were kept to a maximum of eight, clubs have not been allowed open and there is still a cap on mass gatherings like weddings.

But there were still gaps in its vaccine playbook, and by late May, Singapore's Changi Airport - which also boasts a popular shopping centre - had turned into the country's biggest Covid cluster this year.

Authorities later found out that a number of infected airport staff had been working in a zone that received travellers from high risk countries, including those in South Asia.

Some of these workers then went on to have their meals in the airport's food courts - which are open to members of the public - further spreading the virus.

Singapore has now closed its passenger terminals to members of the public temporarily as a result.

IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES

Many of the infected were later found to have a highly contagious variant that first surfaced in India - known as B1617.

Singapore has now also announced that it would segregate flights and passengers from high-risk countries and regions from those arriving from lower-risk places. Staff will also be ring-fenced and segregated by zones.

Some online are asking why such measures were not taken earlier, noting potential loopholes were pointed out up to a month ago.

But one expert at the NUS School of Medicine said he thinks it was "inevitable" that the new variant would have found its way into Singapore.

"I understand why people are feeling frustrated because the majority of Singaporeans have been extremely compliant," said Prof Teo Yik Ying, dean of the NUS School of Public Health.

"But we are not like China which can keep its borders completely shut. Our reputation as a country, our economy, is linked to our position as a trade hub.

"[Also] if we look at the US last year, its worst virus cases came in not from China, but from travellers that went to Europe. So how many countries can Singapore close its borders to? We have to understand its never just closing off one country."

But Prof Cook says the country is still in a "very good position" to rein in its outbreak.

"I'm hesitant to say that 'things went wrong', since Singapore is still, despite the stepping up of measures, in a very good position," he said.

"If we compare it to the UK, the typical daily cases is around 10% of the UK's level after adjusting for population size. In other words, Singapore is tightening measures to pre-empt getting to a point where the virus can run amok."

A slow vaccination drive

There is one problem that's plaguing both Singapore and Taiwan: vaccines.

Many in Taiwan didn't want to take the vaccine when things were going well, with fears around the AstraZeneca vaccine - the main one Taiwan currently stocks - further adding to this hesitancy.

The current rise in cases however, means that people in Taiwan are now flocking to get the vaccine. The only problem is - there isn't enough to go around.

Taiwan has to date received just 300,000 vaccines - for a population of 24 million.

"We have tried our best to purchase vaccines from international companies but we didn't get much. The only way to sustain our supply is to manufacture ourselves, this is very important for Taiwan," said Dr Chen.

Taiwan is currently working on producing two local vaccines, which could be available as quickly as the end of July.

It's a similar tale in Singapore, which has a limited supply of vaccines- though the government expects to vaccinate its entire population by the end of the year.

"Ultimately we are limited by the supply. In countries like the UK, US, China, they have the capabilities to produce their own vaccines," said Prof Teo.

"We anticipate that the need for vaccines is going to be long term, so that's why we are moving towards having our own manufacturing capabilities. Then we will no longer be reliant."

Prof Teo adds that the spike in both places is a lesson for countries that may now be seeing a dip in cases.

"When we see countries in Europe, or the US starting to relax measures, I think they should be very cautious and look around the world to see what is happening," he said.

"What's happened in Taiwan, Singapore - it's a sign that we should not let our guard down."

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Posted (edited)

This virus is almost too perfect.... by that I mean the Goldilocks effect, not too much, not too little, but just enough.  It seems to me that nothing in nature starts off this perfect, viruses adapt, they morph over time by accident and by the process of natural selection.

It's like this was tailor made for humans, specifically developed and either accidentally or accidentally on purpose released on the world. I find it increasingly difficult to believe there is no conspiracy to unravel here. 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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Canadian troops lining up in droves to be vaccinated with 85% receiving one dose

OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence says Canadian military personnel are coming forward in droves to be vaccinated, with more than 85 per cent of all troops receiving at least one dose.

That stands in contrast to an apparent rash of vaccine hesitancy in the United States military, where some reports have suggested as many as one-third of American troops have declined to get a shot.

The difference in the military acceptance is interesting and I do wonder if it has anything to do with the difference in cultural mix between the Canadian and US forces? 

 

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New information on Wuhan researchers' illness furthers debate on pandemic origins

Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, Katie Bo Williams and Zachary Cohen

CNNDigital

Contact

Published Monday, May 24, 2021 8:07AM EDTLast Updated Monday, May 24, 2021 8:16AM EDT

 

The Chinese government is retaliating after comments made by Australia's prime minister over the origin of COVID-19. Tom Walters reports.

A U.S. intelligence report found that several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized, a new detail about the severity of their symptoms that could fuel further debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two people briefed on the intelligence.

A State Department fact sheet released by the Trump administration in January said that the researchers had gotten sick in autumn 2019 but did not go as far as to say they had been hospitalized. China reported to the World Health Organization that the first patient with COVID-19-like symptoms was recorded in Wuhan on Dec. 8, 2019.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the intelligence surrounding the earlier hospitalizations.

Importantly, the intelligence community still does not know what the researchers were actually sick with, said the people briefed, and continues to have low confidence in its assessments of the virus' precise origins beyond the fact that it came from China. "At the end of the day, there is still nothing definitive," said one of the people who has seen the intelligence.

The director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Lab, which is part of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, issued a strong denial of the report on Monday.

"I've read it, it's a complete lie," director Yuan Zhiming told state-run tabloid Global Times. "Those claims are groundless. The lab has not been aware of this situation, and I don't even know where such information came from."

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, on Monday refuted the report and accused the U.S. of "hyping up the lab leak theory."

"Through field visits and in-depth visits in China, the experts unanimously agreed that the allegation of lab leaking is extremely unlikely," Zhao said.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers during the Worldwide Threats Hearing last month that "the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how COVID-19 virus was transmitted initially," an assessment that has not changed, said two of the people briefed on the intelligence.

The current intelligence reinforces the belief that the virus most likely originated naturally, from animal-human contact, the sources said. But that does not preclude the possibility that the virus was the result of an accidental leak from the Wuhan Institute, where coronavirus research was being conducted on bats.

The World Health Organization conducted an investigation into the origins of the pandemic and concluded in a report that the risk of an accident was "extremely low." The report said there was "no reporting of COVID-19 compatible respiratory illness during the weeks/months prior to December 2019, and no serological evidence of infection in workers through SARS-CoV-2-specific serology-screening."

Disease ecologist Peter Daszak, who worked on the WHO team, told CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in February that "there is really still no evidence that this came from a lab." He noted that researchers were tested and there was no evidence found of Covid antibodies, and said the lab was "very well run."

"It's not a complete throwing out of that hypothesis," Daszak said. "It's a conclusion that it's extremely unlikely and that there is a much more likely hypothesis out there."

But the WHO probe was swiftly criticized by the U.S., U.K., and other governments over its limited access to "complete, original data and samples."

The organization was also accused of being overly deferential to China throughout the course of the study, which was co-authored by 17 Chinese scientists -- several of them from state-run institutions.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has long been investigating the origins of the pandemic, received a classified briefing on the matter last week, according to a source familiar with the matter. The source declined to say whether the intelligence report mentioning the hospitalized researchers was discussed during the briefing.

Current and former intelligence officials say that the idea that the virus was accidentally unleashed from the lab at Wuhan is reasonable, although they caution that there is no high-confidence assessment of that possibility.

In the final days of the Trump administration, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaned into the possibility that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV. Despite the intelligence being inconclusive, Pompeo put out a fact sheet that said the U.S. had evidence researchers at the WIV had been sick in the fall of 2019 with Covid-like symptoms and that the lab, where coronavirus had been studied in bats, had a history of military research.

The process behind declassifying the intelligence in that fact sheet took a long time, and certain details were scrubbed from the final version that was released, sources familiar with the process told CNN.

In contrast, the Biden administration has not declassified any intelligence surrounding the origins of COVID-19 and has not indicated that it plans to do so.

One of the challenges in developing any certainty is access to the lab itself. China delayed access to international investigators for months after the initial outbreak, virtually guaranteeing that the lab had been deep-cleaned before any forensic analysis could be done, and investigators were also not allowed to view original data logs that scientists say would be critical to understanding the virus' origins.

One critical avenue to finding an answer would be to run genetic sequencing on the original samples that staff at the Wuhan lab were working on. But "the Chinese are never going to allow that," said one person familiar with the underlying intelligence.

"My own personal belief is we're never going to know the answer to this," this person said. "And the answer is not going to be found out by the CIA, because that would suggest the Chinese are looking for it themselves," which this person said they were not

"If the answer exists it's not going to be found by traditional spycraft," this person added

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Kargokings said:

This theory keeps gaining traction. Pompeo is not exactly a lightweight 
 

“ United States Secretary of State (2018–2021), Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2017–2018), “

 

76671EFB-D2B6-4251-8442-004936389DFD.jpeg

Edited by Jaydee
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Fauci ‘not convinced’ COVID developed naturally, backs investigation

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to President Biden on the coronavirus pandemic, said he’s “not convinced” the deadly virus developed naturally and has called for further investigations into where it emerged.

Fauci was asked during a Poynter event, “United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking,” earlier this month about whether he was confident that COVID-19 developed naturally.

“No actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said, according to Fox News.

“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he added.

https://nypost.com/2021/05/23/fauci-not-convinced-covid-19-developed-naturally/

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12 hours ago, Jaydee said:

This theory keeps gaining traction. Pompeo is not exactly a lightweight 
 

“ United States Secretary of State (2018–2021), Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2017–2018), “

 

76671EFB-D2B6-4251-8442-004936389DFD.jpeg

Evidently Biden shut down the investigation.  

Pompeo-led effort to hunt down Covid lab theory shut down by Biden administration over concerns about quality of evidence (msn.com)

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11 hours ago, Kargokings said:

Evidently Biden shut down the investigation.  

Of course he did…because it was a Trump initiative to get at the truth….and that’s the last thing the world needs right now…is the truth….because according to Biden every thing Trump did was evil….after all the Lefts version is so much more believable.

What a sad state of affairs the US (world) is in.

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7 hours ago, Jaydee said:

Of course he did…because it was a Trump initiative to get at the truth….and that’s the last thing the world needs right now…is the truth….because according to Biden every thing Trump did was evil….after all the Lefts version is so much more believable.

What a sad state of affairs the US (world) is in.

Evidently he had 2nd thoughts.

Quote

Biden asks U.S. intel officials to investigate COVID-19 origin

Zeke Miller and Aamer Madhani Published Wednesday, May 26, 2021 1:38PM EDTLast Updated Wednesday, May 26, 2021 2:19PM EDT 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese lab.

After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is responding to both U.S. and world pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak.

Biden asked U.S. intelligence agencies to report back on their findings within 90 days. He directed U.S. national laboratories to assist with the investigation and called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.

Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory accident rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal.

Biden in a statement said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around those two likely scenarios but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.” He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and “one leans more toward” the lab theory, adding, “each with low or moderate confidence.”

“The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,” said Biden.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the White House supports a new World Health Organization investigation in China, but she added that an effective probe “would require China finally stepping up and allowing access needed to determine the origins.”

Biden still held out the possibility that a firm conclusion may never be reached, given the Chinese government's refusal to fully cooperate with international investigations.

“The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19,” he said.

Administration officials still harbor strong doubts about the lab leak theory. They view China's refusal to cooperate in the investigation - particularly on something of such magnitude - as emblematic of other irresponsible actions on the world stage.

Privately, administration officials say the end result, if ever known, won't change anything, but note China's stonewalling is now on display for the world to see.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House coronavirus adviser, said Wednesday that he and most others in the scientific community “believe that the most likely scenario is that this was a natural occurrence, but one knows that 100 percent for sure.”

“And since there's a lot of concern, a lot of speculation and since no one absolutely knows that, I believe we do need the kind of investigation where there's open transparency and all the information that's available, to be made available, to scrutinize,” Fauce said at a Senate hearing.

Andy Slavitt, Biden's senior adviser for the coronavirus, said Tuesday that the world needs to “get to the bottom ... whatever the answer may be.”

“We need a completely transparent process from China; we need the WHO to assist in that matter,”" Slavitt said. “We don't feel like we have that now.”

 

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19 hours ago, Kargokings said:

It's explained in your article:

The decision to terminate the inquiry, which was run primarily out of the State Department's arms control and verification bureau, was made after Biden officials were briefed on the team's draft findings in February and March of this year, a State Department spokesperson said. Questions were raised about the legitimacy of the findings and the project was deemed to be an ineffective use of resources, explained a source familiar with the decision.

 

Sources involved in the Trump-era inquiry rejected criticisms over the quality of their work and told CNN their objective had been to examine scientific research and information from the US intelligence community which backed the lab leak theory and shone more light on how it could have emerged in the lab.

A day after CNN reported this story, the State Department disputed that it had shut down the Trump-era inquiry and instead said that its work had been completed. Several sources involved with the inquiry who spoke to CNN said it was their impression that there was more work to be done.

On Wednesday, Biden issued a statement that he has directed the US intelligence community to redouble its efforts in investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and report back to him in 90 days.

Though Biden officials shut down this particular inquiry, they remain skeptical of Beijing's role in limiting investigators from accessing information that may be pertinent to the origins of the virus. US intelligence agencies continue to examine the question of whether the virus emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or if it could have been the result of a laboratory accident.

One US intelligence report, which CNN and the Wall Street Journal recently reported on, found that several researchers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized, a new detail which has fueled the continued debate about the virus's origin. The exact nature of their symptoms remain unclear.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed work on the inquiry had stopped, saying, "Even though this discrete project has concluded, the State Department continues to work with the interagency to look into the COVID origins issue."

 

Origins of the inquiry

The State Department project began in late 2020, months after Pompeo and President Donald Trump first claimed that the virus could have originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In May 2020, Pompeo claimed there was "enormous evidence" and a "significant amount of evidence" to support the claim -- despite the US intelligence community saying there was no definitive answer as to precisely where and how the virus began transmitting.

Pompeo did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.

The inquiry also came amid a broader effort by some in the Trump administration to look for ways to blame the Chinese government for the outbreak and deflect responsibility from its own handling of the virus, which had claimed over 200,000 lives by Election Day in November.

As Trump and Pompeo regularly spoke about the "China virus," their continued suggestions that the virus originated in a lab raised concerns among some State Department and intelligence officials over what they viewed as attempts to politicize what little the US knew about the virus's origins. But those involved in the effort looked at it as more of a need to probe unanswered questions, rather than a politically motivated program.

Still, the quiet inquiry eventually became a contentious issue at the State Department during the few months it was active.

Proponents of the effort, including Pompeo himself, argued that the potential connection between the Chinese military and the pandemic needed to be investigated and that the administration was justified to include the inquiry in the State Department's ongoing and legally mandated review of countries' compliance with arms control treaties, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

Officials involved in the effort relied on scientific research as well as public and classified information to probe the lab leak theory, including looking into any possible connection between the virus and the Chinese government's biological weapons program, three of the sources told CNN.

The Chinese government is party to the major international agreements regulating biological weapons which prohibit developing, producing, transferring or stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons. The US government has said that it believes China maintained an offensive biological weapons program even after joining the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in 1984. China refutes this.

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said he is not convinced that Covid-19 developed naturally but last spring he said the US strongly leaned toward the idea that the virus could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. Officials involved in the State Department inquiry believed Fauci's initial comments last year were "baseless."

"People in the US government were working on the question of where Covid-19 came from but there was no other effort that we knew of that took the lab leak possibility seriously enough to focus on digging into certain aspects, questions and uncertainties," said David Feith, a former senior State Department official who was briefed on the effort

'Suspicious as hell'

Opponents of the State Department inquiry viewed the effort as alarming because those working on it appeared to actively hide their work from skeptics, two sources said.

"The way they did their work was suspicious as hell," said one former State Department official who was familiar with the effort. "They basically conducted it in secret, cutting out the State Department's technical experts and the Intelligence Community, and then trying to brief certain senior officials in the interagency on their 'tentative conclusions' even before they'd let the department leaders they worked for know an investigation was underway at all."

During the final weeks of the Trump administration, when senior officials in the department who had been shielded from the efforts learned about how far the inquiry had gone, they pushed for a panel of outside scientists to review the findings. When scientists looked at the data, during a 3-hour long meeting in early January, the evidence collected up until that point appeared inconclusive and misguided, two sources said.

"It smelled like they were just fishing to justify pre-determined conclusions and cut out experts who could critique their 'science,' " said the former official familiar with the effort. "The reason for all this became clear when real scientists finally got a chance to see their analysis, and [the inquiry's] 'statistical' case fell apart."

The briefing prompted then-Assistant Secretary Chris Ford to send a memo to a handful of department officials, including top leadership, urging caution about the group's findings.

Ford called aspects of the analysis "gravely flawed" and urged officials "against suggesting that there is anything inherently suspicious -- and suggestive of biological warfare activity -- about People's Liberation Army involvement at WIV on classified projects."

 

'Dissenting perspectives on purpose'

But those involved in the project -- who said they relied on the intelligence community throughout their inquiry -- defended their efforts.

"Our scientific consulting process involved dissenting perspectives on purpose," said one source involved in the project. "It was a meeting with deliberative disagreement."

"There was a total misunderstanding of the entire process. We used experts and one specific team of experts but there was no consensus in the IC," said a second former official working on the effort. "The IC was saying this is a public health issue and this has nothing to do with biological weapons. Well, we said, how do we know that?"

Pompeo put out a statement as the Trump administration was leaving office that said the US had determined collaboration between the Wuhan lab where Covid-19 research has been conducted on bats, and secret Chinese military projects. The process behind declassifying the intelligence in that statement took weeks, and certain details were scrubbed from the final version which was put out, sources familiar with the process told CNN. The State Department's small group looking into the lab leak theory contributed to that fact sheet, but most of its information came from the US intelligence community, sources told CNN.

When the Biden administration took office, it did not see any significant doubts in the datapoints featured in the fact sheet Pompeo put out, according to one source familiar. The information was vetted by the intelligence community but it was also a select few datapoints from a mountain of data in what the Biden administration viewed as a deliberate effort to put more weight into the lab leak theory while they ignored information suggesting the virus spread naturally from animals to humans.

 

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