US Senate's Interim report on "An Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Have you already discussed this in particular (I don’t think so):
An Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Interim Report
October 2022

I know you have discussed “Endonuclease fingerprint indicates a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV-2” by Valentin Bruttel et al.

As a non-scientist, I wonder what’s wrong with this Interim Report. For example, the conclusion on Page 26:

“Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident. New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment. However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.”


Let’s take it at face value: They say that the information they cited supports a ‘research-related incident’, and you evidently agree. So quote the strongest piece of evidence they cited, and provide the evidence they cite to support that claim.

Because I looked through it, and it reads like a bunch of conspiratorial nonsense.


Hooold it. I’ve been in this forum last year in order to comment on biblical studies. I never came here to debate scientists. Im not a scientist. I come here to ask scientists.
Nowhere do I indicate that I agree with this interim report. I came here to ask you what is wrong with this interim report as a non-scientist because some people out there like John Campbell are using it to give some evidence that it might have been a lab incident, and last year I wrote blog posts sharing that it was most likely not a lab incident. You’re jumping the gun.


As a non-scientist, one of the weaknesses I noticed right away with this report is the overwhelming citation or references to news articles instead of peer-reviewed articles or other kinds of academic or specialized literature. But, I dont see what is wrong with the actual arguments, so that’s why Im asking here.


I think you have fallen afoul of several previous posts which were promoting more conspiratorial views. :wink:

I haven’t had a chance to read that report yet, but I will take a look later. However, I will hazard a guess that it doesn’t reference recent finding, as might be expected from a source that moves at the speed of gevernment.

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Yes Dan, understood and thank you! :+1:

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A statement from the Minority Report:

“There also do not appear to have been subsequent spillovers of the virus that generated sustained transmission in humans, or any other independent spillovers of SARS-CoV-2, from the intermediate host animal(s) to humans since the pandemic started.48”

Some statements from reference 48 itself:

“The first zoonotic transmission likely involved lineage B viruses around 18 November 2019 (23 October to 8 December), and the separate introduction of lineage A likely occurred within weeks of this event. These findings indicate that it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 circulated widely in humans before November 2019 and define the narrow window between when SARS-CoV-2 first jumped into humans and when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported. As with other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 emergence likely resulted from multiple zoonotic events.

The bolded statement (from the abstract) contradicts the conclusions that the Senate Minority Report draws. I do not believe the Minority Report really discusses, let alone refutes the findings of Pekar et al..

Save for one citation that completely misses the point (" In many respects, once human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was established, the onward human-to-human transmission of the virus would look similar regardless of whether it originated from a natural zoonotic spillover or a research-related incident.17"), the minority report disregards another study that strongly disassociates the WIV from the origination of the outbreak.

The Minority Report can be summarized thusly: they want to find a connection between the WIV and the origins of the pandemic, they really cannot, but they just know that the PRC is hiding something. All of the facts be darned.


Okay, what’s wrong with it is that it is a vacuous and conspiratorial pile of half-baked nonsense. It’s an empty lab coat being puppeteered by politicians to confuse and anger the lay public.

Can you provide an argument from the paper that isn’t an obvious non sequitur?

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It’s just some GOP numbskulls spewing their personal conspiracy theories on government letterhead and at public expense because they can. It is no more worth taking seriously than someone posting on Twitter that the moon landings were faked.

We now know with a high degree of confidence where COVID originated from:

Pandemic start point is Wuhan seafood market, according to new studies : Goats and Soda : NPR


@BrianLopez Forbes has a good article on this.

Selected highlights:

So when the office of Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) dropped “An Analysis of the Origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic Interim Report,” just two weeks before the midterm election, you’ve gotta wonder whether this report was more about politics than actually determining what really happened.

Similarly, this report seemed to be claiming that the evidence is already strong enough to conclude that a lab leak started the Covid-19 pandemic. But what evidence did the report then provide? Well, here’s a hint. It rhymes with “Not a troll bot.” Yes, not a whole lot.

More, it’s worth a read.


The following paragraph from your reference is worth highlighting

Evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey helped lead two of the studies and has been at the forefront of the search for the origins of the pandemic. He has spent his career tracking down the origins of pandemics, including the origin of HIV and the 1918 flu.

Back in May 2021, Worobey signed a letter calling for an investigation into the lab-leak theory. But then, through his own investigation, he quickly found data supporting an animal origin.

Already famous (by virologist standards) for tracking down an original specimen of the 1918 flu, Worobey actually resisted pressure to pre-emptively reject the covid lab leak hypothesis. His evidence based affirmation of the market spillover has a great deal of credibility.


Okay thank you CrisprCAS9


Thanks Faizal _Ali for the “The Huanan market was the epicenter of SARS-CoV-2 emergence” paper, looks thorough


Thank you Dan, Im collecting all of this!

Afaicg the single “best” piece of evidence they could find is that a cluster of google searches that apparently occurred in late october 2019, for flu like symptoms, originated in an area of the city that is a few miles closer to the WIV than the seafood market is.

The Eddie Holmes episode of This Week in Virology from a month ago is well worth a listen on this topic. Of course it doesn’t address the senate report directly as the podcast came out before the report, but it covers a lot of the relevant talking points from the perspective of one of the scientists intimately familiar with the early events, working closely with the Chinese scientists in question, publishing the early data, and working alongside national health leaders like Fauci, etc.

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Thank you evograd, I do listen to TWIV from time-to-time and I missed this one. I’ll listen to it, thank you!

Interesting discussion concerning the Chinese reaction from 18:00 forward in the This Week in Virology video. To reject the Wuhan lab leak speculation is not to in any way diminish the culpability of the Chinese government for Covid. They failed to safeguard the health of the food chain to begin with. Inexcusably, they actively suppressed the dissemination of vital information from the onset, and continue reprisals against individuals regarded as not fallen in line. Peer review should not include a visit from police. They failed to respond when it mattered, and now that there is no possible perimeter to the virus they imprison whole cities. So one does not need a lab leak to justify fury with the Chinese government for over six million dead and devastation to global health.


Or fury with any of those downstream of the escape from China.

With testing and contact tracing, we could have shut down the whole world for ~3 weeks when we first noticed it, had wealthy countries send food to poor ones, and we’d have eliminated the virus, saving millions of lives (and money, for those who think it is more important than lives).


Small point: this is not a product of the senate as a whole, nor the specific committee from which it was issued. This is the product of the the GOP minority on that committee. It’s a political document first and foremost, and treating it as anything else is to fall for the con. Which, if the reporting is any indicator, most people have.

But let’s examine this with both eyes open in terms of what it is and what the goals are. Which, again, is GOP propaganda.