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US media present an unlikely new suspect for the origins of Covid: raccoon dogs

US media present an unlikely new suspect for the origins of Covid: raccoon dogs

The Atlantic, and its media cohorts at the New York Times, have presented a new suspect for the origins of SARS-CoV-2: raccoon dogs.

The source of the first reports of an “international team” of virologists is The Atlantic, which has been exposing the familiar narrative from the start that the wet market near the Wuhan Institute of Virology must have been the natural source of the new coronavirus.

“This week, an international team of virologists, genomicists and evolutionary biologists may have finally found crucial data to help fill this knowledge gap,” the Atlantic stated. “A new analysis of genetic sequences collected from the market shows that raccoon dogs being sold illegally on the site could have been carrying and possibly shedding the virus by the end of 2019. It’s one of the strongest supports yet, I was told by the experts, that the pandemic began when SARS-CoV-2 jumped from animals to humans, rather than an accident between scientists experimenting with viruses.”

“This really strengthens the case for a natural origin,” Seema Lakdawala, a virologist at Emory University who was not part of the research team, told The Atlantic.

Angela Rasmussen, the team’s virologist, added: “This is a very strong indication that the animals in the market were infected. There’s really no other explanation that makes sense.”

This, of course, is not accurate. There are scientific analyzes that strongly suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was synthesized in a laboratory. Princeton University’s Alex Washburne and his team produced research, informally peer-reviewed by one of the world’s top Covid experts, Francois Balloux, that claims to have isolated the “fingerprint” that shows the virus is manufactured in a laboratory.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic recently held hearings that exposed a specific biological quirk about SARS-CoV-2 that further points toward a non-natural origin.

“The genome of Covid-19 is not consistent with expectations and is unique to its group of viruses,” said Speaker Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). “Covid-19 has both a binding domain optimized for human cells and a furin cleavage site, or a small part of the virus that makes it so infectious that has never been seen before in a virus related to SARS. In other words, Covid-19 has unique characteristics that made it highly infectious to humans. These have never been seen before in any other virus of its type.”

The New York Times, however, has brushed aside such powerful and conflicting scientific research and reproduced new research that claims raccoon dogs are indeed to blame.

“In samples that tested positive for the coronavirus, the international research team found genetic material belonging to animals, including large amounts matching the raccoon dog,” the Times reported, citing three of the scientists involved in the analysis

“The mixing of genetic material from the virus and the animal does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected,” the Times report added. “And even if a raccoon dog had been infected, it would not be clear that the animal had spread the virus to people. Another animal could have passed the virus to people, or someone infected with the virus could have- spread it to a raccoon dog”.

Or the animal could have been infected by a virus that had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the report did not say.

“But the analysis established that raccoon dogs, fluffy animals related to foxes and known to be able to transmit the coronavirus, deposited genetic signatures in the same place where the genetic material of the virus was left,” continued the report “This evidence, they said, was consistent with a scenario in which the virus had spilled into humans from a wild animal.”

The Times draws on the new US Department of Energy intelligence assessment and hearings led by new House Republican leadership to further suggest that wild animals may have been the initial sources of infection for SARS-CoV-2 in humans.

This is consistent with the typical modus operandi of science reports such as the Times, which regurgitate what the scientists tell them, even in a highly political context. The Unherd has a worthwhile read on the Times’ history of steering readers in a politically convenient direction by citing pre-print publications that often have Chinese fingerprints.

In March last year, the Unherd explained that Chinese government scientists had “published a preprint online that analyzed swabs sampled early in the pandemic from a Wuhan market for the Covid-19 virus.”

“The next day, a group of Western scientists rushed to publish two preprints of their own, analyzing much of the same evidence,” the story notes. “The Chinese preprint concluded that the market was either the focus of the pandemic’s origin or a spread event where someone outside the market brought it. Western scientists, however, argued that the same evidence showed that the pandemic started in the market from an infected animal.”.

“The Western report and its emphasis on an infected animal passing the virus to someone in the marketplace as the origin of the pandemic became the dominant narrative for New York Times science writers,” the story added. “His story began soon after.”

“BREAKING NEWS: Two major scientific studies point to a market in Wuhan, China, not a laboratory in the city itself, as the birthplace of the coronavirus pandemic,” read an initial version of a story submitted by the Times

The Times report did not disclose that the “major scientific studies” were preprints that had not been reviewed by the wider scientific community.

“When you look at all the evidence together, it’s an extraordinarily clear picture that the pandemic started in the Huanan market,” Michael Worobey, co-author of the two studies and a researcher at the University of Arizona, was quoted as saying by the Times.

It’s a familiar tone that Times readers should recognize. There are scientists who are sure that the coronavirus has natural origins.

This is the “appeal to authority” signal that the self-imagined elitist reader of the Times clings to in order to feel secure in their worldview. It is irrational, unscientific and biased.

If “raccoon dogs” are now the suspect, what happened to the “bat soup” theory? The explanation appeared early in the pandemic, and soon disappeared from the headlines.

The mainstream media has never been forced to account for this “cover story,” which conveniently allowed a mismanaged, unsafe, US-funded lab to conduct “gain-of-function” research.

So we can expect a congressional hearing with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has agreed to testify, to include one more guest mention: raccoon dogs. If we know anything about Fauci, he will cling to whatever lifeline the scientific community can produce, to let him and the Chinese Communists thrive.


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