The Daily Dose: Time to move on from the Chinese bioweapon theory

Sign up for Scientific Inquirer’s Steady State Newsletter for the week’s top stories, exclusive interviews, and weekly giveaways. Plenty of value added but without the tax.

Time to put that coronavirus bioweapon scenario to bed. After being urged by President Trump to investigate the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 is a Chinese creation, the intelligence community has passed their verdict. “The office of the director of national intelligence has released an unusual statement saying officials do not believe coronavirus was manmade, echoing many health experts. ‘The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,’ the statement reads.” Unfortunately, it’s anybody’s guess whether Trump believes his intelligence officials. Past experience has shown that if it doesn’t fit his preferred narrative, he will disregard intelligence completely.

With so much information about the novel coronavirus and potential vaccines available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Figuring out where to start is half the battle. Luckily, Nature has made the task easier with its “Graphical guide to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development.” It provides a succinct explanation of the techniques being employed by drug developers.

A paper published in Science offers its view of what the near future looks like in a COVID-19 world. Long story short, it looks like we’ll be having regular periods of social distancing. According to the authors, “We projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave. Absent other interventions, a key metric for the success of social distancing is whether critical care capacities are exceeded. To avoid this, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022.”

When thinking about the slave trade, Mesoamerica isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Yet, some of the earliest instances of Portuguese and Spanish slaves can be found there. A set of newly discovered skeletons goes a long way towards understanding the conditions the African slaves endured. As per Science, “All three skeletons show signs of trauma and violence. The men were likely in their late 20s or early 30s when they died. Before that, one man survived several gunshot wounds, and he and another man showed a thinning of their skull bones associated with malnutrition and anemia. The third man’s skeleton showed signatures of stress from grueling physical labor, including a poorly healed broken leg. These signs of abuse make it likely that the men were enslaved rather than free.”

Proof that some time in the past Mars was hospitable to life (as we know it, at least) continues to mount. According to a recent study, “The famed Mars meteorite Allan Hills 84001 (ALH84001) contains 4-billion-year-old native organic molecules, the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it, a new study suggests. And that’s not all. The organics contain nitrogen, another ingredient that Earth life depends on, and were found within carbonate minerals, which usually form in groundwater. So the discovery adds to an emerging picture of a wet and potentially habitable Mars in the distant past, study team members said.” Unfortunately, present conditions on the red planet could not be further from that version of the planet.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Words matter. Images matter. The Scientific Inquirer needs your support. Help us pay our contributors for their hard work. Visit our Patreon page and discover ways that you can make a difference.


  1. 1 intelligence agency report from 1 intelligence agency among the 17 in the USA doesn’t make for much consensus there. The weasel wording of “wide scientific consensus” also doesn’t make for much of a case to argue for or against. I’ve come across many scientists who state unequivocally that the virus had to be man-made, for example;

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: