An Evolutionary Marvel.
Up on the roof in Vermont.
1. Vanity Fair:
Some view ongoing questions about biosafety at the WIV as part of a Republican campaign to discredit Anthony Fauci, who led NIAID for 38 years, and to attack science more broadly. But US government warnings about scientific collaborations in autocratic countries predate the pandemic and cut across partisan lines. Concerns flagged in the Obama administration persisted through the Trump administration and are being examined today. “The administration is actively engaged in a process, incorporating input from all relevant federal agencies” to “evaluate and update biosafety and biosecurity policies,” an official in President Joe Biden’s White House told Vanity Fair.
A six-month investigation by VF has found an almost decade-long trail of warnings issued by the Department of Energy to other government agencies, including the NIH, concerning the risk that US-funded biology research could be misused by overseas partners. In mid-2019, an Energy Department official went so far as to issue a specific warning to NIAID about the coronavirus research the agency was funding at the WIV. Read the rest. (Source: vanityfair.com)
2. In the two years since its emergence, Omicron has proved to be not only staggeringly infectious, but an evolutionary marvel, challenging many assumptions virologists had before the pandemic. It has given rise to an impressive number of descendants, which have become far more adept at evading immunity and finding new victims. “It was almost like there was another pandemic,” said Adam Lauring, a virologist at the University of Michigan. Dr. Lauring and other Omicron watchers are now trying to make sense of the past two years in order to prepare for the future. It’s possible that Omicron will become a permanent part of life, steadily mutating like seasonal influenza. But researchers warn that the virus still has the capacity to surprise us, especially if we stop paying close attention. (Source: nytimes.com)