• Opinion | The Government Must Say What It Knows About Covid’s Origins - The New York Times

    Finira-t-on par savoir l’origine du Covid ?
    par Zeynep Tufekci

    Three researchers at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, who had fallen ill in November 2019 had been experimenting with SARS-like coronaviruses under inadequate biosafety conditions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing current and former U.S. officials.

    The Journal had reported in 2021 that some researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had sought hospital care that November, around the time that evidence suggests Covid first began to spread among people. It was not publicly known, though, that those scientists had been experimenting with SARS-like coronaviruses — that is, pathogens related to the ones that cause SARS and Covid.

    Their role in that work is not proof that the virus initially leaked out of a lab rather than spreading from animals at a market in the city, the other theory into how the pandemic started. There is no proof of that path, either, since the known cases from the market outbreak were too late to have been the origin, and no infected animal has been found there.

    But this is yet another demonstration that almost all of the most significant information we’ve had about Covid’s possible relationship to scientific research in Wuhan has come out in dribs and drabs from the hard work of independent researchers, journalists, open records advocates and others, not directly from our government choosing to act with transparency.

    The names of the researchers who reportedly fell ill, which have not been publicly confirmed by the U.S. government and therefore remain unverified, and the nature of their work, were disclosed last week by the news site Public. One of those named researchers, Ben Hu, is a leading scientist who has worked on bat coronaviruses related to SARS. Some of Hu’s work was funded by the U.S. government, a fact that was unearthed through Freedom of Information Act requests by the nonprofit group White Coat Waste Project, which opposes taxpayer-funded research on animals, as well as by The Intercept, which uncovered broader U.S. funding for potentially dangerous lab work in Wuhan.

    Another researcher who reportedly fell sick, Yu Ping, had written a thesis in 2019 about work at the virology institute on bat coronaviruses related to SARS — a thesis that was unearthed by a group of independent researchers who call themselves DRASTIC. The thesis further confirmed that work on these dangerous viruses was being done in labs with the second-lowest level of biosafety, BSL-2.

    In September 2021, DRASTIC also obtained a funding proposal that the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s U.S. collaborator, EcoHealth Alliance, submitted to the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The proposal called for using genetic engineering to perform experiments with bat SARS-like coronaviruses and modify them by inserting features that can increase their ability to infect humans. The U.S. government rejected the proposal. One of the things that the scientists were proposing to do was to insert into these SARS-like viruses what is called a “furin cleavage site” — a feature of the Covid virus, but of no other known member of its subgenus.

    The feature could also have evolved naturally, and many scientists dismissed its significance as evidence that research set off the pandemic origins. In a September 2021 journal article, published just before the grant application was made public, 21 scientists wrote that there was no evidence of research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology “involving the artificial insertion of complete furin cleavage sites into coronaviruses.” So the grant application, which calls that claim into question, is significant.

    Thanks to extensive public records requests by the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know, we are also aware that, as early as February 2020, many scientists who were publicly ruling out any role that research could have played in the pandemic, were privately expressing concern that there was a such connection, and in fact were specifically worried about the unusual furin cleavage site. (Some of the scientists have said they later changed their minds.)
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    What’s notable about all this is not that it necessarily indicates that researchers in Wuhan were doing something nefarious that their counterparts in the West weren’t doing. It’s that they were doing the type of research that occurs around the world, including the United States. By all accounts, some of the most vilified people — including Shi Zhengli, the lead bat researcher in Wuhan — were dedicated scientists. Their work raised safety concerns, but they were not alone in that regard.

    A recently published book by the investigative journalist Alison Young demonstrates multiple instances in the United States, including very recent ones, in which labs and universities have downplayed or covered up significant biosafety lapses, including ones that involved deadly engineered viruses that could potentially set off pandemics. If Chinese scientists were endangering the world, American scientists have too.

    By keeping evidence that seemed to provide ammunition to proponents of a lab leak theory under wraps and resisting disclosure, U.S. officials have contributed to making the topic of the pandemic’s origins more poisoned and open to manipulation by bad-faith actors.

    Treating crucial information like a dark secret empowers those who viciously and unfairly accuse public health officials and scientists of profiting off the pandemic. As Megan K. Stack wrote in Times Opinion this spring, “Those who seek to suppress disinformation may be destined, themselves, to sow it.”

    The American public, however, only rarely heard refreshing honesty from their officials or even their scientists — and this tight-lipped, denialist approach appears to have only strengthened belief that the pandemic arose from carelessness during research or even, in less reality-based accounts, something deliberate. According to an Economist/YouGov poll published in March, 66 percent of Americans — including majorities of Democrats and independents — believe the pandemic was caused by research activities, a number that has gone up since 2020. Only 16 percent of Americans believed that it was likely or definitely false that the emergence of the Covid virus was tied to research in a Chinese lab, while 17 percent were unsure.

    Worse, biosafety, globally, remains insufficiently regulated. Making biosafety into a controversial topic makes it harder to move forward with necessary regulation and international effort.

    For years, scientists and government officials did not publicly talk much about the fact that a 1977 “Russian” influenza pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people most likely began when a vaccine trial went awry. In a 2014 report from the Center for Arms Control Nonproliferation, Martin Furmanski explained that one reason for the relative silence was the fear of upsetting the burgeoning cooperation over flu surveillance and treatment by the United States, China and Russia.

    The world doesn’t work that way anymore. A few people can’t control the public conversation, especially after tens of millions of people have died, and attempts to do so will only backfire.

    The public deserves to know this information. So far, some of the details about the Wuhan scientists who were sickened, including their names, have come from news reports citing unnamed sources, so some skepticism is required. But why hasn’t the Biden administration confirmed or denied these details?

    Even though President Biden signed a law in March requiring the declassification of information about Covid-19’s origins by this past Sunday, his administration has yet to release that information. It needs to quickly declassify as much as possible of what it knows about the pandemic’s origins. In addition, the National Institutes of Health, which reportedly funded some of the research in China under scrutiny, needs to be forthcoming too, rather than waiting for more leaks or laws forcing its hand.

    When people lose trust in institutions, misinformation appears more credible. The antidote is more transparency and accountability.

    Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is a professor at Columbia University, the author of “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest” and a New York Times Opinion columnist. @zeynep • Facebook

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Covid #Biosécurité #Origine_covid

    • C’est gris, c’est gros et ça casse tout sur son passage, ça peut être un éléphant dans un magasin de porcelaine, mais y a plus de chances que ce soit un gros orage.

      le #rasoir_d’Ockham a tendance à nous dire que si ce virus est très différent de tous ceux de sa famille, qu’il présente une modification significative visant à le rendre spécifiquement plus efficace contre les humains et qu’il est sorti du bois à côté d’un endroit où l’on faisait spécifiquement ce genre de chose, alors on a des chances raisonnables de pouvoir penser que le pangolin n’est probablement pas le coupable de l’histoire.

  • Les « Frankenvirus » au cœur des débats, après l’émergence du Covid-19

    Les expériences visant à rendre plus dangereux des pathogènes au prétexte d’anticiper leur émergence se multiplient, alors que les experts sont divisés sur les bénéfices et les risques liés à ces manipulations. La discussion est d’autant plus vive que de telles expérimentations avaient cours à Wuhan, épicentre de la pandémie de Covid-19, dont on ignore toujours l’origine.

    Jeu dangereux du « gain de fonction »
    Certes, en apparence, le débat n’est pas vraiment nouveau – d’autant que l’histoire de la virologie est émaillée d’accidents et de fuites de laboratoires, même parmi les plus sécurisés –, mais il a désormais changé d’échelle. Les expériences de recombinaison, de mutation et de « réécriture » de virus (sans même parler des infections de cultures de cellules humaines ou de souris « humanisées ») sont devenues en quelques années extrêmement banales ; et parmi elles, celles qui augmentent la dangerosité des pathogènes sont nombreuses. Les spécialistes qualifient pudiquement ces dernières d’expériences de « gain de fonction » pour indiquer que le pathogène modifié acquiert ou développe une propriété problématique : contagiosité, virulence, évasion immunitaire ou médicamenteuse. Lorsque ces virus aggravés ont un potentiel pandémique, ils sont souvent désignés par le terme moins euphémisé de « Frankenvirus ».
    L’une des premières conséquences du Covid-19 sur la recherche en virologie est qu’elle menace, paradoxalement, de générer encore plus d’expériences dangereuses. La « préparation pandémique » est en effet devenue un thème de recherche vendeur, sans forcément générer de réflexion suffisante sur ce que l’expression recouvre.

    Multiplication des laboratoires de haute sécurité
    On constate en parallèle la brusque accélération d’un vaste mouvement mondial d’équipement en laboratoires de haute sécurité, entamé avant le Covid. Gregory Koblentz, spécialiste américain de biosécurité à George-Mason University (Virginie), indique que la construction de vingt-sept nouveaux laboratoires de niveau BSL-4 (le plus haut niveau de protection, destiné aux pathogènes les plus dangereux, où les chercheurs opèrent en tenue de cosmonaute) a été annoncée depuis le début de la pandémie – alors qu’il en existe aujourd’hui une quarantaine. L’Inde, qui possède un seul laboratoire de ce type, veut en construire quatre autres. La Chine annonce un chiffre analogue. Singapour, le Kazakhstan et les Philippines, entre autres, ont décidé de s’équiper.
    « Il n’y a pas de mécanisme international pour imposer le respect de standards » – Gregory Koblentz, spécialiste de biosécurité à George-Mason University (Virginie)
    Beaucoup de chercheurs se réjouissent de la possibilité de travailler avec les virus localement, et dans de bonnes conditions de sécurité. Mais Gregory Koblentz note aussi que « plus de labos constitue un risque d’accident accru », ajoutant que « les standards internationaux pour gérer de telles structures ne sont pas largement adoptés, et il n’y a pas de mécanisme international pour imposer le respect de ces standards ».

    Epidémie « accidentelle »
    Mais, surtout, le débat sur la virologie dangereuse a été électrisé par le Covid-19, qui a confirmé spectaculairement que le risque d’épidémie déclenchée par la recherche est bien réel. Au fil du temps, l’hypothèse qu’un accident de laboratoire soit à l’origine de la pandémie a discrètement fait son chemin dans les milieux scientifiques. Pourfendue comme complotiste dans une tribune indignée du Lancet publiée en février 2020, vilipendée durant les premiers mois de la pandémie par toutes les sommités de la virologie, cette hypothèse n’a fait que progresser depuis lors. Au point qu’un grand nombre de chercheurs la tiennent désormais, généralement en privé, pour la plus probable.
    Certes, la communauté est divisée, et il est toujours possible que le SARS-CoV-2 soit passé aux humains par l’intermédiaire d’animaux sauvages ou d’élevage infectés, comme cela avait été le cas pour les deux émergences précédentes de coronavirus, le SRAS en 2003 et le MERS en 2012.
    Lire aussi Article réservé à nos abonnés Origines du Covid-19 : l’hypothèse d’un accident à l’Institut de virologie de Wuhan relancée après la divulgation de travaux inédits
    Mais tout de même. Selon les deux principales autorités scientifiques qui ont enquêté sur la question, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) d’une part, et la commission de haut niveau formée par la revue médicale The Lancet, qui a livré ses conclusions en septembre 2022, de l’autre, en l’absence de la moindre trace d’animal infecté, l’hypothèse de l’accident de laboratoire reste entièrement plausible, bientôt trois ans après le début de la pandémie. Dès juillet 2021, Tedros Ghebreyesus, directeur général de l’OMS, déclarait à la presse, en réaction à l’opacité des autorités chinoises : « Les accidents de laboratoire arrivent. J’en ai vu et j’ai moi-même fait des erreurs. Donc (…) vérifier ce qu’il s’est passé (…) est important et nous avons besoin d’informations. »

    Dans ce climat délétère, y a-t-il une chance qu’émerge une vision commune sur la façon de réguler ces expériences dangereuses ? Le problème est que l’étendue des désaccords entre chercheurs est considérable. Pour l’illustrer, revenons aux coronavirus chimériques de Boston. D’un côté, leur fabrication a été sévèrement critiquée par de nombreux biologistes, qui ont parlé sur Twitter de « folie » ou d’« irresponsabilité totale ». Plus mesuré, Marc Eloit, de l’Institut Pasteur, n’en considère pas moins qu’une telle expérience est risquée, « puisqu’on sait qu’elle peut changer de manière imprévisible le phénotype [les caractéristiques] du virus résultant ». Et il ajoute qu’à son avis elle n’aurait jamais été autorisée à Pasteur, ni d’ailleurs dans aucune institution de recherche française. « Il ne serait même venu à l’idée de personne de la proposer », assure-t-il, pointant qu’il y a en France une culture de la biosécurité et une aversion au risque différentes de ce que l’on rencontre aux Etats-Unis.
    Désaccords profonds
    Mais Marc Eloit indique également que l’expérience avait une utilité scientifique indiscutable pour comprendre les propriétés des différentes parties du génome du virus. Et à la question de savoir si, au sein d’une institution américaine qui l’autoriserait, il l’aurait lui-même tentée, il a l’honnêteté de répondre qu’il l’ignore. Du reste de nombreux virologues de haut niveau ont énergiquement pris la défense de leurs collègues bostoniens, témoignant d’une profonde division au sein de la communauté.

    #Covid #Origine #Gain_de_fonction #Biosécurité

  • The hermit kingdom: how a proudly multicultural country became ‘fortress Australia’ | Australia news | The Guardian

    The hermit kingdom: how a proudly multicultural country became ‘fortress Australia’ As Covid wreaks havoc overseas Australia risks regressing culturally and economically if borders don’t reopen. A recent Lowy Institute showed only one third of Australians believe the government should do more to repatriate citizens. Tony Sammartino has no idea when he will next hug his three-year-old daughter, but it’s almost guaranteed it won’t be for another year at the earliest.“These are the best years of her life, and they should be the best of mine too. And they’re slipping away.”Tony hasn’t seen Maria Teresa, nor her mother and his partner, Maria Pena, since March 2020, when he was in the Philippines with their other daughter, Liliana.Before the pandemic, the family of four split their lives between Melbourne and Subic, a coastal city north-west of Manila, spending roughly half a year in each parent’s home country. Now, the Sammartinos are one of countless Australian families that find themselves separated by an almost hermetically-sealed border, an enduring aspect of Australia’s harsh response to the pandemic that continues to prevent even its own citizens from freely returning to or leaving their country. Some 40,000 Australians have at any one time remained stranded overseas, missing births, funerals, losing jobs, and even dying from Covid despite pleas for help to return home.As countries around the world vaccinate their populations and reopen to freer travel, Australia – which has recorded 910 deaths from Covid-19 and zero community transmission for most of this year – is progressively tightening its borders. The hardline approach appears to have gained support among the Australian public, with demographers and sociologists observing Australian leaders’ attitudes towards risk management had shifted Australians’ views about being global citizens, with other experts pondering: what does it say about the collective Australian psyche that a proudly multicultural country can be so supportive of such strict border closures?
    At the beginning of the pandemic, a permit system was introduced for those wanting to leave Australia, with even some compassionate pleas rejected.
    A strict mandatory hotel quarantine system was introduced to absorb an influx of returning citizens – about one million Australians lived overseas pre-pandemic. Then in July 2020, a cap was placed on the number of people quarantine hotels would process, leading to months of flight cancellations, and an almost impossible equation for airlines to remain profitable on Australian routes.Seat prices on airlines that continued to fly into the country soared by tens of thousands of dollars, with jumbos flying as few as 20 passengers per flight. Meanwhile, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, routinely rejected calls to build purpose-built facilities to repatriate more citizens, insisting state governments were responsible for quarantine.The country’s border crackdown peaked at the end of April this year, when Morrison used sweeping biosecurity laws to issue a directive threatening to imprison any citizens who attempted to fly to Australia from India via a third country while a temporary direct flight ban was in place during the recent outbreak. While a travel bubble was established with New Zealand in April, repeated delays to Australia’s vaccine rollout have made the government hesitant to announce a timeframe to reopen its borders. After the government revealed an assumption in its annual budget last week that the border would remain shut to international travel until after mid-2022, Tony is struggling with the lack of outrage at the policy.
    “I haven’t really absorbed that, because I know for me there has to be a solution sooner, it can’t take that long for them to come home.”
    Like many Australians, Tony’s partner was born overseas, and was not a citizen or permanent resident when the pandemic began. As the parent of an Australian born child, she could apply for a visa and exemption to Australia’s border ban on all non-citizens, however she cares for a child from a previous relationship in the Philippines, who would not be able to gain entry to Australia. Meanwhile, Maria Teresa is too young to travel alone, while Tony cannot secure an exemption and flights for him to travel to escort her to Australia, where he had been planning to enrol her in preschool. He does not want to risk becoming stranded in the Philippines indefinitely.
    This hasn’t stopped Tony waking up at 4am most mornings from the stress of his situation, and going online to search for flights. He has become obsessed with flight radars, to monitor the few passenger flights that still enter Australia each day, to calculate how many passengers they are carrying and what a route home for his daughter and partner might look like.“I just don’t have the money to fly there, and pay $11,000 each to fly home, and then quarantine (about $5,000). If you had money, could you get here easily,” he said, a reference to international celebrities who have paid their way into Australia. The family FaceTime call everyday, but Tony is worried their other daughter, Liliana, is losing interest in her mother, frustrated she is missing milestones in her life.“The embassy in Manila doesn’t help, but they sent us a link to a charter flight company in Hong Kong. The government has left us on our own. They haven’t beaten Covid at all, they’ve just shut us off entirely from it,” Tony said.
    Only one-third of Australians believe the government should do more to repatriate citizens, a recent Lowy Institute poll showed, and the Morrison government appears to be banking on the political safety of a harsh border policy as a federal election looms on the horizon. Dr Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University, said the popularity of Australia’s Covid strategy was not surprising. She said despite the fact that about one in three Australians born overseas, “protectionist narratives have operated quite successfully in Australia”, particularly because of an older population. Prof Andrew Jakubowicz, a sociologist at the University of Technology Sydney, is not surprised by the “cognitive dissonance” occurring in a multicultural nation supportive of the border closures.“Something deep in the Australian psyche is the memory of how easy it was to invade this place, the idea that the moment you let them in, you’re in trouble,” he said. Jakubowicz pointed out that migrants to Australia are often the most opposed to further migration. “There’s a long history of pulling the gate shut once they’re through the door.“It’s this learned apprehension of letting in, it’s allowed us to accept hardline immigration policies in the past, and it’s allowed us to reprogram quickly to the stress of being stuck here in the pandemic. “The government has looked at the states’ popularity with their borders, and it’s comfortable with this Noah’s Ark model of survival,” Jakubowicz said. Allen agrees, and believes the government’s strategy plays into Australians’ sense of security.
    “Australia has not done anything marvellous or miraculous in containing Covid, it’s been about geography and dumb luck. We’ve dug a hole and stuck our head in it and that’s where we will remain.
    “We like to view ourselves as larrikins and irreverent people who stand up to authority, but in reality we are scared, we’re petrified. We’ve become so comfortable because of our geography that we’re losing our greatness.
    “We’re not even able to have a conversation about risk, the government is too scared of championing new quarantine facilities out of fear if something goes wrong,” she said. Allen believes the country “risks regressing” both culturally and economically without reopening to immigration, tourism and family reunions.On Friday, a coalition of business, law, arts and academic figures echoed this call, urging the government to adopt a “living with Covid” strategy to avoid reputational damage to Australia.“Australia benefits tremendously from our migrants and tourism. Year on year, this country has spruiked the wondrous kind of living conditions in this place to all corners of the world, to come join us.”“But now, so many who have made Australia their home, and taken a risk on us, we tell them to go home. Well they were home,” Allen said.


  • Australian government urged to have standby system in place for next repatriation flight from India | Australia news | The Guardian

    Australian government urged to have standby system in place for next repatriation flight from India. Indian community leaders call on officials to do more to avoid a repeat of the scores of empty seats on the first post-ban flight. The Australian government needs to do more to avoid a repeat of the scores of seats left empty on the first post-ban repatriation flight from virus-ravaged India, one community leader has said. Eighty Australians touched down in Darwin on Saturday morning and were moved to the Howard Springs quarantine facility on the city’s outskirts. But about 70 seats reserved for returning Australians were empty after 40 people tested positive before the flight from Delhi, with another 30 identified as close contacts.Dr Yadu Singh, the president of the Federation of Indian Associations of New South Wales and the head of the Council of Indian Federations of Australia, said: “They need to think about a different mechanism so as not to waste those seats.”Total cases of Covid-19 have topped 24 million in India, with the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, saying the country was “on a war footing” as more than 4,000 people died from the virus for a third straight day.India is experiencing a spread of cases associated with the B.1.617 variant, which some experts say could be more transmissible than other variants. The World Health Organization this week declared it a “variant of concern”. Indian community leaders in Australia said statewide lockdowns in the subcontinent and higher case numbers in cities was making the job of repatriating Australians harder.
    Some 10,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents have told the government they want to return from India. First in line for repatriation flights are about 1,000 people the government has deemed vulnerable.
    Singh said he sympathised with the people who were blocked from travelling, but it was the right decision to protect other people. He said: “I’m very pleased the flight has arrived. But what they could do differently is have a mechanism to bring people to the city where the plane is leaving and have them in quarantine and test them several times.“I hope they will learn from what has happened and have a better testing system to bring as many as possible home. They are Australian citizens and there are moral obligations to look after them.”The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to answer Guardian Australia’s questions about whether efforts had been made to fill seats that became available on the repatriation flight and if a standby system would be in place for future flights.The department also did not say if the government had plans to set up quarantine for Australians stuck in India to isolate before the flight.Dfat’s highest priority at this time is helping vulnerable Australians overseas,” a spokesperson said in their response.Saturday’s flight into Darwin was the 39th government-facilitated flight from India, but the first since the Morrison government imposed a ban after cases surged in India. The ban came with a threat of jail under the Biosecurity Act for any Australians trying to return home from the country.
    The next repatriation flight is due to arrive on 23 May and Dfat has said arrangements for further flights are under way.Singh, a cardiologist, has about 70 relatives – including brothers, uncles, aunts and cousins – living in India. He has lost family members to the virus. There are almost half a million Indian-born people living in Australia and about half are Australian citizens.Singh said his own anxiety about his family’s safety was repeated among people with Indian heritage all across Australia.
    “Even a facility in New Delhi couldn’t keep people waiting there for months,” he said.He understood there were up to 900 Australians identified as vulnerable in India. These people were either elderly, had existing medical conditions that put them at higher risk, or who needed to be in Australia to care for family members. The federal opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, said on Saturday there were still 30,000 Australians stranded overseas.
    “It’s extremely distressing for those Australians with loved ones trapped overseas for more than a year. Scott Morrison promised to bring them home and he hasn’t.”The treasurer, John Frydenberg, said the high commission was working with Australians in India. “We are dealing with a situation where we are seeing more than 800,000 new Covid cases [globally] a day with new variants of the virus.“We did see a spike in the number of cases when people from India were coming. We invoked the biosecurity act and we then reassessed it after a couple of weeks, and the flights have now started and that’s a positive development. “But again we have to maintain our health settings because we know how damaging both to the lives and livelihoods of Australians an outbreak here would be.” In a statement released before Saturday’s flight arrived, the government said the flight was part of a $37.1m support package for India. More than 15 tonnes of medical supplies had been sent to India, including more than 2,000 ventilators and 100 oxygen concentrators.


  • Covid-19 : « Le passeport vaccinal européen, une idée au mieux prématurée, au pire irréfléchie »

    L’idée d’accorder des privilèges spéciaux aux personnes vaccinées prend de l’ampleur en Europe. Proposé pour la première fois par le premier ministre grec, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, et soutenu par des dirigeants politiques d’autres pays à destination touristique, un « passeport vaccinal » à l’échelle de l’Union européenne (UE) viserait à faciliter les voyages dans l’ensemble de l’Union dans les mois à venir. Ursula von der Leyen, présidente de la Commission européenne, le considère comme une « exigence médicale » nécessaire pour maintenir les frontières ouvertes. Or, une telle mesure semble tout au mieux prématurée, et au pire irréfléchie. Reposant sur une logique fondamentalement erronée, tant juridique et territoriale que scientifique, elle produirait en effet une série de conséquences inattendues. De plus, plutôt que d’unir l’Europe – en assouplissant les restrictions de déplacement –, ce passeport vaccinal ne ferait que créer de nouvelles frontières, entre personnes « saines » et « contagieuses ».
    Premièrement, un tel certificat reposerait sur l’hypothèse que, vaccinés, les voyageurs ne seraient plus porteurs du virus. Les données scientifiques actuellement disponibles suggèrent toutefois que si les vaccins contre le Covid-19 arrêtent les symptômes, ils ne stoppent pas entièrement la transmission du virus et ne font que la ralentir. Par conséquent, la justification scientifique qui sous-tend cette proposition semble discutable.
    Importantes différences géographiques. Mais ce n’est pas seulement la science qui lui fait défaut. En subordonnant la libre circulation dans l’UE à la vaccination, la proposition part du principe que tout un chacun dispose de l’égalité d’accès aux vaccins. Nous savons pourtant très bien que ce n’est pas le cas. Le déploiement très différencié des campagnes de vaccination entre Etats membres rend aujourd’hui certains ressortissants plus susceptibles d’être vaccinés que d’autres : ainsi, les Danois seraient plus libres de circuler que les Français, les Allemands le seraient bien avant les Néerlandais, etc. Il y a également d’importantes différences géographiques au sein des Etats membres : les personnes vivant en dehors des grandes zones urbaines sont moins susceptibles d’avoir accès aux vaccins, et des disparités existent entre régions dans l’organisation de la première vague de vaccinations. Outre le « tri » des Européens en fonction de leur résidence territoriale, il existe aussi des différences importantes entre les Etats membres quant à leur stratégie de vaccination. Au-delà de la priorité accordée – à juste titre – aux groupes les plus exposés, tels que le personnel médical et les personnes âgées (ce qui crée en soi une inégalité intergénérationnelle), chaque Etat membre est libre de choisir les prochaines catégories de personnes concernées : les enseignants, les travailleurs des transports… Notons, au passage, que la définition des catégories de de travailleurs « essentiels » ou « de première ligne » n’est pas homogène au sein de l’UE.En outre, qu’en est-il des Européens dont le statut officiel, pour une raison ou une autre, ne correspond pas à leur lieu de résidence ou à leur citoyenneté actuelle ? Il s’agit ici des millions de migrants intra-européens et des autres millions de résidents irréguliers dans l’espace européen. Tous ces individus seront probablement exclus de la vaccination, au moins au cours des premiers mois, ce qui risque de mener à la création d’un marché noir des vaccins. En l’absence d’un accès public équitable, la demande privée pour le vaccin augmentera très probablement, notamment de la part des Européens mobiles.Compte tenu de ces diverses inégalités à toutes les échelles qui caractérisent l’accès actuel aux vaccins, la Commission européenne devrait plutôt collaborer plus étroitement avec les Etats membres, afin d’éliminer progressivement ces fractures et d’empêcher l’émergence d’un marché noir. Plutôt que de proposer un passeport vaccinal européen, l’accent devrait être mis sur la sécurisation de nouveaux stocks de vaccins et leur distribution équitable (interdiction de constituer des stocks nationaux et du « nationalisme vaccinal »), tout en trouvant des moyens de continuer à soutenir les Etats membres qui accusent un retard dans leur campagne de vaccination. Les objectifs de vaccination qui viennent d’être proposés par la Commission dessinent à cet égard une voie positive. Qu’il s’agisse du tourisme ou d’autres secteurs, le passeport vaccinal ne devrait pas être perçu comme une panacée pour les industries en difficulté. L’ouverture sélective des frontières au cours de l’été 2020, qui visait à sauver les destinations touristiques, n’a mené qu’à d’importants taux d’infection, causant de nouvelles zones d’inégalité pandémique, quand les destinations du sud de l’Europe, déjà confrontées aux difficultés de leurs systèmes de soins, étaient exposées à des vacanciers venus de tout le continent. Il est significatif que même le gouvernement grec, un des principaux partisans de la proposition, s’en soit finalement distancié, à travers une récente déclaration du ministre du tourisme, Haris Theocharis, notant qu’un certificat de vaccination « ne serait pas une condition préalable pour que quelqu’un se rende en Grèce ». La pandémie de Covid-19 a eu des effets profondément inégaux dans l’ensemble de l’UE, touchant certains endroits et certaines populations beaucoup plus durement que d’autres. Au lieu de contribuer à créer davantage d’inégalités par un mécanisme d’exclusion – ce qui serait le cas de ce certificat vaccinal –, l’UE devrait plutôt concentrer ses efforts sur le dépassement de ces inégalités. Le passeport peut sembler être une bonne solution pour gérer le risque pandémique, mais, comme pour toutes les formes de gouvernance des risques de nature biosécuritaire, il est fondé sur le profilage des individus. Un profilage qui, en l’espèce, a moins à voir avec le risque viral réel qu’à l’accès à un privilège.
    Alberto Alemanno, professeur à HEC Paris, titulaire de la chaire Jean-Monnet en droit européen, fondateur du mouvement citoyen The Good Lobby ; Luiza Bialasiewicz, professeure en gouvernance européenne au département d’études européennes de l’université d’Amsterdam.


  • Le mouvement de défense des animaux, mouvement planétaire et désormais vieux de 150 ans, serait en nombre le premier mouvement de femmes, avant les mouvements féministes eux-mêmes ; en effet, 68 à 80 % des militants pour les animaux sont des femmes. Pourquoi les femmes ont-elles été les premières à prendre conscience de l’exploitation des animaux par les humains, que ce soit dans l’élevage, les cirques, la vivisection, à la chasse comme à la corrida ?

    « Le spécisme se fonde sur une appropriation directe, physique des autres animaux et tente de se légitimer par l’idée d’un ordre du monde naturellement hiérarchisé. Ce schéma présente de nombreux points communs avec d’autres systèmes d’oppression, notamment ceux du racisme, du capacitisme et du sexisme. En raison de cette matrice commune, l’antispécisme apporte des points de vue nouveaux aux autres luttes progressistes et à la pensée éthique et politique en général. »
    Deux critiques de livres sur mon blog :

    #Elevage #Spécisme #Complexe_agro_industriel #Biosécurité #Pandémies

  • Biosicurezza nella Puglia del disseccamento

    Cosa avviene quando un’entità non umana dall’identità ibrida territorializza il paesaggio dell’olivicoltura pugliese? Questo contributo analizza le politiche che scaturiscono dalla presenza di #Xylella_fastidiosa nel territorio pugliese. Dal primo atto di emergenza, il #Piano_Silletti (2015), fino all’ultimo piano di emergenza (2019), le politiche di contenimento sono state orientate alla protezione della sicurezza produttiva dell’Unione Europea. La prevenzione del rischio, implicita nella direttiva 29/2000, riproduce una essenzializzazione «in deroga» delle entità della natura nel loro valore di scambio. La biosicurezza è così costruita attorno alla sicurezza produttiva, attraverso una proliferazione di confini che ridefiniscono le pratiche agricole e la distinzione tra vita sana e vita patologica. Spinto da considerazioni sulla fine della natura nell’era dei cambiamenti climatici e dell’Antropocene, questo articolo esplora possibilità diverse di concepire la biosicurezza, attraverso una diversa considerazione del rapporto spaziale con le entità non umane. Quali misure di biosicurezza possiamo immaginare in un’ecologia senza natura?

    #Pouilles #biosécurité #risque #agriculture #oliveraie #olives #écologie #nature
    ping @wizo @albertocampiphoto

  • Ludd, hypermodernité et néototalitarisme en temps de Covid-19

    Tomás Ibáñez


    Il y a un peu plus de deux siècles, en 1811 et pendant les cinq années qui ont suivi, l’Angleterre a été le théâtre d’une puissante révolte sociale connue sous le nom de « révolte des luddites » — en référence à son protagoniste éponyme, Ned Ludd — qui a détruit une partie des nouvelles machines textiles dont l’installation supprimait de nombreux postes de travail et condamnait une partie de la population à la misère. Il fallut des milliers de soldats pour écraser l’insurrection qui, loin d’obéir à des motivations technophobes, se situait dans le cadre du travail et prétendait s’opposer aux conséquences les plus néfastes des « progrès » de l’exploitation capitaliste.

    Il est aujourd’hui essentiel de « réinventer » ce type de révolte, en la faisant passer de la sphère des revendications purement économiques à la sphère plus directement politique des luttes pour la liberté et contre le totalitarisme de type nouveau qui s’installe depuis quelque temps déjà et qui trouve dans la crise actuelle du Covid-19 un carburant abondant pour accélérer son développement. (...)

    #Covid-19 #Ludd #révolte #néototalitarisme #capitalisme #biosécurité #biopouvoir #Michel_Foucault #biotechnologies #résistance

  • U.S. Government Lifts Ban on Making Viruses More Deadly and Transmissible | Alternet

    Or rather, it did until Tuesday, when the U.S. government announced it was lifting a three-year ban on federal funding for experiments that alter viruses to make them even deadlier.

    “Gain-of-function” research, in which scientists make pathogens more powerful or easily transmissible, is aimed at preventing disease outbreaks by better understanding how they might occur. The studies allow scientists, working in a highly controlled environment, to learn how a flu virus might mutate into a superbug capable of killing millions—a sort of game of wits played to gain insight into nature’s unpredictability. The ultimate goal is to proactively create vaccines, medications and other solutions to stop contagion in its tracks.

    The new National Institutes of Health policy reverses a 2014 Obama administration funding ban on gain-of-function research projects specifically involving all forms of the influenza virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The new rules would extend beyond those viruses, “apply[ing] to any pathogen that could potentially cause a pandemic,” according to the New York Times. “For example, they would apply to a request to create an Ebola virus transmissible through the air.”

    Possibly aware that this sounds like the prologue to a very hacky horror movie, the NIH accompanied its announcement with a list of criteria that proposals must meet before funding will be granted. According to those terms, a panel will only greenlight projects if the work promises to yield practical solutions, such as an effective antiviral treatment; the research benefits must sufficiently outweigh the risks; and researchers must prove their experiment outcomes cannot be obtained using safer methodologies. Contenders will also have to prove their researchers and facilities “have the capacity to do the work safety and securely and to respond rapidly if there are any accidents, protocol lapses, or security breaches.”

    “We have a responsibility to ensure that research with infectious agents is conducted responsibly, and that we consider the potential biosafety and biosecurity risks associated with such research,” NIH director Francis S. Collins said in a statement. “I am confident that the thoughtful review process...will help to facilitate the safe, secure, and responsible conduct of this type of research in a manner that maximizes the benefits to public health.”

    Despite those reassurances, critics continue to express concern about potential mishaps. There’s some precedent for this. In 2014, CNN reported that dozens of workers at the CDC had been accidentally exposed to anthrax, while others had mishandled samples of the bacteria. No staff were found to be infected by the disease after prolonged monitoring. A Vice Motherboard report notes that between “2003 and 2009, there were 395 events reported that could have resulted in exposure to toxic agents, although this resulted in just seven infections.”

    Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch offered tepid support, telling the Times the approval panels are "a small step forward,” but cautioning that gain-of-function experiments “have given us some modest scientific knowledge and done almost nothing to improve our preparedness for pandemics, and yet risked creating an accidental pandemic.”

    Conversely, Stony Brook University president and biomedical researcher Samuel Stanley worries that the NIH decision, after three years of funding prohibition in this area, may be too little and just a wee bit too late.

    “There has been increased scrutiny of laboratories working in this area, which can lead to an even more robust culture of safety,” Stanley told NPR. “But I also fear that the moratorium may have delayed vital research. That could have long lasting effects on the field. I believe nature is the ultimate bioterrorist and we need to do all we can to stay one step ahead.”

    Comment çà « trop tard » ? Dans la compétition d’hubris entre chercheur peut-être... pas dans la sécurité de la planète. Quand j’entends « biosécurité », je pense « bioguerre », je ne sais pas pourquoi...

    #Hubris #Virus #Biosécurité

  • Quatre questions sur les plantes anciennes du #Muséum d’#histoire_naturelle de Paris détruites par les douanes australiennes

    Des plantes appartenant au Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Paris ont été détruites par les #douanes australiennes chargées de la #biosécurité, révèle le Guardian (en anglais), lundi 8 mai. Ces #plantes, qui dataient du XIXe siècle, avaient été envoyées à l’herbarium de #Brisbane (Queensland, Australie) en mars dernier. Au total, 105 spécimens ont ainsi disparu. « Une perte irréparable », déplore Michel Guiraud, directeur des collections du Muséum, contacté par franceinfo.


  • It’s 10 o’Clock — Do You Know Where Your Bubonic Plague Is? - Laurie Garrett (Foreign Policy)

    Now that the security of all of these facilities has been proven — to put it politely — “flawed,” it seems wise to rethink the larger notion of “biosafety” in our time of gain-of-function research, synthetic biology, and directed evolution. As I recently laid out during a TEDx talk, we are hard pressed to demonstrate that public safety is intact for the organisms we know, like smallpox and anthrax, much less for the new, previously unknown ones that are being created now in less secure facilities, like high school labs.

    After Lapses, C.D.C. Admits a Lax Culture at Labs - NYTimes.com

    The report recalled other errors. In 2006, the agency accidentally sent live anthrax to two other labs, and also shipped out live botulism bacteria.

    Several experts on biosecurity noted that the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services sent official complaints to the C.D.C. in 2008, 2009 and 2010 about undertrained lab personnel and improperly secured shipments.

    Both Dr. Frieden and his predecessor, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, replied in letters over their signatures that the problems would be fixed.

    The agency’s report Friday suggested that fewer labs should be handling dangerous microbes.

    Avian Flu Diary: FDA Statement On Additional 300 Vials Discovered At NIH Campus Lab

    Among these latest discoveries are vials marked as containing such diverse pathogens as dengue, influenza, Q fever, and rickettsia, and are believed to date back 50 years or more.

    #biosécurité #bioterrorisme #armement_biologique #recherche

  • Amateur Biologists Are New Fear in Making a Mutant Flu Virus - NYTimes.com

    Over the past decade, more amateur biologists have started to do genetic experiments of their own. One hub of this so-called D.I.Y. biology movement, the Web site DIYbio.org, now has more than 2,000 members.

    “I worry about the garage scientist, about the do-your-own scientist, about the person who just wants to try and see if they can do it,” Michael T. Osterholm of the University of Minnesota said last week at a meeting of #biosecurity experts in Washington.

    #h5n1 #biohacking #biosécurité