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SARS-NCOV-2 and the danger of gain of function experiments

The shadow of bioChernobil over the mankind: is this yet another technogenic catastrophe similar to Chernobyl and Fukushima caused by greed, ambition and incompetence ?  With "gain of function" experiments like conducted by UNC Dr. Baric group

This is a textbook case how excessive secrecy and illegal and/or dangerous/reckless bioresearch directed on creation of undermines the legitimacy of governments,  and create the background to wild rumors and speculation extremely damaging to the governments, including but not limited to governments of China (Wuhan biolab activities; the only BSL-4 virology lab in China)  and the USA (UNC Dr. Ralph Baric biolab, and Fort Detrick biolab activities).

News Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? Recommended Links COVID-19 Epidemic Chinagate: the USA government attempt to blame China for the COVID-19 epidemic Fauci and his blunders COVID-19 epidemic handing in the USA
COVID-19 fearmongering COVID-19 epidemic as the second stage of the crisis of neoliberalism  COVID-19 hoarding epidemics  Diamond Princess epidemics of COVID-19 Absurdity of bureaucracies Medical workers problems COVID-19 prevention measures
Media as a weapon of mass deception The threat of "Coronavirus recession" Manufactured consent Groupthink The importance of controlling the narrative Trumpcare scam Nation under attack meme
US Presidential Elections of 2020 Trump's impulsivity and incompetence Nineteen Eighty-Four  Financial oligarchy as amoral and criminal neoliberal elite The Real War on Reality Propaganda Quotes Humor

Introduction

  ...the presence of similar cleavage sites in two distantly related virus doesn’t say anything about their origin. This was simply used as a proof that SARS CoV 2 S protein could be similarly cleaved. The fact that researches use previous known work on virus entry (IBV or RSV) to analyze the mechanisms of SARS CoV 2 entry by no means can be used to grant lab conspiracies. This only means there are lot’s of things you and me ignore about virus and are being researched.

~Ignacio comment 

The year that Rutherford died (1938 [sic]) there disappeared forever the happy days of free scientific work which gave us such delight in our youth. Science has lost her freedom. Science has become a productive force. She has become rich but she has become enslaved and part of her is veiled in secrecy. I do not know whether Rutherford would continue to joke and laugh as he used to.

— Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa
 

There is strong "fog of war" over all this epidemic. We do not know many important facts and data, but at the same time we known enough to pursue several plausible  hypothesis about its origin. There are three main countries in the world who have consistently refused to co-operate with investigations: Israel, US and UK.  Formally the USA quit bioweapons research in the 70’s, and I think that China also has quit this type of research at this time. Israel has NOT joined the Biological Weapons Convention. It is theoretically possible that they might do secretive bioweapons research, though, as Gilad Atzmon  mentioned, they do claim they do not. Is the Chinese government being completely honest? Not likely. But does it make sense to assume that countries who assassinate foreign leaders and officials and/or overthrow governments on a regular basis are more credible than China government? All mentioned countries should be viewed as possible culprits.  And the public should be asking their governments why they have bioweapons laboratories. For the USA the shadow on "Iraq WMD" still lingers over Trump administration. 

There are four main hypotheses that can explain this event:

  1. It is the result of the jump from animals to humans in China. This is the official, politically correct  hypotheses.  How true it is difficult to say, but the virus probably  did not jump into human due to low sanitary standards and trading of meat of wild animals in Wuhan seafood market. It probably happened earlier (possibly much earlier) then November 2019 and probably in different circumstances  (The Wuhan wet market theory, compelling story it may be, has been debunked)
  2. The virus originated in the USA and was introduced to China, probably by visiting American soldiers during the Military World Games (who trained near Fort Detrick) , which took place in Wuhan in October 19-27, 2019 and also to Italy as first cases in Italy were registered in November-December timeframe.  The most strong arguments supporting this  hypotheses can be found in article The Last man standing and the comments to this article  at The Unz Review, Mar 22, 2020. This hypotheses presupposes that virus circulated in humans before November 2018.  It is connected with the hypotheses about the origin of "vaping epidemic" in the USA  in August 2019. It is possible that it was caused by a similar or identical virus. The fact that CDC closed a part of   Fort Detrick labs in 2019 also raises some questions (fredericknewspost.com ) and that the training grounds of the team which trained for Military World Games add  to the viability of this hypothesis. Also there were references in media that several members of the US team were treated in one of Wuhan hospitals during the games.
  3. The virus was accidentally leaked from Wuhan lab (not necessarily bioengineered, possibly just studied).  See Washington Times

    Editor’s note (March 25, 2020): Since this story ran, scientists outside of China have had a chance to study the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They concluded it does not show signs of having been manufactured or purposefully manipulated in a lab, though the exact origin remains murky and experts debate whether it may have leaked from a Chinese lab that was studying it.

    The personality of Shi Zhengli  and that trail of her previous research raises a lot of suspicions. Also desire for dollar funding at any cost might play a role too.

    See for example discussion at  Leading Bioweapons Expert Says Covid-19 Likely a Weaponized Virus – American Free Press This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the biosecurity in those Chinese labs were extremely lax: this research was conducted on the wrong level of biosecurity (level 2 instead of 3 or 4) There are couple of interesting figures among the researchers in this lab that were involved with the experiments with coronaviruses including creating artificial ("chimera") viruses.  Some Chinese researchers such as Professor Chen Hualan, the director of China’s National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory  probably behaved recklessly in search of fame or money (or both). There is an interesting article in RT.com published in May, 2013 Chinese scientists slammed for creating new ‘deadly’ influenza strains — RT World News about Chen "experiments". 

    There were very dangerous American experiments of this nature led by Dr. Baric ("gain of function")  in which two Chinese researchers including Shi Zhengli  previously participated(Nature). This research which now reads as creation of the suspiciously similar to in the way of binding to ACE2 SARS-CoV-2 prototype created a documented alarm in the research community:

    In an article published in Nature Medicine1 on 9 November, scientists investigated a virus called SHC014, which is found in horseshoe bats in China. The researchers created a chimaeric virus, made up of a surface protein of SHC014 and the backbone of a SARS virus that had been adapted to grow in mice and to mimic human disease. The chimaera infected human airway cells — proving that the surface protein of SHC014 has the necessary structure to bind to a key receptor on the cells and to infect them. It also caused disease in mice, but did not kill them.

    The article Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research Nature News & Comment in Nature from which the quote above was taken contains an interesting Editor note:

    Editors’ note, March 2020: We are aware that this story is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.

    Remind me a quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck  “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”

    There is VOX article what consider bioengineering hypothesis to be a wild rumor and provides some argumentation against "bioengineered" hypothesis How did the coronavirus outbreak start It didn’t come from a lab in Wuhan, China. - Vox. (

  4. Bioengineered in the USA and accidentally leaked from Fort Detrick. Fort Detrick's labs are a very scary place  See Last Man Standing, by Godfree Roberts - The Unz Review.

In no way the USA government acted as a monolith entity. It has powerful factions  each of which have their own agenda. We should remember that at the beginning of the outbreak CIA frogmarched Trump through the synthetic crisis of the Soleimani assassination (which happened on Jan 3, when CIA should have known about coping pandemic). Add to this Pelosi impeachment gamble, which was resolved only in early February.  Another interesting nuance that attracted attention of some analysts is that this epidemic happened in worst for China time -- during lunar year holidays. That makes “Wuhan lab leak” hypothesis slightly less plausible (Murphy law still applies ;-) .  If we assume the accidental leak from laboratory hypothesis, or just from animals to humans the date of the outbreak should be pretty random.  Below is the analysis on Ron Unz which definitely deserves reading in full including comments to the article ( Our Coronavirus Catastrophe as Biowarfare Blowback, by Ron Unz  )

But with the horrific consequences of our own later governmental inaction being obvious, sources within our intelligence agencies have sought to demonstrate that they were not the ones asleep at the switch. Earlier this month, an ABC News story cited four separate government sources to reveal that as far back as late November, a special medical intelligence unit within our Defense Intelligence Agency had produced a report revealing than an out-of-control disease epidemic was occurring in the Wuhan area of China, and widely distributed that document throughout the top ranks of our government, warning that steps should be taken to protect US forces based in Asia. After the story aired, a Pentagon spokesman officially denied the existence of that November report, while various other top level government and intelligence officials refused to comment. But a few days later, Israeli television revealed that in November American intelligence had indeed shared such a report on the Wuhan disease outbreak with its NATO and Israeli allies, thus seeming to independently confirm the complete accuracy of the original ABC story and its several government sources.

It therefore appears that elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency were aware of the deadly viral outbreak in Wuhan more than a month before any officials in the Chinese government itself. Unless our intelligence agencies have pioneered the technology of precognition, I think this may have happened for the same reason that arsonists have the earliest knowledge of future fires.

Back in February, before a single American had died from the disease, I wrote my own overview of the possible course of events, and I would still stand by it today:

Consider a particularly ironic outcome of this situation, not particularly likely but certainly possible…

Everyone knows that America’s ruling elites are criminal, crazy, and also extremely incompetent.

So perhaps the coronavirus outbreak was indeed a deliberate biowarfare attack against China, hitting that nation just before Lunar New Year, the worst possible time to produce a permanent nationwide pandemic. However, the PRC responded with remarkable speed and efficiency, implementing by far the largest quarantine in human history, and the deadly disease now seems to be in decline there.

Meanwhile, the disease naturally leaks back into the US, and despite all the advance warning, our totally incompetent government mismanages the situation, producing a huge national health disaster, and the collapse of our economy and decrepit political system.

As I said, not particularly likely, but certainly a very fitting end to the American Empire…

Investigation of such incidents would be the prerogative on United Nations, which can assemble a team of researcher from non-NATO countries to investigate the USA and China s for the possibility of the leak of the virus from one of their biolabs.  The most important redeeming feature of neoliberalism is promotion of sociopathic types up. and that unfortunately includes the bioresearch. Such people along with their green, ambitions and personal incompetence have proclivity to surround themselves by people full of hypocrisy, and hubris.

As we will discuss below there are four main hypothesis about the origin of the virus. And we should not jump to conclusions. An interesting warning sign in this respect is the scope and intensity of anti-China campaign in the USA which is trying to present China as a scapegoat for the epidemic. That raise classic question: "What they are trying to hide using projection?" In this light of the known incident in summer of 2019 in Fort Detrick biolab (which led to temporary closure of this lab by CDC) and absence of genomic decoding of the virus which caused "vaping pneumonia" epidemic in the USA in August of 2019 such behaviour looks especially suspicious.

But one thing is clear: such experiments as  "gain of function" experiments conducted in the USA and China are extremely dangerous, and the researchers behaviour was unethical. Moreover it is now established that  biosecurity in many cases was lax. So the escape of pathogens represent a real threat and a real possibility that we should not discount. Much like weaponization of anthrax (which escaped the Fort Detrick lab after 9/11 and was mailed to several Senators) gain-of-function (GOF) research involves experimentation that aims or is expected to (and/or, perhaps, actually does) increase the transmissibility and/or virulence of pathogens. As such, as we now clearly understand, it presents tremendous biosecurity and biosafety risks: a devastating pandemic could potentially result from a laboratory accident involving an especially dangerous artificially created in such experiments pathogen.  This sentiment is well reflected in the following comment:

Deltaeus , Apr 18 2020 22:12 utc | 78

Private profit, public loss: If I create a chimera virus in a lab, or do gain-of-function research to produce a super-virus, I might make millions of dollars and become famous. If the virus escapes, the whole world suffers the cost of the risk I took (and by the way, escapes happen not infrequently enough, so its a matter of time)

That is a good example of an unethical decision that should be banned. Heads: I win. Tails: everyone loses.

Coronaviruses that infect humans all appear to have respiratory transmission path, making them pathogens with the potential of creating a pandemic.  But for some (probably connected with commercial value of vaccines) reasons such a dangerous research not only became popular, but was partially commercialized and was perform in multiple labs around the globe.  So called Hanlon’s Razor suggests that we should never attribute malice events that can be explained by stupidity. And in any "gain of function" experiments there are multiple possibilities that things can go wrong  - human error, negligence, missed step, rushed experiment, overworked or incompetent and/or over ambitious researcher. The list of tragic errors in biolabs that resulted in the past to the release of dangerous pathogens is long. In the paper Rethinking Biosafety in Research on Potential Pandemic Pathogens   Marc Lipsitch and Barry R. Bloom suggested that the risk is systemic in nature and is dramatically increased with the proliferation of biolabs in the world:

An estimate for intramural laboratories at the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases is that 2 exposures occur for every 100,000 operator-hours and that only 1 of 12 such exposures involved an actual human infection. Another set of data, lacking a denominator of operator-hours, registered 26 incidents with 8 documented infections in U.S. BSL-3 and -4 laboratories and 5 more, all resulting in infections, in BSL-3 and -4 laboratories abroad (10). Because reporting of laboratories’ existence, size, and activities, as well as accidents, is all incomplete, it is difficult to obtain precise rates comparable to those of NIAID. Nonetheless, using plausible assumptions, Klotz and Sylvester (5) estimate a historical risk of an accidental laboratory escape of a potentially pandemic pathogen of 0.3% per laboratory per year.

While these figures may sound low, the key problem is that they increase as more laboratories undertake work on PPPs and as they do so over a longer period. Even at the NIAID, the intramural estimated rate of 2 exposures per 100,000 operator-hours, a remarkably low rate that likely reflects very careful practices, one would expect 1 out of every 50 technicians working half-time (1,000 h) in such a laboratory to be exposed each year and 1 of every 600 to become infected. Over a 10-year period, with 100 such laboratories each employing 5 such technicians, one would expect 100 exposures and about 8 infections. Klotz and Sylvester estimate that with 42 laboratories working on PPP and a 0.3% risk of an escape per laboratory-year, there is an 80% risk of an escape of a PPP every 13 years (5).

... ... ...

With the proliferation of BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories across the globe, including many set up for surveillance and response to a natural influenza pandemic, decisions by the United States and other biomedical research leaders about research on mammalian-transmissible H5N1 viruses will have rapid consequences for the scale of research around the globe. If the wealthy countries adopt a policy that any experiment with these viruses is acceptable as long as it is done in a containment facility, a similar ethic will likely prevail globally, but the quality of containment will vary. If, on the other hand, they acknowledge the unique risks posed by potential pandemic pathogens and help to generate a process that has international support, a global framework for evaluating proposed research in this area would be a great contribution.

Opposition to BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories, when it has occurred, has often focused on threats to the local communities, who would indeed be at higher risk if a highly lethal but low-transmissibility pathogen were accidentally released. For potential pandemic pathogens, in contrast, the risk is global—a release that threatens Boston inevitably threatens Bangkok and Bamako. Funders, regulators, and researchers who propose experiments that could place the global populace at risk have a responsibility to involve those whose well-being is affected (the global public) in considering the principles for undertaking such research. Such studies should be undertaken rarely and with extreme caution, ensuring that such risks are undertaken only when the potential benefits to global public health are also exceptional. 

The Dunning-Kruger effect: a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. It is fully applicable to those who discuss the "escaped from lab" hypothesis.  Essentially, Dunning Kruger effect postulates that people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence, and this effect increases dramatically for low ability people. We need to be aware that people who are not experts in particular area  tend to:

Dunning suggests that deficits in skill and expertise create a two-pronged problem. First, these deficits cause people to perform poorly in the domain in which they are incompetent. Secondly, their erroneous and deficient knowledge makes them unable to recognize their mistakes.

Another contributing factor is that sometimes a tiny bit of knowledge on a subject can lead people to mistakenly believe that they know all there is to know about it. As the old saying goes, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A person might have the slimmest bit of awareness about a subject, yet thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, believe that he or she is an expert.

One typical example of  the Dunning-Kruger effect are "people married to a single hypothesis", who essentially became propagandists not researchers.

Detection of baloney and unsubstantiated claims

Looks like this story gradually became an elaborate PSYOP against China. It does not now matter if this was after some lab mishap, or natural zootomic transmission to humans.

On informational war against china the USA neoliberal elite came up with what now is called the “Skripal rules of evidence” aka “highly likely”.

On the other hand it is simplistic to assume that the US is the bad guy by default, and China the innocent hapless victim.

But even swimming in Neoliberal propaganda sewer we can shield ourselves against deliberate manipulation. among useful checks we can mentions (adapted from getpocket.com)

  1. Occam razor. The simplest explanation is often the correct one. In this case zoonotic jump is the simplest, as hypothesis "the virus as the result of continuation of initial Baric group experiments" or "Wuhan lab reckless experiments" presuppose qualification of researchers which might be not in place.
  2. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.” So it China claims "Fact A" and another country, say, Japan calaims the same,  this make the hypothesis under consideration more plausible, then when China claim "Fact A" alone.
  3. Try to follow debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
  4. Arguments from authority carry little weight — both the USA and China “authorities” peddeled deliberate misinformation in the past. They will do so again in the future. In science there are no authorities, only evidence. Neoliberal experts are often corrupt and bought.  They should be automatically assumed to be credible.
  5. Follow more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. Using Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses” ives you some confidence that the strongest hypothesis is the colsest to the reality (within the limitation of known facts)
  6. Try not to get overly attached to any hypothesis like "China did it" or "The USA did it".  This is the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the particular hypothesis and why other people that you respect reject it. You need to compare it fairly with the alternatives without onvious "cognitive bias".  See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

Beware of typical propaganda traps such as

The US biodefence research is not only extremely, recklessly dangerous; it is actually doubles as a bioattack research

  Following the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014, the US government paused funding for what are known as “gain-of-function” research on certain organisms. This work actually seeks to make deadly pathogens deadlier, in some cases making pathogens airborne that previously were not. With little notice outside the field, the pause on such research was lifted in late 2017.

In 2015, American researchers and Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers collaborated to transform an animal coronavirus into one that can attack humans. Scientists from prestigious American universities and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked directly with the two coauthor researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli-Li Shi. Funding was provided by the Chinese and US governments. The team succeeded in modifying a bat coronavirus to make it capable of infecting humans.

The research was published in December 2015 in the prestigious British journal, Nature Medicine (volume 21, pages1508–1513). The paper by Vineet D. Menachery et al., “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence” is available here as a PDF as well as on-line.

Footnotes to the scientific paper disclose that the research was funded by both the Chinese and US Governments, including grants from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease. Footnotes also document that the two Chinese researchers were active in their own laboratories as part of this coronavirus project.

A Special Report by Peter R. Breggin, MD www.breggin.com April 15, 2020


University of Minnesota? They know of these things: Paper cited at interview with Professor Boyle Feb 22 2020 2010 study - Increase of function research. Participants: China/ Wuhan, Australia/ CSIRO, USA/ Univ Minnesota Medical School. Paper at springer: here

From Abstract of this 2010 paper:

The results show that ACE2s of Myotis daubentoni and Rhinolophus sinicus support viral entry mediated by the SARS-CoV S protein, albeit with different efficiency in comparison to that of the human ACE2. Further, the alteration of several key residues either decreased or enhanced bat ACE2 receptor efficiency, as predicted from a structural modeling study of the different bat ACE2 molecules.
 

Posted by: uncle tungsten | May 1 2020 22:45 utc | 96

The current dynamics of the biological arms race part of which constitute "gain of functio0n" experiments has been driven by the US government preoccupation with "Full Spectrum Dominance" doctrine that extend back decades. As Reuters reported  in 2009 the Obama administration was refusing even to negotiate the possible monitoring of biological weapons.

Proliferation of "gain of function" research in the USA as well as the fact that the US now appears unwilling to scrutinize it own possible role in the origin of the pandemic is pretty damning. It strengthens the hypothesis that the virus originated as the direct or indirect (via Chinese scientist cooperation and possibly their own reckless/crazy experiments) result of the US research. In view of the available facts about Fort Detrick activities this can't be viewed as an unfounded allegation. As noted (Did This Virus Come From a Lab? Maybe Not – But It Exposes the Threat of a Biowarfare Arms Race, Salon, Apr 24, 2020):  

Governments that participate in such biological weapon research generally distinguish between “biowarfare” and “biodefense,” as if to paint such “defense” programs as necessary. But this is rhetorical sleight-of-hand; the two concepts are largely indistinguishable.

“Biodefense” implies tacit biowarfare, breeding more dangerous pathogens for the alleged purpose of finding a way to fight them. While this work appears to have succeeded in creating deadly and infectious agents, including deadlier flu strains, such “defense” research is impotent in its ability to defend us from this pandemic.

The legal scholar who drafted the main US law on the subject, Francis Boyle, warned in his 2005 book “Biowarfare and Terrorism” that an “illegal biological arms race with potentially catastrophic consequences” was underway, largely driven by the US government.

For years, many scientists have raised concerns regarding bioweapons/biodefense lab work, and specifically about the fact that huge increases in funding have taken place since 9/11. This was especially true after the anthrax-by-mail attacks that killed five people in the weeks after 9/11, which the FBI ultimately blamed on a US government biodefense scientist. A 2013 study found that biodefense funding since 2001 had totaled at least $78 billion, and more has surely been spent since then. This has led to a proliferation of laboratories, scientists and new organisms, effectively setting off a biological arms race.

Following the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2014, the US government paused funding for what are known as “gain-of-function” research on certain organisms. This work actually seeks to make deadly pathogens deadlier, in some cases making pathogens airborne that previously were not. With little notice outside the field, the pause on such research was lifted in late 2017.

During this pause, exceptions for funding were made for dangerous gain-of-function lab work. This included work jointly done by US scientists from the University of North Carolina, Harvard and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This work – which had funding from USAID and EcoHealth Alliance not originally acknowledged – was published in 2015 in Nature Medicine.

A different Nature Medicine article about the origin of the current pandemic, authored by five scientists and published on March 17, has been touted by major media outlet and some officials – including current National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins – as definitively disproving a lab origin for the novel coronavirus. That journal article, titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” stated unequivocally: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” This is a subtly misleading sentence. While the scientists state that there is no known laboratory “signature” in the SARS-Cov-2 RNA, their argument fails to take account of other lab methods that could have created coronavirus mutations without leaving such a signature.

Indeed, there is also the question of conflict of interest in the Nature Medicine article. Some of the authors of that article, as well as a February 2020 Lancet letter condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” – which seemed calculated to minimize outside scrutiny of biodefense lab work – have troubling ties to the biodefense complex, as well as to the US government. Notably, neither of these articles makes clear that a virus can have a natural origin and then be captured and studied in a controlled laboratory setting before being let loose, either intentionally or accidentally – which is clearly a possibility in the case of the coronavirus.

While most researchers believe that the novel coronavirus was not technically bioengineered using known coronavirus sequences,  other forms of lab manipulation could have been responsible for the current pandemic: 

In response to the suggestion that the novel coronavirus could have come about through various methods besides bioengineering – made by Dr. Meryl Nass, who has done groundbreaking work on biowarfare – Ebright responded in an email:

The genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 has no signatures of human manipulation.

This rules out the kinds of gain-of-function (GoF) research that leave signatures of human manipulation in genome sequences (e.g., use of recombinant DNA methods to construct chimeric viruses), but does not rule out kinds of GoF research that do not leave signatures (e.g., serial passage in animals). [emphasis added]

Very easy to imagine the equivalent of the Fouchier’s “10 passages in ferrets” with H5N1 influenza virus, but, in this case, with 10 passages in non-human primates with bat coronavirus RaTG13 or bat coronavirus KP876546.

That last paragraph is very important. It refers to virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, who performed research on intentionally increasing rates of viral mutation rate by spreading a virus from one animal to another in a sequence. The New York Times wrote about this in an editorial in January 2012, warning of “An Engineered Doomsday.”

“Now scientists financed by the National Institutes of Health” have created a “virus that could kill tens or hundreds of millions of people” if it escaped confinement, the Times wrote. The story continued:

Working with ferrets, the animal that is most like humans in responding to influenza, the researchers found that a mere five genetic mutations allowed the virus to spread through the air from one ferret to another while maintaining its lethality. A separate study at the University of Wisconsin, about which little is known publicly, produced a virus that is thought to be less virulent.

The word “engineering” in the New York Times headline is technically incorrect, since passing a virus through animals is not “genetic engineering.” This same distinction has hindered some from understanding the possible origins of the current pandemic.

Fouchier’s flu work, in which an H5N1 virus was made more virulent by transmitting it repeatedly between individual ferrets, briefly sent shockwaves through the media. “Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free,” wrote Science magazine in 2011 in a story titled “Scientists Brace for Media Storm Around Controversial Flu Studies.” It continues:

The virus is an H5N1 avian influenza strain that has been genetically altered and is now easily transmissible between ferrets, the animals that most closely mimic the human response to flu. Scientists believe it’s likely that the pathogen, if it emerged in nature or were released, would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths.

In a 17th floor office in the same building, virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center calmly explains why his team created what he says is “probably one of the most dangerous viruses you can make” – and why he wants to publish a paper describing how they did it. Fouchier is also bracing for a media storm. After he talked to ScienceInsider yesterday, he had an appointment with an institutional press officer to chart a communication strategy.

Fouchier’s paper is one of two studies that have triggered an intense debate about the limits of scientific freedom and that could portend changes in the way U.S. researchers handle so-called dual-use research: studies that have a potential public health benefit but could also be useful for nefarious purposes like biowarfare or bioterrorism.

Despite objections, Fouchier’s article was published by Science in June 2012. Titled “Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets,” it summarized how Fouchier’s research team made the pathogen more virulent:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1 virus can cause morbidity and mortality in humans but thus far has not acquired the ability to be transmitted by aerosol or respiratory droplet (“airborne transmission”) between humans. To address the concern that the virus could acquire this ability under natural conditions, we genetically modified A/H5N1 virus by site-directed mutagenesis and subsequent serial passage in ferrets. The genetically modified A/H5N1 virus acquired mutations during passage in ferrets, ultimately becoming airborne transmissible in ferrets.

In other words, Fouchier’s research took a flu virus that did not exhibit airborne transmission, then infected a number of ferrets until it mutated to the point that it was transmissible by air.

In that same year, 2012, a similar study by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin was published in Nature:

Highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza A viruses occasionally infect humans, but currently do not transmit efficiently among humans. … Here we assess the molecular changes … that would allow a virus … to be transmissible among mammals. We identified a … virus … with four mutations and the remaining seven gene segments from a 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus – that was capable of droplet transmission in a ferret model.

In 2014, Marc Lipsitch of Harvard and Alison P. Galvani of Yale wrote regarding Fouchier and Kawaoka’s work:

Recent experiments that create novel, highly virulent and transmissible pathogens against which there is no human immunity are unethical … they impose a risk of accidental and deliberate release that, if it led to extensive spread of the new agent, could cost many lives. While such a release is unlikely in a specific laboratory conducting research under strict biosafety procedures, even a low likelihood should be taken seriously, given the scale of destruction if such an unlikely event were to occur. Furthermore, the likelihood of risk is multiplied as the number of laboratories conducting such research increases around the globe.

Given this risk, ethical principles, such as those embodied in the Nuremberg Code, dictate that such experiments would be permissible only if they provide humanitarian benefits commensurate with the risk, and if these benefits cannot be achieved by less risky means.

We argue that the two main benefits claimed for these experiments – improved vaccine design and improved interpretation of surveillance – are unlikely to be achieved by the creation of potential pandemic pathogens (PPP), often termed “gain-of-function” (GOF) experiments.

There may be a widespread notion that there is scientific consensus that the pandemic did not come out of a lab. But in fact many of the most knowledgeable scientists in the field are notably silent. This includes Lipsitch at Harvard, Jonathan A. King at MIT and many others.

Just last year, Lynn Klotz of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation wrote a paper in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists entitled “Human Error in High-biocontainment Labs: A Likely Pandemic Threat.” Wrote Klotz:

Incidents causing potential exposures to pathogens occur frequently in the high security laboratories often known by their acronyms, BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3) and BSL4. Lab incidents that lead to undetected or unreported laboratory-acquired infections can lead to the release of a disease into the community outside the lab; lab workers with such infections will leave work carrying the pathogen with them. If the agent involved were a potential pandemic pathogen, such a community release could lead to a worldwide pandemic with many fatalities. Of greatest concern is a release of a lab-created, mammalian-airborne-transmissible, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, such as the airborne-transmissible H5N1 viruses created in the laboratories of Ron Fouchier in the Netherlands and Yoshihiro Kawaoka in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Crazy, dangerous”

Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, has condemned Fouchier, Kawaoka and others – including at least one of the authors of the recent Nature Medicine article in the strongest terms, calling such work a “criminal enterprise.” While Boyle has been embroiled in numerous controversies, he’s been especially dismissed by many on this issue. The “fact-checking” website Snopes has described him as “a lawyer with no formal training in virology” – without noting that he wrote the relevant U.S. law.

As Boyle said in 2015:

Since September 11, 2001, we have spent around $100 billion on biological warfare. Effectively we now have an Offensive Biological Warfare Industry in this country that violates the Biological Weapons Convention and my Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

The law Boyle drafted states: “Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section committed by or against a national of the United States.”

Boyle also warned:

Russia and China have undoubtedly reached the same conclusions I have derived from the same open and public sources, and have responded in kind. So what the world now witnesses is an all-out offensive biological warfare arms race among the major military powers of the world: United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, inter alia.

We have reconstructed the Offensive Biological Warfare Industry that we had deployed in this county before its prohibition by the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, described by Seymour Hersh in his groundbreaking expose “Chemical and Biological Warfare: America’s Hidden Arsenal.” (1968)

Boyle now states that he has been “blackballed” in the media on this issue, despite his having written the relevant statute. The group he worked with on the law, the Council for Responsible Genetics, went under several years ago, making Boyle’s views against “biodefense” even more marginal as government money for dual use work poured into the field and critics within the scientific community have fallen silent. In turn, his denunciations have grown more sweeping.

In the 1990 book “Preventing a Biological Arms Race,” scholar Susan Wright argued that current laws regarding bioweapons were insufficient, as there were “projects in which offensive and defensive aspects can be distinguished only by claimed motive.” Boyle notes, correctly, that current law he drafted does not make an exception for “defensive” work, but only for “prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes.”

While Boyle is particularly vociferous in his condemnations, he is not alone. There has been irregular, but occasional media attention to this threat. The Guardian ran a piece in 2014, “Scientists condemn ‘crazy, dangerous’ creation of deadly airborne flu virus,” after Kawaoka created a life-threatening virus that “closely resembles the 1918 Spanish flu strain that killed an estimated 50m people”:

“The work they are doing is absolutely crazy. The whole thing is exceedingly dangerous,” said Lord May, the former president of the Royal Society and one time chief science adviser to the UK government. “Yes, there is a danger, but it’s not arising from the viruses out there in the animals, it’s arising from the labs of grossly ambitious people.”

Boyle’s charges beginning early this year that the coronavirus was bioengineered – allegations recently mirrored by French virologist and Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier – have not been corroborated by any publicly produced findings of any US scientist. Boyle even charges that scientists like Ebright, who is at Rutgers, are compromised because the university got a biosafety level 3 lab in 2017 – though Ebright is perhaps the most vocal eminent critic of this research, among US scientists. These and other controversies aside, Boyle’s concerns about the dangers of biowarfare are legitimate; indeed, Ebright shares them.

... ... ...

At least one Chinese government official has responded to the allegation that the labs in Wuhan could be the source for the pandemic by alleging that perhaps the US is responsible instead. In American mainstream media, that has been reflexively treated as even more ridiculous than the original allegation that the virus could have come from a lab.

Obviously the Chinese government’s allegations should not be taken at face value, but neither should US government claims – especially considering that US government labs were the apparent source for the anthrax attacks in 2001. Those attacks sent panic through the US and shut down Congress, allowing the Bush administration to enact the PATRIOT Act and ramp up the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, in October 2001, media darlings like Richard Butler and Andrew Sullivan propagandized for war with Iraq because of the anthrax attacks. (Neither Iraq nor al-Qaida was involved.)

The 2001 anthrax attacks also provided much of the pretext for the surge in biolab spending since then, even though they apparently originated in a US or U.S.-allied lab. Indeed, those attacks remain shrouded in mystery.

The US government has also come up with elaborate cover stories to distract from its bioweapons work. For instance, the US government infamously claimed the 1953 death of Frank Olson, a scientist at Fort Detrick, Maryland, was an LSD experiment gone wrong; it now appears to have been an execution to cover up for US biological warfare.

Regardless of the cause of the current pandemic, these biowarfare/biodefense labs need far more scrutiny. The call to shut them down by Boyle and others needs to be clearly heard – and light must be shone on precisely what research is being conducted.

The secrecy of these labs may prevent us ever knowing with certainty the origins of the current pandemic. What we do know is this kind of lab work comes with real dangers. One might make a comparison to climate change: We cannot attribute an individual hurricane to man-made climate disruption, yet science tells us that human activity makes stronger hurricanes more likely. That brings us back to the imperative to cease the kinds of activities that produce such dangers in the first place.

If that doesn’t happen, the people of the planet will be at the mercy of the machinations and mistakes of state actors who are playing with fire for their geopolitical interests.

 

What are the most troubling issues related to the emergence of SARS-COV-2

The closest known relative found in nature to the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease  is the bat SARS virus "RaTG13" (96% identity oh the genome), subsequently isolated from a Chinese bat collected in 2013. The lethality and virulence of the mew virus are caused by two "copy-paste" style edits or changes to the genome. For a simple presentation of the changes see this story by the Sydney Morning Herald from two weeks week ago: The perfect virus: two gene tweaks that turned COVID-19 into a killer.

  1. The adhesion of the viral spike protein to the human ACE2 receptor has been improved. Better infectivity has been obtained by replacing the RNA sequence of the receptor-binding domain with the corresponding RNA sequence of the SARS virus found in pangolin.
  2. In order for the virus to penetrate the cell, the spike protein must be cut into two parts. Coronaviruses often use host cell enzymes for this. MERS virus researchers found that effective penetration is obtained with the human enzyme furin. The motif recognized by furin is found in the MERS spike protein at the cleavage site. A four amino acid long sequence "PRRA" has been added to the cleavage site of the SARS-COV-2 peak protein, which causes furin to cleave the protein when it is attached to the ACE2 receptor.

Both of those two changes changes are such that they can be result not only of natural evolution of a malevolent or the RaTG13 virus (and even this raises the question what was the environment in which this natural evolution happened; can it be a lab environment ?). It is also possible that a reckless researcher  could have done those mutations artificially on the basis of the 2019 level of bioscience and genome manipulation technologies. Of course, it may also be that they were born through natural evolution, especially if the coronavirus has been able to spread in the human population for some time. And this, so far, this is the primary hypothesis. But the scientific community has had a need to find if the virus is the result of natural evolution.  One very alarming fact that there were  reckless and very dangerous "gain of function" experiments directly related to changes in genome of SARC-Cov-2 we mentions above. Moreover they were published in such detail that we can assume that they become reproducible by other researchers especially those were related to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) ( Petri Krohn | Apr 14 2020 ):

So far the dominant hypothesis is that this virus emerged via  natural evolution, especially if the coronavirus has been able to spread in the human population for some time. But both changes are such that is it possible to do them in specialized lab via "gain of function" experiments on the basis of the 2019 science and knowledge.

Conspiracy theorists have accused virus and weapons laboratories of developing and releasing COVID-19. The scientific community has had a need to provethat the virus is the result of natural evolution. The most notable publication defending "natural selection" hypothesis  is the letter The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2 sent by Kristian G. Andersen and partners to Nature Medicine. The key conclusions of the publication had however already been proved wrong.

Andersen & al. relies on a study published by a group at the University of Minnesota at the end of January: Receptor Recognition by the Novel Coronavirus from Wuhan: an Analysis Based on the Decade-Long Structural Studies of SARS Coronavirus.

The group attempted to improve the adhesion of the bat SARS spike protein to the ACE2 receptor with computer simulations. The simulations did not produce anything resembling the SARS-COV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD). Andersen et al. concluded that researchers could not have created the virus in a laboratory, as computer simulations would unlikely have produced anything like SARS-COV-2.

Thus, the high-affinity binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to human ACE2 is most likely the result of natural selection on a human or human-like ACE2 that permits another optimal binding solution to arise. This is strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not the product of purposeful manipulation.

However, as early as February 16, the same research team from the University of Minnesota had produced another study found the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-COV-2 spike protein infection structure to be identical to that of a related SARS virus found in pangolins. See: Structural basis of receptor recognition by SARS-CoV-2.

The study was published on March 30 and it overturns the basis for the conclusion of Andersen et al.. SARS-COV-2 is however not derived from the pangolin SARS as it is more closely related to the 2013 bat SARS (RaTG13). There must have been a cut-and-paste crossover event in which a fragment of the pangolin virus genome has been implanted into the bat virus. The cut-and-paste operation is easy to do in the laboratory, but RNA viruses have been found to exchange genetic material in nature.

A group from the University of Minnesota also studied the adhesion of various spike proteins. Synthesized spike protein gene sequences for RaTG13, SARS, and SARS-COV-2 were ordered from the GenScript and then inserted into a Sf9 cell line using pFastBac plasmids. The monoclonal proteins obtained were mixed with human ACE2 receptor proteins in a test tube. The SARS-COV-2 spike protein adhered 4–10-fold more tightly than any of the other spike proteins.

It would therefore be very possible that findings similar to the studies now published would have been made out of the public in a virus laboratory even before the spread of COVID-19. The U.S. biological weapons program has several laboratories around Eurasia. The best known is a laboratory in Georgia named after Senator Dick Lugar. Presumably, U.S. laboratory databases have a much broader collection of forms of SARS virus found in bats and pangolins than is found in open databases. It is likely that the SARS-COV-2 strain and the receptor-binding domain of its spike protein have also been collected.

The other edit is the furin cleavage site. There is a large corpus of studies on the benefits of a furin cleavage site in MERS and SARS-like viruses published over the last 15 years, including studies where a furin cleavage site is artificially inserted into the SARS virus. See for example this study from 2006: Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell–cell fusion but does not affect virion entry

To investigate whether proteolytic cleavage at the basic amino acid residues, were it to occur, might facilitate cell–cell fusion activity, we mutated the wild-type SARS-CoV glycoprotein to construct a prototypic furin recognition site (RRSRR) at either position.

None of the arguments put forward against the laboratory origin of COVID-19 convince me. The origin of COVID-19 is difficult or impossible to prove. The scientific community has however concluded that COVID-19 was not born from scratch in Wuhan in the fall of 2019.

Sloppy lab practices that can allow for pathogens to escape the lab environmental are pretty widespread. Several such cases were documented. The most important factor here is careerism and greed of researchers poisoned by neoliberal ideology and profit motives. Those can be enhanced by the rush to meet particular related to conference or other event deadline, that stimulated sloppiness and allowed the leak. But profit motive in this type of the research looks very sinister indeed. For example, Gates Foundation was funding dual-use gain-of-function research, and the experiments we discuss below involved scientists hoping to bankroll their own companies through this kind of work. ("Harvard to the Big House )

The chances of a pathogen escaping the lab by deceit are low. The chances of a pathogen escaping due to blatant safety violations, such as occurred at Fort Detrick, are high. Some analysts point out that for Wuhan lab another contributing factor might be that the research was performed on wrong level of biosecurity (level 2 instead of level 4). If you cannot accept an ‘accident’, malfeasance and negligence are also logical possibilities.

Here is a long but informative quote from a very interesting article by Harvard to the Big House discussing this ethical problem and obvious absence of ethic among some researches as well as similar problem with Bill Gates and his foundation:

However most of this work didn’t really raise too many eyebrows, until about ten years ago when scientists in Stony Brook, NY – not coincidentally also the first place to build a DNA-virus from scratch – took the H5N1 Bird Flu, tweaked its genome in two places, and then passed it through a series of ferret hosts in the lab until it became airborne. This sort of research, a minor alteration and then passage through ferrets, did two things: Resulted in a virus that would look natural and wouldn’t appear to have been directly genetically altered, and also created a virus that was way out on its own branch of the viral family tree since those sequential passages added generations far faster than they’d naturally occur in the wild. If that sounds familiar, maybe that’s because those traits are also exactly what’s found with COVID-19.

And as far back as 2015, Chinese labs were reported to have been involved with dual-use gain-of-function research, swapping around viral genomes in the lab to try to create the most virulent strain possible. Additionally, studies examining COVID-19’s infectivity in ferrets found that it spreads readily among them, and also appears airborne in that animal model, lending support to the idea that ferrets were used for serial passage. Further support for possibility that serial passage through lab animals played a role in the creation of COVID-19 comes from an April 2020 pre-print, which found that it binds with ferrets cells more tightly than any other species except the tree shrew, which only scored about 2% higher. Tree shrews have also been used for serial viral passage, and were promoted in a 2018 paper out of China as a preferable host for laboratory serial passage since they’re cheaper, smaller, easier to handle, and closer to humans evolutionarily and physiologically than ferrets.  Pangolins however, formed a much weaker bond than either, and were clustered way down on the list along with a handful of other much more unlikely intermediate animal hosts.

Quite curiously, one of the scientists supporting this troubling research in an article that noted the virus “could change history if it was ever set free” appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2020 a few weeks into the current pandemic, claiming that COVID-19 was definitely natural and making no mention of this animal-based dual-use gain-of-function research at all. Odd, right? It’s almost like Michael Osterholm, whose entire career rests on advancing gain-of-function research, might want to whitewash what’s really going on? Did that sunshine tickle when it was being blown up your ass, Joe? 

Osterholm failed to tell the story of this genetically modified H5N1 Bird Flu, which was turned into a virus that “could make the deadly 1918 pandemic look like a pesky cold.” This result was so troubling that the NIH, which had funded the research, tried to make sure that the it would only be published after enough details were taken out to make replication of the experiment tough to perform. However one of the virologists involved in the research thought these restrictions were a bit silly, since the gist of the experiment was enough to allow anyone with enough money to replicate them without a problem. Especially researchers who were already familiar with manipulating bat coronaviruses, two of whom learned how to do exactly that at UNC in 2015 before returning to Wuhan to continue their work.

A few years later the NIH would ban this dual-use “gain-of-function” research, a ban that would remain in place from 2014 until 2017, when it was lifted. And what was the reasoning behind lifting the ban? To allow for research on flu viruses, as well as SARS and MERS – coronaviruses just like our new friend, COVID-19. And so hundreds of millions of dollars of funding poured into research on these viruses, supposedly with oversight meant to reduce “the potential to create, transfer, or use an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen.”

Turns out, that oversight might not have worked out too well, witnessed by the thousands who have already died from COVID-19.

Neoliberalism and corruption of research

Ambitious and reckless careerists are not a new phenomenon in science. This phenomenon started around 1930th (see Rutherford quote above) with the emergence of Soviet academician Lysenko, who gave the name of his particular brand -- Lysenkoism. Weaponizing bioresearch started approximately the same time and reached mature stage during WWII in imperial Japan.  Several Japanese "researchers" were hanged for this activities but most escaped to the USA. 

With the dominance of neoliberalism in the word most countries have problems of academic malfeasance. Fueled by "neoliberal rationality" (Greed is good) over-ambitious,  greedy and/or unethical researchers became more of a norm then an exception. Desire to commercialize one works often leads to actions which borderlines with criminality. Kind of proliferation of a new strain of "Professor Moriarty" type of character from famous the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And which intelligence agencies were sometimes are ready to play. But if you think that now a half-dozen or less of reckless researchers were possibly able to  created such a huge technogenic catastrophe (bioChernobil), your jaw drops and you start asking questions about the sanity of the academic establishment, which allowed such experiments to continue in full disregard with scientific ethic : 

Meanwhile Daszak, Baric, Zhengli, and others sit back counting their lucky stars and their money, since both governments and the public at large seem to have bought their story that there’s no way this virus leaked out of one of their labs, and every government on earth now wants to harness their research to help create vaccines and treatments.

Lax level of biosecurity and incidents in biolabs

The Bio-Safety Level (BSL), also known as the Pathogen or Prevention level (P) in the European Union, dictates the regulations and requirements present in a bio-laboratory. These precautions are necessary to prevent harm to employees, the people who interact with them, and life as a whole. The BSL of a given laboratory, at least in the United States, limits the type of pathogens it can operate with. For example, Ebola, smallpox, and plague can only be present in BSL-4 environments due to their potential to cause harm. According to both the WHO and CDC, activites relating to SARS-CoV-1 must be performed in at least a BSL-2 lab. For 2019-nCoV (now SARS-CoV-2), the CDC recommends most activities be carried out with "BSL-3 precautions". The CDC also provides a BSL infographic.

There were serious incidents in the USA biolabs that were swiped under the carpet by CDC (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/04/cdc-secret-lab-incidents-select-agents/95972126/ )

CDC keeps secret its mishaps with deadly germs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has faced congressional hearings and secret government sanctions over its sloppy lab safety practices, is keeping secret large swaths of information about dozens of recent incidents involving some of the world’s most dangerous bacteria and viruses.

After taking nearly two years to release laboratory incident reports requested by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act, the CDC blacked out many details including the types of viruses and bacteria involved in the mishaps and often the entire descriptions of what happened. In several cases, clues about the seriousness of incidents is revealed because CDC staff failed to consistently black out the same words repeated throughout a string of emails.

The US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick also had it's moment in the sun in Oct 2001 when  anthrax was released via US mail. https://www.justice.gov/archive/amerithrax/docs/amx-investigative-summary2.pdf It also has more recent incident in the summer of 2019 about which almost nothing is known, but which might well be relevant to the current epidemic.

And China is hardly the only place to experience such accidents. A USA Today investigation in 2016, for instance, revealed an incident involving cascading equipment failures in a decontamination chamber as US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers tried to leave a biosafety level 4 lab that likely stored samples of the viruses causing Ebola and smallpox.

In 2014, the agency revealed that staff had accidently sent live anthrax between laboratories, exposing 84 workers. In an investigation, officials found other mishaps that had occurred in the preceding decade.

The same is even more true about China biolabs.  As the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak escalates, the only lab in China which is equipped to study and deal with such deadly and emerging infectious diseases is located in Wuhan -- the city where the virus first appeared.  Wuhan actually has two biolabs. The second one, which is closer to the "wet market" operated on BCL-2 level. Experts know the new coronavirus is not a bioweapon. They disagree on whether it could have leaked from a research lab

Higher safety-level labs would be appropriate for a virus with the characteristics of the new coronavirus causing the current pandemic. “Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection at BSL-2 with a virus having the transmission characteristics of the outbreak virus would pose substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker, the public,” Ebright says.

... ... ...

“Suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 is a purposely manipulated laboratory virus or a product of an accidental laboratory release would be utterly defenseless, truly unhelpful, and extremely inappropriate,” Gallagher says.

Still, lab safety has been a problem in China. “A safety breach at a Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention lab is believed to have caused four suspected SARS cases, including one death, in Beijing in 2004. A similar accident caused 65 lab workers of Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute to be infected with brucellosis in December 2019,” Huang wrote. “In January 2020, a renowned Chinese scientist, Li Ning, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for selling experimental animals to local markets.
 

The BCL-4 lab -- the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (Level 4) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences -- works with and studies the world’s most dangerous pathogens such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Ebola. However, scientists had warned in 2017 that a dangerous virus could escape the lab. According to Nature, some scientists outside China were worried about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a “biological dimension to geopolitical tensions” between China and other nations.  US scientists who visited the lab in January 2018 were also very concerned and had sent to Washington two cables about the situation in the lab (The American Conservative, Apr 17, 2020):

In January 2018, the U.S. embassy in Beijing sent U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which had distinguished itself in 2015 as “China’s first laboratory to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety (known as BSL-4),” says the Washington Post. “WIV issued a news release in English about the last of these visits, which occurred on March 27, 2018… Last week, WIV erased that statement from its website, though it remains archived on the Internet.”

U.S. officials on the trip were so concerned by what they saw that they sent two diplomatic cables labelled Sensitive But Unclassified back to Washington.

“The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help,” says the article. (This may explain why the U.S. government gave $3.7 million to the Wuhan lab.)

U.S. officials warned in the first cable that “the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.”

Concerns were raised by the Americans about a shortage of appropriately trained specialists within the Wuhan Institute of Virology needed to operate the lab at the levels required of a BSL-4 facility capable of handling the most dangerous biological threats. The US Embassy communicated these concerns back to the State Department as part of a request, made on behalf of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, for funding to support the hiring of additional specialists under an existing grant overseen by a US research institution (the request was denied).

Probably the fact that the research of coronaviruses was conducted on BCL-2 level in China was another contributing factor and increased the chances that virus spread via infected lab worker (China researchers isolated bat coronaviruses near Wuhan wild animal market - Washington Times)

Until the recent outbreak, all but two coronaviruses in China were studied at biosafety level-2 (BSL-2) facilities — not the high-security BSL-4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — “which provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers,” he said.

“Tim Trevan, the founder of CHROME Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting in Damascus, Maryland, says that an open culture is important to keeping BSL-4 labs safe, and he questions how easy this will be in China, where society emphasizes hierarchy,” said the 2017 Nature article.

“Diversity of viewpoint, flat structures where everyone feels free to speak up and openness of information are important,” he had told Nature.

In fact, the SARS virus had escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, according to Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Is SARC-CoV-2 virus  a single virus or a group of similar coronaviruses?

On 8 April, the world-renowned academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) has published an article co-written by academics in British and German entitled network Analysis the phylogenetic genomes of SARS-CoV-2.

The first author of the article is Dr. Peter Forster of the University of Cambridge. According to the study, the researchers classified the new coronavirus in three types (A, B, and C) according to their development.

The type A is the closest of the virus extracts of the bat and pangolin. It is the one most frequently identified among HIV-infected patients in the United States and Australia. That is, what researchers call " the root of the epidemic ".

The strains of type B are variants of the type A and are mainly present in China. Those that are spreading on a large scale in Europe are those of the type C. Unfortunately, it appears that the results of the research of Dr Peter Forster are not interested in the western mainstream media.

In addition a new "Indian" strain was recently found, albeit this study is yet to be peer-reviewed:

Mutation strain from India could kill current research efforts for coronavirus vaccine: report

[.]Collaborators from Murdoch University in Australia along with research authors Wei-Lung of the National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan said the strain in India was the first report of a significant mutation of the series.

"The observation of this study raised the alarm that Sars-CoV-2 mutation that varied epitope (something that an antibody attaches itself to) profile could arise at any time. This means current vaccine development against Sars-CoV-2 is at great risk of becoming futile."[.]

Emergence of "gain of function" bio experiments

That's why in 2014 the administration of US President Barack Obama called for a “pause” on funding (and relevant research with existing US Government funding) of GOF experiments involving influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses in particular. It was not successful -- the experiments just moved to China and for some strange reason retained the US funding.   The prohibition for some reason was lifted in 2017 by Trump administration. 

One of the first "gain of function" experiments were conducted in around 2010 when research, published in 2012, described in details the creation of highly pathogenic H5N1 (avian) influenza virus strains that were airborne transmissible between ferrets (Gain-of-Function Research Ethical Analysis):

While the decision to publish the initial ferret H5N1 influenza studies of the research teams headed by Ron Fouchier and Yoshihiro Kawaoka (Herfst et al. 2012; Imai et al. 2012) in full was based on the judgment that benefits of publication outweighed the risks, numerous critics have questioned the actual benefits of these studies.

Purported benefits of publication were that this would facilitate

(1) development/production of vaccines against pandemic strains of the virus and

(2) surveillance enabling early identification of, and thus response to, pandemic strains that might occur naturally.

Critics have argued that such benefits are limited, inter alia, because naturally occurring pandemic strains may turn out be different from those created via the studies in question (in which case production of vaccines for, or surveillance targeting of, the latter might not be very useful); international surveillance systems are too weak “to detect a pandemic viral sequence … before it is too late” (Lipsitch and Galvani 2014, p. 3); “an important lesson learnt from pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) is that there is not much that can be done to contain outbreaks of pandemic strains of influenza once they emerge” (i.e., so early identification via surveillance might not make much difference) (Selgelid 2013, p. 148); and, given the way the vaccine industry actually works, there is unlikely to be development/stockpiling of vaccines against naturally-occurring transmissible strains of influenza before such strains actually arise (Selgelid 2013).

But the most relevant of our discussion dangerous experiment were 2015 experiments in UNC performed by the team led by Dr. Baric.

The essence of Dr. Baric experiment and its possible connection to the emergence of SARC-CoV-2 virus

Here is description of their work in Wikipedia:
In 2005, a group including researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology published research into the origin of the SARS coronavirus, finding that China's horseshoe bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses.[7] Continuing this work over a period of years, researchers from the Institute sampled thousands of horseshoe bats in locations across China, isolating over 300 bat coronavirus sequences.[8]

In 2015, a team including scientists from the Institute published successful research on whether a bat coronavirus could be made to infect HeLa. The team engineered a hybrid virus, combining a bat coronavirus with a SARS virus that had been adapted to grow in mice and mimic human disease. The hybrid virus was able to infect human cells.[9][10]

Note that Baric and others were working on Gilead's Remdesivir (development code GS-5734) back in 2017 and earlier. Was UNC's controversial virus, engineered in 2014 with Wuhan labs researchers, used for testing GS-5734? Who funded research? Cui bono? (Christine Brim Apr 15)

Christine Brim‏ @Christine_Brim Apr 15

Right, so of course, it was Gilead who funded - and had earlier been funding - the research at UNC on GS-5734 (Remdesivir) as a treatment for SARS/Corona viruses... https://sph.unc.edu/sph-news/gillings-researchers-receive-6m-grant-to-fight-infectious-disease/ …

The relevant article https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985

The authors https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283639823_A_SARS like_cluster_of_circulating_bat_coronaviruses_shows_potential_for_human_emergence

Vineet D Menachery - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kari Debbink - Bowie State University
Lisa E Gralinski - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Rachel L Graham - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Xingyi Ge - College of Biology
Eric F. Donaldson - Food and Drug Administration
Scott H Randell - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wayne A Marasco - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Zhengli Shi - Wuhan Institute Of Virology
Ralph S Baric - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Boyd L Yount
Antonio Lanzavecchia
Trevor Scobey
Jessica A Plante
Sudhakar Agnihothram

As Nature magazine recently reminded us one dangerous experiments of this type (dual-use “gain-of-function” research), was the experiment that created a hybrid version of the bat coronavirus mixed with a part of genome of the human transmittable coronavirus that causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was done under direction of Dr. Ralph Baric in 2015.  

If you still aren’t sure whether the scientists involved with kind of research are being forthright, there’s Dr. Ralph Baric. It was in his lab at UNC that a hyper-virulent bat Franken-virus was created by splicing a new protein-spike on an existing coronavirus, creating a monster so vicious that a virologist with the Louis Pasteur Institute of Paris warned: “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.” It should also be noted that several years prior to tinkering directly with bat coronavirus spike-proteins, Baric orchestrated research that involved isolating a coronavirus from civets and then passing it through mammalian ACE2 receptor cells that were grown in the lab from kidney and brain samples – serial passage through host cell lines instead of entire hosts, which imparted a strong affinity for ACE2, and presumably created an airborne strain of coronavirus. And if cells derived from kidneys and brains were used for the serial passage development of COVID-19, that might help explain its affinity for attacking the kidneys and brains of its human hosts.

In 2015, a team led by Professor Ralph Baric, the head of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, created a chimera of Chinese bat coronavirus and published an article stating that this virus is very dangerous. Swiss scientists, scientists from Harvard University and the head of the laboratory of special pathogens at the Wuhan Institute of Virology  -- Shi Zhengli  -- took part. Later Shi Zhengli (nicknamed "bat woman" for her research of coronaviruses in bats) became one of two Chinese researchers at the center of the SARC-CoV-2 virus origin controversy ( COVID-19 Born in North Carolina, Sold to Wuhan Lab, Optimized for Pandemic Spread - The Shad Olson Show )

This experiment even prompted a debate about whether to continue developing variants of viruses with possible pandemic potential Moreover, after that, the US government banned funding such experiments, allegedly guided by security requirements. But they were continued in China Wuhan lab,  the lab from which two ambitious Chinese researchers Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli Shi originally came from.

Google scholar shows Xing-Ye Gi. has written or co-written numerous papers on SARS, ebola and coronavirus.

Xing-Yi Ge is especially notable since in 2013 he became the very first scientist to isolate a bat coronavirus from nature that uses the ACE2 receptor, which is found in human, tree shrew, and ferret lungs and allows coronaviruses to become airborne. And as you might have learned by now, that’s the exact receptor used by COVID-19 to enter human cells – if anyone would know how to finagle that part of the coronavirus genome, it’d be him.

So both Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli Shi were part of the research team that created this hybridized hyper-virulent bat coronavirus under Baric, who’s actively downplayed the risk posed by COVID-19, and then returned to work in Wuhan, where funding provided in part by Daszak’s company allowed them to continue their work on coronaviruses with plenty of research to cut-and-paste into their work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Disease Engineering Technical Research Center.

And as Dr. Ian Malcolm puts it in Jurassic Park, it is never a good idea to futz around with science and research when you don’t fully understand it, nor its possible implications.

However it wasn’t just Daszak funding their work, Zhengli also secured millions of dollars in grant money from various American institutions including our Department of Defense as well as the U.S. Biological Defense Research Directorate, and millions more from other foreign governments.

Continuation of those experiments in China were even financed by the USA, bypassing the moratorium.  The benefits of such experiments (if such exists), as many scientists warned, were much less than the risk. But their opponents demanded "academic freedom" and lifting the moratorium on such "gain of function" experiments.

www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/lab-made-coronavirus-triggers-debate-34502

The purpose of the lab test was to manipulate a bat coronavirus to see if it could infect humans. It was discovered that it could.

www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985

An article published in Nature Medicine on November 9, 2015 States: scientists have studied the shc014 virus, which is found in horseshoe bats in China. The researchers created a chimeric virus consisting of the surface protein SC 014 and the base of the SARS virus, which was adapted to grow in mice and simulate human disease.

Chimera infected human respiratory tract cells which is a proof that the surface protein SHC014 has the necessary structure to bind to a key receptor on cells and infect them. It also caused disease in the mice, but did not kill them. The virus is created, but what is the scientific value of such an experiment is very unclear.  We can't take author claim that the findings confirm suspicions that bat coronaviruses that can directly infect humans (instead of first developing in an intermediate host animal) and such events may occur more frequently than previously thought for granted.  On the contatary,  it does open a very dark possibility of lab escape of chimera virus and causing the technogenic pandemic.  Dangerous viruses escaped from the biolabs in the past (including anthrax in the USSR and the USA) , but it were known virus not a new one.

The key research problem that SARC-CoV-2 virus presents is that while very generically similar to SARC it possesses  a more efficient mechanism of infecting humans and it is unclear how it manage to obtain such a mechanism (scmp.com ):

But the new strain, or SARS-Cov-2, had a mutation in its genes known as a polybasic cleavage site that was unseen in any coronaviruses found in bats or pangolins, according to Andersen and his colleagues.

This mutation, according to separate studies by researchers from China, France and the US, could produce a unique structure in the virus' spike protein to interact with furin, a widely distributed enzyme in the human body. That could then trigger a fusion of the viral envelope and human cell membrane when they came into contact with one another.

Some human viruses including HIV and Ebola have the same furin-like cleavage site, which makes them contagious.

See also https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354220300528

This unusual biochemical features of the virus create rich ground for rumors  (Coronavirus Two gene tweaks that turned COVID-19 into a killer): 

The virus pulled from bats in 2013 could not infect humans. SARS-CoV-2 can. Why? It appears that two tiny tweaks to the virus’ genetic code have made a huge difference.

CoV-2 wants to do two things: bind to a human cell and then get inside it. The virus binds to a cellular receptor – think of them as little antennae that stick off the side of human cells – called ACE2.

ACE2 receptors are designed to listen for signals that change our blood pressure. Fine adjustments to blood pressure are really important in our lungs, so our lung cells are covered in ACE2 receptors.

SARS was able to bind to ACE2. But small genetic changes mean CoV-2 binds almost perfectly, at least 10 times more tightly than SARS. “It’s beautifully adapted to do that,” says Holmes.

But that’s not enough. Once CoV-2 is stuck on a cell, it needs to get in. That’s where the second tweak comes in.

CoV-2 is covered in spikes. They act like tiny harpoons. The virus needs to stick to the cell and then fire a harpoon. The harpoon pulls the surface of the cell and the virus together, allowing them to fuse. That’s how the virus gets inside.

“But you don’t want the harpoon firing off randomly,” says Professor Stephen Turner, head of microbiology at Monash University. “You only want it to fire when it’s ready to infect the cell. If it’s going off too early or too late, the virus would not be able to infect us.”

To trigger the harpoon at just the right time, viruses rely on human enzymes, little proteins in our blood. Some enzymes trigger the harpoon too early, others trigger it too late. Among the best enzyme triggers – the one that fires the harpoon at exactly the right time – is an enzyme called furin. Our bodies produce heaps of furin.

“Basically, you can work out if a virus is going to be highly pathogenic or not if it is activated by furin,” says Turner.

Bird flu is triggered by furin. We got lucky, though, because it wasn’t very good at sticking to our cells. CoV-2 is great at sticking to our cells. And it’s triggered by furin, among the best triggers a virus can have.

“The combination is what makes it so infectious,” says Turner.

In the article Coronavirus Could Be a 'Chimera' of Two Different Viruses, Genome Analysis Suggests Alexandre Hassanin reviewed the evidence in the following way:

On 7 February, 2020, we learned that a virus even closer to SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered in pangolin. With 99 percent of genomic concordance reported, this suggested a more likely reservoir than bats.

However, a recent study under review shows that the genome of the coronavirus isolated from the Malaysian pangolin (Manis javanica) is less similar to SARS-Cov-2, with only 90 percent of genomic concordance. This would indicate that the virus isolated in the pangolin is not responsible for the COVID-19 epidemic currently raging.

However, the coronavirus isolated from pangolin is similar at 99 percent in a specific region of the S protein, which corresponds to the 74 amino acids involved in the ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) receptor binding domain, the one that allows the virus to enter human cells to infect them.

By contrast, the virus RaTG13 isolated from bat R. affinis is highly divergent in this specific region (only 77 percent of similarity). This means that the coronavirus isolated from pangolin is capable of entering human cells whereas the one isolated from bat R. affinis is not.

In addition, these genomic comparisons suggest that the SARS-Cov-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, one close to RaTG13 and the other closer to the pangolin virus. In other words, it is a chimera between two pre-existing viruses.

This recombination mechanism had already been described in coronaviruses, in particular to explain the origin of SARS-CoV. It is important to know that recombination results in a new virus potentially capable of infecting a new host species.

For recombination to occur, the two divergent viruses must have infected the same organism simultaneously.

Two questions remain unanswered: in which organism did this recombination occur? (a bat, a pangolin or another species?) And above all, under what conditions did this recombination take place? The Conversation

Alexandre Hassanin, Maître de Conférences (HDR) à Sorbonne Université, ISYEB - Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (CNRS, MNHN, SU, EPHE, UA), Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (MNHN).

Continuation of Dr. Baric experiments in Chinese (and possibly in the USA) labs
 and researchers who conducted them

According to researcher hiding under nickname Harvard to the Big House  the  research published in 2018 found that only two-point-seven percent of villagers living about a kilometer from local bat-caves carried any evidence of past bat coronavirus infections. That study happened to examine people living in Wuhan as well, and found absolutely zero evidence of previous bat coronavirus infection at all there, "making it all-but-impossible that zoonotic jumping occurred since earlier less-lethal variants of the virus would have left a wide signature in its new host population. Instead, COVID-19 emerged out of nowhere, or more likely just out of a local lab, and was immediately extraordinarily well-adapted to humans – spreading through the air with ease, killing as it went. Plus there's the fact that all the initial victims were infected with the same variant, if a natural zoonotic jump had occurred, multiple different variants would inevitably have been found at the start of an outbreak."

We now know names of several researchers who played with fire pursuing so called "gain of function" research with coronaviruses:

Here is the article from which information above was extracted and that has some additional information (What 'The Expanse' Tells Us About The COVID-19 Pandemic And Gain-Of-Function Research, Apr 11, 2020)

Submitted by Harvard to the Big House

And as far back as 2015, Chinese labs were reported to have been involved with dual-use gain-of-function research , swapping around viral genomes in the lab to try to create the most virulent strain possible. Additionally, studies examining COVID-19's infectivity in ferrets found that it spreads readily among them, and also appears airborne in that animal model, lending support to the idea that ferrets were used for serial passage. Further support for possibility that serial passage through lab animals played a role in the creation of COVID-19 comes from an April 2020 pre-print , which found that it binds with ferrets cells more tightly than any other species except the tree shrew, which only scored about 2% higher. Tree shrews have also been used for serial viral passage, and were promoted in a 2018 paper out of China as a preferable host for laboratory serial passage since they're cheaper, smaller, easier to handle, and closer to humans evolutionarily and physiologically than ferrets. Pangolins however, formed a much weaker bond than either, and were clustered way down on the list along with a handful of other much more unlikely intermediate animal hosts.

Quite curiously, one of the scientists supporting this troubling research in an article that noted the virus "could change history if it was ever set free" appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast in 2020 a few weeks into the current pandemic, claiming that COVID-19 was definitely natural and making no mention of this animal-based dual-use gain-of-function research at all. Odd, right? It's almost like Michael Osterholm , whose entire career rests on advancing gain-of-function of research , might want to whitewash what's really going on? Did that sunshine tickle when it was being blown up your ass, Joe?

Osterholm failed to tell the story of this genetically modified H5N1 Bird Flu, which was turned into a virus that "could make the deadly 1918 pandemic look like a pesky cold." This result was so troubling that the NIH, which had funded the research, tried to make sure that the it would only be published after enough details were taken out to make replication of the experiment tough to perform. However one of the virologists involved in the research thought these restrictions were a bit silly, since the gist of the experiment was enough to allow anyone with enough money to replicate them without a problem. Especially researchers who were already familiar with manipulating bat coronaviruses, two of whom learned how to do exactly that at UNC in 2015 before returning to Wuhan to continue their work.

A few years later the NIH would ban this dual-use "gain-of-function" research, a ban that would remain in place from 2014 until 2017, when it was lifted. And what was the reasoning behind lifting the ban? To allow for research on flu viruses, as well as SARS and MERS – coronaviruses just like our new friend, COVID-19. And so hundreds of millions of dollars of funding poured into research on these viruses, supposedly with oversight meant to reduce "the potential to create, transfer, or use an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen."

Turns out, that oversight might not have worked out too well, witnessed by the thousands who have already died from COVID-19.

"But it is only a machine. It doesn't think. It follows instructions. If we learn how to alter that programming, then we become the architects of that change."

And so since 2017 the floodgates have been opened, and money has poured in to fund gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, and they've been seen as everything as as potential base to create an HIV-vaccine from , to being able to help scientists in their mission to create a universal vaccine against the flu and common cold. Unsurprisingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped bankroll Event 201, has also poured millions and millions of dollars into the search for a vaccine against HIV , much of which is centered around harnessing coronaviruses.

Gate's previous forays into vaccination programs haven't always gone so well, in 2009 a Gates-sponsored HPV vaccine from Merck caused severe side effects among hundreds of the girls it was administered to, ultimately killing seven of them. In addition to the faulty science behind this vaccine program, was evidence that the majority of patients had no idea what they were signing up for, but were pushed through into treatment anyways. More unethical behavior was reported in the Gates-funded MenAfriVac campaign in Chad, which between 50 and 500 children vaccinated for meningitis were reported to develop paralysis , leading a South African newspaper to announce that "we are guinea pigs for the drug-makers." And there are a scattershot of other accounts covering possible malfeasance by Gates-funded vaccination programs all across the globe. So not that Bill Gates is personally punching little kids in the face, but that his well-meaning funding may end up in a lot of the wrong places in the blind pursuit for results, providing financing for very shady and entirely unethical practices.

Pointing out the funding from their foundation isn't meant to demonize the Gates family, only to begin to build the idea that accountability doesn't lie with the scientists in Wuhan alone, or the Chinese Communist Party for trying to cover-up the beginning of the pandemic. And to point out that nothing about being a computer scientist or a businessman has anything to do with public health policy, or the scientific and social implications around gain-of-function research. Why the NIH allowed this really obvious Pandora's Box to be reopened in the first place deserves to be answered, and the organizations funding this research should carry much of the blame as well.

Bill Gates might want to be an effective philanthropist really bad, and he may have been amazing at designing computer software and undercutting his competition – however that doesn't a philanthropist make. After all, beyond the questionable tactics practiced by many of the vaccination programs he's funded, his very well-intentioned attempt to save lives by providing insecticidal mosquito-nets was ultimately destructive: many of the villagers provided with the mosquito-nets decided they were better used as fishing-nets, resulting in food shortages due to over-fishing from the fact the nets smaller weave caught far too many juvenile fish, undercutting population growth.

Seemed like a good idea at the time, right?

"Distributed responsibility is the problem. One person gives the order, another carries it out. One can say they didn't pull the trigger, the other that they were just doing what they were told, and everyone lets themselves off the hook."

Far more sinister than the Gates Foundation funding dual-use gain-of-function research is the involvement of scientists hoping exclusively to bankroll their own companies through this kind of work.

While The Expanse had Jules-Pierre Mao , a scientist-CEO who used his private company to hybridize the protomolecule – a mysterious apparently alien substance that seems to have a mind of its own – with humans to create unstoppable biological weapons, today we have Peter Daszak . His company, EcoHealth Alliance, which is a non-profit that depends largely on multi-million dollar government grants to function, has been partnering with Chinese researcher for years in an attempt to secure funding for more and more research into coronaviruses. At least they're not really even pretending to be philanthropic.

And in one of the more transparent attempts at blatant PR-spin, Daszak was featured alongside one of the researchers who learned how to create hyper-virulent bat coronaviruses at UNC back in 2015, Zhengli Shi. Their article insists we should take Zhengli at her word when she claims to have not found a match after she checked COVID-19's genome against everything in her lab. As if someone responsible for releasing the most virulent pathogen to hit humanity in modern history, one that's already killed thousands and is projected to kill millions and millions more all across the globe, would simply fess-up to it, torpedoing her career and the years of research performed by her and her colleagues? And possibly opening all of them up to legal and other repercussions?

If you still aren't sure whether the scientists involved with kind of research are being forthright, there's Dr. Ralph Baric. It was in his lab at UNC that a hyper-virulent bat Franken-virus was created by splicing a new protein-spike on an existing coronavirus, creating a monster so vicious that a virologist with the Louis Pasteur Institute of Paris warned: " If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory ." It should also be noted that several years prior to tinkering directly with bat coronavirus spike-proteins, Baric orchestrated research that involved isolating a coronavirus from civets and then passing it through mammalian ACE2 receptor cells that were grown in the lab from kidney and brain samples – serial passage through host cell lines instead of entire hosts, which imparted a strong affinity for ACE2, and presumably created an airborne strain of coronavirus. And if cells derived from kidneys and brains were used for the serial passage development of COVID-19, that might help explain its affinity for attacking the kidneys and brains of its human hosts.

So if he was being honest, you might expect him to warn the public about the lethal potential coronaviruses pose during our current outbreak. However, when he was asked if the public should be worried about COVID-19 he said that people should be more worried about the seasonal flu . Pretty bizarre statement from a scientist who knew full well how dangerous coronaviruses could be, especially given the fact that not only was Zhengli Shi working in his lab on that project in 2015, but Xing-Yi Ge was too. Both of whom returned to Wuhan where they've continued their work for years.

Xing-Yi Ge is especially notable since in 2013 he became the very first scientist to isolate a bat coronavirus from nature that uses the ACE2 receptor , which is found in human, tree shrew, and ferret lungs and allows coronaviruses to become airborne. And as you might have learned by now, that's the exact receptor used by COVID-19 to enter human cells – if anyone would know how to finagle that part of the coronavirus genome, it'd be him. So both Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli Shi were part of the research team that created this hybridized hyper-virulent bat coronavirus under Baric, who's actively downplayed the risk posed by COVID-19, and then returned to work in Wuhan, where funding provided in part by Daszak's company allowed them to continue their work on coronaviruses with plenty of research to cut-and-paste into their work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology's Disease Engineering Technical Research Center.

And as Dr. Ian Malcolm puts it in Jurassic Park , it is never a good idea to futz around with science and research when you don't fully understand it, nor its possible implications.

However it wasn't just Daszak funding their work, Zhengli also secured millions of dollars in grant money from various American institutions including our Department of Defense as well as the U.S. Biological Defense Research Directorate, and millions more from other foreign governments.

So although the Chinese Communist Party deserves its share of the blame for attempting to cover the outbreak up, arresting the heroic scientists trying to warn us and issuing gag-orders and the destruction of evidence, this research likely wouldn't have occurred at all if the NIH hadn't lifted the ban on gain-of-function research in the first place. And it was funded directly by American tax dollars, by government officials willing to let others play god at their behest.

But now that the virus is out of the lab, are the private entities responsible for its creation going to bear any of the blame at all? Or will America and China continue to point fingers at each other until the worst happens?

"Mars will accuse Earth of using a bio-weapon. Earth will claim it was Mars. The Belt will blame the other two. It's a good way to start a war and cover it up."

One last spoiler warning okay, so in The Expanse the central plot device pushing things forward is the discovery of a mysterious substance dubbed the protomolecule, which seems to have a mind of its own and seek out radiation as sustenance before then beginning "the Work," a mysterious intergalactic goal that isn't revealed until later seasons.

And its not individual nations who first attempt to harness the protomolecule, but their Peter Daszak, the aforementioned scientist and CEO named Jules-Pierre Mao, who attempts to weave it into the genomes of immuno-compromised children to create hybridized super-soldiers. Not for his own private army, but as a game-changing bio-weapon he'll sell to whichever government is willing to pay the most for it. So in The Expanse, it takes amoral scientists as well as the collusion of officials affiliated with both governments for this research to happen and be hidden, and when these Hybrids are eventually dropped between both armies the carnage is immense.

Luckily, we haven't gotten that far on earth yet, but the rhetoric between America and China has been heading in that direction – it's been growing increasingly hostile as each blames the other for starting the pandemic and covering it up, with China even going so far as to threaten to cut off our supply of antibiotics and other life-saving medical goods. Meanwhile Daszak, Baric, Zhengli, and others sit back counting their lucky stars and their money, since both governments and the public at large seem to have bought their story that there's no way this virus leaked out of one of their labs, and every government on earth now wants to harness their research to help create vaccines and treatments.

And these researchers have been assisted by scientifically spurious and journalistically vacuous articles which mindlessly regurgitate claims from the Chinese government, and its scientific propaganda arm , the WHO, about how bad the outbreak was in the past and how contained it is now. As the Chinese government arrested whistle-blowers and sent agents out into the street in bio-hazard gear while carrying automatic weapons to detain anyone suspected of breaking quarantine, while literally welding apartments buildings shut, the American media fawned over China's "decisive and heroic" actions.

Please take a moment to consider the fact that almost everyone reading the news to you on television was selected due to their connections or how photogenic they are, not because of any actual journalistic chops or ability to think critically.

So as two superpowers are pushed closer and closer to conflict, the research that's almost certainly the source of COVID-19 not only continues unabated, but if anything talk of more funding to stop this sort of supposedly natural pandemic from happening again is pouring into the pockets of the people who, if they weren't directly responsible, should certainly have been at the forefront of warning the world about the risks posed by lab-altered coronaviruses, and been disclosing the existence of this sort of research in the first place.

Oddly, each and everyone one of them is pretending that viral dual-use gain-of-function research has never occurred at all. Or not so oddly, when you stop and think about how much they have to lose if their role in this pandemic is revealed.

"The hardest part of this game is figuring out who the enemy really is."

Other than the fact it doesn't bear the direct marks of genetic tampering, just like the engineered hyper-virulent H5N1 Bird Flu, there's literally nothing natural about COVID-19's behavior or clinical presentation. And hauntingly, peer-reviewed research has noted that a crucial region of its genome " may provide a gain-of-function for efficient spreading in the human population."

Not only is it so distant from any other coronavirus that it forms its own clade, but there isn't even a natural path for it to have emerged through – assertions about pangolins have always been dubious at best, but were even further debunked when analysis of COVID-19's genome at the regions that most accurately show heritage made it "very unlikely" that pangolins had ever been involved at all.

Beyond that is the fact that its affinity for the ACE2 receptor is somewhere between 10 and 20 times higher than SARS , and it also creates viral loads thousands of times higher than SARS. These two characteristics point towards COVID-19 using antibody-dependent enhancement , or ADE, to enter human cells. This is when the virus is able to hijack white blood cells to more easily enter into the rest of our body's cells, allowing it to seep deep into its hosts' nervous systems, creating permanent neurological damage in the hosts it doesn't kill outright. ADE could also explain why between 5% and 10% of once "recovered" patients in Wuhan have been showing up with fresh infections, since that phenomenon allows a virus to hijack the antibodies created by a previous infection to re-attack an old host. And curiously Zhengli Shi, of UNC and Wuhan fame, co-authored a 2019 paper which used inert viral shells to figure out exactly how SARS, with its affinity to the ACE2 receptor just like COVID-19, was able to harness ADE to hijack white blood cells for enhanced cell entry. A gain-of-function extension of this research would be exactly the kind of experiment that could've given birth to COVID-19, especially considering that 2019 paper managed to fine-tune the exact concentration of antibodies that would best facilitate ADE.

Both HIV and Dengue Fever use antibody-dependent enhancement to boost their virulence, however its generally a phenomenon that takes a long time to occur when it happens in nature. However COVID-19 looks like it may have had its ADE jacked into hyper-drive as it was passed between a series of animal hosts, since it has the aforementioned much stronger ability to bind to host cells and creates viral loads orders of magnitude higher, and also appears to immediately to be able to enter its hosts nervous systems, killing many of its victims by attacking the region of the brain that controls breathing , drastically lowering white blood cell counts early on in infections, and apparently re-infecting individuals who had already appeared to clear their infection.

Further increasing the possibility that COVID-19's unique clinical presentation may be due to its ADE being juiced by laboratory engineering are the observations from an ER doctor who's stated that I have seen things that I have never seen before I have witnessed medical phenomenon that just don't make sense in the context of treating a disease that is supposed to be viral pneumonia. In an interview with Medscape, Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell went on to say that the closest thing to the symptoms he was witnessing in his emergency room.

Nothing about COVID-19's clinical presentation is typical, including the fact that in many patients the first sign of infection seems to be losing your senses of smell and taste without any other symptoms, something no other virus on earth is known to do to otherwise asymptomatic patients – but which could possibly be due to artificially enhanced ADE immediately gaining entry into those nerve cells and frying them. Further increasing the possibility that COVID-19's unique clinical presentation may be due to its ADE being juiced by laboratory engineering, are the observations from an ER doctor who's stated that "I have seen things that I have never seen before I have witnessed medical phenomenon that just don't make sense in the context of treating a disease that is supposed to be viral pneumonia." In an interview with Medscape, Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell went on to say that the closest thing to the symptoms he was witnessing in his emergency room were those created by altitude sickness .

This condition occurs when the organs that sense the level of oxygen concentration in the air you breathe notice that level decreasing, and begin a cascade of physiological changes that, as the COVID-19 patients horrifically showcase, can quickly turn deadly when they throw your body's balance out of wack. And since these organs are found in your neck right next to your carotid arteries , it is well within the realm of possibility that after frying the nerve cells that control smell and taste, that if the viral load is large enough, that the infection may eventually move into these organs and fry them too – tricking your nervous system into miscommunicating the concentration of oxygen in the environment, and scrambling the same system that's used when your body is subjected to the lowered oxygen levels that occur at high altitude to possibly trick your body into producing fewer red blood cells.

Additionally, an unnaturally juiced-up ability to use ADE would also explain what other front-line medical workers are observing in their patients : "I'm seeing people who look relatively healthy with a minimal health history, and they are completely wiped out, like they've been hit by a truck. This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people. Patients will be on minimal support, on a little bit of oxygen, and then all of a sudden, they go into complete respiratory arrest, shut down and can't breathe at all That seems to be what happens to a lot of these patients: They suddenly become unresponsive or go into respiratory failure." This sort of sudden precipitous decline is exactly what would be expected if COVID-19's ability to use ADE had been accentuated in the lab, and would also explain the clinical observations that "this severity of [acute respiratory distress] is usually more typical of someone who has a near drowning experience -- they have a bunch of dirty water in their lungs -- or people who inhale caustic gas. Especially for it to have such an acute onset like that. I've never seen a microorganism or an infectious process cause such acute damage to the lungs so rapidly. That was what really shocked me."

And also the following horrific account: "Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we've had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you're in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don't know when someone is trying to help you, so you'll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning."

No one knows exactly how many people have died in Wuhan, where in January and February crematoriums were running 24/7 when they'd typically only be operational for four hours a day and five days a week, but one apparent pattern is that the longer the virus was allowed to circulate and spit off new variants, the more lethal it became. Further evidence that far more lives were lost in Wuhan than the Chinese government is disclosing is provided by the fact that some 21 million cell phone users have somehow fallen of the map in China, as well as the long lines witnessed to collect loved ones' ashes in Wuhan, which alone is reported to have had some 45,000 cremations . So this high lethality may be due in part to the multiple variants that had time to circulate in Wuhan, a hallmark of ADE since each subsequent variant is able to escape detection by our immune systems while still hijacking our white blood cells to increase its virulence.

And unsurprisingly, neither ADE nor the possibility that COVID-19 could be a product of dual-use gain-of-function serial animal passage has been mentioned on television by the virologists most likely to be able to identify these phenomena, meaning our front-line medical responders are being blindsided by a virus that's not behaving like anything natural, like anything they've ever seen.

Even more indicative of an unnatural origin is the fact that the process of a virus transferring from one species to another, called a zoonotic jump, follows a well-established pattern in the literature. For a virus to fully jump into a new species , several months if not years are required for the process to complete. First a variant of the virus infects one new host, an infection that will fizzle out the first time it happens since there's no way for a virus to be immediately adapted to a novel host species. But with continued exposure, more individual infections occur, some of which produce slightly mutated variants more adapted to the biology of the new host species, until eventually a variant wins the selective virulent lottery and is able to spread easily among its new host population, killing and reproducing as it goes.

And yet research published in 2018 found that only two-point-seven percent of villagers living about a kilometer from local bat-caves carried any evidence of past bat coronavirus infections. That study happened to examine people living in Wuhan as well, and found absolutely zero evidence of previous bat coronavirus infection at all there, making it all-but-impossible that zoonotic jumping occurred since earlier less-lethal variants of the virus would have left a wide signature in its new host population. Instead, COVID-19 emerged out of nowhere, or more likely just out of a local lab, and was immediately extraordinarily well-adapted to humans – spreading through the air with ease, killing as it went. Plus there's the fact that all the initial victims were infected with the same variant, if a natural zoonotic jump had occurred, multiple different variants would inevitably have been found at the start of an outbreak.

And so as our titular quote alludes to, although its certainly possible to train a monkey to warm up a frozen burrito in a microwave, it's pretty damn unlikely that a wild monkey that'd never been in contact with humans before could be presented with a frozen burrito and a microwave, and figure out to heat up a snack.

In the same way, everything about the way COVID-19 interacts with its human hosts and spreads among them indicates that it's been artificially trained to be familiar with human biology – bizarrely blocking our senses of smell and taste before doing anything else, spreading readily among asymptomatic patients and then infecting and killing us with far more efficiency than any natural emergent virus at the start of its outbreak, and first emerging without taking any of the steps necessary to naturally perform a zoonotic jump into humans.

At some point in the next few weeks, Americans will literally be dropping dead in the streets, collapsing curbside as they already have in China, Italy, and Iran.

And while the people on your television will be parroting whatever their corporate parents tell them to, and while the scientists intimately involved in this kind of research preen as "having told you so" about the threat coronaviruses pose instead of informing the public about how truly grave the threat we face is – millions will die, and the work that caused this pandemic will continue at an accelerating pace as funding for gain-of-function research pours in.

"Nothing ever killed more people than being afraid to look like a sissy."

As we're quite fond of saying, America is a free country. And without sensible federal guidance, and with our pandemic response team being undermined by economic advisers and relatives with only the vaguest grasp of how science works,let alone epidemiology, we are very quickly approaching what might be our last inflection point.

While the Olympics have been postponed for the first time in modern history and other nations from New Zealand to France lock-down entirely for at least the coming several weeks, Americans haven't been convinced not to crowd into public places and public transportation. Supposedly, prayer, toughness, and the American Spirit are going to work as effective anti-viral treatments.

So by the time the public and our officials collectively realize that COVID-19 has no intention of behaving anything close to like the flu does, or like any natural virus ever has, and that our front-line healthcare workers have been effectively battling a biological weapon for weeks, the deaths of millions more Americans will already be inevitable.

The current push to get the economy back on track leads only to human carnage, rushing back into the virus's maws can't possibly lead anywhere good. Slowing down to get the full picture of what's going on is apparently off the table, as is any sort of reasoned discussion about how to save the most lives while still being able to keep the economy in stasis until the pandemic is under control. And so America will be forever changed by this pandemic, as our once-trusted institutions lead us directly to slaughter.

Rushing into danger has never ended well. After all, it's always the doors and corners where they get you.

"Sometimes it takes a few monsters to get back on track."

Sign the petition to end gain-of-function research here .

Can China hide what is happening in the country

The regime of secrecy in China is similar to the USA (both country have national security state type of regimes), so the answer is yes, but not everything.  Large scale blunders usually surface directly or indirectly. Five yeys are watching. Intenal dissidents exits.

Patient zero for the virus was not found yet, and this created a lot of uncertainty as for the origin of the virus. One hypothesis is that was a former researcher from Wuhan biolab. In his YouTube video, some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye focuses his attention on a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology named Huang Yanling: “Most people believe her to be patient zero, and most people believe she is dead (Coronavirus & China Origin in Wuhan Lab Unproven, But Denials Unconvincing National Review )

Note the name of the person who denied this rumor -- Shi Zhengli, the Chinese virologist nicknamed “Bat Woman” for her work with that species:

According to The Beijing News a research fellow at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, called Shi Zhengli, said on Saturday evening: “I can promise that not a single person was infected at our institute, including graduate students.

“We have zero infection cases.”

The other is that it was 55-year-old man  from Wuhan wet market China may have found coronavirus patient zero in Hubei province. In other version it was a 57 old woman New York Post

The intelligence agencies of Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and five eyes nations have some level of presence in China and have access to closed or semi-closed data about the start of this epidemic and operation of Wuhan laboratories.   As China was neoliberalized it is not a closed country anymore,  it is a country with its own strong neoliberal fifth column. So, like in Russia, there are ample intelligence-gathering opportunities via both human assets and neoliberal fifth column.  Add to this e all spectrum of surveillance technologies available:  space-based, cell phone and internal traffic data collection and meta-analysis of that data, and so on.  So it is not that easy for China to hide anything.

The Wuhan lab had been operating in part on a $3.7 million grant from the US government. and now there are attempts of the US and UK propaganda machine to blame China for this outbreak (Explosive Report Wuhan Biolab Captured Bats From Caves Traced To COVID-19 Outbreak, Had US Funding Zero Hedge )

According to the Mail, Senior Ministers can no longer rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory.

It comes after this newspaper revealed last week that Ministers here now fear that the pandemic could have been caused by a virus leaking from the institute.

Senior Government sources said that while 'the balance of scientific advice' was still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, an accident at the laboratory in the Chinese city was 'no longer being discounted'.

According to one unverified claim, scientists at the institute could have become infected after being sprayed with blood containing the virus, and then passed it on to the local community. -Daily Mail

Meanwhile, Cao Bin, a soon-to-be-disappeared doctor at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital has highlighted research showing that 13 of the first 41 patients diagnosed in Wuhan had zero contact with the 'wet market' commonly described as ground zero for the outbreak. "It seems clear that the seafood market is not the only origin of the virus," he said.

Bat viruses are, in evolutionary terms, very stable. They don’t change much. It is unlikely and bat virus such as RaTG13 turned into SARS-CoV-2 within a bat. Such a change can happen only when two viruses each with one "desirable trait" infect the same host.  In this case they can ‘recombine’ – swapping their genes and form more dangerous virus.

This could easily happened in lab environment when dangerous "gain of function" experiment were performed be it China or the USA. 

It is also possible, although unlikely, this virus was circulating in humans for years before breaking out into a pandemic but somehow with or without help of bioengineering mutated in Wuhan and turned into current variant which caused the pandemic. 

Can the USA hide what is happing in its multiple biolabs

Regime of secrecy in the USA is really suffocating (essentially the USA national security state is a country with the country as the number of people with security clearance is several millions) , but large scale blunders are still impossible to hide. One such blunder is connected with mysterious closer of Fort Detrick biolob in summer of 2019. The fact that CDC closed a part of   Fort Detrick labs in 2019 also raises some questions (fredericknewspost.com ). A very strange "vaping epidemic"   followed this event. Of course,  after that does not means because of that, but still suspicions run high and are fueled by the fact there were no genomic sequencing of "vaping epidemic" virus, but the  comparison of lung X-rays of patients finds uncanny similarities (opaque glass areas). 

In any case that fact is that there was a  "vaping epidemic" in the USA in August 2019 which resulted in horrible pneumonia in patients, pneumonia s similar of virus pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 (there is also some information it might destroy hemoglobin in blood cells like malaria parasite; the infected person  experiences something like like high altitude sickness)  That raises that question how close the virus that caused it (if it was a virus) resembles SARS-CoV-2.  The USA silence in this area is just increasing suspicions and rumors. As Roberts Godfree reported( The Hunt for Patient Zero ):

States must either pay now to gain protection and security or wait for the next epidemic and pay a much greater price in human and economic costs."

A Series of Unfortunate Events.

On June 30, 2019, a pneumonia of unknown cause at Greenspring , a nursing home fifteen minutes from Fort Belvoir [3] The US Military Games team trained at Fort Belvoir before competing in Wuhan. , VA, killed three and sickened 54.

On July 9th, another pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in Alexandria, VA and all lung images showed the 'ground glass' shadow typical of Covid-19. Coincidentally, the CDC chose that date to withdraw the only American epidemiologist embedded with Beijing's CCDC. The following week a pneumonia epidemic was reported at a nursing home in Burke, VA and the Virginia State Health Bureau banned collective activities and began screening residents in assisted care facilities and requiring enhanced hygiene. In early August the CDC expanded its pneumonia patient detection system and, in an unprecedented civilian intervention in military affairs, shut down the Army's main military biowarfare lab (and Superfund site), Fort Detrick, MD where, a senior scientist said, the atmosphere was one of "fear and mistrust."

In late August, the Virginia Department of Health confirmed three more cases of severe lung illness of unknown origin. Between August-October, 2,500 patients reported gastrointestinal symptoms beginning before respiratory symptoms, with fever, elevated heart rate, and elevated white blood cell count–all symptoms typical of Covid-19. Many sought ambulatory care several times before hospitalization and their lung images showed a 'ground glass' shadow. Fifty percent needed intubation, many required supplemental oxygen, and some required assisted ventilation. Fifty-three died and the cause of the outbreak remains unexplained [4]

A similar outbreak [5] was occurring simultaneously in Lombardy, Italy.

The following month the Deputy Director of the CIA participated in a pandemic tabletop exercise, Event 201, that modeled a fictional coronavirus pandemic and, after years of reducing headcount, the CDC began hiring quarantine managers...

The fact that in October 18, 2019, in New York, NY there was pandemic tabletop exercise Event 201, a pandemic exercise to illustrate preparedness efforts looks pretty alarming at it happened after Fort Detrick biolabs incident and "vaping pneumonia" epidemic in the USA. We can't find that such exercises were held on regular basis, so there there were some new circumstances about which we can only guess that prompted them.

We know about exercise conducted within NORAD during 9/11, don't we?

Four main hypotheses

There are four  hypotheses that are circulating as for the origin of the virus:

  1. It is the result of the jump from animals to humans in China. This is the official, politically correct  hypotheses.  How true it is is difficult to say, but the virus probably  did not jump into human due to low sanitary standards and trading of meat of wild animals in Wuhan seafood market. It probably happened earlier (possibly much earlier) then November 2019 and probably in different circumstances  (The Wuhan wet market theory, compelling story it may be, has been debunked)
  2. The virus originated in the USA and was introduced to China, probably visiting American soldiers during the Military World Games (who trained near Fort Detrick) , which took place in Wuhan in October 19-27, 2019 and also to Italy as first cases in Italy were registered in November-December timeframe.  The most strong arguments supporting this  hypotheses can be found in article The Last mand standing and the comments to this article  at The Unz Review, Mar 22, 2020. This hypotheses presupposes that virus circulated in humans before November 2018.  It is connected with the hypotheses about the origin of "vaping epidemic" in the USA  in August 2019. It is possible that it was caused by a similar or identical virus. The fact that CDC closed a part of   Fort Detrick labs in 2019 also raises some questions (fredericknewspost.com ) and that the training grounds of the team which trained for Military World Games add  to the viability of this hypothesis. Also there were references in media that several members of the US team were treated in one of Wuhan hospitals during the games. 

     

  3. Accidentally leaked from Wuhan lab (not necessarily bioengineered, possibly just studied).  See Washington Times

    Editor’s note (March 25, 2020): Since this story ran, scientists outside of China have had a chance to study the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They concluded it does not show signs of having been manufactured or purposefully manipulated in a lab, though the exact origin remains murky and experts debate whether it may have leaked from a Chinese lab that was studying it.

    The personality of Shi Zhengli  and that trail of her previous research raises a lot of suspicions. Also desire for dollar funding at any cost might play a role too.

    See for example discussion at  Leading Bioweapons Expert Says Covid-19 Likely a Weaponized Virus – American Free Press This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the biosecurity in those Chineses labs were extremely lax: this research was conducted on the wrong level of biosecurity (level 2 instead of 3 or 4) There are couple of interesting figures among the researchers in this lab that were involved with the experiments with coronaviruses including creating artificial ("chimera") viruses.  Some Chinese researchers such as Professor Chen Hualan, the director of China’s National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory  probably behaved recklessly in search of fame or money (or both). There is an interesting article in RT.com published in May, 2013 Chinese scientists slammed for creating new ‘deadly’ influenza strains — RT World News about Chen "experiments". 

    There were very dangerous American experiments of this nature ("gain of function") too (Nature) in which two Chinese researchers including Shi Zhengli  previously participated. This research which now reads as creation of the suspiciously similar to in the way of binding to ACE2 SARS-CoV-2 prototype created a documented alarm in the research community:

    In an article published in Nature Medicine1 on 9 November, scientists investigated a virus called SHC014, which is found in horseshoe bats in China. The researchers created a chimaeric virus, made up of a surface protein of SHC014 and the backbone of a SARS virus that had been adapted to grow in mice and to mimic human disease. The chimaera infected human airway cells — proving that the surface protein of SHC014 has the necessary structure to bind to a key receptor on the cells and to infect them. It also caused disease in mice, but did not kill them.

    The article Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research Nature News & Comment in Nature from which the quote above was taken contains an interesting Editor note:

    Editors’ note, March 2020: We are aware that this story is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.

    Remind me a quote attributed to Otto von Bismark  “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”

    There is VOX article what consider bioengineering hypothesis to be a wild rumor and provides some argumentation against "bioengineered" hypothesis How did the coronavirus outbreak start It didn’t come from a lab in Wuhan, China. - Vox. (

  4. Bioengineered in the USA and accidentally leaked from Fort Detrick. Fort Detrick's labs are a very scary place  See Last Man Standing, by Godfree Roberts - The Unz Review.
    • Proponents of this hypotheses point out than the USA was engaged in development and using bioweapons for a long time. And the organization behind the anthrax poisoning cases that happened after 9/11 was never uncovered;  some attributed this tragic incident the desire of certain forces within the USA to pass Patriot Act by eliminating the resistance to it, which, if true,  makes this accident suspiciously similar to Reichstag fire.
    • There was some strange accident in this lab in July, 2019 which led CDC to close of the lab due to “biosafety lapses” at the facility:

      «The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland — the U.S. military’s lead laboratory for “biological defense” research since the late 1960s — was forced to halt all research it was conducting with a series of deadly pathogens after the CDC found that it lacked “sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater” from its highest-security labs and failure of staff to follow safety procedures, among other lapses. The facility contains both level 3 and level 4 biosafety labs. While it is unknown if experiments involving coronaviruses were ongoing at the time, USAMRIID has recently been involved in research borne out of the Pentagon’s recent concern about the use of bats as bioweapons».

      «The decision to shut down USAMRIID garnered surprisingly little media coverage, as did the CDC’s surprising decision to allow the troubled facility to “partially resume” research late last November even though the facility was and is still not at “full operational capability.” The USAMRIID’s problematic record of safety at such facilities is of particular concern in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak in China. As this report will soon reveal, this is because USAMRIID has a decades-old and close partnership with the University of Wuhan’s Institute of Medical Virology» outbreak of the first epidemic explosion, which now seems almost totally overcome in the country.

    • Bioengineered in Canadian biolab in Winnipeg and moved or stolen to China by researchers where it was accidentally released. A variant of the same hypothesis. 
    • This is not the first allegation of this type. In her 2019 book ‘Bitten The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons’ Kris Newby presented the claims of Willy Burgdorfer – who first discovered lyme disease – that the infection was a military experiment gone wrong. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected black-legged tick if it’s left untreated.

According to the South China Morning Post, the first case of someone suffering from what later came to be known as Covid-19 occurred in China on November 17. The number of cases grew in December,  with the majority cases in Wuhan. 

The Chinese informed the World Health Organization of new pneumonia cases of unknown etiology on Dec 30, 2019. This is the 1st mention of the coronavirus before they knew what it was. As Reuters reported on Dec 30 2019:

"Chinese health authorities said they are investigating 27 cases of viral pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan." 

The USA as the country of origin hypothesis

China established that  four of the five initial patients that they managed to trace have no contact with the wet market (which since was demolished). While the market was the first 'cluster' of cases it was not the source of the outbreak.  Some suggest that the virus may originate in the USA:

New research by Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese scientists seems to indicate that the Covid-19 coronavirus did not originate in China. In fact, Japanese and Taiwanese scientists have gone a step further and have stated that the virus came from the USA.

The same scientists claim that they believe the virus first appeared in the USA back in September 2019. At around the same time, two other things occurred.

  • 200 Americans died of pulmonary fibrosis (inability to breathe) but the conditions and symptoms were not typical of the illness (these deaths were blamed on E-cigarettes and then hushed up).
  • Oh, and just before this incident, the bio-weapons research laboratory at Fort Detrick was hastily closed down...

https://richardhennerley.com/2020/03/05/coronavirus-it-just-got-even-weirder/

Posted by: Richard | Mar 5 2020 15:41 utc | 5

The USA was utterly unprepared for the epidemic. This exclude bioweapon hypothesis from the consideration. But there is still possibility that the virus was iether bioengineered and accidentally released or existed in some earlier form in some limited cluster and later mutated. Vaping pneumonia in the USA in August of 2019 is in this sense a very suspicious event.  The pathogen responsible for this pneumonia was not decoded and that also raises some questions. 

So we have two possibilities:

 

An accidental release from the Fort Detrick biolab hypotheses

The fact that bioengineers in military labs are engaged in very dangerous experiments was pointed out several times.  The most coherent exposition of this hypotheses was in the article Last Man Standing by Godfree Roberts (published at UNZ.com, on Mar 24, 2020; the site  also contains a very interesting discussion of the article where this hypothesis and the validity of arguments provided is analyzed from various angles):

Godfree Roberts pointed out strange  "vaping pneumonia" epidemic in the USA in August, 2019. But as Ron Unz pointed out "vaping pneumonia" was not contagious, so it might be the precursor to Wuhan version of the virus, but it is definitely not identical. Some participants of the forum pointed out that the virus could evolve since the accidental release. But the fact remains that while "vaping pneumonia" cases were registered in several states there was no mass infection of medical personal as typically happens with COVID-19.

I do not see the comparison of genetic structures between two, and that is something really alarming. Theoretically it is in the USA government interests to put this hypothesis to the rest as it is very damaging to the reputation of the USA.

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

China suffered through the H1N1 coronavirus epidemic in 2008 largely because the CDC took 6 months to identify it and, as a result, 300,000 died prematurely. SARS (774 deaths) was the clincher. They created a hair-trigger alarm system, mandated post-mortem pneumonia DNA testing nationwide, and promoted the CDC head, Dr. George F. Gao [1] to Demigod.

Their Covid-19 emergency has now passed and must give Dr. Gao a B+ because, though his system contained a potential epidemic it suffered from a weakness: local politicians could delay, (but not stop) the alarm sounding. Doubtless for sound bureaucratic reasons, Wuhan officials delayed notifying Beijing for a few weeks but, after Beijing pried the information from the Wuhan Director of Public Health [2] They fired him the next day. Henceforth local politicians will be out of the loop and everyone will have a CDC hotline number. , the system swung into action, everyone pitched in, and they literally killed it.

National cohesion and coordination were amazing, thanks to the Communist Party. They coordinated everything and filled all the gaps, no questions asked. Ninety percent of the frontline volunteer medical staff–of whom 18 died–were Party members sworn to 'bear the people's burden first and enjoy their pleasures last.' Zhang Wenhong, a prominent Party member and Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Shanghai's Huashan Hospital, became a local hero for his pep-talk to Party members [emphasis added]:

The first-aid team put themselves in great danger. They are tired and need to rest. We shouldn't take advantage of good people. From now on, I'll replace all the frontline medics with Party members from different sectors. When we joined the Party, we vowed that we would always prioritize people's interests and press forward in the face of difficulties. This is the moment we live up to the pledge. All CPC members must rush to the front line. I don't care what you were actually thinking when you joined the party. Now it's time to live up to what you promised. I don't care if you personally agree or not: it's non-negotiable .

Altogether, 40,000 volunteers self-organized and showed up to help Wuhan.

Now the storm has passed and China has become the world's Santa Claus, giving out goodies and turning a potential disaster into a real triumph.

Nothing would make that triumph sweeter than the public revelation that our CDC knew about Covid-19 last September. Like many national public health systems, the CDC ignores novel Coronaviruses every 'flu season and blends their effects in with the immense, fluctuating number of annual deaths. That's why, back in 2008, the CDC took so long to detect H1N1: they weren't looking.

Same old, same old until January 1, when China identified a nasty Coronavirus and the US went ballistic and blamed them for starting a pandemic and insulted their culture and their government.

But they handled Covid-19 so competently that they won the world's admiration [3] and made our attacks on them look mean, but no big deal. People will forget about the huge fuss we made and just remember vaguely that China is filthy and its leaders are liars. Except for two things:

Their society's health policies are more compassionate than ours , as older readers will realize. They have always placed a higher societal value on eighty year-olds than we do. So when they were threatened with premature, painful deaths, they put their entire economy on hold for two months and cooperatively saved their parents and grandparents, to worldwide applause (at least from my age-group). Now China is competing to have the lowest per capita Covid-19 death rate of any major country. The world suspected that Covid-19 was circulating outside China last year when they recalled this : First Vaping Death Reported by USA Health Officials . August 2019, "Amid the lack of information , investigators scrambled to find shared links to the respiratory problems. Officials said earlier this week that many patients, most of whom were adolescents or young adults, had described difficulty breathing, chest pain, vomiting and fatigue ." Covid-19 symptoms. If that's too speculative, here's what NPR turned up: Other Countries can Learn Important Lessons from Italy , says Dr. Giuseppe Remuzzi, co-author of a recent paper in The Lancet about the country's dire situation. The takeaways include how to swiftly convert a general hospital into a coronavirus care unit with specially trained doctors and nurses. "We had dermatologists, eye doctors, pathologists, learning how to assist a person with a ventilator," Remuzzi says. Some question why Italy was caught off guard when the virus outbreak was revealed on Feb. 21. Remuzzi says he is now hearing information about it from general practitioners. " They remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November. This means that the virus was circulating, at least in northern Lombardy before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China. "

The WHO has not requested the data from CDC because the US has been attacking the WHO daily and Dr. Ghebreyesus knows the US can get him fired. But Dr. Ghebreyesus and Dr. Gao and every Health Minister on earth know the truth. Dr. Remuzzi's Italian DNA is traceable. So is China's. The world is very good at tracing Coronaviruses back through their generations and China has done so and now it seems the shit is about to hit the fan.

Here's what happened in Chinese cyberspace today ( Thomas Hon Wing Polin, Facebook ):

WUHAN OUTBREAK: CHINA DEMANDS AN HONEST ACCOUNTING

It is now virtually certain that COVID-19 was brought to Wuhan by American troops taking part in the city's World Military Games last Oct. 18-27. The 300-strong US contingent stayed 300 meters from the Huanan Seafood Market where China's outbreak began (see map below) at the Wuhan Oriental Hotel. Five of the US troops developed a fever on Oct. 25 and were taken to an infectious-diseases hospital for treatment. 42 employees of the Oriental Hotel were diagnosed with COVID-19, becoming the first cluster in Wuhan. At the time only 7 people from the market had been thus diagnosed (and treated before the hotel staff). All 7 had contact with the 42 from the hotel. From this source, the virus spread to the rest of China. The American Military Games team trained at a location near Fort Detrick, the military's viral lab closed down by the CDC in July for various deficiencies. The big question now is whether the transmission was planned, or accidental. Chinese authorities are awaiting an explanation from US authorities.

A few days ago, Mike Pompeo phoned Yang Jiechi, Chinese State Councillor for Foreign Affairs. Pompeo's counterpart is actually Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Yang is Wang's boss, so Pompeo wanted to talk about something urgent and important. Pompeo wanted the Chinese not to publicize what they had found. Yang's reply: "We await your solemn explanation, especially about Patient Zero."

China's leaders have long suspected US military involvement in the Wuhan outbreak but were determined to stop the disease before pursuing the Americans for an honest accounting.

Notes

[1] Dr. Gao has made contributions to the study of inter-species pathogen transmission. He organized the first World Flu Day on November 1 2018, commemorating the centenary of the Spanish flu. It was also the 15-year commemoration of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, SARS, which led to China prioritising investment in the public health system. He is a virologist and immunologist. He has served as Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention since 2017 and Dean of the Savaid Medical School of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2015. Gao is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and The World Academy of Sciences, as well as a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and the US National Academy of Medicine. He was awarded the TWAS Prize in Medical Science in 2012 and the Nikkei Asia Prize in 2014.

[2] They fired him the next day. Henceforth local politicians will be out of the loop and everyone will have a CDC hotline number.

[3] Dr Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO International Mission said,"In the face of a previously unknown disease, China has taken one of the most ancient approaches for infectious disease control and rolled out probably the most ambitious, and I would say, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history. China took old-fashioned measures, like the national approach to hand-washing, the mask-wearing, the social distancing, the universal temperature monitoring. But then very quickly, as it started to evolve, the response started to change . . . So they refined the strategy as they moved forward, and this is an important aspect as we look to how we might use this going forward. WHO has been here from the start of this crisis, an epidemic, working every single day with the government of China WHO was here from the beginning and never left. What's different about this mission is it's complementing a lot of other external experts."


Godfree Roberts , says: Show Comment March 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm GMT

Since this was published, Ron has queried me on the dates and here is what I came up with:

It has been spreading for the same amount of time in both China and the US but China has a detection system for novel Coronaviruses and we don't.

If it started October 12 in the US it had time to incubate, spread to Lombardy, and infect Wuhan hotel workers on October 27, during the Military Games (i.e., almost November).

It killed 3200 there and they noticed and got on it.

We didn't notice when it killed 3200 here because we forbade testing until early March*. The CDC planned to bury our 3200 in the stats for a bad 'flu season (which this is) as it always does.

Then, when China reported the outbreak there, instead of saying nothing they blamed China for causing it– the kind of stupidity (like starting a trade war with the world's biggest economy when our economy was already shaky) the White House specializes in.

If we begin a proper national testing program like China's–and signs are that we won't–total 'flu/Coronavirus deaths will match our worst season in 40 years: January 6, 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said while it's impossible to predict how the flu will play out, the season so far is on track to be as severe as the 2017-2018 flu season, which was the deadliest in more than four decades , according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The initial indicators indicate this is not going to be a good season -- this is going to be a bad season," Fauci said.

If only we'd kept our mouths shut

* https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/coronavirus-testing-delays.html

An  accidental release from University of Wuhan’s Institute of Medical Virology lab hypothesis

In the second half of March, the theory that the virus originated in the USA has been eagerly promoted by the Chinese themselves, with the added detail that the virus may have been unleashed by visiting American soldiers during the Military World Games, which were staged in Wuhan in October 19-27, 2019.

According to epidemiologist Michael Osterholm ( interview with Joe Rogan),  scientists now have data suggesting COVID-19 became active in humans for the first time in mid-November 2019. Ron Unz has asked:

How would Americans react if 300 PRC officers had visited Chicago, and immediately afterwards, a deadly new plague broke out in that city, with a major risk of spreading throughout the country? Isn’t it also rather suspicious that Iran has been hit so hard? So the two countries in the world most subject to current American hostility just tend to be especially “unlucky.” It hit China just before Lunar New Year, the absolutely worst possible time, and the epicenter was Wuhan, a key transport hub. It really seems an *astonishing* coincidence that 300 American military servicemen had been visiting Wuhan just prior to the outbreak, at a peak of international tension.

There are several papers based on open sources which suggest a possibility of a leak form Wuhan biolab. For example:

In the paper Evidence SARS-CoV-2 Emerged From a Biological Laboratory in Wuhan, China the authors analysed open sources and claim the following:

We claim that a spillover event involving these labs could have occured in one of several ways:
  • A researcher working in a BSL-2, BSL-3, or BSL-4 lab could have been exposed to the pathogen while performing an experiment. Because SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period between several days and several weeks, and because infected people can spread it asymptomatically, a researcher who is infected would not know they are infected until symptoms appear, possibly hundreds of hours later. This is sufficient time for them to spread the virus to others if they do not self quarantine.
  • Lab animals involved in experiments could have been improperly disposed of or even illegally sold to markets. Whoever comes into contact with infected tissue would be at risk of infection, for example if they touch the animal and then touch their face, or even eat the animal.
  • An infected lab animal could have bitten or otherwise exposed a researcher to SARS-CoV-2, and they could either have not quarantined at all or quarantined for too little time (i.e. they would still be contagious past the quarantine period).

We will prove in this claim that evidence exists to support all three possibilities. 

 

(Logistical and Technical Exploration into the Origins of the Wuhan Strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19)):

Raising the odds of an accidental release, researchers from China’s only BSL-4 lab in Wuhan were reported to have particularly sloppy field research methods, being both bled and peed on by local bats that host coronaviruses remarkably similar to the Wuhan Strain COVID-19. And they’ve also been reported to smuggle used research animals out of their labs, selling them for cash on the street. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in mid February the Chinese Ministry of Science sent out a directive to all its labs emphasizing the important of carefully handling bio-infectious agents and alluding to slack oversight and past lapses, even mentioning coronaviruses specifically.

Mistakes may have been precipitated by the need to quickly finish research that was being rushed for Johns Hopkins’ Event 201 which was held this past October and meant to gameplan the containment of a global pandemic. Research may also have been hurried due to deadlines before the impending Chinese New Year – the timing of these events point to increased human error, not a globalist conspiracy. Beijing has had four known accidental leaks of the SARS virus in recent years, so there is absolutely no reason to assume that this strain of coronavirus from Wuhan didn’t accidentally leak out as well. This is unlikely to be a plot twist in one of the novels Tom Clancy wrote after he started mailing it in.

Simply and horribly, this is likely to become another Chernobyl or Fukushima – a catastrophic illustration of mankind’s hubris and intransigence clashing with Nature, as fate again reaps a once unimaginably tragic toll.

Given that this outbreak was said to begin in late December when most bat species in the region are hibernating and the Chinese horseshoe bat’s habitat covers an enormous swath of the region containing scores of cities and hundreds of millions people, the fact that this Wuhan Strain of coronavirus, denoted as COVID-19, emerged in close proximity to the only BSL-4 virology lab in China, which in turn was staffed with at least two Chinese scientists – Zhengli Shi and Xing-Yi Ge – both virologists who had previously worked at an American lab which had already bio-engineered an incredibly virulent strain of bat coronavirus – the accidental release of a bio-engineered virus

from Wuhan’s virology lab cannot be automatically discounted, especially when the Wuhan Strain’s unnatural genomic signals are considered.

UPDATE 2/14, 3:02am EST: A probable smoking pre-print has been released, by the National Natural Science Foundation of China:

“In summary, somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.”

In a predictable turn, that article has been removed and both researchers have since deleted their profiles off of the ResearchGate site completely. Furthering the appearance of a cover-up, back on January 2nd, the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s director sent out a memo forbidding discussion of an “unknown pneumonia in Wuhan” after ordering the destruction of all related lab materials a day earlier, making it abundantly clear that the Chinese government knew about this outbreak long before they took any steps to contain it, or made any public announcement.

An interesting overview of Wuhan activities was provided by The Coronavirus and the Culture War, by E. Michael Jones - The Unz Review

Those unusable weapons continued to be made, however, and one of the places they got produced was the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which houses China’s only P4-Level Biosafety Laboratory, a facility which is capable of storing, studying, or engineering Pathogen Level 4 microbes like the coronavirus. Coincidentally or not, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is only 8.6 miles from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, causing Bill Gurtz of the Washington Times to report, “the deadly animal virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons program, according to an Israeli biological warfare expert.”

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was at the center of a web of top-secret biological warfare research and academic espionage that stretched around the world. In 2013 two Chinese virologists were caught stealing and smuggling some of the most deadly viruses on earth from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Canada’s only Pathogen Level 4 virology laboratory, back to Wuhan, where both smugglers, virologist Dr. Xiangguo Qui and biologist Dr. Keding Cheng, were involved in China’s biological warfare program.[8]http://archive.is/QIBmE According to ZeroHedge, “the couple is responsible for infiltrating Canada’s NML with many Chinese agents as students from a range of Chinese scientific facilities directly tied to China’s Biological Warfare Program, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Chengdu Military Region.”[9]http://archive.is/QIBmE

One of the bioweapons stolen from the Winnipeg lab was the coronavirus, which had arrived at the NML on May 4, 2013 for experimentation on animals. “It is from this stash of reserves,” Sir Adrian Bond writes: “that the coronavirus was stolen and smuggled by Dr. Qui, Dr. Cheng, and by alleged Chinese Biological Warfare Program agents recruited from the Wuhan Institute of Virology who were disguised as virology students at the University of Manitoba.”[10]http://archive.is/QIBmE

Other universities were also involved in the global bioweapons smuggling ring. In late January 2020, FBI agents arrested Charles Lieber, chairman of Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Lieber was “charged with lying about his role in a Chinese talent recruitment program” and then was released from custody on January 30, but only after posting a $1 million cash bond.[11]https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/harvard-profess...69587/ According to the Boston Globe, Lieber “lied about his links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology”[12]http://archive.is/QIBmE after China paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars to arrange not only for smuggling bioweapons but hiring the smugglers.

Lieber, who is Jewish,[13]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_M._Lieber#Pers...l_life was considered a flight risk because of his ties to Israel, causing authorities to demand that both he and his wife surrender their passports. Lieber is one of the founders of the bio-tech firm Nanosys, which is affiliated with Hebrew University in Jerusalem.[14]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanosys#Founders,_fund...atents According to the indictment, “Prosecutors say Lieber agreed to conduct research, publish articles and apply for patents on behalf of China’s Wuhan University of Technology in exchange for $50,000 per month and about $150,000 in living expenses. He also received $1.5 million to establish a research lab at the Chinese university. . . . Authorities say Lieber hid his involvement in the program from Harvard and told federal investigators in 2018 that he had never been asked to participate in the program.”[15]https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/harvard-profess...69587/ Lieber’s arrest followed the federal government’s growing concern over China’s efforts to steal U.S. research and technology, as manifested in programs like the Thousand Talents Plan, where:

scientists have downloaded sensitive research files before returning to China, filed patents based on U.S. research, lied on grant applications and failed to disclose money they had received from Chinese institutions, according to a congressional report issued last fall. . . . Federal prosecutors in Boston also announced charges this week against a researcher at Boston University, who is accused of concealing her ties to the Chinese military. Yanqing Ye, who prosecutors say is a lieutenant in the People’s Liberation Army, lied about her military service to get into the U.S. and researched U.S. military projects and gathered information on two U.S. scientists for the Chinese military . . . . Federal authorities suspect that both Harvard and Winnepeg were complicit in the smuggling of dangerous biological agents to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.[16]https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/harvard-profess...69587/

According to a Facebook post, two Chinese “students” working as research assistants were also arrested after one of them, who was actually a lieutenant in the Chinese Army, was apprehended at Logan Airport while trying to board a flight to China while smuggling 21 vials of “Sensitive Biological Samples” on to the plane in his luggage.[17]https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=102139535015...heater Lieber’s connection with Wuhan and the “student’s” method of smuggling lend credence to the claim that the coronavirus escaped accidentally into the population there.

On the other hand, the production of those bioweapons was nothing if not deliberate and paid for by the United States government. Professor Zhengli, Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the past 20 years, was the recipient of millions of dollars from USAID and other agencies “of grant funding for the express purpose of researching and experimenting with coronaviruses—often receiving numerous, overlapping grants for the same time period.”[18]http://archive.is/QIBmE

The U. S. government, in other words, outsourced its bioweapons program to China by providing Prof. Zhengli with a $665,000 grant from the National Institute of Health for a study named The Ecology of Bat Coronaviruses and the Risk of Future Coronavirus Emergence (NIAID R01 AI1 10964). Four days after issuing that grant, on January 10, 2014, Prof. Zhengli received an additional $559,500 grant from the United States Agency of International Development for a research study entitled Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT 2_China (Project No. AID-OAA-A-14–00102).[19]http://archive.is/QIBmE

If the United States government paid for the weaponization of coronavirus in bats, it did so with some eventual use in mind, which means that it could have been planning an attack. In many ways, the ideal place to unleash an attack on China would be from one of its own laboratories, because by launching it in Wuhan the United States could hold the Chinese accountable for the attack which the U.S. had launched.

In the final analysis, Sir Adrian Bond, whose article we have been citing, concludes that “the likeliest source of origin for Coronavirus 2019-nCoV is the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” but he is unable to decide whether “there may be concerted efforts to conceal the precise nature of the virus, its source, and the parties responsible, or that, at worst, the dissemination of the epidemic coronavirus is intentional.”[20]http://archive.is/QIBmE

As Sir Adrian’s conclusion shows, focusing on the virus leads to more questions than answers at this stage of the game. Even if everyone agreed with the war metaphor, no one could explain how biological warfare gets conducted in our day if he confined himself to the minutiae of biological warfare. COVID-19 is a weapon; it is not a strategy. And that fact leads us to conclude that the question of whether COVID-19 is a natural occurrence or a bioweapon is irrelevant. After military martial law was declared, the big question: “Is the coronavirus real or is it being used as a pretext for a manufactured crisis?” bespoke an inability to distinguish between things, which have existence and categories of the mind, which gives those things meaning. The solution to resolving the real/manufactured crisis false dichotomy can be found in distinguishing the various parts of a campaign that is made up of both res et intellectum. If we are looking for a strategic explanation of what is happening now, we need to look into the measures which governments are now taking in light of the power the emergency has granted them. As always in situations like this, Rahm Emmanuel had the last word when he said: “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Spontaneous animals to human jump hypothesis

The origin of the virus might not be Wuhan. The jump may occur in other place, even outside of China. Wuhan was just a paces of the final mutation which make the virus capable of causing the pandemic. It also can happen in the lab, for example Wuhan lab Evidence SARS-CoV-2 Emerged From a Biological Laboratory in Wuhan, China

Indeed; the claim here is not that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered. Rather, what this story and the associated papers prove, is that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has:

  • Conducted research involving the SARS-CoV-1 virus
  • "Recombinated" and "synthetically derived" different viruses based on SARS-CoV-1, some of which could be far more dangerous than SARS proper
  • Conducted tests on live cells ("in vitro") involving variants of SARS-CoV-1
  • Conducted live animal tests ("in vivo") involving variants of SARS-CoV-1
  • Conducted live animal tests ("in vivo") involving SADS-CoV
  • Conducted live piglet tests ("in vivo") with TGEV coronavirus as recently as July 2019
  • Conducted experiments with MERS-CoV in November 2019
  • Used variants of SARS-CoV-1 to test disinfecting procedures
  • Was actively hiring researchers to study bat coronaviruses and how they can infect other species in late November and December 2019

Disregarding the possibility of a lab accident, which will be investigated in Claim 2, the likelihood that WIV did not store bat coronaviruses within its labs is extremely low. What is the likelihood that one of these stored coronaviruses was SARS-CoV-2?

How can we be certain it was not?

Wet markets in China and elsewhere with their crowded and anti-sanitary conditions are a perfect place for such a jump. Another fact is exostanc eof wild animal farms in china. Unfortunately little information is available abouth those wild animal farms and, of course, no statistics on wild animal meat production in China

Ignacio  

I followed links to this piece of an article. By the end he makes connections between industrial farming + wild animal farming and deforestation that are very interesting. I wish I had read this before.

So while the distinction between factory farms and wet markets isn’t unimportant, we may miss their similarities (and dialectical relationships).

The distinctions bleed together by a number of other mechanisms. Many a smallholder worldwide, including in China, is in actuality a contractor, growing out day-old poultry, for instance, for industrial processing. So on a contractor’s smallholding along the forest edge, a food animal may catch a pathogen before being shipped back to a processing plant on the outer ring of a major city.

Spreading factory farms meanwhile may force increasingly corporatized wild foods companies to trawl deeper into the forest, increasing the likelihood of picking up a new pathogen, while reducing the kind of environmental complexity with which the forest disrupts transmission chains.

The virus was a not a bioweapon

The symptoms are comparable to those from the original SARS and MERS. The overall death rates in countries with lockdowns are lower then typical mortality during a regular flu season.  It makes not much sense to investigate "bioweapon" hypothesis, unless the idea was a false flag operation of some sort to implicate China. 

There was an interesting discussion on this topic in Saker blog, which involved some people who appear to be knowledgeable in this areas (Continuation of the (kinda) open thread The Vineyard of the Saker). the dominant opinion was that that this was probably an accident that now is used to cover for the financial collapse which is the second stage of 2008 collapse and involves traders of various derivatives:

Luis on March 12, 2020 · at 5:56 pm EST/EDT

Sorry Saker,

Few peeps in the comments are actually following your suggestion to fact based and logically developed comments. Now, to shut up all bioweapon lovers: have you ever read any WHO study about risk evaluation and prevention of a pandemic?

1957 Asian Flu, 1968 pandemic flu, Sars 2002, Mers 2008, thousand of unread scientific studies about it count nothing?

Now, about the outbreak in Wuhan: after 2002 China prohibited the commercialisation of wild animals pushing the small farmers to grow them in captivity, instead of upgrading sanitary laws in the agro-industry and banning “wet” meat markets where all sorts of creatures piled in cages shit and piss on each other head, illegally captured wild animals included.

Now about fatality rate: WHO on 3th of march 3,4%, Wuhan Province 5,6%, rest of China (included Wuhan after 3th february) 0,7%, South Korea 0,75%, Italy first!. Witch are the more accurate? Italy was unprepared like Wuhan, most mild cases where not screened and the lack of medical equipment are most probably the causes of the spike of deaths.

So the 0.7-8 fatality rate seems the most credible.

Swiss and German strategy is to slow down the rate of infection to not overcrowd the hospitals, containing at this point it’s impossible. I loved for once hearing Merkel speaking frankly about 70% of the population being affected and immunised before it ends. Let’s see what happens now with the broken health system in the USA.

Panthera Pardus on March 13, 2020 · at 6:43 am EST/EDT

Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Luis. It’s disheartening to see so many people eschew logical thinking and credible evidence and instead “prove” their pet theories with fantasies and conjecture shot through with cognitive biases and logical fallacies.

The disavowal of science and objective facts on display in this thread is a fine example of post-modernity in action. Quite ironic given that many of the posters here claim to have a beef with post-modern leftists, yet their own thinking is as post-modern as it gets.

It’s like they’ve never heard of uncanny coincidence or that correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

Decades of government and media propaganda have eroded trust in those institutions and now many people assume that everything the MSM reports is untrue and that there must be a nefarious conspiracy behind all major current events.

Combine that with a society that does not teach or value critical thinking and reasoning skills and you get a lot of people who are convinced their hunches and biases are objectively and undeniably true. Not a good spot for a society to be in.

The Real History on March 12, 2020 · at 7:42 pm EST/EDT

I think, by now, anyone with even partially working body parts, realized that 9/11 was an inside job. In fact, this was such a botched, and badly organized false flag event that it should be classified as a student comedy with atrocious acting skills, and no stage management. However, despite of all the evidence out there, I haven’t seen a single world leader making any statements in this regard. There is no outcry, no condemnation, or even acknowledgment of this obvious false flag.

Now, let us jump into our current timeline with this pandemic. The elites were whining about population control since forever, and breathlessly harping about upcoming pandemics through every imaginable channel. They were especially “terrified” of the aging population and the rising power of China. Recently, Bill Gate’s foundation conducted some pandemic drills (tones of links to it all over this forum), etc, etc… and all over sudden we have a virus that is dangerous for the aging population, and it wreaking havoc in China.

However, I believe the main goal of it all is to create panic that would serve as a perfect cover for the upcoming financial collapse. People are frightened by the propaganda fear porn that is oozing through every media crack and, getting mentally soft to accept any explanation and outcome cooked up for them by the elites.

No matter how much evidence there is, there will be no international outcry, or acknowledgment of this crime, for us long as the empire Effect of the USA navyremains useful to those who run it, and those who trade with it.

Here are a couple more arguments:

A123 says: April 11, 2020 at 9:10 pm GMT • 200 Words

By now, with the exception of President Trump and his Pompeo character, not many are convinced that Covid-19 is a Chinese Virus (as Trump refers to it when he wants to annoy progressives).

By now, with the exception of victims of Trump Derangement Syndrome [TDS], almost everyone is convinced that the WUHAN-19 virus is of natural origins. I refer to it this way to annoy UN/NWO Globalists.

Two key points strongly indicate that WUHAN-19 is *not* weaponized. Potential users of any bio-WMD:

  1. Do not want to be infected by their own weapon. WUHAN-19 has a long incubation period and is easy to transmit. The presence of BOTH of these characteristics is inconsistent with weaponization as they more or less guarantee the disease will ‘Go Global’.
  2. Want exclusive control of countermeasures. One nation/side would have a cure and the target would have to capitulate to obtain it. WUHAN-19 can be mitigated or cured by a combo treatment of CQ/AZ/ZN, inexpensive generics that are widely available. This is not consistent with weaponization.

An investigation of how WUHAN-19 entered the human population would be valuable. Most likely the virus made the animal to human jump via an unsanitary animal “wet market”. However, the other significant possibility is mishandling of a non-weaponized sample by staff at the Wuhan Bioweapon Laboratory.

Odds are high that the CCP will quash any objective ‘criminal investigation’. The CCP’s Wuhan Health Organization [WHO] has twin goals, ignoring science & shifting blame. 

Ships as Petri dishes for infection: the effect on the USA navy

The virus did has unanticipated beoweapon effect, but only due to the fact that ships are natural Petri dishes for the infection.  War ships with their crowded quarters proved to be even more attractive target for the virus the cruise ships. Mush like cruise ships before them they are not exactly conducive to social distancing, This is true to the navy of all countries but the USA has the largest navy and was hit especially hard. 

In the USA the coronavirus has spread to at least three different Navy warships (Coronavirus spreads to 3 US sailors aboard 3 different Navy warships - Business Insider

The most important incident was the incident with  the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Captain Crozier's name first became public knowledge last week, when he wrote an impassioned plea to the Navy to send his ship back to Guam and allow him to quarantine the crew/, as Covid-19 spread rapidly on board in conditions where 'social distancing' was impossible. The letter was published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Secretary of Navy  relieved him of command as a reward for his courage to raise the question. 

Bemildred | Apr 6 2020 13:42 utc | 177

Daniel Lazare lays it out very well on the Teddy Roosevelt fiasco and Pentagon wonks in denial:

Imperialism in Denial

But Crozier’s message was not only that the Navy faces a huge problem in terms of disease control. Implicitly, it was that the entire U.S. war machine is effectively inoperable. The military could still “fight sick” in an emergency. But since no emergency exists, its only realistic option is to shut down until the pandemic is under control. Otherwise, the military infection rate will continue to climb, spelling disaster for every civilian population the military comes in contact with.

---

The insanity was on full display at an Apr. 1 press conference announcing the White House’s latest military offensive against Venezuela. Trump was his usual Mussolini-esque self while Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a former Raytheon lobbyist, was the perfect image of a self-serving careerist whose only concern is winning his next promotion.

“At a time when the nation and the department of defense are focused on protecting the American people from the spread of the coronavirus,” he began, “we also remain vigilant to the many other threats our country faces.

Today, at the president’s direction, the department of defense, in close cooperation with our interagency partners, began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This initiative is part of the administration’s whole-of-government approach to combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States and protecting the American people from their scourge….

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Dr Ralph Baric --" Most of the research in the Baric Lab uses coronaviruses as models to study the genetics of RNA virus transcription, replication, persistence and cross-species transmission. Dr. Baric also has used alphavirus vaccine vectors to develop novel candidate vaccines. "

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Published on Feb 6, 2020

Shi Zheng Li (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shi_Zhe...), of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a senior author of the draft paper (not yet peer reviewed and so far available only in preprint) that gave nCoV-2019 its identity and name. It was Shi and her collaborators who, back in 2005, showed that the SARS pathogen was a bat virus that had spilled over into people. Shi and colleagues have been tracing coronaviruses in bats since then, warning that some of them are uniquely suited to cause human pandemics.
In a 2017 paper, they set out how, after nearly five years of collecting faecal samples from bats in the Yunnan cave, they had found coronaviruses in multiple individuals of four different species of bats, including one called the intermediate horseshoe bat, because of the half-oval flap of skin protruding like a saucer around its nostrils. The genome of that virus, Shi and her colleagues have now announced, is 96 per cent identical to the Wuhan virus that has recently been found in humans. And those two constitute a pair distinct from all other known coronaviruses, including the one that causes SARS. In this sense, nCoV-2019 is novel and possibly even more dangerous to humans than the other coronaviruses.

Five years ago Shi Zheng Li ago published a paper regarding chimeric hybrid bat coronavirus base in Wuhan research laboratory and the outbreak happens In exactly Wuhan

https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985
“we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. The results indicate that group 2b viruses encoding the SHC014 spike in a wild-type backbone can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human”

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