Origins of COVID-19?

Posted by on Apr 14, 2020 in Dave's Blog | 0 comments

University of North Carolina (UNC) virologist, Dr Ralph Baric and colleagues wrote an article published November 2015 in Nature stating that his team had created a new chimera combining genetic material from the horseshoe bat spike with the mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. 

Here are parts of the article. 

“Here we examine the disease potential of a SARS-like virus, SHC014-CoV, which is currently circulating in Chinese horseshoe bat populations.  Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat corona virus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-Cove 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 airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV. Additionally, in vivo experiments demonstrate replication of the chimeric virus in mouse lung with notable pathogenesis. Evaluation of available SARS-based immune-therapeutic and prophylactic modalities revealed poor efficacy; both monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches failed to neutralize and protect from infection with CoVs using the novel spike protein. On the basis of these findings, we synthetically re-derived an infectious full-length SHC014 recombinant virus and demonstrate robust viral replication both in vitro and in vivo. Our work suggests a potential risk of SARS-CoV re-emergence from viruses currently circulating in bat populations….” Reading further, “This hypothesis is illustrated by the ability of a chimeric virus containing the SHC014 spike in a SARS-CoV backbone to cause robust infection in both human airway cultures and in mice without RBD adaptation. Coupled with the observation of previously identified pathogenic CoV backbones, our results suggest that the starting materials required for SARS-like emergent strains are currently circulating in animal reservoirs. Notably, although full-length SHC014-CoV probably requires additional backbone adaption to mediate human disease, the documented high-frequency recombination events in CoV families underscores the possibility of future emergence and the need for further preparation.”

In response to this article, Dr Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris told Nature, “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.” 

second paper addresses the homology of the pangolin S genome with an S protein genome on the COVID-19 virus.

The article states, “On 7 February, 2020, we learned that a virus even closer to SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered in pangolin… …. the corona virus 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 (Angiogenesis Converting Enzyme 2) receptor binding domain, the one that allows the virus to enter human cells to infect them. COVID-19 is a chimera that may combine S proteins of the pangolin with a SARs base.  …. The corona virus isolated from pangolin is capable of entering human cells whereas the one isolated from bat R. affine 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.

Now, about the response to the outbreak of the virus, on January 3rd 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology directed that samples at the Wuhan laboratory  be destroyed. According to the NY Post, at an emergency meeting in Beijing held Feb 9, 2020, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke about the need to contain the corona virus and set up a system to prevent similar epidemics in the future. A national system to control biosecurity risks must be put in place “to protect the people’s health,” Xi said, because lab safety is a “national security issue.” He didn’t say that the corona virus had escaped from one of the country’s bioresearch labs, but a day later the Chinese Ministry of released a directive entitled “Instructions on strengthening biosecurity management in microbiology labs that handle advanced viruses like the novel corona virus.”

During February 2020, Harvard- Educated Boat Xiao, Joint International Research Laboratory for Synthetic Biology and Medicine, South China University of Technology and Lei Xiao, Wuhan University of Science and Technology posted a research paper on Research Gate. The title of the paper is “The possible origins of 20190 nCoV coronavirus.” The authors suggested, based on job postings, that in the fall of 2019, people were being hired to investigate new corona viruses.  The paper suggested that a lab worker got the infection, which spread, to others in the lab as far back as November. He said he  removed his paper because he could not prove his hypothesis. Since then no research on the origins of the covid-19 are allowed without going through the Communist Party first.

Other sources name patient zero, Huang Yunling, whose presence has been removed from the Wuhan lab web site. Some say she is dead, although officially she simply left her employment. Her last posted article on the website was dated 2015.

14 April 2020 article in the Washington Post entitled “State Department cables warned of safety issues at Wuhan lab studying bat coronaviruses” reveals that a U.S. delegation led by Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan sent cables back to Washington warning that inadequate safety practices at the Wuhan biocontainment laboratory represented a risk for a SARS-like “pandemic.” The January 19 2018 cable stated that the new lab had “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.” The report suggested that more support was needed for the lab. A statement about the visit was recently removed from the website of the lab, though it is still archived on the Internet.

While Dr Baric’s creation of a novel corona virus cited at the beginning of this monograph is genetically different from COVID-19, his success with “gain of function” studies and his list of patents suggests that he and his colleagues are quite able to genetically manipulate diverse viruses. One of these colleagues, Dr Shi Shingle-Li-Shi who collaborated on the 2015 article, happens to also work at the Biocontainment Lab in Wuhan. She coauthored the first analysis of the COVID-19 genome in record time. Did Dr Zhengli-Li-Shi and her staff from the Wuhan lab, create and test other viruses using Baric’s methodology? 

Whether this pandemic is from an infection of a lab worker or a biocontainment leak, it raises questions as to the propriety of the NIH, WHO and China funding these “gain of function” studies. The US government stopped these studies in 2014 because of the risk of a pathogen leaking out only to renew authorization and funding in 2017. 

Why did the Army destroy samples from the Lab after the outbreak on January 3rd? Why did Chairman Xi meet with and advise the scientific community of the need to observe safeguards in labs on February 8.  Why did the government shortly thereafter publish more safeguards? Why is research on origins of COVID-19 effectively stopped? Why are current infections being blamed on foreigners such as Africans and Americans? Did Dr Fausi approve the gain of function study reported by Dr Baric? Why does the US, WHO and China fund these studies? Why did NIH put a hold on gain of function studies in 2014 only to reverse position in 2017? Why make a virulent virus more virulent? Where is Huang Yunling? Was she patient zero?

And finally, are the UNC/Wuhan virology professionals and their US, WHO and Chinese government financiers prophetically warning us to prepare for more spontaneous and virulent strains in the future? Or, are they inadvertently storing, creating and recombining a few viruses that leak, and eventually transform into a deluge that floods into all the world leaving behind a trail of death and destruction?

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