The cat, or bat, as it were, is out of the bag. As I had written earlier, our government was involved in funding research into genetically modifying the SARS-CoV2 virus in Wuhan, leading to our current COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Review, “A top NIH official admitted in a Wednesday letter that U.S. taxpayers funded gain-of-function (GOF) research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan and revealed that EcoHealth Alliance, the U.S. non-profit that funneled NIH money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was not transparent about the work it was doing.”
Predictably, the letter drew outrage from Republicans. Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, also a physician, argued,“It’s outrageous that a comprehensive global investigation on the origins of COVID-19 has still not been carried out, and with mounting evidence pointing towards the labs in Wuhan, additional guardrails on gain-of-function research must be established to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
And Senator Joni Earnst of Iowa stated,“While Communist China continues to keep the American people and the world in the dark about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wuhan lab-linked organizations like EcoHealth Alliance are failing to tell the truth about U.S. taxpayer money being doled out to fund their dangerous studies on coronaviruses.”
The letter, written by Lawrence A. Tabak of the NIH, corrects untruthful assertions by NIH Director Collins and NIAID Director Fauci that NIH had not funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan. Instead, Tabaktated asserts that EcoHealth Alliance violated Terms and Conditions of NIH grant AI110964.
This revelation is consistent with earlier reports by The Telegraph, which reported “Wuhan and US scientists were planning to release enhanced airborne coronavirus particles into Chinese bat populations to inoculate them against diseases that could jump to humans, leaked grant proposals dating from 2018 show.”
Vindication for Wuhan Origins
Aditionally, it vindicates the accusations levied by Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and bolsters inquires by DRASTIC (Decentralized, Radical Autonomous, Search Team Investigating COVIID-19), an organization which asserted gain of function experimentation on behalf of NIH. Angered by the delayed admission, Senator Paul contends “this research, conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and funded under NIAID Award R01AI110964, fits the definition of gain-of-function research.”
The letter also contradicts Dr. Fauici’s claim that “the NIH [National Institutes of Health] has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV],” as pointed out by Dr. Richard Ebright, biosafety expert and professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University.
Early on, DARPA, the government body responsible for oversight of the research grant in Wuhan, had rejected a bid submitted by British zoologist Peter Daszak of EcoHealth, stating, “It is clear that the proposed project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk.”
Interestingly, the letter admits that “in this limited experiment, laboratory mice infected with the SHC014 WIV1 bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with the WIV1 bat coronavirus, and “as sometimes occurs in science, this was an unexpected result of the research, as opposed to something that the researchers set out to do.”
A Curious Explanation for the Wuhan Virus
I say “interestingly” because of the nonsensical nature of such a statement. The whole point of gain-of function is to create a more robust virus with enhanced capacities to transmit and cause grave illness. As Ebright points out, “The Wuhan lab used NIH funding to construct novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells and laboratory animals, adding “This is high-risk research that creates new potential pandemic pathogens (i.e., potential pandemic pathogens that exist only in a lab, not in nature).”
In other words, the very nature of pursuing gain-of function is tantamount to intentionally creating a biological weapon with the capacity to inflict the greatest harm possible. Therefore, any contrary claim is disingenuous.
Moreover, this line of reasoning is echoed by Former CDC director Dr Robert Redfield, a virologist, who has contended, “When I said before that I didn’t think it was biologically plausible that COVID-19 went from a bat to some unknown animal into man and now had become one of the most infectious viruses . ,. . that’s not consistent with how other coronaviruses have come into the human species,” adding “It does suggest that there’s an alternative hypothesis that it went from a bat virus, got into a laboratory, where in the laboratory it was taught, educated, it evolved, so that it became a virus that could efficiently transmit human to human.”
It also fits well the claim by a former Trump official who believes the scientists were intending to introduce “human-specific cleavage sites” to bat coronaviruses which would make it easier for the virus to enter human cells, thus augmenting the capacity of the virus to induce severe disease states.
To be fair, the letter states that “published genomic data demonstrate that the bat coronavirus . . . are not and could not become SARS-CoV2. . . as the sequences of the viruses are genetically very distant.” But again, this doesn’t seem to line up with the facts that we know so far. A recent report in the publication Nature may shed some light on why I say this:
“The binding free energy between the SARS-CoV-2 RBD and human-ACE2 is significantly lower than that for SARS, which partially explains the highly infectious activity of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, genomic recombination may be closely related to the pandemic of COVID-19 in human society. As a significant evolutionary mechanism, genetic recombination in RNA viruses forms novel chimeric genomes, driving the creation of viral diversity as well as the origin of novel viruses.”
Recall that NIH has already admitted to working with “novel chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses able to infect human cells.” Recombination is a major element in the mutation of a virus. By intentionally manipulating a virus through recombination, a virus can be altered, leading to a gain-of-functional capacity. And, while most recombination events happen naturally, I find it suspicious that the experimentation taking place just happened to be focused on chimeric genomes. Coincidence? Perhaps, but it surely raises some red flags at the very least.
Further evidence for my conclusion, beyond mere logic, comes from an excerpt of the rejected proposal by EcoHealth Alliance, which states, “We will validate results from chimeric viruses by re-characterizing full-length genomeversions, testing whether backbone genome sequence alters full length SARSr-CoV spillover potential. QS for full-genome characterization will be selected to reflect strain differences in antigenicity, receptor usage, growth in human cells and pathogenesis.”
Put simply, EcoHealth Alliance was intentionally manipulating and altering SARS viral genetic sequencing in order to create hyper-infective organisms capable of human to human trasmission.
Furthermore, there is evidence that not only is our government downplaying the significance of this information, but created policies that allowed it to happen.
A Pause, Followed by a Resumption in Research
As reported by the New York Times, back in 2014, the Obama Administration, amidst safety concerns about viral experimentation, “issued regulations calling for more stringent federal oversight of such research and requiring scientists and universities to disclose that their work might be risky, rather than expecting federal agencies to notice.”
The moratorium specifically addressed work regarding gain-of-function in MERS and SARS viruses, which scientists felt could pose a significant health threat via a potential pandemic, and was prompted by an NIH audit which found “improperly stored dangerous agents, toxins or hazardous biological materials,” according to chemistryworld.com.
Then, in December 2017, the moratorium was paused and a review process was put into place by the federal government to assess GOF experimentation for potential funding.
The publication science.org explains the new policy, “ . . .covers research that creates ‘potential pandemic pathogens’ or PPPs, rather than adopting NSABB’s term, GOF research of concern. Agencies will decide whether a proposed study involves an ‘enhanced’ PPP by looking at whether the resulting pathogen is ‘likely’ to be highly transmissible and capable of wide and uncontrollable spread in humans, highly virulent, and likely to cause significant sickness and deaths.”
Although this policy shift did not expressly open the flood gates to GOF research, its vague langague and paremeters did allow for a case-by-case basis for approval of experimentation that did not have sufficient restrictions in place. The loose languagee and terms were all that was needed, however, to introduce the one uncontrollable factor: human error.
As epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health points out, “A human is better at spreading viruses than an aerosol” adding, “The engineering is not what I’m worried about. Accident after accident has been the result of human mistakes.”
Perhaps ironically, the funding of this kind of experimentation was justified that it would “help scientists better understand how dangerous organisms work, with the ultimate goal of learning how to stop them,” according to Dr. Tom Frieden, who was the director of the CDC from 2009 to 2017.
The Writing on the Wall about Wuhan Virus
In fact, the writing was on the wall already. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, who led a virology research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presaged the coming disaster when he stated his team will propose experiments they couldn’t do during the funding pause, announcing, “Specifically, we have been identifying amino acid changes that enhance the polymerase function of avian influenza viruses in mammalian cells to understand the molecular mechanism of avian-to-human transmission in a system not involving live virus. We will now propose testing the effect of those amino acid changes on virus replication.”
Mother Nature Pushes Back
So, much like Iann Malcolm, the scientist in the novel Jurassic Park who warned the park owner that “Genetic power is the most awesome force the planet’s ever seen, but you wield it like a kid that’s found his dad’s gun,” scientists experimenting with pathogenic viruses learned about the folly and illusion that mother nature can be confined and controlled in a lab.
Furthermore, the ongoing presence of “wet markets,” such as those used in China, present another host of disasters in the making. By cramming together a plethora of biodiverse organisms, all of which carry the risk of harboring a wide variety of viral infections, you create the conditions for viruses to spread between species, including humans.
Prof Andrew Cunningham, of the Zoological Society of London, paints a grim picture: “The animals have been transported over large distances and are crammed together into cages. They are stressed and immunosuppressed and excreting whatever pathogens they have in them. With people in large numbers in the market and in intimate contact with the body fluids of these animals, you have an ideal mixing bowl for [disease] emergence. If you wanted a scenario to maximise the chances of [transmission], I couldn’t think of a much better way of doing it.”
So problematic is the presence of wet markets that Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of 60 House and Senate members sent a letter to the Directors-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), stating “The viruses can subsequently spread or ‘spill over’ into humans through handling and consumption of wildlife, potentially starting highly contagious outbreaks of new and deadly diseases for which we have no natural immunity — as we are currently seeing with COVID-19 and have seen with SARS, Ebola, monkeypox and Lassa fever in the recent past. Wet markets in particular pose a threat to global public health because wildlife comes from many different locations without any standardized sanitary or health inspection processes.”
The reality is that most of the wet markets are operated in a shady manner, involving the presence of criminal organizations who profit from the illegal importation of wildlife. Traffic.org reports “Illegal wildlife trade is devastating wildlife species the world over, as poachers, traffickers and highly-organised criminal syndicates ruthlessly pursue profit at any cost to meet consumer demand.” Many of these animals end up in wet markets, where they are purchased for consumption.
The use of wet markets, which increase the likelihood of cross-species viral infections, in conjunction with laboratory experiments using the same exotic species, along with the intentional manipulation of genetic code to increase transmission and pathology, are a recipe for disaster, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. At the end of the day, it’s quite a simple lesson: We cannot, and never will be able to, fully control nature.
Michael Crichton, the author of the Jurassic Park novel, captured this beautifuly writing, “Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.”