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Friday, December 1, 2023

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: An Accident Or A Deliberate Disaster?

The origin of the coronavirus pandemic remains uncertain, the political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel

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Niloy Chattaraj
Niloy Chattaraj
COO of Transcontinental Times, A double gold medalist engineer who covers social issues, science, and Indian history.

UNITED STATES/CHINA: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted lives around the world for more than a year. Till now it has infected more than 174 million people worldwide and its death toll has reached to 3.7 million. Yet the origin of the coronavirus pandemic remains uncertain, the political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel.

With every passing day, new research papers are coming out publicly which are not only confusing the public minds but also raising the political storms. It is high time that people should know the truth or at least get a clear idea of this mess that is affecting their lives directly. 

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After the pandemic first broke out in December 2019, Chinese authorities reported that many cases had occurred in the wet market, a place selling wild animals for meat, in Wuhan. This reminded experts of the SARS1 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2002 in which a bat virus had spread first to civets, a cat-like animal, sold in wet markets, and from civets to people. A similar bat virus caused a second epidemic, known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) that appeared in Saudi Arabia, in 2012. This time the intermediary host animal was camels. It is not often transmitted from human to human, rather most people get it directly from infected animals.

The present SARSCov2 virus belongs to a viral family known as beta-coronaviruses, to which the SARS1 and MERS viruses also belong. The relationship supported the idea that, like them, it was a natural virus that had managed to jump from bats, via another animal host, to people. The wet market connection, the only other point of similarity with the SARS1 and MERS epidemics, was soon broken. Chinese researchers found that earlier cases in Wuhan had no link to the wet market. This emphasized the ‘lab-made theory of virus’ origin. But first, we should know from where all this mess started and who were the chief- architects behind this fiasco. 

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Gain of function research (GoF)

GoF is a term used to describe any field of medical research which alters an organism or disease in a way to increase pathogenesis, transmissibility, or host range (the types of hosts that a microorganism can infect). This research is intended to reveal targets to better predict emerging infectious diseases and to develop vaccines and therapeutics.

For example, influenza B can only infect humans and harbor seals. Introducing a mutation that would allow influenza B to infect rabbits in a controlled laboratory situation would be considered a “gain of function” experiment as the virus did not previously have that function. However, such an experiment could help reveal which parts of the virus are responsible for its host range, enabling the creation of antiviral medicines which block this function.

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In vaccine development, gain-of-function research is conducted in the hope of gaining a head start on a virus and being able to develop a vaccine or therapeutic before it emerges. 

The issue of gain of function research came under scrutiny in 2012, when a team of Japanese scientists in the US published a paper that helped show how the avian flu H5N1 may have transmitted to humans. The group had altered the virus in a way that allowed it to reproduce in mammal lungs, which are a bit colder than bird lungs. This change allowed the virus to be transmitted via coughing and sneezing in ferrets (polecats).

Although the research helped explain how H5N1 could become airborne in humans, it created an outcry in the US, with The New York Times stating in an editorial opinion “that the research should never have been undertaken”.

Within the next two years, the Barack Obama administration in the US paused the funding of GoF studies, particularly those anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses — which have the potential to cause pandemics. This moratorium was lifted under the Donald Trump administration in 2017 with a new policy framework to assess proposed research that would create pathogens with pandemic potential.

Dr. Daszak and Dr. Zhengli 

Dr. Peter Daszak is a British zoologist, consultant, and public expert on disease ecology, in particular on zoonosis. He is the president of EcoHealth Alliance(EHA) that supports various programs on global health and pandemic prevention. Starting in 2014, Daszak was project lead of a six-year National Institutes of Health agency(NIH) project which focused on the emergence of novel zoonotic coronaviruses (CoV) with a bat origin and its jumping(spillover) on human beings in China. The six-year projects received $3.75 million in funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) agency.

Dr. Shi Zhengli is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. She directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). In 2017, Shi and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. She came to prominence in the popular press as “Batwoman” during the COVID-19 pandemic for her work with bat coronaviruses. 

Dr. Shi in WIV lab. Photo Credit: Instagram

Dr. Ralph Baric (inventor of reverse genetic engineering) had developed, and taught Dr. Shi, a general method for engineering bat coronaviruses to attack other species. The specific targets were human cells grown in cultures and humanized mice. These laboratory mice, a cheap and ethical stand-in for human subjects, are genetically engineered to carry the human version of a protein called ACE2 that studs the surface of cells that line the airways.

How can we be so sure that Dr. Shi had involved in artificially creating the SARS2 type virus? Because, by a strange twist in the story, her work was funded by the NIAID, a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). And grant proposals that funded her work, which is a matter of public record, specify exactly what she planned to do with the money.

The grants were assigned to the prime contractor, Dr. Daszak of the EHA, who subcontracted them to Dr. Shi.

In non-technical language, it means that Dr. Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. She planned to take genes that coded for spike proteins possessing a variety of measured affinities for human cells, ranging from high to low. She would insert these spike genes one by one into the backbone of several viral genomes (“reverse genetics” and “infectious clone technology” more about this in the second article), creating a series of chimeric virus (recombination of two viruses). These chimeric viruses would then be tested for their ability to attack human cell cultures (“in vitro”) and humanized mice (“in vivo”). This information would help predict the likelihood of “spillover,” the jump of a coronavirus from bats to people.

The approach could have generated SARS2-like viruses, and indeed may have created the SARS2 virus itself with the right combination of virus backbone and spike protein.

Just before the outbreak of the pandemic, On 9 December 2019, Dr. Daszak gave an interview in which he talked proudly of how researchers at the WIV had been reprogramming the spike protein and generating chimeric coronaviruses capable of infecting humanized mice.

In the interview he said, “And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS,” Dr. Daszak says in the interview. “Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger….”

Look at the word ‘untreatable’ and ‘can’t vaccinate’.  

Here Daszak himself admitted that the group has created 100 new SARS viruses. Is SARS-COV-2 one of them? In the interview, he also referred to the fact that once you have generated a novel coronavirus that can attack human cells, you can take the spike protein and make it the basis for a vaccine. Were all these pre-planned? Is there any nexus between virologists and vaccine manufacturing pharmaceutical companies? EHA received more than $123 million from the government from 2017- 2020. All this hard-earned tax money from people of America to kill five million Americans and more than 37 million people worldwide? 

Safety levels of the Wuhan Lab

There is a long history of virus escapes from the lab. The smallpox virus escaped three times from labs in England in the 1960s and 1970s, causing 80 cases and 3 deaths. Dangerous viruses have leaked out of labs almost every year since.

Coming to more recent times, the SARS1 virus has proved a true escape artist, leaking from laboratories in Singapore, Taiwan, and no less than four times from the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing. in November 2019, an outbreak of brucellosis (a bacterial infection) occurred in two research centers in Lanzhou, China, infecting over 100 researchers who worked there.

American labs have also not been immune to outbreaks, although not on the same scale. Due to the negligence and poor safety levels of the lab there have been many leaks. There are four degrees of safety, designated BSL1 (BioSafety Lab) to BSL4, with BSL4 being the most restrictive and designed for deadly viruses like the Ebola virus.

The WIV had a new BSL4 lab, but its state of readiness considerably alarmed the State Department inspectors who visited it from the Beijing embassy in 2018. “The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the inspectors wrote in a cable of 19 January 2018.

Virologists worldwide don’t like working in BSL4 conditions. You have to wear a spacesuit, do operations in closed cabinets, and accept that everything will take twice as long. Before 2020, the rules followed by virologists in China and elsewhere required that experiments with the SARS1 and MERS viruses be conducted in BSL3 conditions. But all other bat coronaviruses could be studied in BSL2, the next level down.

Yet a gain-of-function experiment conducted in BSL2 might produce an agent more infectious than either SARS1 or MERS. And if it did, then lab workers would stand a high chance of infection, especially if unvaccinated. Much of Dr. Shi’s work on gain-of-function in coronaviruses was performed at the BSL2 safety level, as is stated in her publications, other documents, and in an interview with Science magazine. So there was a great chance of escaping this virus from lab. 

Wuhan Team. Photo Credit: Twitter

Ironically, the Wuhan lab received guidance from the Texas laboratory in Galveston, which at one time had itself lost a vial with a Guanarito virus. Wuhan specialists were trained at Galveston, which was even reported in the Wuhan Institute’s own newsletter (It is deleted now, but Transcontinental Times has a copy of it). So, everything was planned and trained in America and executed in China.

Also Read: Climate Change Might Have Played A Role In The COVID-19 Pandemic, New Study Says

Anthony Fauci and his released emails 

Anthony Fauci is an American physician-scientist and immunologist who serves as the director of the NIAID and the chief medical advisor to the president. His relationship with former President Donald Trump was a hot and cold affair. Dr. Fauci was a great supporter of the GoF project. In fact, Dr. Fauci diverted US funds to engineer Coronavirus at Wuhan lab via a company now under federal investigation. With no surprise, that company is EHA, headed by Dr. Daszak. 

Dr. Fauci (L) and Dr. Daszak (R) Photo Credit: Instagram

Earlier this week, a trove of emails to White House health adviser Anthony Fauci was released to the media under a freedom of information request. It showed that Daszak had thanked him for publicly saying that scientific evidence does not support the Wuhan lab-leak theory. This is a clear manipulation from both sides. Last year, a group of Indian scientists discovered that coronavirus was engineered with AIDS-like insertions. The study concluded that it was unlikely for a virus to have acquired such unique insertions naturally in a short duration of time.

Fauci’s emails show that when he was asked about this research paper by the Indian scientists, he had dismissed it saying it is “really outlandish”. Several other emails have also shown that Dr. Fauci was warned that COVID-19 may have been ‘engineered’, but he had dismissed all of them. The question is why? He was repeatedly adamant about rejecting lab-made theory even though he was shown the other side of the story. Was he afraid of exposing himself to his nexus with this virus-making project? His emails suggest that he suppressed every attempt of lab-made theory. 

Released email of Dr. Fauci calling Indian scientists ‘outlandish’. Photo Credit: Twitter

The readers are wise to understand ‘why’. In nutshell, it seems that the present pandemic is an amalgamation of bad funding and evil research in the name of science. 


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