The US government and the work on artificial creation of highly infectious coronaviruses in a lab in Wuhan a few Km from where the outbreak started.

For clarity; it is 100% evident that there is a cover-up into the origins of Sars-Cov-2. For example; China controlled the first WHO mission by pre-approving its members, denying it access to raw patient data, controlling (apparently) its press conference – and making sure a distracting theory about cold storage was included in its report. Now they have simply refused to cooperate with a second WHO mission. (Then, of course, there is the problem with the Wuhan lab database which was taken offline in September 2019 – and other issues with controlled information – be it removal of other published genetic data about Sars-Cov-2 from the Internet or creation of scientific stories to undermine the lab theory). The fact of a cover-up is suggestive of a crime. Of course; it is possible that there is a cover-up and no crime. This does happen.

This video shows Dr Fauci (Director of a US government agency “National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) claiming to the US Congress that the US (via NIH) did not fund “gain of function” research into Coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in Wuhan China. He is being questioned by Rand Paul – a US Senator.

The issue is that the funding for Dr Shi’s work at the Wuhan lab on coronaviruses came from the NIAID. What was this work? This is a matter of public record. It can be read in the grant application:

Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice. We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential [1][2]

The science writer (and one time staff writer for Nature magazine) Dr Wade writes: “What this means, in non-technical language, is that Shi set out to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. Her plan was 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 a number of viral genomes (“reverse genetics” and “infectious clone technology”), creating a series of chimeric viruses.” [1]

Gain-of-function refers to the process of artificially manipulating a virus so as to make it more infectious to humans. This is what Shi was doing.

In the clip above [1.51] Dr Fauci says: “Senator Paul with all due respect you are entirely and completely incorrect that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute.”

One possible explanation for this apparent discrepancy is provided by Dr Wade: “The explanation may be one of definition. Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance, for one, believes that the term gain-of-function applies only to enhancements of viruses that infect humans, not to animal viruses. ‘So gain-of-function research refers specifically to the manipulation of human viruses so as to be either more easily transmissible or to cause worse infection or be easier to spread,’ an Alliance official told The Dispatch Fact Check. [The EcoHealth Alliance acted as a middleman between the NIH and the Wuhan lab on the grant. Daszak has played a leading role in trying to discredit the lab-leak theory].

If the NIH shares the EcoHealth Alliance view that ‘gain of function’ applies only to human viruses, that would explain why Fauci could assure the Congress it had never funded such research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” [1] At any event it is clear that the NIAID was funding dangerous work in Wuhan involving the artificial creation of viruses, specifically coronaviruses. The US State Department in 2018 filed a report raising concerns about the bio-security at this lab.

My analysis above is based on how Dr Fauci’s remarks have usually been understood. He is denying that the NIH (or its sub-agency the NIAID) funded or funds gain-of-function research in the WIV. But. Stop. Read it again. “You are incorrect….that the NIH does not fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute”. That means, it does. (This is basic logic statement analysis: ‘it is false that A is false’ means that A is true). Dr Fauci in fact admitted as clearly as he could that the NIH funded/was funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan! How are we to understand this? A Freudian slip; he thought he was denying it but accidentally admitted it?

After this exchange Dr Fauci is then asked if the NIH funds gain-of-research work by Dr Baric. Dr Baric is a US based researcher who has worked with the Wuhan lab and who, according to Wade, [1] taught Shi this technique. Dr Fauci replies “Dr Baric does not doing gain-of-function research and if it is it is according to the guidelines and it is being conducted in North Carolina.” What I find interesting about this is that this is like saying “I didn’t steal the car and anyway if I did I had a right to”. Well – which is it? Is Dr Baric doing gain-of-research work or not? In the context of a Senate hearing into a worldwide pandemic it might have been better to state which it was. In these exchanges Dr Fauci has serious problems with accuracy. Possibly the problem is that it is ok to use the phrase “gain-of-function” in connection with work in the US but he wants to avoid using it in relation to US funded work in China and these linguistic contortions are the result.

The problem for Dr Fauci is that his agency funded the research in the WIV. (Call it gain-or-function or not). If Sars-Cov-2 did come from the lab his agency has a core responsibility here. As Dr Wade points out in his article the US has a strong motive to downplay the possibility of a lab-leak. They funded the work. And it was inherently controversial and dangerous work. And the lab was unsafe. (Wade adds that some of the work was in fact carried out in a lower security lab).

The most recent intelligence assessment from US intelligence agencies about the origins of Sars-Cov-2 and put into the public domain is that one agency assesses with moderate confidence that Sars-Cov-2 came from the lab and 4 assess with low probability that it came from nature. [3] Possibly this is an honest reflection of the positions of these various intelligence agencies. On the other hand, one of the functions of intelligence agencies is to manipulate public opinion by the placing of titbits of information in the media. I speculate that this “finding” is contrived. The one “moderate confidence” for lab leak is designed to signal to China that they are not completely off the hook but the 4 “low confidence” for natural origin is designed to avoid actually having to do anything about it. This is of course speculation.

Update 8-8-21

The Intercept, a US publication, has through US Freedom of Information laws, obtained from the NIH (National Institute of Health) new documents relating to US funding of the dangerous gain-of-function experiments in Wuhan which are a candidate source for the pandemic. [4] The documents apparently: “…contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed”. (But, Wade above, seems to have already realised this).

One of the interesting revelations is that the EcoHealthAlliance (the research partner on the NIH funded projects) knew that some of the work was highly risky and could lead to contagion. (This seems to relate to the possibility of direct transmission of virus from bats to workers involved in collecting samples). It seems strange then that the President of EcoHealthAlliance Peter Daszak has so consistently ruled out any kind of an accident. Indeed he instigated a notorious letter in the Lancet which said that: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. [5] Odd.

Richard Ebright is a molecular biologist at Rutgers University. He has previously questioned the blanket rejection of the lab leak theory by the majority of virologists. Regarding the latest revelations he has said:

The materials further reveal for the first time that one of the resulting novel, laboratory-generated SARS-related coronaviruses–one not been previously disclosed publicly–was more pathogenic to humanized mice than the starting virus from which it was constructed and thus not only was reasonably anticipated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity, but, indeed, was demonstrated to exhibit enhanced pathogenicity. The materials further reveal that the the grants also supported the construction–in Wuhan–of novel chimeric MERS-related coronaviruses that combined spike genes from one MERS-related coronavirus with genetic information from another MERS-related coronavirus. The documents make it clear that assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful. [6]

There is an interesting piece of media manipulation by people engaged in the cover-up (again; it remains possible that there is a cover-up and no crime; but cover-up there certainly is) in the Twitter thread I quote above. Several people have pointed to this text in one of the newly released grant application documents: “No funds are provided and no funds can be used to support gain-of-function research covered under the October 17, 2014 White House Announcement (NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-15-011)”. [7] This is deployed to argue against Ebright and is accompanied by snide remarks e.g. “a simple cntrl-F would have shown that you are talking nonsense”. However; if you actually go into this you can see that this grant was made in 2014 at a time when the NIH did indeed have a moratorium on funding gain-of-research work. This particular grant related to a project which ended in May 2019. [7] The moratorium referred to ended in 2017. [5] In addition there was a rolling program of grants. This one (which was already in the open) [8] appears to be a continuation of the previous one. [7] Thus if gain of function work was banned on the basis of this moratorium then that would, presumably, ceased to have effect when the moratorium was lifted – as it was in 2017. According to Wade it was then replaced by a reporting system; so one would expect there to be a record if gain-of-function work was being funded after the end of the moratorium. According to Ebright as reported by Wade the moratorium also allowed an exemption to be made in certain cases and EcoHealthAlliance and WIV were granted an exemption even before the moratorium expired. [5] Alternatively; as above, if Dr Fauci and the NIAID does not consider enhancing non-human viruses to be gain-of-function then that would also explain the way that experiments creating artificial viruses could be conducted even with a clause “no gain-of-function” experiments. This text about “no-gain-of-function” work in no way establishes that such work was not being done. It is possible that Dr Fauci and others have convinced themselves that the work being done does not constitute gain-of-function. But, as Wade says: “Definitions aside, the bottom line is that the National Institutes of Health was supporting research of a kind that could have generated the SARS2 virus, in an unsupervised foreign lab that was doing work in BSL2 biosafety conditions” [5] Both Ebright and Wade suggest (Wade) assert (Ebright) that this claim that no gain-of-function work was being done is not in fact sustainable in terms of the definitions of gain-of-function in NIH (Wade) or (Ebright) in US federal documents. [8]

There is no doubt that work was being done in Wuhan that could have led to the creation and accidental release of Sars-Cov-2 or it could have come from a bat directly infecting a researcher on a field trip to a cave (the very possibility considered as a risk in one of the newly released documents). Or, of course, it could have come from a natural source. But, if it came from a natural source, (which remains a possibility) – it isn’t clear quite why so many attempts are being made to artificially shut down any open-minded consideration of the lab-leak theory.

Update

Bonus material: US Senator Rand Paul on this topic. Sky News showing Dr Fauci falling back to “this document [I think the grant(s)] was passed up and down the chain and not judged to be gain of function research”. This seems to confirm that it does simply come to down to how you define “gain of research” – and, as Wade points out, that is not ultimately the point. Specifically it is not the point medically or politically. It may matter in terms of whether Dr Fauci lied to Congress – that is a procedural matter. This clip contains video of Daszak talking about the gene manipulation techniques that his organisation was involved in. (He was talking all this up before the pandemic, obviously. Probably less so now.). It (the last clip) also contains the final admission from an under-pressure Dr Fauci that he excludes work making animal viruses more infectious to humans from the definition of “gain of function”. This fully confirms what Wade thought. It comes down to a question of definition of terms. This is also worth it; this Senator seems to have grasped the issues. (Though I’m not personally that interested in anyone being prosecuted). This is a video from July which shows 4 science professional or Drs testifying to a US party-led political hearing that they believe it to be highly likely (it seems this is the level of evaluation) that the virus originated in a lab. One of the speakers is Dr Brett Giroir who is a paediatrician who has served in the US Public Health corps. Another is Dr Steven Quay who is a widely published medical scientist and entrepreneur.

Additional: this is Dr Fauci lying again. This time in May to the US Senate. Notice how [0.40s] he refers to the lab in Wuhan ‘studying’ viruses. He knows they weren’t simply ‘studying’ viruses; or, at least, that this ‘studying’ involved ‘infectious clone technology’ – a process which copies a natural virus to create new artificial ones with potentially enhanced functionality. Notice how carefully he picks this word ‘study’.

More detail from US Congressman Jim Jordan on Fauci’s emails from Jan/Feb 2020 .These are the ones that show how internally he was more alive to the possibility of lab-leak than he would show he was publicly. The suggestion here is that Dr Fauci organised the 17 March letter in Nature Medicine which claimed that Sars-Cov-2 is not a laboratory construct, using the leverage of his funding power. He then used this letter to support the position that Sars-Cov-2 was not the result of a lab leak (from research he had funded). This part (about funding leverage and Dr Fauci initiating the letter) is speculation. However – it is not unreasonable speculation. A conference call took place between Fauci and 11 virologists on 1 February; soon after he was alerted to the possibility of the lab-leak origin possibility by virologist Kristian Andersen. Following the call Kristian Andersen and others wrote the Nature Magazine letter which said the virus could not have been engineered. (A turn about by Kristian Andersen). Emails between participants in this call were obtained by US FOI requests but more or less totally redacted. Why? Congressman Jordan also confirms that the oversight board which replaced the moratorium on NIH funding for gain-of-research did not process any permissions for this kind of work in Wuhan. We now know of course – because it was dragged out of him – that this is because Dr Fauci does not consider the work which was carried out in a lab in Wuhan to constitute ‘gain-of-function’ despite the fact that (confirmed in the Intercept emails) it did result in the engineering of a virus more infectious to humans than its parent.

If you think about it it is an extraordinary situation. The lead doctor in the US on fighting the Covid pandemic is also the director of a government agency which funded highly dangerous and controversial genetic manipulation research, arguably in violation of the rules in place for such funding, which may have, as a result of an accident, led to the pandemic.

The defence “this work is not gain of function; we have passed it up and down the chain and everyone agrees” reminds me of President Carter’s defence; “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”. It is a careful legal position which he is using to try and hide the truth behind.

Final point. These new revelations in the Intercept do not offer any ground-breaking new material. But they do add additional material including specifics about one engineered virus found to be more infectious than its parent. It is very striking how much of mainstream media is keeping silent on this – a significant development in what is probably the biggest journalistic story in the world since the illegal US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003. And silence.

Update 10-9-21

I’ve noticed another case of Dr Fauci trying deceitfully to hide something. At 4.30 he says “If you look at the viruses that were used in the experiments that were given in the annual reports that were published in the literature it is molecularly impossible ….”. He was cut off by Rand Paul because he was avoiding the question about funding gain-of-function work in Wuhan. But he is obviously trying to make a claim that the viruses being worked on in Wuhan are so distant molecularly from Sars-Cov-2 that there can’t be a connection. This is the first time I have heard this claim; if it is as certain as Dr Fauci presents it here surely this absolutely solid argument would be much more widely broadcast? ** The problem with Dr Fauci’s claim here is that he relies entirely (and in a rather laboured way; was he advised on this point by lawyers?) on references to “published literature”. But hang on; if Dr Shi had accidentally cooked up Sars-Cov-2 and it had escaped from her insecure lab would she necessarily have published the ancestor virus? This would have been a good moment to ask Dr Fauci for his opinion on the missing Wuhan genetic database. This was taken offline in September 2019. [9][10] According to the authors of this paper [9] : “There are estimated to be at least 100 unpublished sequences of bat beta coronaviruses in Batvirus.whiov.ac.cn, which urgently need to be accessed by international scientists in order to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2”. Dr Fauci must be aware of the significance of the missing database. So why make this huge point about the “published literature”? It can serve two purposes; on the one hand it sounds like a legal defence; my job was to look at the reports and the published literature and there was nothing untoward there. And, on the other, it will impress people who are not following all the details of the story and may be unaware that the Chinese side have deleted/hidden relevant genetic information from the lab in Wuhan. That the published literature does not show work on possible precursor viruses to Sars-Cov-2 (if indeed that is the case) does not in fact establish that Sars-Cov-2 was not built in the lab. Dr Fauci must know that. Again; he is being deceitful. He is putting forward a carefully developed legal position. Why?

More interesting information. Apparently around the time the lab database was taken down a project to renovate the ventilation system in the WIV lab was initiated. According to Yahoo News the contract was published but later redacted from the Chinese Ministry of Finance website. [10]

There is little direct evidence for the lab-leak theory. As it is also true that there is little direct evidence for the natural origin theory. (The evidence for the lab-leak is rather circumstantial; e.g. the information that 3 WIV lab workers fell sick with a flu like virus in November 2019 [11]). I am not weighing up the evidence based on genetic analysis of Sars-Cov-2 because I am not in a position to evaluate it. I can just note that there are those (virologists and biologists) who say that it shows evidence of manipulation, [5] those who say it doesn’t and those who say it can’t be stated conclusively either way. The one thing which stands out for me though (from a journalistic point of view) is the absolutely incontrovertible evidence that China is and has been hiding relevant information about what work was being done at Wuhan, about early cases of Covid, they have not cooperating with the WHO investigation, they have been running a disinformation campaign, blocking journalists from investigating on the ground [12], and, apparently, hiding other relevant information – such as this new material about ventilation systems at the WIV. Why? It isn’t an unreasonable question.

Update 11-9-21

I’ll probably keep adding to this piece for a while rather than creating a new post. This is the excellent Nicholas Wade again, [13] this time going into detail about the background to the two engineered letters to The Lancet and Nature Medicine. This article provides concrete evidence to support Senator Rand Paul’s suggestion that the volte face by Anderson on the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was influenced by funding needs. It also provides a step by step record of Dr Shi’s shenanigans about reporting her work. Again; we see that the biggest single evidence for the lab theory is the way that, in Nicholas Wade’s words, the Chinese authorities “left a rather clumsy trail of footprints pointing to where they didn’t want people to go”.

Update: comment: Why don’t they want to look at the lab-leak theory?

While researching this topic I’ve deliberately followed a few links to articles which are written specifically to counter the lab leak theory and even directly the material I have covered above. What strikes me about the two I’ve seen so far is the extremely poor level of scientific reasoning in them. Embarrassingly so. The eagerness and desperation to suppress the lab leak theory is manifest. There is very clearly a concerted effort afoot to suppress the lab leak idea. Scientific papers are published which come down on the side of natural origin and then these are amplified in the media to produce headlines such as “The lab leak theory for the origin of COVID-19 is fading”. Academics appear to be working a campaign in tandem with willing journalists.

At the political level there appears to be no serious momentum to clarify the origins of Sars-Cov-2. It seems almost as if the political class in the West has simply decided that the fall-out from (even the risk) of identifying the NIH funded lab as the source is potentially so great that it is best just to walk on by. After all, they may be reasoning, the pandemic is the pandemic and at this stage knowing the source won’t help. China has strengthened its regime for biosecurity labs [13][14] and so they have in fact done what they would be asked to do were they to admit that it was a lab leak. And so, they may be thinking, what is to be gained by going down this path? The effect might be popular pressure for some kind of sanctions on China and for restrictions on the bio-tech industry, and both of these would potentially be bad for profits and social order…

Notes** I think (but am not 100% sure) that this point is addressed in this article by Yuri Delgin. See the section ‘On the 4% Genome Difference between RaTG13 and Cov2’. If Dr Fauci includes RaTG13 in his ‘published literature’ reference – and the sequence of RaTG13 has been published (by Shi) then he is saying that RaTG13 could not be the backbone for laboratory created Sars-Cov-2. This article, written by a geneticist, argues that it could be; or something similar to RaTG13. That the 4% divergence between RaTG13 and Sars-Cov-2 can be explained and could have occurred in a lab – especially, he adds, if the backbone was not quite the same as the published RaTG13. RaTG13 was published by Shi as the nearest known bat virus to Sars-Cov-2. She had a sample of RaTG13 in her lab. Proponents of lab-leak suggest that RaTG13 or another similar virus from Shi’s (unpublished) collection could be the ancestor of Sars-Cov-2. Delgin has also co-authored a paper, in response to criticism, in which he says that he did not claim that RaTG13 was the direct ancestor of Sars-Cov-2. [15] There appears to be a response here to Dr Fauci’s claim; it might be possible to overcome the 4% divergence between the published RaTG13 and Sars-Cov-2 in certain laboratory conditions and this is especially so if the published RaTG13 was not the direct ancestor of Sars-Cov-2. Delgin suggests in the article linked above this could be the case if the publication of RaTG13 has been falsified. It could also be the case if another virus is considered to be the ancestor – which Delgin appears to suggest in a paper [15]. The lab theory does not depend on RaTG13 being the ancestor. Notice a) the impossibility of overcoming the 4% divergence with RaTG13 is questioned and b) (more to the point) again Dr Fauci relies heavily on published results from WIV.

Notes

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20210801003522/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/30/science/coronavirus-sequences-lab-leak.html
  2. https://reporter.nih.gov/search/xQW6UJmWfUuOV01ntGvLwQ/project-details/9320765 Nb. this appears to be the same project which Wade is referring to but his quite contains a sentence that is not present in this text. This could be because this is an abstract.
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/27/covid-origin-report-us-intelligence-agencies-are-divided.html
  4. https://theintercept.com/2021/09/06/new-details-emerge-about-coronavirus-research-at-chinese-lab/
  5. https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/ https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30418-9/fulltext
  6. https://twitter.com/r_h_ebright/status/1435053515785662464
  7. https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/21055989/understanding-risk-bat-coronavirus-emergence-grant-notice.pdf
  8. https://news.yahoo.com/internal-documents-further-contradict-fauci-142902303.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALQe97vAREWSfHnu2lmPlK6ZgxCz_bWrWvge1Agp_jozOnH3noJMOf2DC_TLhXyiVSauygaDV-i1ll–lu0p4g8k3VHy2nwDlzAff2VR9CbbOTLQ2pCb0a3Kd70-AUmeJ8b9_4phjfedqiq8HWprkbrAkpAS5CkvvxR6Mn4DHqur
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349073738_An_investigation_into_the_WIV_databases_that_were_taken_offline
  10. https://news.yahoo.com/wuhan-lab-air-circulation-systems-135007775.html
  11. U.S. intel report identified 3 Wuhan lab researchers who fell ill in November 2019 (nbcnews.com)
  12. https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-55404485
  13. https://thebulletin.org/2021/08/how-covid-19s-origins-were-obscured-by-the-east-and-the-west/
  14. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/blr.2021.29223.hw
  15. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bies.202100137

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer