Friday, March 20, 2020

Did Covid-19 Come From The Wuhan Lab?

There's been a lot of speculation about whether Covid-19 came to be in the Wuhan Virological laboratory--whether as an actual bioweapon or as a result of what's known as "dual-use gain-of-function" research. Most of mainstream commentary attempts to evade or nuance that issue. Michael Osterholm, whom I've cited extensively, has flatly stated that Covid-19 is not a bioweapon. Of course that doesn't mean human agency wasn't somehow involved.

On the other hand, if you've listened to Osterholm's interviews you'll quickly realize that as a top level adviser to most recent administrations and internationally recognized expert in epidemiology, Osterholm is adept at avoiding political judgments in his answers. For example, he did recently forthrightly state that he expects new "explosions" of Covid-19 in China, but slipped away from stating that Chinese stats can't be trusted.

And the same goes for most mainstream publications--their denials of bioengineering at the origins of Covid-19 are largely if not uniformly tendentious and unconvincing. Earlier today I quoted an article from The Atlantic which quoted an expert who sought to distance himself from "conspiracy theorists" while sort of giving the game away:

The new virus certainly seems to be effective at infecting humans, despite its animal origins. The closest wild relative of SARS-CoV-2 is found in bats, which suggests it originated in a bat, then jumped to humans either directly or through another species. (Another coronavirus found in wild pangolins also resembles SARS-CoV-2, but only in the small part of the spike that recognizes ACE2; the two viruses are otherwise dissimilar, and pangolins are unlikely to be the original reservoir of the new virus.) When SARS-classic first made this leap, a brief period of mutation was necessary for it to recognize ACE2 well. But SARS-CoV-2 could do that from day one. “It had already found its best way of being a [human] virus,” says Matthew Frieman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
This uncanny fit will doubtlessly encourage conspiracy theorists: What are the odds that a random bat virus had exactly the right combination of traits to effectively infect human cells from the get-go, and then jump into an unsuspecting person? “Very low,” Andersen says, “but there are millions or billions of these viruses out there. These viruses are so prevalent that things that are really unlikely to happen sometimes do.”

Here's the problem with this determined effort to find a non-controversial, natural explanation for Covid-19's origins. We know for a fact that the Chinese--just like US scientists--have engaged in "dual-use gain-of-function" research for years, and the only "safe" place to do that in China is the Wuhan lab. In fact, Osterholm has an entire chapter in his book devoted to the very real and very scary dangers of "dual-use gain-of-function" research, so it's hardly conspiracy theory to suspect that Osterholm's openly expressed fears have been realized.

A blog that takes a very deep dive into all that appeared today: Logistical and Technical Exploration into the Origins of the Wuhan Strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Check it out. It's quite long, so I'll only quote the concluding few paragraphs:

Given the above facts, either: 
– A coronavirus spontaneously mutated and jumped to humans at a wet market or deep in some random bat cave which just so happened to be 20 miles from China’s only BSL-4 virology lab, a virus with an unusually slippery never-before-seen genome that’s evading zoological classification, that may be as much as twenty-times more contagious than SARS and whose spike-protein region which allows it to enter host cells holds an unique HIV-like signature with the concomitant clinical response, that somehow managed to infect its patient zero who had no connection to this market, and then be so fined-tuned to humans that it’s gone on to create the single greatest public health crisis in Chinese history with approaching 100 million citizens locked-down or quarantined – also causing Mongolia to close its border with its largest trading partner for the first time in modern history and Russia to ban Chinese citizens from entry into their country. 
Or, Chinese scientists failed to follow correct sanitation protocols possibly while in a rush leading up to an international virological conference and during their boisterous holiday season, something that had been anticipated since the opening of the BSL-4 lab and has happened at least four times previously, and accidentally released this bio-engineered Wuhan Strain – likely created by scientists researching immunotherapy regimes against bat coronaviruses, who’ve already demonstrated the ability to perform every step necessary to bio-engineer the Wuhan Strain COVID-19 – into their population, and now the world. As would be expected, this virus appears to have been bio-engineered at the spike-protein genes which was already done at UNC to make an extraordinarily virulent coronavirus. Chinese efforts to prevent the full story about what’s going on from getting out are because they want the scales to be even since they’re now facing a severe pandemic and depopulation event. No facts point against this conclusion. 
An immediate international moratorium on all dual-use gain-of-function research must be instated and all existing experimentation must be autoclaved, only greed and hubris have ever been served by attempting this type of genetic manipulation. Humanity does not need a vaccine against HIV derived from a coronavirus, nor do we need to be tinkering with genetic material that holds the potential to wipe a significant percentage of us off the face of the Earth.
Failure to embrace such a ban may effectively become a death sentence for our species, assuming we aren’t already on our last mile.


  1. Via the UCLA library I have acceess to Nature Medicine volume 21, pages 1508–1513(2015). Read the last sentence of the abstract.
    And among the authors, note number 4.

    The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV underscores the threat of cross-species transmission events leading to outbreaks in humans. Here we examine the disease potential of a SARS-like virus, SHC014-CoV, which is currently circulating in Chinese horseshoe bat populations1. Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system2, 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 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.

    Author information Affiliations
    1. Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Vineet D Menachery
    , Boyd L Yount Jr
    , Kari Debbink
    , Lisa E Gralinski
    , Jessica A Plante
    , Rachel L Graham
    , Trevor Scobey
    , Eric F Donaldson
    & Ralph S Baric
    2. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Kari Debbink
    & Ralph S Baric
    3. National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas, USA
    Sudhakar Agnihothram
    4. Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China
    Xing-Yi Ge
    & Zhengli-Li Shi
    5. Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Scott H Randell
    6. Cystic Fibrosis Center, Marsico Lung Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    Scott H Randell
    7. Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona Institute of Microbiology, Zurich, Switzerland
    Antonio Lanzavecchia
    8. Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    Wayne A Marasco
    9. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    Wayne A Marasco

    1. Right. There's plenty of published studies that show the type of research going on, and where. It's not just happening at the Wuhan lab, but it IS happening there.

      Sorry I forgot to name this post. Did it now.

  2. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

    1. I'm putting together a transcript that will help explain what was likely been going on.

  3. I'll look forward to it.

    In the meantime, there are things that men are not to attempt. Human cloning, organ harvesting of healthy people for the sake of the powerful, embryonic stem cells, etc.

    1. So, the ones performing the above are not men - THEY ARE MONSTERS, therefore they perform these activities and worse!

  4. At this point, I'm not certain the Coronavirus source matters--except as lessons learned to warn and guard future conduct towards China. Despite any assurances and denials, the CCP is not going to be transparent about what happened. Nor will they be in the future. Recognizing China's true nature is a first and necessary step.

    We've now paid--and are paying--the huge price of the mistaken assumption that opening up to doing business with China would cause them to join the community and humanity of the world, while working to satisfy common interests. Experience has proven us not only wrong, but incredibly naïve in the failure to recognize China and the CCP as operating against our national interests.

    Simply, we've been Charlie Brown to their Lucy for 30 years, while doing nothing to change the incentives to their conduct. They steal Western technology and intellectual property, and in return, we ship them jobs hoping they'll eventually play nice. Pathetic.

    Insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome.

    In fact, I'd argue we're better off not knowing the source of the virus (as between human malevolence or human error). Nature is filled with millions, billions even, of viruses, while the certain knowledge of one such outbreak leaves the false impression that we have control over nature. We clearly don't. Precaution against the likely, though unknown events, is far better preparation than is the presumption that we (falsely) have control over nature.

    1. I consider people who want to create Potential Pandemic Pathogens to be "mad scientists". But that's just me.


    Oh! The irony!

    1. Perhaps my last post exceeded itself in its obscurity.

      I posted a link to a famous Time magazine cover in 1998 promoting Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers as "The Committee to Save the World". Unfortunately, I could not find a link to the article which is not behind a paywall.

      Here's a glimpse:

      The article lauds Greenspan as having a shaman-like power over global markets. Rubin is described as the Goldman Sachs wonder boy who led the firm to rocket-ship international growth. And Summers is the Harvard-trained academic who is invariably called the Kissinger of economics and whose intellect never fails to dazzle.

      According to Time, they have a passion for thinking and an inextinguishable curiosity about a new economic order that is unfolding before them like an Alice in Wonderland world. The sheer fascination of inventing a 21st century financial system motivates them more than the usual Washington drugs of power and money.

      Of course, what they were doing was unleashing the forces of financial deregulation and globalism.

      Some of their policies almost ended the world as we knew it in 2008. Somehow, we recovered. Fast forward to 2020 where the globalism which these three championed threatens again to bring down the world...this time for good.

      Ah, yes, "The Committee to Save the World".

      The irony!

    2. In that vein maybe you'll like this:

      Most economists, it seems, believe strongly in their own superior intelligence and take themselves far too seriously. In his open letter of 22 July 2001 to Joseph Stiglitz, Kenneth Rogoff identified this problem: “One of my favourite stories from that era is a lunch with you and our former colleague, Carl Shapiro, at which the two of you started discussing whether Paul Volcker merited your vote for a tenured appointment at Princeton. At one point, you turned to me and said, “Ken, you used to work for Volcker at the Fed. Tell me, is he really smart?” I responded something to the effect of “Well, he was arguably the greatest Federal Reserve Chairman of the twentieth century” To which you replied, “But is he smart like us?” Economists have delusions of adequacy and a related assured self-confidence that they bring to any problem.

      Rogoff went on note that in one of Stiglitz’s books – “Globalisation and its Discontents“: “… I failed to detect a single instance where you, Joe Stiglitz, admit to having been even slightly wrong about a major real world problem. When the U.S. economy booms in the 1990s, you take some credit. But when anything goes wrong, it is because lesser mortals like Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan or then-Treasury Secretary Rubin did not listen to your advice.” Rogoff concluded that Stiglitz was “… a towering genius. Like your fellow Nobel Prize winner, John Nash, you have a “beautiful mind.” As a policymaker, however, you were just a bit less impressive.”

    3. Exactly.

      I could seriously go off on Summers. Perhaps one day I will.

    4. Mark, I would like to use this space to be even clearer on this subject than I have been. My view is that back in the mid-1990s, after Clinton's humiliation in the 1994 elections, and even more so after Lewinski, he conceded domestically to the Gingrich crowd, but handed off the economy to the likes of Greenspan, Rubin and Summers. The Time magazine article is fascinating for many reasons.

      Superficially, it displayed a fawning admiration for these self-proclaimed greater intellects who 'knew what to do' to stave off the consequences of various financial crises.

      But deeper down, the article described an abject concession to the power of the 'marketplace'. What Greenspan, Rubin and Summers were all about was the power and preeminence of 'markets'.

      Well, in 1998 who the hell knew what they were talking about? It turns out what they were really talking about was unleashing globalism. Forget the American worker and forget national security, its all about the price of goods and the seller's profit.

      The author explained as follows:

      "[Greenspan's]pragmatism is a faith that recalls nothing so much as the objectivist philosophy of the novelist and social critic Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged), which Greenspan has studied intently. During long nights at Rand's apartment and through her articles and letters, Greenspan found in objectivism a sense that markets are an expression of the deepest truths about human nature and that, as a result, they will ultimately be correct. Greenspan jokes that Rubin, with his background in arbitrage, may be slightly more skeptical because of his experiences with market imperfections. But they all agree that trying to defy global market forces is in the end futile. That imposes a limit on how much they will permit ideology to intrude on their actions. So despite different political backgrounds, they have the ability, rare in Washington these days, to preclude partisan considerations from their discussions."

      Translation: Let the markets rule. And, by the way, this way we can get very very rich.

      Result: An America today which has conceded the ability to make for itself what it needs. An America with hollowed out cities and a still-raging opioid epidemic which may well kill more Americans than COVID-19 in 2020, an America which cannot manufacture its own medicines or medical equipment, an America with not even a fig-leaf of a rational immigration policy. Even our foreign policy is ultimately corrupted by the need to play the world's policeman in order to defend the trade routes necessary to run the 'global economy'. And lastly, an America potentially dangerously unable to defend itself in the face of a global pandemic.

      And, as I say, this is all thanks in large measure to The Committee to Save the World.

    5. "Pragmatism" and "Objectivism" are euphemisms for "doctrinaire Libertarianism"--the Classical Liberalism's Right v. its Left which is Socialism. It was advanced by people who had no real ties to cultural America, the American of traditional conservatism.

      There's a good article at American Greatness on the roots of progressivism--which ties into all that, just as Deneen's analysis does.