A new scientific report by Li-Meng Yan et al has just been released that demonstrates how the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID19 could be synthesised in the laboratory. The incredibly brave Li-Meng had to flee Hong Kong to bring this report to the notice of the world. Let us hope that journalists in the UK are a tenth as brave and finally cover what almost certainly happened in Wuhan.
The report proposes that a base virus (called ZC45/ZXC21) was converted in the lab to SARS-CoV-2. It points to three pieces of evidence covering: the base virus that was used in the synthesis, the binding apparatus that the new virus uses to enter cells and a special modification to increase infectivity.
If SARS-CoV-2 was derived in the lab from another base virus we would find proteins in SARS-CoV-2 that are almost identical to the base virus. This would be unlikely to happen if SARS-CoV-2 evolved from another virus because the proteins mutate with time. The early studies of SARS-CoV-2 show that the base virus has 100% identical E protein and near identical Orf8 protein to SARS-CoV-2. Only a sudden artificial change to the base virus could have created SARS-CoV-2. A paper written February 3rd 2020 by F.Wu et al noted that ZC45 was the base virus but this was withdrawn then corrected under pressure from the Chinese authorities and the authors are reported to have been punished for their publication.
Having prevented mention of the ZC45/ZXC21 virus as the source of SARS-CoV-2 China seems to have developed a new story of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 involving an alleged bat virus that is close in structure to SARS-CoV-2 called RaTG13. However several authors have challenged this story and it is unclear whether or not RaTG13 even exists in nature.
The binding apparatus that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses to infect cells, the "spike protein", consists of S1 and S2 proteins. The S2 protein has a high similarity with the base virus' spike protein but the S1 protein is radically different. If the virus were natural the S1 protein would need to have evolved over a long period or have been acquired from another virus.
|SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins (brown) |
S1 in SARS-CoV-2 is very different from normal bat coronavirus protein. It changes the spike protein so that it works on human cells. The animal reservoir where the evolution of this protein hypothetically took place could not be bats because the host proteins that the virus spike latches onto to enter cells in bats (ACE2) are not close enough in structure to those used to enter cells in humans (hACE2). Such evolution would have taken a long time and resulted in mutations that would make SARS-CoV-2 Orf8 and E Protein very different from those in the base virus.
The possibility that the S1 protein was acquired from another virus, for instance in pangolins, has been exhaustively investigated and found to be very unlikely. A virus in an intermediate species that infected humans so successfully would also be creating further outbreaks (like MERS from camels). The acquisition of the S1 protein would need to be very recent to avoid the rest of the virus mutating to become very different from the base virus.
Of course it is absurd to seek a hugely improbable natural source of the special, human-infecting spike protein when the Wuhan Institute of Virology employed staff who were expert at artificially changing the spike protein of coronaviruses in the lab so that they can infect humans - see papers by Shi Zhengli et al and Wuze Ren et al .
Li-Meng Yan et al finish their paper with a detailed description of how SARS-CoV-2 was probably created in the lab.
There have been several other authors who have declared that COVID19 was almost certainly a lab escape however the original condemnation of any mention that SARS-CoV-2 was man made was so general and ferocious that few virologists dared to enter the debate.
The original, Chinese "on the spot" report that suggested the virus was a lab escape was removed from publication at the request of China (See The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus.). It pointed out that biosafety was poor at the Wuhan Virology Labs and that bats were never sold at the fish market in Wuhan.
That the spike protein had been artificially created was spotted almost immediately by virologists. At the beginning of the outbreak a paper was published, Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag, which suggested that HIV had also been used as a source for some of the genetic material in the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike. The paper met with a storm of protest from Chinese academics and was withdrawn by the journal. The HIV inserts were also noted by Professor Luc Montagnier, the winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering HIV, who agreed that COVID19 was a lab escape. He said: "“With my colleague, bio-mathematician Jean-Claude Perez, we carefully analyzed the description of the genome of this RNA virus,”.."in order to insert an HIV sequence into this genome, molecular tools are needed, and that can only be done in a laboratory."
The principle rebuttal of the man-made virus theory was a paper by the Scripps Institute,
that states clearly that the virus was not genetically
engineered although the arguments are confused and could be taken as a suggestion that the virus was indeed man made. The article was given
considerable publicity by Science Daily and has been widely circulated.
The following argument is given for Sars-CoV-2 not being genetically
engineered: "It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory
manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus. As noted above,
the RBD (receptor binding) of SARS-CoV-2 is optimized for binding to
human ACE2 with an efficient solution different from those previously
predicted." This argument is not convincing because the presence of unusual modifications could also be
used to suggest human manipulation. The virologist, Dr Michael Antoniou, has publicly raised the point that the Scripps paper is widely held to "prove" that COVID19 is natural yet does not do so. The Scripps Institute is also deeply involved with China. Concerns about this involvement were raised in 2016:
The leading biological warfare research laboratory in mainland China is based at Wuhan. It is China's Porton Down. All research laboratories in China must submit to military control if required under the Chinese "dual use" legislation and now both of the virological research laboratories in Wuhan are under full military control:
There is no possibility that the laboratories will ever yield information that can be trusted on the origins of COVID19. It is only the virus itself, the circumstances of the outbreak and whistleblowers that can tell us what really happened.
If China were brewing up a virus for the purposes of economic warfare it would be doing this in Wuhan. The Wuhan Institute of Virology, officially cleared for opening in 2017, is the first "level 4" virological research facility in mainland China and the first major project that it launched was to increase the infectivity of bat viruses in humans.
Many virologists have now made the case that COVID19 is a lab escape, including Nobel Prize winners. However, many scientific journals such as "Science" and "Nature" are heavily dependent on China. Even when preliminary scientific reports were saying that the Hua Nan fish market in Wuhan did not sell bats Springer Nature had the following disinformation as an editor's note emblazoned above articles:
Springer Nature had already been caught out in 2017 for allowing the Chinese government to censor content for political reasons.
Even when the Wuhan Institute of Virology had become fully controlled by the Chinese military, "Science" was still agitating for US National Institute of Health funds to be spent on Wuhan Institute projects so that it could keep its 4 full pages of Chinese Government advertisements.
British journalists in particular have been extremely loathe to cover any aspect of the origins of COVID19 and just trot out the party line provided by China that all experts agree that COVID19 is natural and it is a bat virus from the Hua Nan fish market. Had the virus originated in Russia next to its principle bioweapons research lab there is no doubt that there would have been uproar in the UK and global media, it would not have been necessary for scientists to dot every "i" and cross every "t" to prove that the virus was a bioweapon. Even now, when the evidence is almost certain that the virus was a bioweapon our media are silent. What we are seeing is the vast economic power of China being used to turn our media against us.
Having established that COVID19 is almost certainly a laboratory escape of a virus that had been developed to have the characteristics of a biological weapon questions must be asked. Was the virus released deliberately? Or, if it escaped, did China then decide to use it as a weapon? Had China been a western democracy these would seem like crazy questions, it is very unlikely that any western nation would use its own population to spread a virus. But China is not a western democracy. It is arbitrarily executing and imprisoning a million or more of its own people in Xinjiang, it routinely "disappears" critics and it had a record in the Korean War of sending soldiers armed with sticks into battle against machine guns.
There is evidence that China was preparing for a coronavirus release in 2019 because it began production of remdesivir, the first drug known to affect the outcome of serious infection six months or so before the outbreak. There is also evidence that whether COVID19 was released deliberately or by accident the Chinese government subsequently treated the release in the same way as it might have treated a deliberate release. That China persuaded the WHO to issue a report saying that human to human transmission does not occur with Covid-19 and that it was safe to travel to and from Wuhan suggests that China planned to spread the virus once it was out.
Where do we go from here? China has huge amounts of money invested in the West - hence its power to control the media. Court actions should begin so as to recoup some of the immense economic losses from China. China should be suspended from the WTO and embargoed until it demonstrates it is a civilised state.