David Stairs

UPDATE:

As of July 23rd, 2021, following Anthony Fauci’s recent congressional testimony, this story is now being reported by the BBC.


A double arginine codon inserted at the S1/S2 furan cleavage site of the SARS CoV-2 virus’s genome

It was once the best of times……. except now we are coming to know the truth about how it became the worst of times……. and it begins with human folly compounded by deceit that results in a catastrophe.

Donald Trump was widely panned for claiming that Covid 19 was a Chinese invention, the “Kung Flu” as he often referred to it. The liberal press painted this as the worst sort of conspiracy theory, the China-bashing an embattled candidate for reelection might peddle to convince his base he was tough on foreign affairs. Only it turns out he was right, even if for the wrong reasons.

In a May 5th 2021 essay in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, science writer Nicholas Wade makes a compelling argument for why Covid likely did not emerge from a zoonotic exchange between humans and bats in a Chinese wet market. The most likely scenario, unthinkable only a few months ago, is that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were playing fast and loose with bat viruses and, in a breathtaking turn of irony, were funded by the very agencies overseen by America’s infectious disease gurus.

Shi Zheng-li, the Chinese scientist at the center of the controversy, has been claiming for months that there was no possibility Covid originated at or escaped from her lab in Wuhan. But as with so many things human, the more horrific the truth, the greater the efforts to distort it. And this is not just another matter of a CCP cover-up, but absolutely a tale of two cities, Washington and Beijing.

As it turns out, in 2015 Madame Shi received NIAID money through the Eco Health Alliance, an initiative of Peter Daszak, to collect bat coronaviruses from Yunnan caves. She then teamed with UNC coronavirus expert Ralph Baric to “enhance” the ability of bat viruses to infect the cells of the human airway. These enhancements were arrived at through what is known as “gain of function” research. NIAID is the institution overseen by Dr. Anthony Fauci, by now a household name in America.

In an interview that took place in early December 2019, just before Covid 19 became newsworthy, Peter Daszak talked about the reprogrammed spike protein and the untreatable coronaviruses that resulted from it. Such research was ostensibly conducted in the name of being able to predict when and where coronaviruses might emerge in an effort to prevent outbreaks like the ones that occurred with SARS1 and MERS.

Two months later, in February 2020, a group of virologists led by Daszak published a letter in The Lancet claiming the natural origin of SARS CoV-2, the formal name of Covid 19. This supported the Chinese government’s contention that the virus arose in a Wuhan wet market. But thus far, 16 months later, there is no proof of transference from nature. And the Lancet article claimed that its authors had no conflict of interest, even though Daszak’s institute had been the conduit for research money from NIAID to Wuhan.

In March 2020 the wagons circled even tighter when Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Institute published an article in Nature Medicine stating that “SARS CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct.” This would have been difficult to determine given modern seamless methods of gene splicing. It appears mainstream virologists were determined to quash any suggestion that SARS CoV-2 resulted from a laboratory release, yet powerful circumstantial evidence to the contrary exists.

SARS-1 mutated through at least two species and more than a dozen variations before it broke into human subjects. This is the pace of natural selection— slow and steady, with many dead ends. SARS CoV-2 burst onto the scene already well-adapted to human cells, or as Wade writes, seemingly “pre-adapted to human transmission,” in a large modern city 1500 kilometers distant from the Yunnan bat caves. The range of the horseshoe bat is 50 kilometers. Shi Zheng-li collected thousands of samples from Yunnan bat caves, and identified at least 100 separate bat-derived coronaviruses back in her lab at Wuhan.

Bats have been around for 64 million years. They are the only mammal adapted for flight. This ability enabled bats to not only migrate, but to colonize large areas of the planet, as well as to evolve many different species. Their unique ability to inhabit many different environments has also enabled them to evolve antiviral immune response genes and anti-inflammatory responses to viruses. Bats are also extremely social, living in densely-packed colonies where virus spread is inevitable. Thus, bats and viruses have co-evolved, making bats an important source of zoonotic viruses.

But an anomaly of the natural emergence argument is that SARS CoV-2 is the only coronavirus with a furin cleavage site. Such sites are naturally occurring protein cutting sites. In humans, airways are lined by ACE2 receptors (angiostentsin converting enzyme 2), an 805 amino acid transmembrane protein. The S1 and S2 units of the amino acid codons that target then fuse to a cell’s membrane are split apart at the furin cleavage site.

SARS CoV-2 has a 12-nucleotide insert precisely at the S1/S2 junction with a double CGG-CGG side by side pair of nucleotides. CGG is the human-preferred version of the arginine codon (as opposed to a bat-preferred version). According to Wade, when Nobel laureate of Medicine David Baltimore “first saw the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, I said to my wife it was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus.”

One of the truly frightening aspects of this story is the conditions under which bat coronavirus research was conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The institute had a Biosafety Level 4 lab facility, but a State Department report claimed it was staffed by insufficiently trained people. Scientists do not prefer to work in BSL-4 labs, where they must wear restrictive inflated body suits and work through glove boxes. According to Shi Zheng-li, most of her bat coronavirus research was conducted in BSL-3 or BSL-2 labs. A BSL-2 lab has the biosafety level of a standard US dentist’s office.

The WHO sent a committee to Wuhan in early 2021 to investigate. According to CBS’ 60 Minutes, team members spent the first two of their six week trip in quarantine. They spent a mere three hours at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where they were unable to see any records or visit the labs. They spent a lot of time investigating a chain of transmission theory— from bats to farms, and from there to a market in Wuhan— propounded by Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team. The Chinese government has sealed the Institute’s records, and has concluded that any further investigations into the origins of SARS CoV-2 should be conducted in other nations.

As Wade’s essay compiles the science that has brought the lab-escape scenario back into scrutiny, US officials have scrambled. The Biden Administration has reopened an investigation into the origins of SARS CoV-2, and both Fauci and Francis Collins have been back on their heels in the media, trying to explain why they exempted funding for research for which there was a moratorium from 2014 to 2017. A FOIA release of Fauci’s emails shows he was made aware as early as January 2020 that the pandemic could have been caused by the possible release of an “engineered” virus by none other than Kristian Andersen! Both Fauci, speaking to Congress, and Collins in an interview with Judy Woodruff on the PBS News Hour, have said that no NIH money was knowingly granted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for gain-of-function virus research, a statement contradicted by the Daszak December 2019 interview. Wade contends this may be a matter of splitting the definition fine hair as Fauci and Collins can take refuge in the fact that they meant “human” viruses, rather than “animal” viruses.

In this climate of universal avoidance, denial and spin, it appears that unlikely bedfellows, the US scientific community and the Chinese Communist Party, have collaborated in covering up the design of a highly transmissible disease that has thus far killed three million human beings and brought the world economy to its knees. That the Wuhan research did a much better job of creating a killer than in predicting its emergence is clear. In a world where human destruction of the environment has everything to do with the emergence of new diseases, more, much more hurt is on the way.

Before we, like Dickens’ Sydney Carton, can say “It is a far, far better thing that I do…” we’re going to need far far better control over virology research, and far more transparency from our governments. Until such time, we are all guinea pigs racing in the gerbil wheels of viral opportunism and unaccountable scientific hubris.

David Stairs is the founding editor of the Design-Altruism-Project.

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