Back To Facts: ‘Debunked’ no more: How the Wuhan lab theory got ‘uncanceled’
Tatiana gets into the amino acids of the issue. Read it here!
— Letter in the Lancet in support of China's frontline scientists, published Feb. 19, 2020. The letter was signed by Dr. Peter Daszak, head of ECO Health Alliance, the NGO that received funding from Dr. Anthony Fauci for research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Daszak was also part of the WHO delegation that was allowed entry in January 2021 to the Institute as well as the Huanan Seafood Market.
For more than 15 months, the loudest voices on Earth worked very hard to distance Covid-19 from China's only Level-4 Bio-Safety Lab in Wuhan. It turns out the actual distance between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the area's "wet market" – where local authorities reported that the outbreak began -- is roughly 23 kilometers.
In fact, in spite of China christening the lab in 2017 to literally research the world's most dangerous pathogens – including bat-derived coronaviruses and other zoonotic pathogens like SARS-1 – the global media machine quickly tamped down any suggestion – from the few voices asking questions – that the lab might need to be investigated on the grounds of public health concern or that the virus had come from anywhere besides the wet market. The President was one of those voices, but the media dubbed him racist for suggesting it (and for calling it the China Virus).
One of the most tenacious inquisitors was Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, who would not shut up about the Wuhan lab, and kept talking so much about it that he even got his own headline in the Washington Post: "Tom Cotton keeps repeating a conspiracy theory that was already debunked."
Then, 10 days after the virus officially reached the United States, on January 30, 2020, a paper out of India noted that four amino acid "inserts" in the new SARS-Cov-2 were not found in any other coronavirus, and instead were similar to HIV. The paper was immediately retracted, and elites congratulated themselves on removing another dangerous document from cirulation — citing that it had not been peer-reviewed.
On February 19, the prestigious journal The Lancet squelched any rumors that the laboratory had anything to do with the virus, publishing a letter signed by 28 public health scientists. The letter paid lip service to transparency but did exactly the opposite.
The damage that letter has caused is incalculable. With actual transparency and openness, it is highly likely that the world could have contained the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic well before millions died worldwide. And It took 13 months after that for the "lab-leak theory" to again be considered by those charged with the public weal.
It took 13 months for Facebook to stop censoring anyone who mentioned a lab accident or otherwise, because apparently the most logical subject of investigation is labeled as "dangerous."
Back to Facts published a timeline in May 2020 mentioning the "gain-of-function" research that had been performed in 2015 by doctors Ralph S. Baric at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with Shi Zhengli, the "bat lady" from Wuhan, among others. But mainstream media didn't touch it until they had no choice – in May of 2021.
Many have now heard about Baric and Shi's research thanks to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who on May 11 shared extremely complex concepts with the American people during Senate hearings.
Paul challenged Fauci on a grant that was passed to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2014, just as the Obama administration listened to scientists warning that this type of research was too risky (amid heated debate). Paul asked Fauci why the National Institutes of Health had sent funds to a Chinese lab to conduct "gain-of-function" research. Fauci repeated twice that the NIH does not, nor has ever, funded gain-of-function research in China. In fact, he said, it was done in North Carolina. Technically, he was correct. The grant went to a middleman NGO, ECO Health Alliance based in New York City, run by none other than Dr. Peter Daszak, co-author of the very same paper that condemned conspiracy theories as getting in the way of the important work being done in China on the virus.
But outside of a technicality, Fauci lied.
While the good doctor does not call such research "gain-of-function," he is being pennywise and pound-foolish. There has always been a semantic debate about what this kind of research is called, and what risks it poses. But the reality is this: in 2015 Baric and Shi took the mouse-adapted backbone of SARS-1 virus and inserted a spike protein from a virus extracted from horseshoe bats. They then demonstrated that this chimeric virus had a damaging effect on human airway cells, after which they infected some mice. The mice who were obese, or older, died. The goal? To prevent "the next" pandemic, which the loudest voices especially Fauci have been telling us will almost always occur "naturally." At some point, Shi continued the same type of research in Wuhan, after the WIV opened in 2017.
The creation of new top-safety-level labs around the world has been going on for two decades now. While it may not always be classified as weapons research, we could call it a genetic arms race. China was anxious to get in the game after SARS, but construction didn't start until 2014.
A BRIEF PRIMER ON GAIN-OF-FUNCTION RESEARCH
The new millennium started with a virus-altering experiment conducted at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología Madrid in 2000. It was called "Engineering the largest RNA virus genome as an infectious bacterial artificial chromosome." Feel free to read that two or three times. Its purpose? Apparently, vaccines.
Who knew that coronaviruses are the largest mature RNA molecules known to science? But that is how the abstract begins. Apparently when the scientist clones the RNA and generates cDNA (complementary DNA – or the manufactured other side of the double-helix) the bacterial chromosome does not provide a stable enough environment for the "infectious cDNA." But if the spike gene of the original virus were replace by the spike gene grown in swine respiratory tracts, "the virus replicated abundanty … and was fully virulent, demonstrating that the tropism and virulence of the recovered coronavirus can be modified.
Three years later came SARS-1. Prior to SARS-1, coronaviruses did very little to harm humans. This study, and several subsequent ones, changed that – ostensibly to be able to create future vaccines more quickly.
The SARS-1 outbreak, originating in Guangdong, China, in 2003, is reportedly the first coronavirus to cause harm and death in humans. In April 2004, SARS-1 even escaped from a lab in Beijing – twice – but authorities were reportedly able to control it. The World Health Organization's representatives were quoted about the leak in Biomed Central, "SARS escaped Beijing lab twice." The WHO was not soft on China.
At that time, the WHO's director general was Lee Jong-Wook, a career staff member at the organization who presided from 2003 till his death in 2006 of a stroke. After an acting director presided for a few months, former Hong Kong health minister Margaret Chan was the director-general until 2017. She was the delegate from Beijing, and during her tenure she barred the country of Taiwan from participation in the WHO. (among other actions).
More experiments followed in the United States, at Chapel Hill and Fort Detrick in Maryland – many involving Ralph Baric, whose name was mentioned by Rand Paul on May 11, 2021. In 2015 Baric's team took the wild horseshoe bat spike protein and injected it into the DNA backbone of a mouse-adapted SARS genome (as mentioned above).
FUMBLING TOWARDS TRUTH
The tide finally began to turn at the end of 2020. and the Wuhan lab leak theory began to rehabilitate. It wasn't a single study or a single article; it was a slow, steady drip from multiple sources.
Dr. Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan Institute's "bat woman" who had recently been profiled glowingly in a Scientific American puff piece, admitted in an interview that some of her bat coronavirus research had been conducted with Level 2 biosafety (even the less contagious SARS-1 requires Level 3).
Nov 17, 2020: Toronto biotech entrepreneur Yuri Deigin authored a paper titled: "The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin," and dropped the most information that had been made available so far.
"The hypothesis that the Wuhan Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was the first source for animal–human virus transmission has now been conclusively dismissed, and the few market samples that were collected showed only human-adapted SARS-CoV-2, with no traces of zoonotic predecessor strains," he wrote with his colleague Rossana Segreto.
Then came an article Jan 4, 2021, in New York Magazine's Intelligencer by Nicholson Baker documenting the decades-long "hot-wiring" of viruses globally. But Baker or his editor ameliorated the suggestion of a cover-up with the question "What If..?" in the headline.
On January 15, 2021, five days before the Biden inauguration, Mike Pompeo's State Department issued a "fact sheet" on the Wuhan lab.
On May 5, 2021, former NYT science writer Nicholas Wade published a bombshell article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: "The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora's box at Wuhan?" https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/
It turns out Mike Pompeo was right. Maybe that's why the Chinese Communist Party sanctioned him personally right before the Biden inauguration.
To make things even more surreal, when China finally let the WHO come take a look at the lab and the wet market at the end of January 2021, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that the virus may not have originated in China at all – asserting that the WHO team's visit in that month was "part of a global study, not an investigation."
It was Zhao who had claimed in early 2020 that the virus had actually come from the United States from Fort Detrick, Maryland, citing an article in a Japanese publication. He had also posted items suggesting the U.S soldiers brought the virus to China during the Military Games in late 2019.
We all know research and medicine can certainly move at a slow pace (think Fauci's butt-dragging on HIV), but the idea that China is just now discussing a "global study" on how the virus came to be – more than one year after its emergence – has got to give us all pause.
Anyone looking into this labyrinth of confusion will observe that the battle for truth – with Covid and all things – is not a bilateral battle; instead there are multiple competing interests trying to stay afloat and maintain their positions serving the various factions ruling the planet. Lucky us; we're about to see this motif play out across the globe in real time.
On the very same day of the Paul-Fauci showdown, Fauci made a presumably pre-arranged appearance at a fact check festival live on YouTube called "United Facts of America."
To introduce him, the CEO of AmeriHealth intoned: "In War and Peace, Tolstoy wrote: there is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness and truth. It is a tremendous honor to introduce as our next speaker someone who exemplifies simplicity and humility, goodness and decency, truth and character; someone who exemplifies greatness, Dr. Anthony Fauci."
I wonder if after the show, they passed out the "soma" Aldous Huxley's famed pleasure drug from his classic "Brave New World."
The first question from Politifact's Katie Sanders was about Rand Paul's comments during the Senate hearing. Fauci said: "To bring something like that up is really not helpful. … What he was saying was just absolutely not true. It's really unfortunate that he brought that up. It really does nothing but cloud the issue of what we're trying to do. It was said in an accusatory way that just made no sense and was not based in any fact at all."
Sanders then said: "That has been the subject of a lot of our fact checking on the coronavirus in the past year. … Are you still confident that it developed naturally?"
"No, actually, that's the point that I said, and I think the real unfortunate aspect of what Sen. Paul did is he was conflating research in a collaborative way with Chinese scientists which was, you'd almost have to say, if we did not do that, we'd almost be irresponsible because SARS-CoV-1 clearly originated in China, and we were fortunate to escape a major pandemic, so we really had to learn a lot more about the viruses that were there, about whether or not people were getting infected with bat viruses, so in a very minor collaboration, as part of a subcontract of a grant, we had a collaboration with some Chinese … scientists, and what he conflated that, is that therefore we were involved in creating the virus, which is the most ridiculous majestic leap I've ever heard of. But no, I'm not convinced about that. I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out to the best of our ability exactly what happened. Certainly, the people who've investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir … but it could have been something else, and so that's why I'm perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus."
No follow-up from Sanders. Just an "OK. Thank you for your answer."
So let's look at Fauci's rationale for the "subcontracted collaboration." The evidence that SARS-1 came from caves in China and was transmitted through a palm civet animal was submitted by Chinese scientists. It is almost indistinguishable from the reports about the virus emerging from the Huanan market.
The citations tell us (but they do not show us), that the case on SARS-1 is now closed.
"After a detective hunt across China, researchers chasing the origin of the deadly SARS virus have finally found their smoking gun. In a remote cave in Yunnan province, virologists have identified a single population of horseshoe bats that harbours virus strains with all the genetic building blocks of the one that jumped to humans in 2002, killing almost 800 people around the world.
"The killer strain could easily have arisen from such a bat population, the researchers report in PLoS Pathogens1 on 30 November 2017. They warn that the ingredients are in place for a similar disease to emerge again."
Fauci seemed very certain about SARS-1; he said the virus "clearly" developed naturally in China.
Well the evidence for that is about as strong as the SARS-2 origin case. And if the SARS-2 origin case is being reopened, then the SARS-1 case should be reopened as well.
If there is genetic proof submitted to independent scientists for either claim, it's not easily located on the web. And for that matter, there is still vigorous debate about whether HIV came about naturally, as well).
On May 27, Facebook announced it would no longer remove posts about SARS-2 possibly escaping from a lab (an engineered bio-weapon, probaly not so much).
On Wednesday June 2, 2021, the Washington Post issued a correction on its hall-monitor headline about Tom Cotton. It seems that since there is still no reliable information, "now as then," on the origins of SARS-2, the "conspiracy theory" and "debunked" label was a bit harsh. The corrected article now refers to Cotton's warnings as a "fringe theory that scientists have disputed." Their correction read: "Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus. The term "debunked" and the Post's use of "conspiracy theory" have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus."
The predictable scenario would probably be that we never find out for sure the origin of SARS-Cov-2. Just look at the current controversy about the origin of SARS-1 as well as HIV. And that means whoever is blocking free discussion remains in control of any future public health emergency — not only the investigation of it, but the proper response.
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY 6/2/21:
WaPo and Buzzfeed released a trove of 2,400 emails released upon a Freedom of Information Act request. Politifact has already put out a "debunking," and the web is flooded with spin about them, focusing on minor revelations. DO NOT rely on any third-party accounts of these e-mails. Read them yourself:
Former NYT reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. (former as of January 2021):
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lab Leak Theory
NYT reporter deletes tweet calling Wuhan lab leak theory 'racist'
New York Magazine:
How Twitter cultivated the media's lab leak fiasco
American Journalists Shielded China and Erased the Wuhan Lab Theory (opinion)
We reproduce Tatiana Prophet's scathing exposé of the mockie media's lies about "Covid," wrapped up in their fake "debunkings" of "dangerous theories." They are so ridiculous!
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