The antagonistic drum beating for retribution, or even war, against China over the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2/Coronavirus pandemic is reaching epic proportions. This is dangerous. Moreover, it’s stupid. The US has been collaborating with China, and other countries, on coronoavirus research for years. The US NIH and DOD have been throwing out money like a drunk at a strip club, much of it outsourcing work to China. The examples are everywhere. No one wants to talk about them.
But that’s a topic for later. This article is about the idea that SARS-CoV-2 has “natural” origins.
The research letter quoted and linked below was published in Nature in November of 2015. I highlight three portions in the quotes – a bit of the intro (what they did), who funded it and who did the work. It is called A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence.
Three days after the original paper was published, an article was published in nature discussing the dangers of such research and specifically referencing the paper. Recently, nature added an Editors’ Note to the follow-up discussion. It says:
Editors’ note, March 2020: We are aware that this story is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.Nature | news 12 November 2015
On March 17, 2020 Scripps Research published an article – The COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin, scientists say – debunking the entire bioweapon/coronavirus storyline. Here are excepts from the research paper:
Dateline: November, 2015
<snip>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 vitrotiters 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; <snip>nature | medicine 09 November 2015
Research made possible by:
Research in this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease and the National Institute of Aging of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) under awards U19AI109761 (R.S.B.), U19AI107810 (R.S.B.), AI085524 (W.A.M.), F32AI102561 (V.D.M.) and K99AG049092 (V.D.M.), and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China awards 81290341 (Z.-L.S.) and 31470260 (X.-Y.G.), and by USAID-EPT-PREDICT funding from EcoHealth Alliance (Z.-L.S.). Human airway epithelial cultures were supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease of the NIH under award NIH DK065988 (S.H.R.). We also thank M.T. Ferris (Dept. of Genetics, University of North Carolina) for the reviewing of statistical approaches and C.T. Tseng (Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch) for providing Calu-3 cells. Experiments with the full-length and chimeric SHC014 recombinant viruses were initiated and performed before the GOF research funding pause and have since been reviewed and approved for continued study by the NIH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
Research performed by:
1. Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
2. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
3. National Center for Toxicological Research, Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas, USA.
4. Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.
5. Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
6. Cystic Fibrosis Center, Marsico Lung Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
7. Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Bellinzona Institute of Microbiology, Zurich, Switzerland.
8. Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
9. Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Correspondence should be addressed to R.S.B. (firstname.lastname@example.org) or V.D.M. (email@example.com
I do not possess any post-graduate degrees, nor do I know anything about biology, epidemiology, immunology or virology. It is quite possible that I, as a layman, non-professional and non-scientist, misinterpret phrases such as “we generated and characterized” when I think it means they made something, and “a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014” as being related to COVID-19. I just know how to follow the collaboration, the money and the patents.
But if we look at some of the charts in this Science article, we can see there is definitely overlap between the version of coronavirus discussed in 2015 and the one we are dealing with today. My non-professional opinion is that it is a lot of overlap.
Now, to the people at Scripps Research – what is “natural”? If researchers intervene and accelerate mutations by purposefully mixing diseased species, is that natural? If one animal is purposefully infected with a disease from another, is that a natural mutation? If this is done over and over again, it is natural? It follows a potential natural path certainly, but is it natural to speed the process up?
We should be asking these research scientists exactly what they mean by natural origins. I thought evolution took eons, but now I’m supposed to believe that viruses jump multiple species and mutate into dangerous human diseases in a couple of decades, with no intervention.
Is that possible? Sure. Lots of things are possible, but only a tiny fraction are probable. And only a tiny fraction of those ever happen.
In the end we may not know whether the disease was natural or accelerated through intervention, and we may not know whether is was done as a bioweapon or as legitimate research. It may not make any difference.
What does make a difference is that we all now have to deal with it and we deserve to know why.
Thanks to Harry the Greek at brassballs.blog and my email list friends for pointing to some of the original documents.