The coronavirus did not escape from a lab. Here's how we know.

Page 14 - For the science geek in everyone, Live Science breaks down the stories behind the most interesting news and photos on the Internet.
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Still running this?! If you say it enough times people will believe it and thus make it true..more fake news..thanks! This is proof?! It is so effective at attaching to human cells that the researchers said the spike proteins were the result of natural selection and not genetic engineering. ..... The wheel is not man-made because it's more efficient than anything man could possibly invent. The world is flat cause us "experts" say so! and nobody is smarter than us!
Exactly! This whole series of articles is absolute disinformation. These articles fail to acknowledge that: 1: various notable coronaviruses all come from southern china. 2: people have modified them. 3: researchers have been warning for years that the wuhan lab has been messing around with these. Note "wuhan bat lady". Lastly, a perfect straw man that the only thing labs can-do is molecularly engineer every last atom of the virus. They conviently ignore the most important issue: maybe nature is smart, but nature works slow. It's likely that humans replicated the virus billions of times in vitro with ace2 to "train" or essentially "breed" the virus. Nature could not have done this unless there were large long term human epidemics. Also posing questions like maybe covid-19 came from italy or the US? Disgraceful, evil misinformation.
 

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Many of the links and posts above set out that the virus may have come from a Wuhan lab or elsewhere and what evidence there is and what has not been properly disclosed

There are links to a range of academic researchers, Professors and others from around the world including those who have published peer reviewed research in medical journals

Some information above saying Covid-19 could have been created in a lab comes about as a result of Covid-19 vaccine work including formal work from a University Professor currently working on a Covid-19 vaccine funded in part by a government agency. These parties have had long term USA government funding for coronavirus vaccine research and successfully developed vaccines for SARS, MERS etc.

There is no proof Covid-19 came from a natural source

On 15th Jan 2021 the US State Dept stated [link at the end with additional US State Dept information]
  • The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.
It is clear that much information provided by Professor Shi at Wahun Institute of Virology and others does not make sense or failed to expose serious conflicts including withholding important information known in early 2020 about the nearest known virus to Covid-19 (RaTG13) its origins and research done

This and other information that should normally have been disclosed is all set out in the posts above with links

It should be noted that RaTG13 was discovered in 2013 by Prof Shi has

1. only ever been found on one occasion, has
2. never independently been verified and
3. no sample remains anywhere to be independently reviewed

In formally published research journal paper in about 2016 Professor Shi identified that RaTG13 was a very rare SARS related dangerous potential human pandemic coronavirus.

The discovery by Prof Shi that RaTG13 was a very rare SARS type pandemic potentional coronavirus occured sometime after 2013 and before 2016.

Claims by Prof Shi she did not research RaTG13 prior to 2020 seems very unlikely given Prof Shi was focused on finding the next pandemic coronavirus.


It has also now been disclosed that Dr. Peter Daszak, president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, has been included in the World Health Organization team to visit Wuhan and investigate the origins of Covid-19.

Dr. Peter Daszak led an endeavor in February 2020 to stop ideas that the coronavirus might have spread due to an accidental escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and provided funding for Prof Shi's research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology


Also Daszak had written an article published in The Lancet medical journal, castigating ideas or suspicions that the novel virus might not be of natural origin and organized leading scientists to present this article as written by them.


The article was written before any rigorous research on the origins of the virus was conducted.

“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” reads the article.

Daszak reiterated that stance in a Feb. 6, 2020, email: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging diseases.”

But last Friday, his spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that his widely cited statement, which was used to trample over differing points of view, was utilized to protect Chinese scientists from online criticism.

“The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment,” Daszak’s spokesman said.


On 15th January 2021 the US Govt State Department stated

"The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses"

"This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses,"

Additionally, the State Department argues that this specific lab in Wuhan, where COVID-19 may have originated, also has links to the Chinese Military.

"Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017," the Department stated.


 
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Great overeview from the New York Magazine of the various ways Covid-19 could have come to exist

If you want to see the final conclusion go to the end see under XIV

XIV.
Transmission
So how did
we actually get this disease?
Here’s what I think happened. In April 2012, in a copper mine in Mojiang, China...



I would add RaTG13 the virus that is closest to Covid-19 (see linked chart above) was

1. only ever stored in one location in the world - the Wuhan Institute of Virology / WIV

2. only ever found in one bat on one occasion in July 2013 (despite 2+ more years of searching)

3. no sample of RaTG13 exists anywhere in the world has

4. shown in tests NOT to be able to infect bats lungs or kidneys

5. only been studied and found by Prof Shi of the WIV

Finally it seems inappropriate that at least one member of the WHO team in Wuhan (Peter Daszak) investigating Covid-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology / WIV has

A. worked extensively with Prof Shi and the WIV on bat coronaviruses
B. provided and arranged millions of $ of financing for Prof Shi and the WIV has
C. a direct conflicted interest in the outcome of any investigation
D. organized published research / letters setting out that Prof Shi and the WIV have done nothing wrong from early 2020 related to Covid-19

In The Lancet, in February, a powerful counterstatementappeared, signed by 27 scientists. “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” the statement said. “Scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.”
The behind-the-scenes organizer of this Lancet statement, Peter Daszak, is a zoologist and bat-virus sample collector and the head of a New York nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance — a group that (as veteran science journalist Fred Guterl explained later in Newsweek) has channeled money from the National Institutes of Health to Shi Zhengli’s laboratory in Wuhan, allowing the lab to carry on recombinant research into diseases of bats and humans. “We have a choice whether to stand up and support colleagues who are being attacked and threatened daily by conspiracy theorists or to just turn a blind eye,” Daszak said in February in Science magazine.


RaTG13 was found in feces of the intermediate horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis) (1), but to our knowledge this virus has not been shown to bind to ACE2 of R. affinis or any other bat species. In addition, RaTG13 was reported not to infect human cells expressing Rhinolophus sinicus ACE2 in a recent study (65). Relatedly, Hoffman et al. (63) were unable to infect bat kidney- and lung-derived cell lines derived from six different species with VSV pseudotypes bearing SARS-CoV S protein or pseudotypes of two bat SARS-related CoV (Bg08 and Rp3) (63).
 
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This isn't proof of anything, its just more theories and assumptions of another researcher and what their research was intended for - " If scientists had deliberately engineered this virus, they wouldn't have chosen mutations that computer models suggest won't work" - But who's to say they didnt? And who's to say that was the original intention of said research and experimentation? Nobody can say with any actual fact and not just speculation and more theories. Where's the solid fact based evidence that clearly proves that this virus wasn't man made. I have yet to see or hear anything that solidly proves it wasn't. I see more evidence to the contrary and government trying to cover it up with this B.S. they expect us to believe. Speculation and theories are not Facts or Evidence.
 
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adam

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As you set out many people believe it is not proved that Covid-19 was natural or totally natural virus

The NY Magazine article and previous posts make clear there is a real possibility of human intervention in creating Covid-19, and that the nearest other virus found, RaTG13, has only ever been found once and we are told samples no longer exist anywhere in the world


At least 1 University Professors working on a government backed Covid-19 vaccine and others doing research have stated the Covid-19 virus is too well suited to infecting people to rule out the possibility of human lab or other human intervention.

The very fact that [Covid-19 or] RaTG13 have been shown in tests not to be able infect bat tissue also raises serious questions about bats really being the hosts of RaTG13. See links to research on this in the previous post

It is also very strange that RaTG13 was only ever found once in the faeces of one bat in July 2013, and has never been found again, that no sample exists and that only Professor Shi has studied RaTG13. This certainly makes RaTG13 a very questionable or unusual natural origin for Covid-19

It could also be said to be super odd that Covid-19 first appeared in Wuhan, the one city in the world that stored the one sample that ever existed of RaTG13.

What is clear is that so far no natural source of the Covid-19 virus has been found and the closest virus to Covid-19 would need to have undergone a huge 20+ year natural evolution to develop into Covid-19

That an earlier precursor virus of Covid-19 could develop quietly in the human population without leaving any coronavirus genetic trace in the human population seems unlikely

At least no coronavirus more similar to Covid-19 than RaTG13 has been detected in the review of human blood or sewage samples and RaTG13 has not been found in any human or bat populations.

As for the virus RaTG13 its origins or existence have never been independently verified or seen by anyone other than by Professor Shi. At least thats what she has made clear.

Further Professor Shi says she ignored this rare coronavirus for 7 years, even though by 2016 she had published a paper identifying RaTG13 as very rare with a close genetic connection to human SARS and having human pandemic potential.

Yet Professors Shi's self admitted mission in life was to find bat coronaviruses that could be the cause of the next pandemic in humans. Its hard to explain the 7 year research delay in a good way.

That all may not be being looked at openly can also be seen in the current UN WHO and LANCET investigations into Covid-19

The UN WHO Covid-19 origins committee (looking into Covid-19, the Wuhan Institute of Virology / WIV and Prof Shi) and the LANCET committee also looking into Covid-19 both seem to be deeply flawed as both include Peter Daszak as a lead investigator who is known to be totally conflicted over Covid-19

Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, said the numerous conflicts should disqualify Daszak from investigating the Chinese lab.

“Daszak and his organization, EcoHealth Alliance, have disqualifying conflicts of interests with the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Ebright said via email. “Daszak and EcoHealth were the contractors responsible for funding the high-risk research on SARS-related bat coronaviruses at WIV (with subcontracts from $200 million in USAID funding and $7 million in NIH funding.”

He said “these appointments suggest the WHO and Lancet reviews are not intended to be impartial and independent inquiries.”


Peter Daszak has a history going back to at least 2006 of working with Wuhan / WIV and Professor Shi, providing them with financing and support and publishing joint work with Professor Shi and others connected with WIV.

Additionally Daszak organized an "independent" letter published in the LANCET supporting Prof Shi and the WIV dismissing any link to Covid-19 and Professor Shi or the WIV or any non natural origin


View: https://mobile.twitter.com/R_H_Ebright/status/1306692420063629313?s=20


Professor Richard Ebright has noted, “For persons who were directly involved in funding, promoting, and/or performing bat coronavirus research and bat coronavirus gain-of-function research at WIV, avoiding a possible finding of culpability for triggering a pandemic is a powerful motivator.” And Daszak would be at the very top of the list of those involved in funding, promoting and collaborating in that research.

More broadly, as Ebright also notes, Daszak's EcoHealth Alliance has received over $100 million in funding from US government agencies for a variety of virus surveillance and virus gain of function work – the kind of work that could be brought into serious question if Daszak found any evidence it contributed to causing the pandemic.

How did The Lancet manage to overlook such an enormous conflict of interest, Ebright wonders, while Dr Filippa Lentzos, an expert on biological threats at King’s College London, tweeted, “Goodness. I can't imagine a lead investigator with more vested interests!”


Some of the joint work of Prof Shi and Peter Daszak



Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs. Sachs is a former special advisor to the UN, the former head of the Millennium Villages Project, and was recently appointed Chair of the newly-formed EAT Lancet Commission on the pandemic.

In September, Sachs’ commission named Daszak to head up its committee on the pandemic’s origins.

Daszak is also on the WHO’s committee to investigate the pandemic’s origin.

He is the only individual on both committees.

These leadership positions are not the only reason why Peter Daszak is such a central figure in the COVID-19 pandemic, however. His appointment dismayed many of those who are aware that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance funded bat coronavirus research, including virus collection, at the Wuhan Institute for Virology (WIV)


 
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UN WHO Advisor says China must-come-clean-about-covid-19-origins

 
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This article is misleading. Most viruses held in labs are not genetically engineered and originate from natural sources. Just because this virus isn’t genetically modified does not mean the pandemic did not originate from a lab accident. I doubt we’ll ever know the truth, but the fact is, an accidental release from a lab is still plausible especially given the poor laboratory practices in China, notably selling carcasses of lab animals for consumption (!!!).

People simply do not want to believe this is possible, hence articles like this. Not exactly scientifically rigorous.
Yup absolute garbage article
 
May 28, 2021
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I still will observe and wait for more information. The fact that Wuhan has a level 4 lab in place (known since the 80s) is still troubling imho. Maybe they just had the virus intact as is and were studying it. Seems coincidental to me. But hey you guys are scientists, and you're always right. And propaganda doesn't exist. Stay calm sheep.
The UC Berkeley School of Public Health has had a Level 4 lab since 1980 to study viruses. Does this mean UC Berkeley is about to unleash a virus as deadly as Covid-19 on the world? No. It just means it has the capacity to study such viruses. Also, scientists operate on experimental evidence, and other firm data, and theories are based on a rigorous examination of a lot of such evidence. Consensus, conclusions, and theories are always subject to review and change, should the experimental evidence and other data change. It seems to be too early in the case of Covid-19 to conclude just where and how it came to be. And politics (such as opposition to the Chinese government) should not play a part in such analysis. Unfortunately, currently, it does. But such interference is scientifically unsound.
 
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A persistent coronavirus myth that this virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was made by scientists and escaped from a lab in Wuhan is completely unfounded. Here's how we know.

The coronavirus did not escape from a lab. Here's how we know. : Read more
This thread appeared in the trending section so popped in.

It looks like the article has been updated as above you say 'myth that this virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was made by scientists and escaped from a lab in Wuhan is completely unfounded' and the updated article now reports 'Editor's note: On April 16, news came out that the U.S. government said it was investigating the possibility that the novel coronavirus may have somehow escaped from a lab, though experts still think the possibility that it was engineered is unlikely '
 
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Doing a little research today verifies that China was responsible for this pandemic.

Is COVID-19 a distraction that is being used for other purposes?
If you migrate to conspiracy theory sites or believe conspiracy theorists then you can answer yes to anything you want to whilst providing no reliable evidence to back it; safer to just mingled with like minded people that go on hearsay.
 
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Why did China delay notifying the world of the issue with COVID-19?
I guess for the same reason every country in the world attempts to hide something. Has your country not hidden something that came to light and raised the same question?

WHy would any country devalue its currency, risk economic disaster, fall behind in a global race [for what I do not know exactly] etc... by not releasing information on a problem it believes it can resolve?

On a small scale, if you make a mistake at work and believe there are no consequences and you can solve it quickly.... do you go to your manager and tell them you have made a mistake, you dont know exactly what is happening but you will look into it? Or do you start attempting to rectify yourself?
 

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Updates


Updates

 
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I doubt the media are embarrassed with strict controls on how they handle themselves and the openness they have to show throughout a process prevents many actions that unregulated people are able to do.
From the link 'A voracious autodidact, he'd become an expert at searching the back alleys of the web, far beyond the well-lit places patrolled by [snip] '.

Then I have the question, are the media there to extensively investigate something beyond all doubt before publishing as the definition of news is 'newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events. ' therefore I do not believe it is the role of the media to extensively validate a position by unregulated means.
 

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The media is supposed to be the 4th Estate and verify what we are told by the experts, politicians and government officials.

Watergate, agent orange toxic effects, lead in Detroit water or the Iraq war weapons of mass destruction are simple examples of the need to verify what is said and dig for valid alternative views to be discussed openly

Journalists either report in which case they should set out both sides and be obliged to do that or they investigate for to find who pays whom and what is being covered up

Covid origin and the response to it is just the same - investigate do not just accept or report both sides

Neither bats nor pangolins were being sold in Wet Markets in Wuhan when the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic started, a study by Oxford University found.

Professor David Macdonald, director of WILDCRU said in a statement.

The University said its Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WILDCRU) happened to have been working with its China-based colleagues in gathering data collected from across Wuhan’s wet markets through May 2017 and November 2019 to study a different virus.

The study, published by Nature journal on Tuesday, said the team documented 47,381 individuals from 38 species sold as pets or for human consumption, including Badgers............. but not bats or pangolins.

“Bats are actually rarely consumed in Central China, where market photos generally depict Indonesia. Pangolin trade is still a significant issue in other Chinese cities and trading nodes, but not in Wuhan,” Macdonald said.


Animal sales from Wuhan’s markets
Across all 17 shops, vendors reported total sales of 36,295 individuals, belonging to 38 terrestrial wild animal species, averaging 1170.81 individuals per month (Standard deviation (SD) = 445.01, n = 31; Table 1). Including species sold by weight inflated this total to 47,381 individuals.

Notably, no pangolin or bat species were among these animals for sale.


The Fourth Estate has come to mean taking a principled position to – as Australian Democrats senator Don Chipp would have put it – “keep the bastards honest”.
 
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adam

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Such variants would show up as some sort of SARS virus in tests on waste water tests - there is no evidence of any earlier SARS virus being in circulation

This subject was covered in other posts

In spain tests on samples taken between January 2018 and December 2019 and found the [faint possible] presence of the virus genome in one of them, collected on March 12, 2019

[No subsequent research has indicated this to be other than a one off false result. Other tests show Covid-19 appearing in wastewater from November 2019 onwards in a range of locations which is still consistent with early spreading from a Wuhan origin]

https://malaysia.news.yahoo.com/coronavirus-traces-found-march-2019-171316806.html

Claire Crossan
Research Fellow, Virology, Glasgow Caledonian University

They had a positive result for the March 2019 sample in one of the three genes tested – the RdRp gene. They screened for two regions of this gene and both were only detected around the 39th cycle of amplification. (PCR tests become less “specific” with increasing rounds of amplification. Scientists generally use 40 to 45 rounds of amplification.)

There are several explanations for this positive result. One is that SARS-CoV-2 is present in the sewage at a very low level. Another is that the test reaction was accidentally contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory. This sometimes happens in labs as positive samples are regularly being handled, and it can be difficult to prevent very small traces of positive sample contaminating others.

Another explanation is that there is other RNA or DNA in the sample that resembles the test target site enough for it to give a positive result at the 39th cycle of amplification.

Further tests need to be carried out to conclude that the sample contains SARS-CoV-2, and a finding of that magnitude would need to be replicated separately by independent laboratories.

Reasons to be circumspect
A curious thing about this finding is that it disagrees with epidemiological data about the virus. The authors don’t cite reports of a spike in the number of respiratory disease cases in the local population following the date of the sampling.

Also, we know SARS-CoV-2 to be highly transmissible, at least in its current form. If this result is a true positive it suggests the virus was present in the population at a high enough incidence to be detected in an 800ml sample of sewage, but then not present at a high enough incidence to be detected for nine months, when no control measures were in place.


So far the evidence shows that there was only one original type of Wuhan Covid-19 virus circulating around the world in 2019 and early 2020.

Material mutations only occurred later in 2020

06 May 2020 08:00:45 BST
Analysis work from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has not mutated into different types.

.........only one type of the virus is currently circulating. Their research is published in the journal Virus Evolution.

Dr Oscar MacLean, from the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, said: “By analysing the extensive genetic sequence variation present in the genomes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the evolutionary analysis shows why these claims that multiple types of the virus are currently circulating are unfounded.”


University of Glasgow - University news - Coronavirus research - SARS-CoV-2 has not mutated into different types, new research confirms



 
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A June 6 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, penned by two experts, argued there existed “damning” scientific evidence supporting the theory that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus didn’t make a natural jump from animal to human, but was bio-engineered in a Chinese lab.

Dr. Steven Quay, who holds both a master’s and a doctorate degree from the University of Michigan, and Richard Muller, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California–Berkeley, said that two key pieces of evidence see later below

If what is set out later below is in any way correct it is very very serious and would require clarification on if Dr Fauci was previously ever advised of these facts and if not why not ?

It is clear from unearthed emails Dr. Anthony Fauci was told in Jan 2020 by Virologist Kristian Andersen, a professor at Scripps Research Institute

“The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.”

and that after this view was publicly changed Dr Andersen received a $1.8million NIH grant to fund his research.

What did Dr Andersen find that "(potentially) look engineered.”


Quayand Muller wrote that the most common genome pairing used in gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses is CGG-CGG, or double CGG, which is spliced into a “prime location” in the genome, spurring the production of two arginine amino acids in a row and boosting a virus’s lethality.

“In the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally,” they wrote. “That means the common method of viruses picking up new skills, called recombination, cannot operate here. A virus simply cannot pick up a sequence from another virus if that sequence isn’t present in any other virus.”

But in lab-based gain-of-function experiments, the CGG sequence is the pair of choice, they said.

“That’s because it is readily available and convenient, and scientists have a great deal of experience inserting it,”
the scientists wrote.

“An additional advantage of the double CGG sequence compared with the other 35 possible choices: It creates a useful beacon that permits the scientists to track the insertion in the laboratory.”

“At the minimum, this fact—that the coronavirus, with all its random possibilities, took the rare and unnatural combination used by human researchers—implies that the leading theory for the origin of the coronavirus must be laboratory escape.”

Quay and Muller said the second key piece of evidence that supports a lab leak theory has to do with the genetic diversity of the CCP virus compared to the coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS

SARS and MERS, which were confirmed to be of natural origin, “evolved rapidly as they spread through the human population, until the most contagious forms dominated.”

Yet the CCP virus “appeared in humans already adapted into an extremely contagious version,” the pair noted, with no significant mutations occurring in the virus until months after the outbreak.

“Such early optimization is unprecedented, and it suggests a long period of adaptation that predated its public spread,” they wrote, arguing that there’s only one way this could be achieved, namely through “simulated natural evolution” by growing the virus on human cells under lab conditions.


Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
West African Emerging Infectious Disease Research Center (WAEIDRC)
West Africa; 1 U01 AI151812-01

Peter Daszak, Ph.D., EcoHealth Alliance, Inc., New York City
Emerging Infectious Diseases-South East Asia Research Collaboration Hub (EID-SEARCH(link is external))
Southeast Asia; 1 U01 AI151797-01

 
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Covid-19 Origins and Prof Shi

In November 2020 Nature published an addendum to Zhou et al. in which Zheng-li Shi and her co-authors conceded these points. They wrote:
“In 2018…..we performed further sequencing of these bat viruses and obtained almost the full-length genome sequence (without the 5′ and 3′ ends) of RaTG13.”

Thus the RaTG13 genome sequence was mostly deciphered in 2018 and not in January 2020.

Ergo, the viral genome most similar to SARS-CoV-2 was being studied at the WIV before the pandemic broke out.

But why hide this activity?

So many interrelated errors and omissions present a conundrum.

Are these concatenated oversights simply innocent happenstances?

Or were they deliberate attempts to obscure the connections from RaTG13 back to BtCov/4991 and from there to the mine and thence to the mine outbreak; to thereby prevent anyone in 2020 linking SARS-CoV-2 and the mine outbreak in 2012?

Is there something about the mine or the miners of deep significance to the current pandemic? If so, what?



Previous statements clearly implied that, prior to the pandemic, WIV researchers had only ever studied a ‘short’ fragment of RaTG13, that the fragment was unpublished (since no prior description was cited), and that no recent research had been carried out on RaTG13 or its sample.

Consequently, a lab leak involving RaTG13 was implausible.

But all these inferences turned out to be untrue. Zhou et al. was one of the pandemic’s key misinformation superspreaders. In August 2020, two researchers, Monali Rahalkar and Rahul Bahulikar, published a preprint in which they reported that they had accessed the underlying sequencing files for RaTG13. As first noticed by Twitter user Francisco A. de Ribeira, some were dated from 2017 and others from 2018.

Moreover, these early RaTG13 sequences went far beyond a short fragment, encompassing most of the genome (Rahalkar and Bahulikar, 2020a).

In November 2020 Nature published an addendum to Zhou et al. in which Zheng-li Shi and her co-authors conceded these points. They wrote:
“In 2018…..we performed further sequencing of these bat viruses and obtained almost the full-length genome sequence (without the 5′ and 3′ ends) of RaTG13.”
Thus the RaTG13 genome sequence was mostly deciphered in 2018 and not in January 2020.

Ergo, the viral genome most similar to SARS-CoV-2 was being studied at the WIV before the pandemic broke out.
But why hide this activity?
The outbreak in the Mojiang Mine
By the time of these revelations, yet other questions had arisen about RaTG13. It turned out that RaTG13 was an exact genetic match to an already published partial virus sequence called BtCoV/4991. BtCoV/4991 had been obtained by Zheng-li Shi’s group in 2013 from a mine in Yunnan Province, China (Ge et al., 2016).
Furthermore, RaTG13 and BtCoV/4991 were from the same bat anal swab sample. In other words, from the data provided, the two were indistinguishable. Thus, RaTG13 did have a publishing history, but under the name BtCoV/4991 (Bengston, 2020).
In addition to BtCoV/4991 another novel betacoronavirus was found at the same time. Their discoverers concluded the following:
Considering that the two highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) in this genus [the Betacoronaviruses] originated from bats (Ge et al., 2013; Lau et al., 2013; Corman et al., 2014), attention should be particularly paid to these lineages of bat coronaviruses.” (Ge et al., 2016)
According to their own words, it would therefore be surprising had Zheng-li Shi’s group not gone on to study BtCoV/4991 aka RaTG13.
Yet the discovery of this publication trail only deepened the mystery yet further. Though never mentioned by Ge et al., the ‘abandoned’ mine (which subsequently became known as the Mojiang mine) where BtCoV/4991 was found had recently been the site of a mystery disease outbreak. In April 2012, just two and a half months before the first WIV sampling trip, six miners had become sick and three of them had died. Indeed, the mine outbreak was presumably why the WIV researchers were sampling there (and the Zhou et al. addendum later confirmed this).
The nature of the 2012 disease outbreak became much clearer with the discovery (by an anonymous Twitter user called @TheSeeker268) of a 2013 Chinese Master’s thesis. This thesis is titled The Analysis of Six Patients With Severe Pneumonia Caused By Unknown Viruses. Its abstract specifically mentions a possible outbreak of SARS-like coronaviruses.
To learn more about the 2012 pneumonia outbreak, we arranged to have the Master’s thesis translated into English.
The translation yielded a cornucopia of information. This began with the fact that the author of the thesis was the doctor who supervised the testing and treatment of the miners at the First Affiliated hospital of Kunming Medical University (Yunnan Province).
According to the Master’s thesis, the miners had been shovelling bat guano. This implied that the mystery disease probably originated from bats. That, along with various test results and consultations led the author to conclude that the most likely cause of the outbreak was a coronavirus. But perhaps most startling of all the findings to emerge from the translation was that the symptoms of the miners closely resembled those of COVID-19 (Rahalkar and Bahulikar, 2020b).
The Master’s thesis thus raised a host of questions. Why did the Ge et al. 2016 publication (from Zheng-li Shi’s lab), which sampled the mine on multiple occasions, make no mention of the outbreak that caused them to be sampling there in the first place? Why did Zheng-li Shi tell Scientific American in March 2020 that the miners died of a fungal infection? Why did her Zhou et al. 2020 publication rename BtCov/4991 as RaTG13 without explanation or even referencing the earlier work on BtCov/4991 or its mine origin? Especially, given that Zheng-li Shi and her corona-colleagues in China and elsewhere have constantly warned of coronavirus spillovers from bats (e.g. Zhou et al., 2018), why did no one seemingly prove or disprove the coronavirus theory in the Master’s thesis? Are we to presume that an apparent textbook case of a zoonotic spillover, significant enough at the time to be covered by Sciencemagazine, was in the end simply ignored?
So many interrelated errors and omissions present a conundrum. Are these concatenated oversights simply innocent happenstances? Or were they deliberate attempts to obscure the connections from RaTG13 back to BtCov/4991 and from there to the mine and thence to the mine outbreak; to thereby prevent anyone in 2020 linking SARS-CoV-2 and the mine outbreak in 2012? Is there something about the mine or the miners of deep significance to the current pandemic? If so, what?

Latham
Science Writings
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A Chinese PhD Thesis Sheds Important New Light On The Origin of the COVID-19 Coronavirus
May 14, 2021By jrl in Feature Articles No Comments
by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD
One of the very earliest scientific papers from the COVID-19 pandemic era now has over 11,000 citations. Appearing in the scientific journal Nature on February 3rd 2020, Zhou et al., 2020 reported the genome sequence of a novel coronavirus isolated from patients with atypical pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Its senior author was leading coronavirus researcher Zheng-li Shi of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (the WIV). Along with what we now call SARS-CoV-2, her paper also reported the genome sequence of a closely related (96.2% identical) bat virus. The authors called this virus RaTG13. To this day RaTG13 is still the closest known viral genome by far to SARS-CoV-2.
RaTG13 came from the freezers of the WIV.
In one sense, there is nothing unusual about that. Researchers often have old samples stored away and the WIV has the largest collection of coronaviruses in the world. On the other hand, Wuhan is considered an unlikely locality for a coronavirus outbreak.
However, the two sentences in Zhou et al., (2020) describing RaTG13 allayed any fears:
We then found that a short region of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from a bat coronavirus (BatCoV RaTG13)–which was previously detected in Rhinolophus affinis from Yunnan province–showed high sequence identity to 2019-nCoV. We carried out full-length sequencing on this RNA sample (GISAID accession number EPI_ISL_402131).”
This statement clearly implied that, prior to the pandemic, WIV researchers had only ever studied a ‘short’ fragment of RaTG13, that the fragment was unpublished (since no prior description was cited), and that no recent research had been carried out on RaTG13 or its sample. Consequently, a lab leak involving RaTG13 was implausible.
But all these inferences turned out to be untrue. Zhou et al. was one of the pandemic’s key misinformation superspreaders. In August 2020, two researchers, Monali Rahalkar and Rahul Bahulikar, published a preprint in which they reported that they had accessed the underlying sequencing files for RaTG13. As first noticed by Twitter user Francisco A. de Ribeira, some were dated from 2017 and others from 2018. Moreover, these early RaTG13 sequences went far beyond a short fragment, encompassing most of the genome (Rahalkar and Bahulikar, 2020a).
In November 2020 Nature published an addendum to Zhou et al. in which Zheng-li Shi and her co-authors conceded these points. They wrote:
“In 2018…..we performed further sequencing of these bat viruses and obtained almost the full-length genome sequence (without the 5′ and 3′ ends) of RaTG13.”
Thus the RaTG13 genome sequence was mostly deciphered in 2018 and not in January 2020. Ergo, the viral genome most similar to SARS-CoV-2 was being studied at the WIV before the pandemic broke out.
But why hide this activity?
The outbreak in the Mojiang Mine
By the time of these revelations, yet other questions had arisen about RaTG13. It turned out that RaTG13 was an exact genetic match to an already published partial virus sequence called BtCoV/4991. BtCoV/4991 had been obtained by Zheng-li Shi’s group in 2013 from a mine in Yunnan Province, China (Ge et al., 2016).
Furthermore, RaTG13 and BtCoV/4991 were from the same bat anal swab sample. In other words, from the data provided, the two were indistinguishable. Thus, RaTG13 did have a publishing history, but under the name BtCoV/4991 (Bengston, 2020).
In addition to BtCoV/4991 another novel betacoronavirus was found at the same time. Their discoverers concluded the following:
Considering that the two highly pathogenic human coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) in this genus [the Betacoronaviruses] originated from bats (Ge et al., 2013; Lau et al., 2013; Corman et al., 2014), attention should be particularly paid to these lineages of bat coronaviruses.” (Ge et al., 2016)
According to their own words, it would therefore be surprising had Zheng-li Shi’s group not gone on to study BtCoV/4991 aka RaTG13.
Yet the discovery of this publication trail only deepened the mystery yet further. Though never mentioned by Ge et al., the ‘abandoned’ mine (which subsequently became known as the Mojiang mine) where BtCoV/4991 was found had recently been the site of a mystery disease outbreak. In April 2012, just two and a half months before the first WIV sampling trip, six miners had become sick and three of them had died. Indeed, the mine outbreak was presumably why the WIV researchers were sampling there (and the Zhou et al. addendum later confirmed this).
The nature of the 2012 disease outbreak became much clearer with the discovery (by an anonymous Twitter user called @TheSeeker268) of a 2013 Chinese Master’s thesis. This thesis is titled The Analysis of Six Patients With Severe Pneumonia Caused By Unknown Viruses. Its abstract specifically mentions a possible outbreak of SARS-like coronaviruses.
To learn more about the 2012 pneumonia outbreak, we arranged to have the Master’s thesis translated into English.
The translation yielded a cornucopia of information. This began with the fact that the author of the thesis was the doctor who supervised the testing and treatment of the miners at the First Affiliated hospital of Kunming Medical University (Yunnan Province).
According to the Master’s thesis, the miners had been shovelling bat guano. This implied that the mystery disease probably originated from bats. That, along with various test results and consultations led the author to conclude that the most likely cause of the outbreak was a coronavirus. But perhaps most startling of all the findings to emerge from the translation was that the symptoms of the miners closely resembled those of COVID-19 (Rahalkar and Bahulikar, 2020b).
The Master’s thesis thus raised a host of questions. Why did the Ge et al. 2016 publication (from Zheng-li Shi’s lab), which sampled the mine on multiple occasions, make no mention of the outbreak that caused them to be sampling there in the first place? Why did Zheng-li Shi tell Scientific American in March 2020 that the miners died of a fungal infection? Why did her Zhou et al. 2020 publication rename BtCov/4991 as RaTG13 without explanation or even referencing the earlier work on BtCov/4991 or its mine origin? Especially, given that Zheng-li Shi and her corona-colleagues in China and elsewhere have constantly warned of coronavirus spillovers from bats (e.g. Zhou et al., 2018), why did no one seemingly prove or disprove the coronavirus theory in the Master’s thesis? Are we to presume that an apparent textbook case of a zoonotic spillover, significant enough at the time to be covered by Sciencemagazine, was in the end simply ignored?
So many interrelated errors and omissions present a conundrum. Are these concatenated oversights simply innocent happenstances? Or were they deliberate attempts to obscure the connections from RaTG13 back to BtCov/4991 and from there to the mine and thence to the mine outbreak; to thereby prevent anyone in 2020 linking SARS-CoV-2 and the mine outbreak in 2012? Is there something about the mine or the miners of deep significance to the current pandemic? If so, what?
The value of the PhD thesis
Given that the broader context of the pandemic origin is the failure of a plausible zoonotic origin scenario to emerge (Quay, 2021; Segreto et al., 2021), we have attempted to resolve this conundrum by proposing the Mojiang Miners Passage theory of the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
The theory was stimulated chiefly by two observations. The first was that some of the miners with the mystery disease were ill for about five months (April to September, 2012). The second key observation was the assertion in the Master’s thesis that diagnostic samples taken from four of the miners were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
What we proposed, in short, is that the miners contracted one, or maybe multiple, RaTG13-like bat coronaviruses in the mine. The long hospitalization of the miners enabled the initial bat virus to evolve into a human coronavirus by providing conditions similar to extended viral passaging. The diagnostic samples sent to the WIV therefore contained a humanised virus and we proposed it was similar, or even identical, to SARS-CoV-2. Virus isolation, or virus culture in human or other cells, or perhaps even Gain-of-Function type experiments, then permitted this virus to later escape from the WIV in late 2019.
Given all this, a very significant unresolved question becomes: What tests were done on the samples taken from the miners and sent to the WIV? What were the results? The answers are important not only for the Mojiang Miners Passage theory but also for other explanations of the pandemic origin. For example, other lab escape theories have proposed that RaTG13 (or a similar unpublished genome) was the likely backbone for Gain-of-Function research (see Sirotkin and Sirotkin, 2020; Segreto and Deigin, 2020; Segreto et al., 2021; Kaina, 2021). But it is also possible that a virus extracted from the miners was the starting point.
According to the Master’s thesis, Prof. Nanshan Zhong advised SARS testing and samples from four miners were therefore sent to the WIV. These tested positive for coronavirus in an IgM antibody test (See Fig. 1).
Fig 1 Masters thesis IgM quote (p62)
In their November addendum Zheng-li Shi and her colleagues at the WIV confirmed receiving thirteen serum samples–taken at approximately monthly intervals in 2012–from four of the hospitalised miners. But here there is a major discrepancy. Referring to the miner serum samples, the addendum states:
“To investigate the cause of the respiratory disease, we tested the samples using PCR methods developed in our laboratory targeting the RNA-dependent RNA polymerases of Ebola virus, Nipah virus and bat SARSr-CoVRp3, and all the samples tested negative for these viruses. We also tested the serum samples for the presence of antibodies against the nucleocapsid proteins of these three viruses, and none of the samples gave a positive result. Recently, we retested the samples with our validated enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) against the SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) nucleocapsid protein–which has greater than 90% amino acid sequence identity with SARSr-CoVRp3–and confirmed that these patients were not infected by SARS-CoV-2.”(Zhou et al., 2020, addendum)
The implication is that, though various tests were performed at the WIV, SARS-CoV-2 was not found and no evidence for any other coronavirus was found either.
This obviously contradicts the Master’s thesis.
The difference between these two positions is crucial. If a coronavirus of any kind was found in the miners’ samples it would likely alter our whole understanding of the pandemic origin.
This is because every possible effort would surely have been made to identify it, grow it in cultured human cells, sequence its genome, characterise its infectivity, and much more. There are two primary reasons for this.
First, discovering a coronavirus infection in the miners would triumphantly vindicate the basic research premise of Zheng-li Shi and the WIV. Their pitch is that bat coronaviruses are dangerous pathogens that may at any moment jump to humans and other animals.
Second, a novel coronavirus in the miners would represent a veritable research bonanza: a highly lethal zoonotic disease outbreak caught in the act.
By the same token, if a coronavirus was found in the 2012 miners’ samples it would surely also mean that subsequent research, presumably at the WIV, has been concealed.
This then is the background to our interest in any credible document containing further evidence that the research trail from the miners did not go cold after the 2012 outbreak.
The PhD thesis of Canping Huang
For many months, a scientific document has been shared on the internet that appears to shed much light on the fate of samples taken from the mine and the miners, as well as the broader context. It is a translation of a Chinese PhD thesis originally written in 2016. Like the Master’s thesis it also was found on the Chinese thesis database by @TheSeeker268. Its English title is “Novel Virus Discovery in Bat and the Exploration of Receptor of Bat Coronavirus HKU9”. (Download the Chinese PhD thesis here)
The author of this thesis is Canping Huang, who was a student of Gao Fu. Gao Fu is an important virologist known in the West as George Gao. In 2017 he was appointed head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China’s CDC.
The direct relevance of the Canping Huang thesis, however, is that the author is one of relatively few researchers documented to have sampled the Mojiang mine for bat viruses.
Previously, a provisional and partial translation of this thesiswas generated, using Google translate, by the previously mentioned Francisco A. de Ribera. Using this earlier version as a guide, we have organised a professional and expanded translation.
This new version focuses on the parts of the thesis most relevant to the origin story of SARS-CoV-2; in particular, Chapter 3 titled: Initial investigation of the causes of unexplained severe pneumonia incidents related to an abandoned mining cave found in Mojiang Hani Autonomous County, Yunnan Province.
The Canping Huang thesis substantiates several aspects of the Mojiang Miners Passage theory. But perhaps the most significant of all its statements is that samples from four of the miners were tested at the WIV for IgG antibodies against the SARS virus. According to the PhD (see Fig. 3), all samples were positive. (This test is distinct from the IgM test mentioned in the Master’s thesis).

Fig 3 p83 of the Canping Huang PhD thesis

The logical interpretation of an IgG antibody test for SARS giving a positive result in 2012 is that the miners were infected with a coronavirus, presumably a SARS-related one. It is highly unlikely, however, that the miners had SARS itself, since the SARS virus had not been observed since 2003. Moreover, the original SARS outbreak was in Guangdong province, far from the Mojiang mine. Thus, the miners presumably were infected with a virus similar, but not identical to, SARS, i.e. a novel coronavirus. Most importantly, this is the conclusion reached also by the Master’s thesis (see Fig 4).

Masters thesis conclusion (p63)

What adds particular credibility to the PhDs’ claim are its specifics. According to Canping Huang, of the four miners:
“two discharged patients had higher antibody levels, whereas two hospitalized patients had lower antibody levels”.
Such details imply that the PhD’s assertion of positive SARS tests is not a simple mistake, nor based on mere hearsay. Rather, as the mysterious pneumonia outbreak was author’s reason to sample the mine (see Chapter 3.), these results had crucial significance to the thesis; just as they would have had to his supervisor and the Chinese CDC. Furthermore, a PhD is a peer-reviewed document. It has to be accepted by the supervisor and a committee. If the tests and/or the positive results were cited in error then these were multiple errors with multiple parents.
Indeed, in an interview with French TV (at 18:23), George Gao was asked about the antibody tests of the miners and he confirmed the positive tests.
Since it is not easy to dismiss, this assertion of multiple positive tests is a fact of great significance. As we and others have suggested, it seems likely that the miners had COVID-like symptoms because they were infected with a SARS-like coronavirus.
If so, researchers at the WIV have attempted to hide that diagnosis.
Is it time for an addendum to the addendum?
Ideally, one would seek to clarify precisely where the assertions in the PhD thesis (positive IgG test of four patients for SARS) and the Master’s thesis (positive IgM tests for an unspecified number of patients) contradict those in the Zhou et al. addendum.
However, although it purports to resolve the issues, the addendum is a complete mismatch with the questions raised by either thesis. Firstly, nowhere does the addendum positively state that no virus or no coronavirus was found in the miners’ serum samples.
Secondly, the addendum does not mention a SARS test. It mentions instead two different tests for SARSr-CoV-Rp3 (a bat virus related to SARS), and one test for SARS-CoV-2. It is presumably possible that the PhD and the Master’s and George Gao were mistaken and conflated tests for SARSr-CoVRp3 with ones for SARS itself (or perhaps were misinformed); but this does not alter the situation fundamentally since, contra the addendum, all three sources claim the results were positive.
Failure to directly address the principal questions spotlights a noteworthy additional defect of the addendum. It lacks the key accoutrements of a scientific publication. The addendum asserts the results of three tests but their methods are not fully described, nor are the materials and reagents. The results, including controls, are also not shown. Importantly too, the eight similar viruses mentioned as being found along with RaTG13/4991 are neither referenced nor specified by name, even though their genomes may be crucial for tracing the pandemic’s origins. It is unscientific and ultimately somewhat ridiculous for Natureto publish an addendum making controversial, claims that are crucial to understanding the origin of a global pandemic costing millions of lives, but make meaningful independent scrutiny of those claims impossible.
Nevertheless, the addendum should raise yet more eyebrows. When Canping Huang identified and isolated novel viruses from his bat samples, the methods he used, in Chap 3., were pan-coronavirus primers in PCR experiments and viral metagenomics in the form of Next Generation Sequencing(NGS). Yet neither method is mentioned in the addendum. The tests described by the addendum are not worthless, but they are also not best practice when the question is how to detect a mystery coronavirus. Apparently, the WIV, a world-leading institute, did not apply the most sensitive or effective available methods in this crucial and unprecedented instance of a zoonotic jump caught in flagrante.
China is a leader in gene sequencing technology but one could perhaps imagine that in 2012-13 NGS was unavailable to Zheng-li Shi. However, we know that she sent samples to Beijing for NGS as early as 2011 (Ge et al., 2012). In any case, it is available today. When Zheng-li Shi’s group first identified the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus from patients in Wuhan they used pan-coronavirus primers. Next they used metagenomic sequencing to decipher its genome (Zhou et al., 2020). We know too that the miners’ samples are apparently not depleted since the addendum claims to have ‘retested’ them ‘Recently’.
Additionally, there are now powerful methods for retrieving degraded and low abundance genetic material, even from biological samples millions of years old (e.g. Dabney et al., 2013). In 1997 the Spanish Flu influenza genome was reconstructed from preserved human tissues (Taubenberger et al., 1997). If necessary, such methods could surely be applied to any of the extant samples from the miners.
The PhD thesis translation prompts still further questions about the addendum and the miners’ samples, For example, we need to know more about the 13 serum samples. What dates were they taken on and which miners did each come from? Also, the Master’s thesis mentions extraction of the thymus of patient 4, while both it and the PhD mention that throat swabs were taken (PhD, p. 82). According to both theses, such samples were sometimes sent to other institutions. In many cases, these samples probably represent better opportunities to collect a coronavirus and demonstrate a virus spillover than does a serum sample. Did the WIV receive or request other samples? Were tests performed on them? If so, what were the results? Answers, one hopes, along with data to support them, will perhaps be provided in a second addendum.
In the final analysis this situation is ultimately quite simple: three sources (the Master’s thesis, Canping Huang’s PhD and George Gao) clearly and credibly contradict the implication of the addendum on the key question of whether a coronavirus was detected in the miners’ serum samples. Moreover, two of these sources predate the pandemic. Unlike the WIV authors, no case can reasonably be made that the two thesis authors were motivated by self-preservation as a consequence of the pandemic. The WIV authors, in contrast, have a track record of misleading statements and clear omissions in connection with the miners outbreak and RaTG13; hence the need for the original addendum.
Further revelations of the Canping Huang PhD thesis
The Canping Huang PhD contains other data and important statements. It corroborates the Master’s thesis, lends significant support to the Mojiang Miners Passage theory, and further contradicts the accounts of researchers from the WIV.
1) Canping Huang was a virologist. Together with a team assembled by the Chinese CDC, he searched the Mojiang mine specifically for viruses. In all, at least four independent teams of Chinese virologists (some representing multiple labs) searched the Mojiang mine.
Beginning in July 2012, researchers from Zheng-li Shi’s lab at the WIV visited the mine up to seven times (WHO report, Annex, p131). In it they found several hundred Alphacoronaviruses and ten Betacoronaviruses [the addendum states nine Betacoronaviruses but it appears to omit HpBtCoV/3740-2, which was also found there (Ge et al., 2016)] (Zhou et al., 2020 addendum). Of these, the Betacoronaviruses are the most significant because RaTG13 and SARS-CoV-2 are Betacoronaviruses. Later in 2012, researchers from Peking Union Medical College and the Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing also took samples. They identified a paramyxovirus in rats from the mine (Wu et al., 2014). The third team was a group from the University of Hong Kong who found Alphacoronaviruses in the mine (Lau et al., 2015). The fourth was Canping Huang in 2014. This intense sampling activity shows that prominent Chinese researchers like George Gao suspected that the causative agent of the mine outbreak was a virus, and were still hunting for clues in 2014. Nevertheless, the March 2021 WHO report, like the earlier Scientific American interview, attributes the miners’ illnesses to a fungal infection (WHO Annex, p131). However, it should be emphasized that, once again, this mention of a fungal origin by the WHO is not supported by any data or cited evidence. Nor is there any suggestion that fungal biologists investigated the outbreak. The case for a fungal outbreak is therefore very weak.
2) Canping Huang and his colleagues caught and killed 87 bats and one rat. This sampling bias suggests bats were still considered the most likely source of the miners’ disease in 2014.
3) In these bats, Canping Huang found four astroviruses, one bocavirus and two Alphacoronaviruses. This indicates that bats with coronaviruses continued to be present in the mine in 2014, two years after the outbreak. More importantly, his use of degenerate (i.e. all-purpose) PCR primers designed to amplify coronavirus genomes (see Chapter 3 of the PhD) demonstrates that Canping Huang was actively searching specifically for coronaviruses (and also for certain other viruses too).
4) The PhD also states that blood samples from the miners were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Prior to the November Zhou addendum, only the Master’s thesis made such a claim. Thanks to Canping Huang’s thesis, three independent sources agree that serum/blood samples were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
5) The thesis also confirms important statements in the Master’s thesis that samples from the infected miners were sent to laboratories across China. According to the PhD:
“In order to analyze the pathology and the cause of the disease, the Chinese Yunnan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other medical centers and other research labs collected samples from the patients, bats, rats and the environment. The blood samples of four cases showed that: four patients’ throat swabs and whole blood samples were negative for SARS coronavirus*, epidemic hemorrhagic fever, Dengue fever (type 1-4), epidemic encephalitis type B, flavivirus and alphavirus pathogen nucleic acid tests (Chengdu Military Region for Disease and Control). The blood samples of four of the cases, and from four other people who had been to the cave yet had no symptoms, all showed no abnormal results (Guangdong, lab of Nan Shan Zhong); The bats in the mine were dissected, and bat feces were tested, and no abnormality was found (Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)……Half a year later, the Jin Qi lab went to the same cave to collect samples from bats and wild rats and tested for pathogens.”
*Authors note: A negative test for SARS, performed soon after admission of the miners to hospital, is also mentioned in the Master’s thesis, which largely discounts its results.
This quite lengthy list of interested laboratories goes beyond those listed in the Master’s thesis, but is not surprising. A lethal disease outbreak originating from bats with a probable viral aetiology is not an everyday occurrence. The previous one in China was declared a pandemic: the first SARS outbreak in 2002. Hence, top virology labs in China, such as those of George Gao, Zhong Nanshan, Zheng-li Shi and Qi Jin became involved in investigating the outbreak.
We are nevertheless left with a mystery, which the Canping Huang thesis deepens considerably. Why, given this strong interest, were only two quite minor scientific papers ever published that mentioned the mine, of which only one mentioned the outbreak (Wu et al., 2014; Ge et al., 2016)? Especially since no alternative cause for the outbreak was found.
Undisclosed research on emerging infectious diseases in China
Ever since the first SARS outbreak, Chinese virologists have very actively searched for potential human zoonotic pathogens, especially coronaviruses (e.g. Lau et al., 2015; Latinne et al., 2020). A “major project” called “Discovery of Zoonotic Pathogens and Study of its Pathogenicity to Humans” was funded by the National Science Foundation of China for this specific purpose. This programme was established in 2012, the year of the mine outbreak, and included Zheng-li Shi as one of its principle investigators.
There are strong signs that plenty of this emerging infectious coronavirus research remains unpublished, even those parts that are highly connected to the origins of the pandemic. For example, Chapter 3. of Canping Huang’s thesis was never published or otherwise made available. Though he identified two Alphacoronaviruses in the Mojiang mine and obtained partial genome sequences, he did not show them. They are not in the thesis itself nor does he seem to have deposited them in any public database.
A key example is that Zheng-li Shi also possesses unpublished coronavirus genomes from the mine. These include at least eight other very closely related Betacoronaviruses that she has featured in several recent oral presentations and for which she has at least partial genome sequences. These are called Ra7909, Rst7896, Rst7905, Rst7907, Rst7921, Rst7924, Rst7931, and Rst7952. These genomes, if published, would approximately double the number of published genomes in the SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic clade, which is the phylogenetic group containing all the closest relatives of SARS-CoV-2. The information contained in these genomes would doubtless be extremely valuable for understanding the ancestry of SARS-CoV-2. It is therefore remarkable that they remain unpublished over a year after the Wuhan outbreak. Similar points can be raised about the more distantly related Betacoronavirus HpBtCoV/3740-2 also identified from the Mojiang mine by her group (Ge et al., in 2016). The only publicly available information on this virus is a short fragment deposited in a database five years ago.
Adding to this list of unpublished research is a very interesting recent preprint by a group of independent researchers. It is titled “Unexpected novel Merbecovirus discoveries in agricultural sequencing datasets from Wuhan, China” and it reports the existence of a series of hitherto unpublished full- and partial-length Betacoronavirusgenome sequences (Zhang et al., 2021). These genomes were uncovered by examining Chinese sequencing datasets (mostly originating in Wuhan) uploaded to the NCBI genome repository. These datasets were then searched by the authors for coronavirus sequence contamination. Coronavirus sequence reads found in these datasets were then assembled by the researchers into whole or partial coronavirus genomes. What such searches reveal are either instances of biological contamination (e.g. stray viruses in biological cultures or whole organisms) or stray sequences resulting from methodological contamination during sequencing–usually sample mix-ups of a kind known as index hopping.
Among the findings made by these researchers were a full-length novel HKU5-related coronavirus and an apparent full-length infectious clone of a novel HKU4-related coronavirus. These are both MERS-related coronaviruses. These were not the only coronaviruses they found and therefore what the data suggests is that, in China, numerous labs are isolating, culturing, or otherwise studying unpublished coronaviruses.
These examples of unpublished viruses may only be the tip of an iceberg. What they and the examples that preceded it highlight, however, is the importance of accessing the WIV’s virus databases that were taken offline at the outset of the pandemic. These are where unpublished viral sequences from the WIV and elsewhere were stored. The need to know which viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 were being studied by scientists in Wuhan in 2019 is urgent.
Future directions for lab origin investigations
Given the pattern of evidence that is accumulating it is encouraging that members of the US Congress have written to Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance with a list of key questions about the relationship of the EcoHealth Alliance with the WIV. This letter in particular requests access to virus samples held by them and especially those samples related to the Mojiang mine at the time of the outbreak (see Fig. 5).
Fig 5. Extract from the Energy and Commerce Committee letter to Peter Daszak
The EcoHealth Alliance has had funding and active working relationships with coronavirus researchers at the WIV for over a decade. Given the obstructive role it played in resisting investigations of laboratory origins, any effort to get answers from the EcoHealth Alliance deserves wide support. The Congressional letter is constructive in that it combines a precise focus on the key scientific data gaps with a broad view of accountability. In the final analysis, exactly who might have spilled the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not necessarily more important to know than who funded them and who conceived and instigated the research.
The Congressional letter raises many questions pertinent to any investigation of the virus’ origin. What is altered by the revelations of the PhD is to render much more compelling the probability, first asserted in the Master’s thesis, that there was a coronavirus in medical samples taken from the miners. This in turn serves to underline the obvious inconsistencies and omissions of Zhou et al. 2020 and especially its addendum. These flaws make the likelihood that the Mojiang mine played a key role in the COVID-19 outbreak seem ever more plausible and the need to obtain samples and sequences still more urgent.
All origin possibilities should be considered and fully investigated. But in our view, the Mojiang Miners Passage origin theory is particularly valuable because it is a scientifically testable hypothesis. If a transparent and independent analysis of samples from each of the miners were carried out it should show whether or not they had a coronavirus infection. If present in the samples a coronavirus genome sequence (even a quite short fragment) would likely definitively prove, or disprove, the theory beyond any reasonable doubt.
According to the WHO origin report, Chinese virologists have scoured the country for bat-derived coronaviruses. But at the same time, the WIV and the EcoHealth Alliance have not shared what is apparently in their own freezers and databases. The obstacle therefore seems not to be one of ability to share data but of willingness. But such obvious reticence carries a risk. The less openness scientists at the WIV and the EcoHealth Alliance show and the more they appear to dodge the key questions, the more the suspicion will unavoidably grow of their collective culpability for whatever really happened in Wuhan in late 2019.
The authors would like to acknowledge the generous assistance of Francisco A. de Ribera in preparing this article
 
Jun 17, 2021
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This article and this website look worse everyday as more and more "experts" are of the opinion that this virus did indeed escape a Chinese laboratory!
 
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A look back to China withholding birdflu data in 2018. The recent 2021 defection of a top Chinese spy may also provide a different view on Wuham

2018 shows how China and others behave. I do not think withholding info is just a Chinese issue

China Has Withheld Samples of a Dangerous Flu Virus

Despite an international agreement, U.S. health authorities still have not received H7N9 avian flu specimens from their Chinese counterparts.



Health workers attending to an H7N9 avian flu patient in Wuhan, China, in 2017. Credit...Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

By Emily Baumgaertner
Aug. 27, 2018
阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版Leer en español

For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from the United States — specimens needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials.

Despite persistent requests from government officials and research institutions, China has not provided samples of the dangerous virus, a type of bird flu called H7N9. In the past, such exchanges have been mostly routine under rules established by the World Health Organization.

Now, as the United States and China spar over trade, some scientists worry that the vital exchange of medical supplies and information could slow, hampering preparedness for the next biological threat.
The scenario is... said Dr. Michael Callahan, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School

“Jeopardizing U.S. access to foreign pathogens and therapies to counter them undermines our nation’s ability to protect against infections which can spread globally within days.”

Experts concur that the world’s next global pandemic will likely come from a repeat offender: the flu. The H7N9 virus is one candidate

Since taking root in China in 2013, the virus has spread through poultry farms, evolving into a highly pathogenic strain that can infect humans. It has killed 40 percent of its victims.

If this strain were to become highly contagious among humans, seasonal flu vaccines would provide little to no protection. Americans have virtually no immunity.
“Pandemic influenza spreads faster than anything else,” said Rick A. Bright, the director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees vaccine development. “There’s nothing to hold it back or slow it down.
Every minute counts.”

Under an agreement established by the World Health Organization, participating countries must transfer influenza samples with pandemic potential to designated research centers “in a timely manner.”



 
Last edited:
Jan 21, 2020
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I am inclined to go with the article than a whole bunch of people who"just can't believe". That is the stuff that conspiracies are made of. It is one thing to not accept the proof given as not being enough, but to pedal something else with absolutely no proof or even a hint of actual evidence is even worse.


Plausibility is simply not evidence.


Actually, new, i.e., novel, viruses just manifest themselves quite often.


... and none of that proves anything at all, but sure does wet conspiracy nut cases whistles big time. Still waiting for some hard evidence to rear its ugly head.
Funny, over a year later and you are the nut case defending China!
Face it the main problem you had with it was President Trump was pushing that view.
 
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