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Peter Myers Digest: Origins of Covid-19

(1) Interview with Ralph Baric (9 min), in which he admits that manipulation of virus can be done without leaving a signature:(2) RaBtCoV/4991 = RaTG13; independent groups reveal (not Shi); RaTG13 was sequenced and experimented upon in 2017 and 2018(3) How We Know SARS-CoV-2 Absolutely Leaked From a Chinese Lab - Dr. Joseph Mercola(1) Interview with Ralph Baric (9 min), in which he admits that manipulation of virus can be done without leaving a signature: RaBtCoV/4991 = RaTG13; independent groups reveal (not Shi); RaTG13 was sequenced and experimented upon in 2017 and 2018 claims of trust in bat coronavirus research: mysteries of the mine (i)(ii)Posted on March 1, 2021 by MayoHave you ever wondered if people read Master's (or even Ph.D) theses a decade out? Whether or not you have, I think you will be intrigued to learn the story of why an obscure Master's thesis from 2012, translated from Chinese in 2020, is now an integral key for unravelling the puzzle of the global controversy about the mechanism and origins of Covid-19. The Master's thesis by a doctor, Li Xu [1], "The Analysis of 6 Patients with Severe Pneumonia Caused by Unknown Viruses", describes 6 patients he helped to treat after they entered a hospital in 2012, one after the other, suffering from an atypical pneumonia from cleaning up after bats in an abandoned copper mine in China. Given the keen interest in finding the origin of the 2002–2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, Li wrote: "This makes the research of the bats in the mine where the six Miners worked and later suffered from severe pneumonia caused by unknown virus a significant research topic". He and the other doctors treating the mine cleaners hypothesized that their diseases were caused by a SARS-like coronavirus from having been in close proximity to the bats in the mine.Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson, scientists at the Bioscience Resource Project in Ithaca, decided Li Xu's master's thesis was important enough to translate from Chinese.The evidence it contains has led us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also led us to theorise a plausible route by which an apparently isolated disease outbreak in a mine in 2012 led to a global pandemic in 2019. (Latham & Wilson 2020)They dubbed it the Mojiang Miner's theory, because the mineshaft is located in Mojiang, in Yunnan province, China, 1000 miles from Wuhan. One of the mine cleaners from 2012, they speculate, might even have been patient zero of the current pandemic! But except for a brief sketch in note 5, I put that aside for this post and turn to the article that first sparked my interest in the Mojiang mine from the Times of London July 4, 2020. Its subtitle is: 'The world's closest known relative to the Covid-19 virus was found in 2013 by Chinese scientists in an abandoned mine where it was linked to deaths caused by a coronavirus-type respiratory illness'. For a long time, it was one of the only articles on the mysteries that came to light with this Master's thesis: now the mine mysteries are mentioned in every critical discussion of Covid-19 origins.I will likely write updates to this post (following with (i), (ii), etc in the title), and possibly follow-up posts. I started it weeks ago, and as I learned more, I decided it was too much for one post. Please share corrections in the comments.1. The Mojiang MineThe Times authors set the scene in their picturesque opening:In the monsoon season of August 2012 a small team of scientists travelled to southwest China to investigate a new and mysteriously lethal illness. After driving through terraced tea plantations, they reached their destination: an abandoned copper mine where — in white hazmat suits and respirator masks — they ventured into the darkness. Instantly, they were struck by the stench. Overhead, bats roosted. Underfoot, rats and shrews scurried through thick layers of their droppings. It was a breeding ground for mutated micro-organisms and pathogens deadly to human beings. There was a reason to take extra care. Weeks earlier, six men who had entered the mine had been struck down by an illness that caused an uncontrollable pneumonia. Three of them died.Today [back in July 2020], as deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic exceed half a million and economies totter, the bats' repellent lair has taken on global significance.Evidence seen by The Sunday Times suggests that a virus found in its depths — part of a faecal sample that was frozen and sent to a Chinese laboratory for analysis and storage — is the closest known match to the virus that causes Covid-19. (London Times)The lab to which the sample was sent was the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), home of a world renown site for bat coronavirus research, led by Shi Zhengli, often called "batwoman" in recognition of her years of bat coronavirus research.The pneumonia the Miners were suffering from was deemed sufficiently serious and unusual to immediately call in an acclaimed virologist, Professor Zhong Nanshan, who had led China's efforts against the first SARS, referred to now as SARS-CoV-1 to distinguish it from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) …was called in to test the four survivors. These produced a remarkable finding: while none had tested positive for Sars, all four had antibodies against another, unknown Sars-like coronavirus. (London Times)The detailed description of their symptoms and disease progression in the Master's thesis exactly echoes what we now see in those with Covid-19: high fevers, coughs, difficulty in breathing, and many of the treatments tried are also in sync with those used today, including one found to be one of the most successful: steroids.Shi Zhengli was in the midst of researching bat caves around 200 miles from the Mojiang mine when her team was alerted to the Miners. Given their main research focus is SARS-related coronaviruses, especially from bats, this was clearly of great interest to them. So they immediately turned to investigate the Mojiang Mine.Over the next year, the scientists took faecal samples from 276 bats. The samples were stored at minus 80C in a special solution and dispatched to the Wuhan institute, where molecular studies and analysis were conducted. (London Times)One, from a horshoe bat was of special interest because it was considered a brand new strain of a SARS-related virus. In a February 2016 article that Shi co-authored, the bat sample was named RaBtCoV/4991. Oddly, the paper, titled "Coexistence of multiple coronaviruses in several bat colonies in an abandoned mineshaft," makes no mention of the reason the whole study took place: no mention of the Miners or the fact that three died from pneumonia contracted from bats in the mine where the sample was found (Mystery #1). But what really raised an alarm for me is the fact that Shi, when asked about the Miners (in an interview in the March-April 2020 issue of Scientific American, hereafter SA 2020) averred the Miners were killed by a fungus and not a virus (Mystery #2).Shi describes the mine as "a flying factory for new viruses" due to finding that often "multiple viral strains had infected a single animal." While claiming it was a fungus that killed the minors, "she says it would have been only a matter of time before they caught the coronaviruses if the mine had not been promptly shut" (SA 2020). [I was struck to hear she thought they'd be directly infected, since from day 1 there's often been an assumption that an intermediate species was needed.]2. December 30, 2019 and the current pandemicAll that was pre-SARS-CoV-2. Away at a conference, Shi receives a call on Dec 30, 2019 that there's a new coronavirus running rampant in Wuhan. Shi recalls the WIV director saying: "Drop whatever you are doing and deal with it now." Her first thought as she makes her way back to Wuhan is 'If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, 'Could they have come from our lab?'"(SA 2020)Her musing that the new virus might have come from her lab is, in one sense, unsurprising, given Wuhan contains three labs specializing in the study of bat coronaviruses, hers being the only one at biosafety level 4.Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves. 'That really took a load off my mind,' she says. 'I had not slept a wink for days.' …The genomic sequence of the virus, eventually named SARS-CoV-2, was 96 percent identical to that of a coronavirus the researchers had identified in horseshoe bats in Yunnan. Their results appeared in a paper published online on February 3 2020 in Nature."They dubbed it batcoronavirus RaTG13. In this 2020 article, co-authored by Shi, they write:RaTG13 is the closest relative of [SARS-CoV-2] … The close phylogenetic relationship to RaTG13 provides evidence that [SARS-CoV-2] may have originated in bats.…On the basis of these findings, we propose that the disease could be transmitted by airborne transmission, although we cannot rule out other possible routes of transmission. (Zhou, Yang,…Shi, Nature 2020 article)But wait, let's go back. Why a sigh of relief that SARS-CoV-2 is only 96% identical to one of the bat samples? What about the numerous specimens taken from the Mojiang Miners? How close are they to SARS-CoV-2? Frustratingly, to this day we're never told. (Mystery #3) Moreover, while RaTG13 is described as being found in a cave in Yunnan, there is no mention of BtCoV/4991. Nor is there a citation of the initial 2016 article describing BtCoV/4991, even though it was co-authored by Shi (Mystery #4).It turns out that RaBtCoV/4991 is identical to RaTG13! However, it required independent groups to sleuth this out [2]. (Mystery #5).In fact, researchers in India and Austria have compared the partial genome of the mine sample that was published in the 2016 paper and found it is a 100% match with the same sequence for RaTG13. The same partial sequence for the mine sample is a 98.7% match with the Covid-19 virus. (London Times)Why would the 2020 paper describing the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2 fail to mention that it is one and the same as the virus unearthed from the mine where 3 people died, and had already been cited in the 2016 paper, both with Shi as co-author? It's one thing to rename it, but to fail to note this goes against typical publishing norms.My initial attitude to the whole business of the origins of Covid-19 is that we'd probably never find out and anyway, the most important thing was trying to find treatments, prophylactics and vaccines, to understand the mechanism of Covid-19 and especially to prevent future pandemics. But it became clear that those goals hinge on the information that mysteriously was being hidden by the research groups being funded (by the U.S.) precisely to provide surveillance and monitoring about pandemics. Without being able to pinpoint all the individuals involved, I will just allude to the WIV research group from the time of the Mojiang Miners. (See also note 3.)So what did the WIV research group do with RaBtCoV/4991 in the ensuing years between finding it in 2013 (2016 article) and the revelation in the early pandemic (2020 article)? According to them, not much: it was said to have been stowed away in a freezer and only taken out after cases of Covid-19 appeared in Wuhan at the end of December 2019.Other scientists find the initial indifference about a new strain of the coronavirus hard to understand. Nikolai Petrovsky, professor of medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, said it was "simply not credible" that the WIV would have failed to carry out any further analysis on RaBtCoV/4991, especially as it had been linked to the deaths of three Miners.'If you really thought you had a novel virus that had caused an outbreak that killed humans then there is nothing you wouldn't do — given that was their whole reason for being [there] — to get to the bottom of that, even if that meant exhausting the sample and then going back to get more,' he said. (London Times)So it seems the WIV research group failed at "their whole reason for being" there, since the sample simply sat in a freezer for 6 years. Maybe if they had investigated RaBtCoV/4991 in relation to the virus the Miners died of they might have prevented the pandemic the world is now struggling under.Perhaps it was to downplay the fact that they fell down on the job that they opted for a name switch (from RaBtCoV/4991 in 2016 to RaTG13 in 2020), and lack of citation of the 2016 paper. Nothing more sinister is suggested or needed for my argument to go through. There is apparently no way to study the sample of RaTG13 further, since it it is said to have disintegrated upon being sequenced. (I will just call it RaTG13 in what follows.) 8 other SARS-related bat coronaviruses from the mine remain unpublished, to my knowledge.3. More MysteriesNot only is it incredible that no work had been done on RaTG13 in the ensuing years between its discovery and the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, it turns out to be false! Alina Chan, who describes herself as a molecular biologist turned detective (into origins of SARS-CoV-2), "pointed to an online database showing that the WIV had been genetically sequencing the mine virus in 2017 and 2018, analyzing it in a way they had done in the past with other viruses in preparation for running experiments with them." (Boston Magazine) (Mystery #6)But now that we know RaTG13 was sequenced and experimented upon in 2017 and 2018, we are still struck with the mysteries as why they had claimed only to sequence it after the world is hit with the Covid-19 pandemic, and why her close collaborator, Peter Daszak, who for years has funneled money from NIH grants to support the WIV bat coronavirus research, was reporting that the sample was ignored in a freezer for 6 years.[3] Only after the earlier sequencing was revealed did Daszak admit he was wrong. Likewise, it took considerable pressure on Nature before the appearance of a December 2020 addendum to the 2020 article where they admit the earlier experimentation. All very mysterious given that such experimentation would have been expected, since their charge was to investigate specimens with pandemic spillover potential, and since RaTG13 was described by them as having such potential in 2016. So what kind of research were they engaged in?Some of the experiments — "gain of function" experiments — aimed to create new, more virulent, or more infectious strains of diseases in an effort to predict and therefore defend against threats that might conceivably arise in nature. The term gain of function is itself a euphemism; the Obama White House more accurately described this work as 'experiments that may be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the virus would have enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility in mammals via the respiratory route.' The virologists who carried out these experiments have accomplished amazing feats of genetic transmutation, no question, and there have been very few publicized accidents over the years. But there have been some. (NY Magazine)There was a moratorium on such research in the U.S. in 2014, but funding was restored in 2017.  Money from U.S. agencies are funneled through Daszak's organization, the EcoHealth Alliance, to the WIV research team. [The latest award was cut in April 2020, then restored in August 2020.]Those engaged in such research aver that it is necessary to provide disease surveillance systems to alert us if viruses with pandemic potential are making the jump to humans. Maybe so. But the 2016 paper hid the main details that might have been of use for this. The question isn't whether this kind of gain of function research could theoretically be useful, but rather whether a specific research group, here, WIV-EcoHealth research, has shown itself to be committed to the transparent behavior necessary to warrant support. It has not.4. Falsifying the hypothesis of trusted researchWhat we have is strong, independent pieces of evidence to falsify the group's claim to good faith commitments to responsibly conduct such research, or even communicate honestly what is known. Were they reliable partners in pandemic research, in the face of the real pandemic we are suffering, they would have bent over backwards to supply explanations for the conflicting admissions, rather than add more obfuscation. Note that nothing more is required to ground my inference. It's not a matter of showing a lab error or accidental leak. The evidence that falsifies their being good faith stewards to whom we may look to inform, surveil, and help prevent future pandemics is ample. The onus would be on the WIV-EcoHealth research group to come forward with explanations–something one would expect them to be keen to do in order to support the continued research into bat coronaviruses.Here's what we know about the value of the WIV-EcoHealth research when it comes to preventing and informing about actual pandemics. We find out that deaths which it turns out they knew from the start were due to a virus–"We suspected that the patients had been infected by an unknown virus" (2020 Addendum)–are not broadcast and in fact there's a news blackout about the case. A published paper on bat viruses found (2016) does not mention the deaths. Then when a real honest-to-God pandemic from a SARS-like coronavirus comes to light in the city that does major research in the area, the virus is sequenced but given a new name with no mention of the earlier name, let alone the connection with the Miners. No it's worse, there is confusion or prevarication amongst the researchers as to when it has been sequenced, when it has crumbled, and deliberate attempts to conceal records, including taking the central WIV data base off line, preventing further checks. In each case there are denials that only later, after revelations by independent sleuths, result in about-faces. But having declared one thing, it doesn't ameliorate the situation when the opposite is conceded only in the face of undeniable demonstrations of its falsity. We are still left with conflicting declarations and no explanation for the earlier, opposite stance.These strange and unscientific actions have obscured the origins of the closest viral relatives of SARS-CoV-2, viruses that are suspected to have caused a COVID-like illness in 2012 and which may be key to understanding not just the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic but the future behaviour of SARS-CoV-2." (Lathem and Wilson)If it weren't for the Master's thesis, the admissions that have come forward might never have occurred.A co-author of an expert guide to investigating outbreak origins, Dr. Filippa Lentzos, said,We also need to take a hard look in the mirror. It is our own virologists, funders and publishers who are driving and endorsing the practice of actively hunting for viruses and the high-risk research of deliberately making viruses more dangerous to humans. We need to be more open about the heavily vested interests of some of the scientists given prominent platforms to make claims about the pandemic's origins. [Chan and Ridley 2021]The WIV research group has gained the knowledge of how to make a virus more transmissible.[4],[5] One of the existing patents, I read, are for methods that could result in turning a SARS-related coronavirus into SARS-CoV-2. That knowledge hasn't helped the world control SARS-CoV-2. Good faith sharing of the earlier research would at least have shown the commitment to transparency and ethical research norms. When it comes to the question of the trust that is necessary to endorse future research, the known facts here are actually more troubling than previous cases of lab leaks that were openly admitted and followed by the adoption of improved methods and clear oversights. If this is how a research group behaves when there's no association between the lab and the pandemic, how much worse can we expect in the case of an actual lab error?Share your thoughts, links and corrections in the comments.Notes[1] His supervisor, Professor Qian Chuanyun, worked in the emergency department that treated the men. Other details were found in a PhD thesis by a student of the director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The full Master's thesis can also be read in Latham and Wilson 2020 (No paywall).[2] Details were filled in by independent sleuths throughout the world and "an anonymous Twitter user known as 'The Seeker' and a group going by the name of DRASTIC" (Ridley and Chan (2021)). One of the first articles to delineate a possible lab leak is Sirotkin, K. & Sirotkin, D. (2020) Segreto et al. (2020), who identified the identity of RaTG13 and 4991, write:In late July 2020, Zhengli Shi, the leading CoV researcher from WIV, in an email interview asserted the renaming of the RaTG13 sample and unexpectedly declared that the full sequencing of RaTG13 has been carried out as far back as in 2018 and not after the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, as stated in [her own joint article in February of 2020].I make no claims about having identified who first found what, as this is not my research area, but if you have an item you think I should reference, I'll be glad to look at it. Use the comments. Here's one sent in a comment yesterday by one of the authors:Rahalkar, M.C.; Bahulikar, R.A. Understanding the Origin of 'BatCoVRaTG13', a Virus Closest to SARS-CoV-2. Preprints 2020[3] Daszak runs a non-government group called the EcoHealth Alliance which disburses funds for research coronaviruses and other pathogens from U.S. agencies to labs throughout the world. A portion of these grants go to his outfit and he's one of the most vocal supporters for their continuation. We might even call the research group the WIV-EcoHealth Alliance research group. Understandably many scientists find conflicts of interest in having Daszak leading enquiries into possible Covid lab leak. But he continues to be a key player. Link: worst fears of conflicts of Interest came true upon reading the recent reports on Covid origins. See Mallapaty, S. et al. (2021)."To find genuinely critical analysis of COVID-19 origin theories one has to go to Twitter, blog posts, and preprint servers. The malaise runs deep when even scientists start to complain that they don't trust science."(Lathem and Wilson)[4] Another important name at the cutting edge of gain of function work on bat coronaviruses is Ralph Baric (from UNC). He was perhaps the first to show how to transfer viruses from one species to another. "Not only that, but they'd figured out how to perform their assembly seamlessly, without any signs of human handiwork. Nobody would know if the virus had been fabricated in a laboratory or grown in nature. Baric called this the "no-see'm method." (New York Magazine).An eye-opening, excellent (< 10 min) video from leading coronavirologists who know directly of the gain of function experiments. English subtitles. Link:[5] Latham and Wilson theorize that the initial virus evolved in the Miners themselves during the months-long infection suffered by some of the Miners, mimicking the process of serial passaging. This is a standard virological technique for adapting viruses to new species, tissues, or cell types. It is normally done by deliberately infecting a new host species or a new host cell type with a high dose of virus. This initial viral infection would ordinarily die out because the host's immune system vanquishes the ill-adapted virus. But, in passaging, before it does die out a sample is extracted and transferred to a new identical tissue, where viral infection restarts. Done iteratively, this technique … intensively selects for viruses adapted to the new host or cell type. ….We propose that, when frozen samples derived from the Miners were eventually opened in the Wuhan lab they were already highly adapted to humans to an extent possibly not anticipated by the researchers. One small mistake or mechanical breakdown could have led directly to the first human infection in late 2019.(However, there's no knowledge that the Miners transmitted their virus to others around them)Latham and Wilson's theory shares analogies with the viral evolution seen in immunocompromised patients same principle underlies the worry about extending the time lag between doses of vaccines. There's a risk that subimmune individuals with enough antibodies to slow the virus, and perhaps remain asymptomatic, but not enough to wipe it out, could harbor viral variants. I thank Jean Miller for many useful comments, suggestions and corrections on earlier drafts of this post.ReferencesArbuthnott, G., Calvert, J.,  & Sherwell, P. (2020). Revealed: Seven year coronavirus trail from mine deaths to a Wuhan lab. The London Times, UK, (July 4, 220 The Sunday Times Insight Investigation).Baker, N. (2021) The Lab Leak Hypothesis, New York Magazine (January 4, 2021). Link:Chan, A. Tweetorials on Covid-19 origins:, A. & Ridley, M. (2021). The World Needs a Real Investigation Into the Origins of Covid-19. The Wall Street Journal  (January 15, 2021).Ge, XY., Wang, N., Zhang, W. …Shi, Z-L. (2016). Coexistence of multiple coronaviruses in several bat colonies in an abandoned mineshaft. Virol. Sin. 31, 31–40 (2016). Link:, R. (2020). Could COVID-19 Have Escaped from a Lab? Boston Magazine (September 9, 2020).Latham, J. & Wilson, A. (2020). A proposed Origin for SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Independent Science News for Food and Agriculture website (July 15, 2020).Mallapaty, S., Maxmen A.,  &  Callaway, E. (2021). "'Major stones unturned': COVID origin search must continue after WHO report, say scientists", Nature (February 10, 2021).[Shi interview, SA] Qui, J. (2020) (June 1, 2020). How China's 'Bat Woman' Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus. Scientific American.Ridley, M. & Chan, A. (2021). Did the Covid-19 virus really escape from a Wuhan lab?. The Telegraph (UK) (February 6, 2021).Segreto R. & Deigin, Y. (2020). The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin. Bioessays (November 17, 2020). Link:, K. & Sirotkin, D. (2020). Might SARS-CoV-2 Have Arisen via Serial Passage through an Animal Host or Cell Culture?Xu, L. (2013). The Analysis of Six Patients With Severe Pneumonia Caused By Unknown Viruses (Master's Thesis). School of Clinical Medicine, Kun Ming Medical University. Translation into English commissioned by Independent Science News, completed June 23, 2020. Link:, P., Yang, XL., Wang, XG. …Shi, Z.(2020).A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature 579, 270–273. (February 3, 2020). Link:, P., Yang, XL., Wang, XG. … Shi, Z.(2020) Addendum: A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature 588, E6 (2020). (December 3, 2020). Link: relevant resourcesA fascinating video including come of the key bat coronavirus researchers (short 9 min with English subtitles){same as the Twitter one}(3) How We Know SARS-CoV-2 Absolutely Leaked From a Chinese Lab - Dr. Joseph Mercola by Dr. Joseph MercolaMarch 04, 2021STORY AT-A-GLANCEThe chance of a person from Wuhan being patient zero is approximately 1 in 630, based on calculations that take into account the population size of Wuhan, the global population and the fact that coronavirus-carrying animals are found virtually all over the worldTaking into account that there are 28 Alpha- and Beta-coronavirus species with members that affect humans, the chance of Wuhan hosting a SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is 17,640 to 1No credible theory for natural zoonotic spillover has been presented, to dateMeanwhile, there are at least four distinct lab origin theories, including the serial passage theory (which proposes the virus was created by serial passaging through an animal host or cell culture). There's also a variety of evidence for genetic manipulationA third theory is that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of vaccine development, and the fourth is the Mojiang Miners passage theory, which proposes a precursor to SARS-CoV-2 sickened the Miners, and once inside these patients, it mutated into SARS-CoV-2Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, many scientists suspected SARS-CoV-2 might have originated in a biosafety laboratory, most likely in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began in December 2019. Among them, Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and a virologist, and Allison Wilson, Ph.D., a molecular biologist were experts who discussed the idea of a lab origin.I interviewed Latham about some of their theories in July 2020. His interview is featured in "Cover-Up of SARS-CoV-2 Origin?" Latham and Wilson argue that while the virus most likely has a bat origin, the mechanism by which it jumped from bat to human was not a natural one and they have previously presented three different theories by which the virus may have been created in and escaped from a lab.In a February 16, 2021, article1 in Independent Science News, the pair again reviewed the evidence for a laboratory origin, and the reasons why a zoonotic origin will never be found.Why Zoonotic Origin Is Most UnlikelyAside from not being known for exotic culinary dishes involving animals such as bats, Wuhan, located in central China, is an unlikely location for zoonotic virus spillover as it has "no cultural, geographic or climatic predisposing factors," Latham and Wilson note. Wuhan is also not a known hotspot for exotic animal smuggling.The well-recognized absence of bats in Wuhan is why researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) traveled several hundred miles to collect bat coronavirus samples.What's more, Latham and Wilson cite research showing that "when WIV researchers needed to study a Chinese population that was not routinely exposed to bat coronaviruses (as a control group), they chose Wuhan residents." Zheng-li Shi, head of coronavirus research at the WIV, even admitted that she "had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China."According to Latham and Wilson, "The chance of a person from Wuhan being patient zero is approximately 1 in 630," based on calculations that take into account the population size of Wuhan, the global population and the fact that coronavirus-carrying animals are found virtually all over the world."It truly is very, very, unlikely that a natural zoonotic pandemic would start in Wuhan. Yet no commentator on the outbreak seems to have properly acknowledged the true scale of this improbability," Latham and Wilson write.2Another coincidence that strongly points to a lab origin is the fact that the WIV not only has the world's largest collection of bat coronaviruses, but WIV researchers had also singled out one specific coronavirus out of 28 relevant species for more in-depth work, "and it is a member of this species that broke out in Wuhan," Latham and Wilson note, adding:"This, then, is a further curious coincidence: for a pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to emerge in Wuhan and be a member of the species most studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."Zoonotic Spillover of SARS-CoV-2 Is Not RandomLatham and Wilson go on to review the research done at the WIV in more detail, comparing and contrasting it to the natural evolution of coronaviruses. There are four basic types of coronaviruses: Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma- and Delta-coronaviruses. (For an illustration of the evolutionary tree of these viruses, please see the original article.3)Of these four, only two are of interest when we're searching for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 — the Alpha and Beta versions, of which there are 28 species, and "apparently random" coronavirus spillovers from Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses are known to have occurred in the past. (There are very few Gamma- and Delta-coronaviruses, and none is known to affect humans.)Six of the 28 Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses are known to affect humans: HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, MERS, SARS, HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 (SARS-CoV-2 makes No. 7). When you locate these six viruses on the coronavirus evolutionary tree, you find that they are widely distributed, which is an indication that previous zoonotic spillovers have been random.Not so with SARS-CoV-2, though. When you place SARS-CoV-2 on this evolutionary tree, its location is not random like the others. Rather, it emerged from original SARS (as evidenced by its name). Latham and Wilson explain:4"From a zoonotic perspective, nothing appears to be special about these SARS-related coronaviruses. Consequently, the emergence of a second pandemic virus from the same coronavirus species constitutes a second surprising coincidence.We can again calculate its probability. If each Alpha and Beta coronavirus species is equally likely to spill over to humans, which is consistent with our understanding, then the probability of a virus from the SARS-related coronavirus species starting a zoonotic pandemic is 1 in 28.(And if there are undiscovered coronavirus species — pretty much a certainty — the number will be greater still). It is a coincidence that, just like the emergence in Wuhan, heavily favors a lab escape if we take into account the specifics of the coronavirus research program at the WIV …"Zheng-li's Research Revolved Around the Pandemic VirusLatham and Wilson then go on to review 18 publications by Zheng-li, starting in 2005, describing her research into SARS-like coronaviruses. They point out that while Zheng-li collected a wide array of bat viruses, her specific research focus was the zoonotic spillover potential of a single species, namely SARS-related coronaviruses (one of the six Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses known to infect humans)."So while most discussions of a potential lab escape have mentioned that SARS-CoV-2 emerged within commuting distance of the WIV and that researchers at the WIV worked on bat coronaviruses, none have mentioned that the coincidence is much greater than that.Zheng-li Shi concentrated, especially with her potentially highly risky molecular research, on the particular species of coronavirus that is responsible for the pandemic," Latham and Wilson write, adding that:"If one accepts as reasonable the assumptions made above, the probability of Wuhan being the site of a natural SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is obtained by multiplying 1 in 630 by 1 in 28. The chance of Wuhan hosting a SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is thus 17,640 to 1."They also dismiss the argument that these are little more than circumstantial evidences that could be due to sheer chance. Circumstantial evidence is not a "special category of evidence," they point out; rather, "all evidence of causation is composed of coincidences.""All an observer can do is to add up the coincidences until they surmise that the threshold of reasonable doubt has been surpassed. Conclusions are always provisional, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, anyone open to persuasion ought at this point to conclude that a probability of 17,640 to 1 far exceeds that threshold. A lab escape should at this point be the default hypothesis."WIV Held Closest Known Relative to SARS-CoV-2Since the beginning of the outbreak, we've also discovered that the WIV held a virus sample known as RaTG13 which, so far, is the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2. While Zheng-li has denied extensive study on RaTG13, scientific publications reveal this virus has been studied since at least 2017.In addition to all of this, no substantive zoonotic theory has ever been presented, which makes it far less plausible than any of the lab-origin theories. While several potential intermediate species have been proposed, none has actually been found to carry SARS-CoV-2 or a precursor to it.Our prediction … simply based on assessing the probabilities, is that no convincing natural zoonotic origin for the pandemic will ever be found by China or the WHO or anyone else — for the simple reason that one does not exist. ~ Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., and Allison Wilson, Ph.D.What's more, as detailed in "Top Medical Journal Caught in Massive Cover-Up" and "Lawsuits Begin Over SARS-CoV-2 Lab Leak," the scientific cornerstone for the zoonotic origin theory hinges on two seriously flawed papers published in PLOS Pathogens and Nature.Both journals apparently allowed data sets to be secretly changed without publishing notices of correction. Authors appear to have renamed samples, failed to attribute samples properly, and produced a genomic profile that doesn't match the samples in the paper.Some data are also missing. An investigation into the discrepancies found RaTG13, which is 96% identical to SARS-CoV-2, is actually btCoV-4991, a virus found in samples collected in 2013 and studies on them published in 2016. Meanwhile, there are at least "four distinct lab origin theories," Wilson and Latham note, including:51.The serial passage theory, which proposes the virus was created by serial passaging through an animal host or cell culture.62.Evidence of genetic manipulation, including the chimeric structure of the virus and the presence of a furin cleavage site.7 While a majority of the viral genetic sequence is close to that of RaTG13, its receptor binding domain is nearly identical to that of a pangolin coronavirus, while the furin cleavage site has not been seen in any other SARS-like coronaviruses.Others have pointed out that the virus, which is highly adapted to human lung cells, appears to have evolved in the absence of immune system antibodies, which suggests mutation within cell culture.8In "China Deletes Key SARS-CoV-2 Related Science," I also review evidence9 suggesting SARS-CoV-2 was created by serial passaging an ancestor virus through transgenic mice equipped with human ACE2 receptors. (Research10 has confirmed transgenic mice with human ACE2 receptors are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, whereas normal mice are not.)3.The failed vaccine development theory.114.The Mojiang Miners passage theory,12,13 which proposes a precursor to SARS-CoV-2 — possibly RaTG13, as this virus was collected from that very same mine — sickened six Miners in 2012, and once inside these patients, some of whom were ill for several weeks, it mutated into SARS-CoV-2. Samples from four of the hospitalized Miners were sent to the WIV."To-date, there are conflicting claims about the results of those tests and nothing has been formally published. The Mojiang Miners Passage theory proposes, however, that, by the time they arrived at the WIV, these patient-derived samples contained a highly adapted human virus, which subsequently escaped," Wilson and Latham write, adding:"Our prediction … simply based on assessing the probabilities, is that no convincing natural zoonotic origin for the pandemic will ever be found by China or the WHO or anyone else — for the simple reason that one does not exist."WHO Investigation Into COVID-19 Origin Is Blatantly CorruptDespite the complete absence of a plausible zoonotic origin theory, the World Health Organization's investigative commission, tasked with identifying the origin of SARS-CoV-2, has now officially cleared the WIV and two other biosafety level 4 laboratories in Wuhan of wrongdoing, saying these labs had nothing to do with the COVID-19 outbreak.14,15,16They've also stated that the lab-escape theory will no longer be part of the team's investigation going forward.The WHO team and its Chinese counterparts now insist the most likely scenario is that SARS-CoV-2 piggybacked its way into the Wuhan market in shipments of frozen food from other areas of China where coronavirus-carrying bats are known to reside, or another country, possibly in Europe. As a result, the WHO team is considering expanding its scope to look into other countries as the potential source of the virus.As noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed17 by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, "By lending credence to this improbable theory, WHO is damaging trust in the important project of figuring out where the virus originated."There are obvious problems with the WHO's conclusions. For starters, no serious investigation was actually done. The WHO team was not equipped or designed to conduct a forensic examination of laboratory practices;18 rather, they relied on information obtained directly from the Chinese team.Secondly, China was allowed to hand pick the members of the WHO's investigative team, which includes Peter Daszak, Ph.D., who has close professional ties to the WIV and has gone on record dismissing the lab-origin theory as "pure baloney."19,20He was also the mastermind behind the publication of a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as "conspiracy theory."21,22 This manufactured "scientific consensus" was then relied on by the media to "debunk" theories and evidence showing the pandemic virus most likely originated from a laboratory.No Credible Evidence Food Is a Route of TransmissionThe inclusion of Dazsak on this team virtually guaranteed the dismissal of the lab-origin theory from the very start, and based on the lame justifications given by the team leader, Danish food safety and zoonosis scientist Ben Embarek, it seems clear they had no intention of looking at evidence that might implicate the WIV or any other Wuhan lab.For example, Embarek claims that officials at the WIV "are the best ones to dismiss the claims and provide answers" about the potential for a lab leak. But suspects in an investigation are hardly the most reliable sources of evidence to dismiss suspicions against them.Embarek further insisted that lab accidents are "extremely rare," hence it's "very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place."23 This too is a wholly unconvincing argument that flies in the face of available data.According to the Cambridge Working Group in 2014, "biosafety incidents involving regulated pathogens have been occurring on average over twice a week" in the U.S. alone,24,25 and virology labs accidentally released the original SARS virus on no less than four separate occasions.26,27 Three of those four instances led to outbreaks.28 The 1977 H1N1 influenza outbreaks in the Soviet Union and China were also the result of a lab escape.29Thirdly, a number of scientific bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods have resolutely dismissed the frozen food origination story, as no credible evidence has surfaced suggesting food, food packaging or food handling might be a significant route of transmission.30Why the Lab-Origin Theory Must Be QuashedYou may be wondering, if there's so much evidence pointing toward a lab origin, why are leading health authorities and scientists dismissing it all and insisting SARS-CoV-2 is a natural occurrence, mysterious as it might be? The answer undoubtedly comes down to money.Should the COVID-19 pandemic be officially recognized as the result of a lab accident, the world might be forced to take a cold hard look at gain-of-function research that allows for the creation of these new pathogens. The end result would ideally be the banning of such research worldwide, which means tens of thousands of researchers would lose their jobs. Prestigious careers would be spoiled.On top of that, the culprits might face criminal charges under the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, and nations might be held financially responsible for the economic destruction caused by the pandemic around the globe. These are no minor issues. They offer plenty of incentive to cover up the truth.As Rutgers microbiologist and founding member of the Cambridge Working Group, Richard Ebright, told Boston Magazine:31"For the substantial subset of virologists who perform gain-of-function research, avoiding restrictions on research funding, avoiding implementation of appropriate biosafety standards, and avoiding implementation of appropriate research oversight are powerful motivators."Antonio Regalado, biomedicine editor of MIT Technology Review, was even more blunt, stating that if SARS-CoV-2 was found to be a lab creation, "it would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom."32 There's little doubt that this is the reason why the lab origin theory has been roundly labeled as pure conspiracy theory spread by science deniers and Trump flag-wielding kooks.Such a stance is extremely unhealthy, however, as it seeks to strangle not only free speech but also scientific inquiry, and "criminalizes" logic in general. In a February 15, 2021, AP News article,33 the three authors identify several professors and organizations as "superspreaders" of disinformation about SARS-CoV-2's origin.Among them are Francis Boyle, a bioweapons expert who drafted the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act; Luc Montagnier, a world-renowned virologist who won the Nobel prize for his discovery of HIV; and the Center for Research on Globalization. The remainder are individuals and organizations that I, having written many hundreds of articles about COVID-19 over the past year, have never even heard of.According to AP, the parties on this list have no training in virology (apparently, Nobel prize-winning virologists aren't good enough) and therefore do not have the expertise to speak on the issue of viral origins. However, they don't mention the many who have presented evidence for a lab origin who do have all the "right" credentials.It's also worth noting that the AP article was produced in collaboration with the Atlantic Council, which is part of the technocratic hub that is using the pandemic to further its Great Reset agenda. That alone qualifies the article as pure globalist propaganda.If SARS-CoV-2 really was the result of zoonotic spillover, the easiest and most effective way to quash "conspiracy theories" about a lab origin would be to present compelling evidence for a plausible theory. So far, that hasn't happened, and as noted by Latham and Wilson, the most likely reason for that is because the virus does not have a natural zoonotic origin, and you cannot find that which does not exist.- Sources and References1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Independent Science News February 16, 20216 BioEssays August 12, 2020; 42(10): 20000917 BioEssays November 17, 2020; 43(3): 20002408 Threadreader Daoyu (Archived)9 Twitter thread Daoyu February 16, 202110 Nature July 2020; 583(7818): 830-83311 Threadreader Billy Bostickson January 29, 202112 Independent Science News July 15, 202013 New York Post August 15, 202014 The Washington Post February 9, 202115 The Washington Post February 9, 2021 (Archived)16, 23, 25 GM Watch February 10, 202117, 30 WSJ February 21, 202118 Nature February 10, 202119 GM Watch September 23, 202020 GM Watch June 17, 202021 USRTK November 18, 202022 GM Watch November 19, 202024 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists August 14, 201426 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists March 31, 201427 Twitter Alina Chan February 21, 2021