- Link to Chapter I source — May 21, 2023
- Link to Chapter II source — May 23, 2023
- Link to Chapter III source — May 23, 2023
- Chapter IV . . . is a work in progress
The Great SARS-CoV-2 Charade, Chapter 1
The U.S. government continues to ignore the crucial role of American scientists, institutions, and companies in creating the virus that causes COVID-19.
By John Leak, May 21, 2023 | Original Courageous Discourse article here.
Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 1 in a four-part series about the true origin of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 illness. Chapter 4: Ending the Great Charade/ A New Path to Truth & Justice, remains a work in progress.
Of all of the food joints in all the towns in all of China, SARS-CoV-2 walks into the one a few miles down the road from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Background and Context
The 20th Century was marred by a series of disasters inflicted on mankind by the military-industrial complex of various nation states. These disasters were expressions of new technology and mechanized industry being applied to the perennial project of making war. Mankind has always been a tribal species, and competing tribes have always made war on each other. A million times more creativity and ingenuity have been devoted to the art of war than to the art of conflict resolution. Likewise, we are, naturally compelled by fulminations about the depravity of our competing tribes, while efforts to understand the world from their point of view seem feeble and boring. We are all, to some degree, addicted to drama and conflict. And so, as Plato famously remarked, “Only the dead see the end of war.”
As lamentable as this is, the story of the COVID-19 Pandemic marks a new chapter of human folly, arrogance, and hubris. The origin of the catastrophe lies in mankind’s understandable desire to eradicate infectious diseases through inoculation. In the American context, this ambition goes back to the great Puritan theologian and scientist, Cotton Mather, who was a towering figure in the early years of Harvard College and a vehement advocate of smallpox inoculation in the early 18th century. However, the sequence of events that culminated in the COVID-19 catastrophe begins with the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918.
I doubt we fully understand the multifactorial causes of the Spanish Flu. As Dr. McCullough and I recount in our book, The Courage to Face COVID-19, scientific understanding of the Spanish Flu was retarded by the opinion of the German bacteriologist, Dr. Richard Pfeiffer. Twenty years earlier he’d claimed that influenza was caused by a bacterium that he isolated from the noses of influenza patients in 1892—a bacterium that he named Bacillus influenzae. Pfeiffer, a close colleague of Robert Koch, made many important discoveries in bacteriology and immunology, so few scientists in 1918 were inclined to question his authority, even when they found no evidence that his bacillus was the causative agent. In 1931, the American virologist Richard Shope conducted experiments on swine that led him to conclude that a virus caused the Spanish Flu (though the severe pneumonia was probably caused by a secondary bacterial infection).
Shope’s viral theory of the Spanish Flu generated great interest in studying respiratory viruses. The Russian botanist, Dimitri Ivanovsky, postulated the existence of viruses in 1892, but the science of virology didn’t really take off until the 1930s. Following the influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968, a network of virologists, infectious disease experts, and vaccine developers emphasized the need for greater preparation for the next pandemic flu. Because the 1957 and 1968 flu pandemics originated in China, scientists in Europe and the United States focused their increasing pandemic planning endeavors on China as the likely origin of the next outbreak.
However, the next novel flu strain didn’t break out in China, but among servicemen stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. To this day, the origin of the 1976 Swine Flu remains a mystery, though it’s notable that it broke out among soldiers living in tight quarters, just as the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak was first observed among soldiers in military training camps in Europe, and later at military bases in the United States.
Until 2002, planning for the next respiratory viral pandemic was focused on influenza viruses. However, with the outbreak of the first SARS coronavirus in China, the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex shifted much of its attention to virulent coronaviruses. SARS-CoV-1 was ultimately traced to caged palm civits for sale at food markets in southern China. These animals were thought to be the intermediate host species in which the virus mutated and evolved to become infectious to humans. In 2005, University of Hong Kong researchers found what appeared to be the original reservoir of SARS-CoV-1—the Chinese rufous horseshoe bat, which lives in large colonies in southern China.
It’s important to note that, prior to 2003, coronaviruses (some of which cause the common cold) were not thought to be particularly dangerous to humans. That all changed with SARS, with its high case fatality rate. However, instead of regarding SARS as something of a fluke caused by unhygienic food market practices in China that could be remedied with stricter regulations, the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex embarked on a massive, high tech adventure to wage preemptive war on the next SARS pandemic that was, we were told, sure to come. It wasn’t a matter of if, but only of when.
The French Connection
BioMérieux is a French in vitro diagnostics company that operates in over 160 countries. The company originated at the Institut Mérieux in Lyon, France, founded by biologist Marcel Mérieux (who was a colleague of Louis Pasteur). Marcel’s grandson, Alain Mérieux, is the company’s chief proprietor and (according to Bloomberg) worth approximately $8.80 billion. A personal acquaintance of Jacques Chirac (French President from 1995-2007), in 2003 (following the outbreak of the first SARS) Mérieux was instrumental in forming a cooperative agreement between France and China to build a BSL-4 lab annex to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The CEO of bioMérieux during the years 2007-2011 was man named Stephane Bancel, who headed the company during the planning phase of the new lab and the training of its Chinese staff at bioMérieux’s facilities in Lyon. In the year 2007, Bancel also oversaw the company’s opening of a new division in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As noted in its annual report:
“The opening in 2007 of a dedicated theranostics division in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), a city with an especially high concentration of biotechnology firms and research centers, puts bioMérieux in a hub for personalized medicine, in direct contact with the most influential players in the field.”
Four years later, in 2011, Bancel left his plum position at bioMérieux to become CEO of the Cambridge startup Moderna. Back then it seemed like a Quixotic decision. After all, the new company had just one employee and was exclusively focused on developing mRNA therapeutics. As Bancel stated in a December 2020 interview, “When I resigned from my last company, bioMerieux, to start on this journey at Moderna, I told my wife there was only a 5% chance it would work out.”
Enter Peter Daszak
Dr. Peter Daszak was born in Ukraine, grew up in England, and moved to New York, where he become CEO of EcoHealth Alliance. Originally the company — called the Wildlife Preservation Trust — was dedicated to preserving wildlife habitat and funded largely by donors who love nature. However, in the early 21st Century, the company increasingly dedicated itself to the proposition that wildlife habitat conservation was not only good for wildlife, but would also help to prevent infectious disease outbreaks by limiting contact between humans and wild animal disease reservoirs. The 2003 SARS outbreak seemed to comport well with this theory, and in 2010, the company changed its name to EcoHealth Alliance and directed its fundraising efforts to obtaining grants from U.S. federal agencies (DoD, Homeland Security, and International Development) that were interested in the business of infectious disease outbreaks.
Peter Daszak (left) and Chinese colleagues in search of bats (right)
The prevailing theory for the emergence of SARS was that it was a direct result of human encroachment into the forested areas of southern China—the habitat range of the rufous horseshoe bat. After suspicion fell on this species in 2005, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology began collaborating with Peter Daszak to catalogue all of the viruses carried by these bats and to ascertain which was most likely to pose a threat to humans.
In 2013, Daszak and his collaborators at the Wuhan Institute of Virology published a paper (in Nature) titled Isolation and characterization of a bat SARS-like coronavirus that uses the ACE2 receptor. They were very excited about it, because for the first time in history, they’d found two wild bat coronaviruses that would bind with the human ACE2 receptor. These two viruses were named:
- Bat SL-CoV-WIV1
Because these two virus species could (Daszak claimed) bind to human ACE2 receptors, they were (Daszak further claimed) of great interest to virologists who are in the business of anticipating which viruses could, in theory, mutate and evolve in order to infect and become transmissible among humans. Though one could rationally argue that the mere fact of SARS in 2003 lent credence to the concern that Bat SL-CoV-WIV1 and SHCO15 could evolve to infect humans, this was a highly theoretical proposition that was based on little empirical observation. Nevertheless, it is impossible to understate the importance of Daszak’s 2013 paper with his WIV colleagues Xing-Ye Ge and Zheng-Li Shi.
Enter Ralph Baric
The world’s greatest authority on coronaviruses is by far the University of North Carolina Professor of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Ralph Baric. In the field of virology, he is a towering eminence, and even critics of his dangerous gain-of-function work on viruses cannot help admiring his extraordinary knowledge and industriousness.
Ralph Baric, master of creating SARS CoVs infectious to humans
in order to protect us from SARS CoVs that could emerge in nature that are infectious to humans.
Shortly after Chinese scientists published the genome of a novel respiratory virus that was apparently causing cases of severe pneumonia in Wuhan, China, Dr. Baric and a few colleagues published a paper in which they described the virus and its taxonomy, and named it SARS-CoV-2.
It’s a notable fact that Wuhan, China lies 1000 kilometers north of Guangdong Province—the habitat of the horseshoe bats that are thought be the natural reservoir of the SARS-CoV viruses that are thought to be the ancestors of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. Equally notable is that fact that—contrary to reports in the mainstream media in early 2020 — there were none of these bats for sale at the Wuhan food market that became the focus of the outbreak investigation.
Wuhan is just one of 155 cities in China that number over 1 million inhabitants, spread out over a national territory about the size of the United States (excluding Alaska). Of all cities in China, it’s a remarkable fact that SARS-CoV-2 was first detected in Wuhan — location of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Dr. Baric knew about SARS coronaviruses in Wuhan because, since 2013, he had worked with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to perform gain-of-function work on Bat SL-CoV-WIV1 and SHCO15. Together with Xing-Ye Ge and Zheng-Li Shi, who had (with Peter Daszak) discovered these viruses in horseshoe bats, Professor Baric published two papers in the years 2015 and 2016.
- A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence (published in Nature Medicine)
- SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS).
In the first paper, Baric and his colleagues describe how they created a “chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone” and named it SHC014-MA15.
In the second paper, Baric and his colleagues describe how they “also produced WIV1-CoV chimeric virus that replaced the SARS spike with the WIV1 spike within the mouse-adapted backbone” and named it WIV1-MA15.
Regarding their first chimera (SHCOI4-MA15) Baric et al. made the bold claim that it:
“can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV.
In the next Chapter, I will examine the content of these two papers, and the events that unfolded between their publication and the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 during the latter half of 2019.
The Great SARS-CoV-2 Charade: Chapter II
Events between 2015-2020: Creating chimeric viruses that will infect humans
The following is Chapter II in a four-part series about the true origin of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 illness. For Background and Context, please see Chapter I. Because of the great deal of time and effort that went into researching this report, I initially published it for paid subscribers only, but this morning a close friend persuaded me that because of its critical importance, there should be no limit placed on its distribution.
As noted in Chapter I, starting in 2013, UNC Professor Ralph Baric worked with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to perform gain-of-function work on Bat SL-CoV-WIV1 and SHCO15 coronaviruses. His collaboration with GeXing-Ye and Shi Zhengli began shortly after they (along with Peter Daszak) discovered these two viruses in horseshoe bats in southern China. Xing-Ye, Zhengli, and Daszak published their discovery in Nature magazine in a 2013 paper titled Isolation and characterization of a bat SARS-like coronavirus that uses the ACE2 receptor. They were very excited about it, because for the first time in history, they found a wild bat coronavirus that would bind with a human ACE2 receptor—a protein (enzyme) on the surface of many cell types.
With this important discovery, Baric commenced work with his Chinese colleagues to fashion these two viruses into two new chimeric viruses that would infect the human respiratory tract. They reported their results in papers published in 2015 and 2016.
1). A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence (published in Nature Medicine)
2). SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
It’s important to understand that a chimeric virus is one that combines genetic material from two or more different viruses. The word comes from the Greek chimera — a mythical monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and serpent’s tail.
Chimera, mythical monster and ultimate expression of the unnatural.
They recounted their process for creating the chimeric virus as follows:
“In contrast, 7 of 14 ACE2-interaction residues in SHC014 are different from those in SARS-CoV, including all five residues critical for host range. These changes, coupled with the failure of pseudotyped lentiviruses expressing the SHC014 spike to enter cells, suggested that the SHC014 spike is unable to bind human ACE2. However, similar changes in related SARS-CoV strains had been reported to allow ACE2 binding, suggesting that additional functional testing was required for verification. Therefore, we synthesized the SHC014 spike in the context of the replication-competent, mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone (we hereafter refer to the chimeric CoV as SHC014-MA15) to maximize the opportunity for pathogenesis and vaccine studies in mice.”
It would be hard to find a more perfect description of gain-of-function work. Indeed, as they state in their “Biosafety and biosecurity” section:
“Reported studies were initiated after the University of North Carolina Institutional Biosafety Committee approved the experimental protocol. These studies were initiated before the US Government Deliberative Process Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS and SARS Viruses (This paper has been reviewed by the funding agency, the NIH. Continuation of these studies was requested, and this has been approved by the NIH).
In other words, because the project was initially approved before the Pause on GOF research, it was allowed to continue even after the pause was initiated. This is the equivalent of imposing a speed limit in a new urban development on everyone except people who used the road before the speed limit was imposed — that is,“You guys who drove here when it was just a country road may still drive 60 MPH on it, even though it now passes through a newly constructed school zone.”
Shortly after Baric et al. published their first paper in Nature Medicine, they published another paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence in which they created another chimeric virus using bat SL-CoV-WIV1, which they called WIV1-MA15.
In the Discussion section, the authors note:
“Overall, the results from these studies highlight the utility of a platform that leverages metagenomics findings and reverse genetics to identify prepandemic threats. For SARS-like WIV1-CoV, the data can inform surveillance programs, improve diagnostic reagents, and facilitate effective treatments to mitigate future emergence events. However, building new and chimeric reagents must be carefully weighed against potential gain-of-function (GOF) concerns. Whereas not generally expected to increase pathogenicity, studies that build reagents based on viruses from animal sources cannot exclude the possibility of increased virulence or altered immunogenicity that promote escape from current countermeasures. As such, the potential of a threat, real or perceived, may cause similar exploratory studies to be limited out of an “abundance of caution.” Importantly, the government pause on GOF studies may have already impacted the scope and direction of these studies.”
In 2017, Ng and Tan (at the University of Singapore) published a paper titled Understanding bat SARS-like coronaviruses for the preparation of future coronavirus outbreaks — Implications for coronavirus vaccine development in which they recount the important recent discovery of SHCOI4 and the chimeric SHC014-MA15, which demonstrate that bat coronaviruses COULD infect humans on an epidemic scale. The authors therefore emphasize humanity’s need to work on vaccines in order to counter this possible threat.
The 2015, 2016, and 2017 papers reveal the prevailing doctrine in this field of applied research:
- Find viruses in nature that could evolve to infect humans.
- Tinker with them in the lab to make them infectious to humans.
- Create (potentially profitable) vaccines in order to counter the possibility that the infectious virus you just created could eventually, through the natural process of viral mutation and evolution, come about in nature. In the event that it does, you can use your new vaccine to counter it.
Though none of the papers mention the potential military application of this technology, it’s easy to imagine the strategic value of possessing an infectious viral respiratory pathogen AND a vaccine that will protect one’s people from it.
The creation of the chimeric viruses SHC014-MA15 and WIV1-MA15 raises a number of questions:
- Given that Baric and his Chinese colleagues worked together to create these chimeric viruses, it is logical to infer that they kept samples of them in their labs at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and at the University of North Carolina. Were these chimeric viruses used for additional studies or to challenge SARS coronavirus vaccine candidates?
- Were additional genetic modifications made to these chimeric viruses—that is, modifications that ultimately resulted in the creation of SARS-CoV-2?
- Were these chimeric viruses a proof of concept that spawned the creation of additional chimeric viruses? If so, where are they?
- Was SARS-Cov-2 created at the WIV—using gain-of-function technology and models provided by Dr. Baric—and then simply concealed from international investigators?
- Have ANY independent investigators compared SHC014-MA15 and WIV1-MA15 to SARS-CoV-2?
In Chapter III of this series, I will show how no serious effort has been made to answer these questions. In February of 2020, Shi Zhengli (Ralph Baric’s principle colleague at the WIV) told Scientific American that when the strange new cases of pneumonia emerged in Wuhan, she compared the SARS-CoV-2 sequence with the genetic sequences of the coronaviruses samples in her lab:
“Shi instructed her group to repeat the tests and, at the same time, sent the samples to another facility to sequence the full viral genomes. Meanwhile she frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. 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.'”
Mainstream media outlets throughout the West interpreted Shi Zhengli’s statement as settling the matter. She was, it seemed, a perfectly reliable witness who would never conceal anything that could generate historically unprecedented liabilities for herself, her lab, and for her country, and nor would she ever come under duress from state officials to do so. Scientific American also seemed strangely satisfied with her statement that the novel virus matched none of the sequences of “viruses her team had sampled from bat caves.” What about the chimeric viruses she’d created with Ralph Baric five years earlier?
Peter Daszak’s Project Defuse
On 24 March 2018, Peter Daszak submitted a proposal to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, titled Project DEFUSE: Defusing the Threat of Bat-borne Coronaviruses. The proposal sought $14,209,245 from DARPA. The project involved working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Ralph Baric, and other scientists to create and deploy an aerosolized product for spraying into bat caves in Yunnan Province (south China) in order to inoculate bats and up-regulate their immune systems with additional agents in order to defuse the threat of SARS-CoV viruses that were deemed to pose a risk to human health.
This proposal to stimulate bat colony herd immunity specifically mentioned viruses of special interest:
“We have isolated three strains there (WIV1, WIV16 and SHC014) that unlike other SARSr-CoVs, do not contain two deletions in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of the spike, have far higher sequence identity to SARS-CoV, use human ACE2 receptor for cell entry, as SARS-CoV does, and replicate efficiently in various animal and human cells, including primary human lung airway cells, similar to epidemic SARS-CoV.
Chimeras (recombinants) with these SARSr-CoV S genes inserted into a SARS-CoV backbone, and synthetically reconstructed full length SHCO14 and WIV1 cause SARS-like illness in humanised mice (mice expressing human ACE2), with clinical signs that are not reduced by SARS-CoV monoclonal antibody therapy or vaccination.”
After SARS-CoV-2 was sequenced in 2020, virologists all over the world marveled that part of its genetic code featured inserts for a furin cleavage site—that is, a segment of four amino acids that enables a virus to use furin in the human body as an enzyme to dissolve its coating so that it can release its genetic material to infect cells.
On page 13 of the proposal, Daszak wrote:
“We will analyze all SARS-CoV gene sequences for appropriately conserved proteolytic cleavage sites in S2 and for the presence of potential furin cleavage sites. SARS-CoV with mismatches in proteolytic cleavage sites can be activated by exogenous trypsin or cathepsin L. Where clear mismatches occur, we will introduce appropriate human specific cleavage sites and evaluate growth potential in Vero cell and HAE cultures. In SARS CoV, we will ablate several of these sites based on pseudotyped particle studies and evaluate the impact of select SARSr-CoVS changes on virus replication and pathogenesis.”
Apparently realizing that Daszak was proposing dangerous gain-of-function research and a potentially dangerous inoculation experiment (with unforeseen consequences) on bat colonies, DARPA turned down the grant proposal. About 1.5 years after SARS-CoV-2 emerged, a whistleblower leaked the DEFUSE grant proposal, and researchers all over the world noticed statement on page 13 about introducing “appropriate human specific cleavage sites and evaluate growth potential in Vero cell and HAE cultures.”
When Peter Daszak was asked about this, he replied that it was a moot point, given that DARPA had turned down the proposal. Nevertheless, given the history of the project’s participants (Ralph Baric and his WIV colleagues), suspicion was raised that they had already performed much of the work they were proposing and seeking money for. As Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright pointed out:
“In the molecular life sciences, it is the norm to begin, and often make substantial progress on, new lines of research before seeking and obtaining funding for the research,” said Ebright. It would be unusual for a research group with multiple current lines of funding not to have started a new line of research before obtaining funding for it, and it would be almost unheard of for a group with multiple current lines of support not to proceed with a new line of research simply because an application for an additional line of funding application was not approved.”
The Return of the French Connection
In a May 21, 2020 investigative report, the French news magazine MediaPart recounted:
“The maximum-level biosafety laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology … was built with the help of French experts and under the guidance of French billionaire businessman Alain Mérieux, despite strong objections by health and defense officials in Paris. Since the laboratory’s inauguration by prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve in 2017, however, France has had no supervisory role in the running of the facility and planned cooperation between French researchers and the laboratory has come to a grinding halt.”
The Franco-Chinese Agreement to build the lab was executed in 2004 and construction was completed in 2015. Precisely as some French defense officials had warned, the Chinese did NOT abide by the Agreement’s provision for French scientists to remain in supervisory positions at the lab. When the lab opened for operations, it was entirely in the hands of Chinese administrators.
Just before the lab opened, Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright issued a stark warning to the world that it was not properly equipped and staffed to contain such dangerous pathogens. Shortly after the lab opened (on January 19, 2018) a State Department official posted at the US Embassy in Beijing sent a cable to Washington, warning that the “new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”
The new BSL-4 lab at the WIV is linked by a walkway to the older, BSL-3 laboratory, where Shi Zhengli worked when she collaborated with Ralph Baric in creating SHC014-MA15 and WIV1-MA15. Here it is important to remember that it was her team (along with Peter Daszak) that collected the original SHCO14 and WIV1 viruses from horseshoe bats in southern China. It’s clear from their 2015 paper that both the BSL-3 lab in Wuhan and Ralph Baric’s BSL-3 lab at UNC Chapel Hill worked on the viruses.
“SARS-CoV is a select agent. All work for these studies was performed with approved standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety conditions for SARS-CoV, MERs-CoV and other related CoVs. Our institutional CoV BSL3 facilities have been designed to conform to the safety requirements that are recommended in the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the NIH”.
Regarding who supported the creation of the SARS-CoV virus, the authors write in their Acknowledgements:
“Research in this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease and the National Institute of Aging of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and by USAID-EPT-PREDICT funding from EcoHealth Alliance.
With joint funding from the NIAID and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and with the original, natural viruses provided by Shi Zhengli’s team at the WIV, it’s a reasonable inference that BOTH labs kept samples of the chimeric viruses that they created together. What did Ralph Baric do with his samples between the years 2015 and 2020?
Moderna’s Curious 2016 Patent
On February 21, 2022, Frontiers in Virology published a report titled MSH3 Homology and Potential Recombination Link to SARS-CoV-2 Furin Cleavage Site. The Furin Cleavage Site is the component of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that enables the virus to dock onto human lung epithelial cells, thereby initiating the viral infection and replication process. It is an important feature of SARS-CoV-2 that made it infectious to humans. Examining the genetic code of this part of the spike protein, the authors noted that part of the sequence was a perfect match to a genetic sequence patented in 2016 by Bancel S. et al. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein and MSH3: a peculiar feature of the nucleotide sequence encoding the PRRA furin cleavage site in the SARS-CoV-2 S protein is its two consecutive CGG codons. This arginine codon is rare in coronaviruses: relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) of CGG in pangolin CoV is 0, in bat CoV 0.08, in SARS-CoV 0.19, in MERS-CoV 0.25, and in SARS-CoV-2 0.299 (8).
A BLAST search for the 12-nucleotide insertion led us to a 100% reverse match in a proprietary sequence (SEQ ID11652, nt 2751-2733) found in the US patent 9,587,003 filed on Feb. 4, 2016.”
On the question of whether this perfect match could be mere coincidence, the authors noted:
Conventional biostatistical analysis indicates that the probability of this sequence randomly being present in a 30,000-nucleotide viral genome is 3.21×10^-11 [approximately 1 in 3 trillion].
The Daily Mail reported the Frontiers in Virology report, which prompted Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo to question Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel about his 2016 gene patent. His cool brushoff was suggestive of a man unconcerned about media queries. Why should he be? When it comes to the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex, the US mainstream media rarely asks tough questions, and never pursues serious inquiry.
Inquisitive viewers might have wondered: Who is Stéphane Bancel, and why is a French national heading a Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech that was originally funded by a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grant?
As I recounted in Chapter I of this series, Bancel was the CEO of BioMérieux in the years 2007-11, when the French in vitro diagnostics company was in the early stages of planning and building a new BSL-4 lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In 2011, Bancel left his plum position at bioMérieux to become CEO of Moderna. At the time it seemed like a Quixotic decision, because the company was just a concept, and not a going concern.
However, two years later, in 2013—the same year that Ralph Baric started collaborating with colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to perform gain-of-function work on bat coronaviruses, Moderna drew interest from DARPA, which awarded it a $25 million grant to develop messenger mRNA therapeutics.
Sometime around 2015—the same year in which Ralph Baric published his initial paper on the chimeric virus he created with his collaborators at the WIV with research funding provided by the NIAID—Moderna also began collaborating with the NIAID to develop mRNA vaccines against SARS and MERS coronaviruses.
In the year 2016, Bancel et al. filed for their patent of the genetic sequence for part of the coronavirus spike protein furin cleavage site — the same genetic sequence that was, four years later, found in the furin cleavage site of SARS-CoV-2.
Bancel’s decision to leave bioMerieux to lead Moderna worked out well. On March 16, 2020—just five days after the WHO declared SARS-CoV-2 to be the causative agent of a worldwide pandemic, NIAID issued a press release stating it had commenced human trials of its mRNA-1273 vaccine.
mRNA-1273 was developed by NIAID scientists and their collaborators at the biotechnology company Moderna, Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) supported the manufacturing of the vaccine candidate for the Phase 1 clinical trial.
A conspicuous feature of the development timeline for mRNA-1273 is a MATERIAL TRANSFER AGREEMENT (see pages 105-107) from NIAID/Moderna (“Provider”) to Ralph Baric (“Research Recipient”). The Agreement specifies the transfer of “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates developed and jointly owned by NIAID and Moderna” to Dr. Baric “to perform challenge studies with the mRNA vaccine.”
The Agreement is signed by Ralph Baric on December 12, 2019—19 days before the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission informed the WHO China Country Office of “cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China on December 31, 2019, and 24 days before the genome of SARS-CoV-2 was published on January 5, 2020.
Why did NIAID and Moderna believe that Dr. Baric was equipped to challenge their “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates”? Did they provide Dr. Baric with the coronaviruses to be used for his challenge studies, or did he already possess them in his laboratory?
This collaboration, which came about on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, proved to be very profitable for NIAID and Moderna. Less than a year later—with the United States government relentlessly pushing Moderna’s mRNA and Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines as the ONLY solution to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel became a billionaire.
The Great SARS-CoV-2 Charade: Chapter III
Catastrophe, Coverup, and the Great Charade
The following is Chapter III in a four-part series about the true origin of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 illness. Please also see Chapter I: Background and Context, and Chapter II: Creating Chimeric Viruses That Will Infect Humans.
While Congress has demonstrated a conspicuous lack of rigor in examining the role played by American scientists and institutions in creating SARS-CoV-2, some representatives have taken a fairly hard look at China’s role in the disaster. Republican Michael T. McCaul, lead minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a report on the Origins of COVID-19: An Investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology that is worth reading in full. An especially intriguing section of the report pertains to the WIV’s Disappearing Database:
“The Disappearing Database: On September 12, 2019 the WIV’s online, public database of samples and virus sequences was taken offline in the middle of the night between 2:00AM and 3:00AM local time. The database contained more than 22,000 entries consisting of sample and pathogen data collected from bats and mice. The database contained key information about each sample, including what type of animal it was collected from, where it was collected, whether the virus was successfully isolated, the type of virus collected, and its similarity to other known viruses.
To date, there has been no consistent answer provided as to why the database was removed or when or if it will be put back online. Shi is listed as the data correspondence author for the project. When questioned about the database being taken offline, Shi has given several conflicting answers. During a December 2020 interview with BBC, Shi said the database was taken offline for ‘security reasons’ after cyberattacks against the work and personal emails of WIV staff. She also insisted that WIV virus sequences were saved in the GenBank database, run by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Shi stated, ‘It’s completely transparent. We have nothing to hide.’ In a January 26, 2021 email to someone inquiring about the database, however, Shi stated the database was taken down due to cyberattacks ‘during [the] COVID-19 pandemic.’ She also claimed that researchers had ‘only entered a limit[ed] data in this database’ despite it having more than 22,000 entries.
In an apparent contradiction of her BBC interview, Shi admitted that “access to the visitors is limited,” but maintains: …all our work regarding the different type of bat coronavirus (partial sequences or full-length genome sequences) have been published and the sequence and sample information have been submitted to GenBank. At the end of her email, Shi writes, ‘I’ll not answer any of your questions if your curiosity is based on the conspiracy of ‘man made or lab leak of SARS-CoV-2’ or some non-sense questions based on your suspicion. No trust, no conversation’ “
The WIV’s “Disappearing Database” is one of many moments in this strange saga in which it is implied that our Leviathan intelligence apparatus in Washington wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in Wuhan — a large modern city in which the United States, France, and Great Britain have consulates that are doubtless full of human intelligence assets.
In fact, it’s hard to imagine that someone who works in the Bio-Surveillance side of U.S. or French or British intelligence wasn’t watching the Wuhan Institute of Virology, whose lead researcher had been the recipient of cutting edge French and U.S. biotechnology. To my knowledge, no one in the French or U.S. governments has seriously tackled the question of WHY sophisticated biotechnology of potentially vast commercial and military value was shared with a Chinese institution, given China’s well-known practice of stealing intellectual property and its ambition to become a dominant world power.
A good investigator would examine the hypothesis that a lab leak was suspected and confirmed in the weeks prior to September 12, 2019, and that someone in the western Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex or the WHO office in China learned about it.
Six days after the WIV database disappeared, on September 18, 2019, a report titled A World At Risk was published by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which was founded in 2018 by the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization.
The report’s title page is illustrated with an image of a coronavirus, and its text is an urgent call to action for the world to invest far more in preparedness for a respiratory viral pandemic. As the report states on page 8:
What is most notable about the report is that it mentions NOTHING about the need to invest in bolstering bio-laboratory safety. It expressly warns about the threat of a lethal respiratory pathogen “accidentally or deliberately released,” but its entire call to action is to invest a fortune to responding to such a pathogen instead of preventing it from being released in the first place.
The report is based on a Sept. 10, 2019, study prepared by a Johns Hopkins team for the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, which includes Antony Fauci, Jeremy Farrar (head of the Wellcome Trust) and George Gao (Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention from August 2017 to July 2022).
About six weeks later, October 19, 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Security, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum, conducted a Pandemic Simulation Exercise. As Johns Hopkins described the event:
“The center’s latest pandemic simulation, Event 201, dropped participants right in the midst of an uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak that was spreading like wildfire out of South America to wreak worldwide havoc. As fictional newscasters from “GNN” narrated, the immune-resistant virus (nicknamed CAPS) was crippling trade and travel, sending the global economy into freefall. Social media was rampant with rumors and misinformation, governments were collapsing, and citizens were revolting.”
Note that in this simulation, the “uncontrolled coronavirus outbreak” originates in South America and not in China, even though that latter country had long been regarded as the likely location of the next coronavirus outbreak. This strikes me as a rather crude misdirection.
It seems very unlikely that the above events in September and October of 2019 — just a few months before SARS-CoV-2 was officially detected and announced — were just a coincidence. To be sure, many of the people who were privy to these events were not fully aware of what was going on. Full knowledge was probably limited to a handful of intelligence and public health officials in China and the United States.
As was noted in Chapter II of this four-part series, a conspicuous feature of the development timeline for Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is a MATERIAL TRANSFER AGREEMENT (see pages 105-107) from NIAID/Moderna (“Provider”) to Ralph Baric (“Research Recipient”). The Agreement specifies the transfer of “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates developed and jointly owned by NIAID and Moderna” to Dr. Baric “to perform challenge studies with the mRNA vaccine.” Dr. Baric signed the Agreement on December 12, 2019 — 19 days before the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission informed the WHO China Country Office of “cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China on December 31, 2019, and 24 days before the genome of SARS-CoV-2 was published on January 5, 2020.
The genome was officially published by Chinese authorities on January 11, 2020. Two days later, on January 13, Moderna “finalized the sequence for mRNA-1273, the Company’s vaccine against the novel coronavirus.”
This raises the suspicion that NIAID, Moderna, and Ralph Baric became aware of the SARS coronavirus outbreak long before it was officially announced on December 31, 2019.
Dr. Fauci E-Mails With Jeremy Farrar and Virologist Friends
On January 31, 2020, Anthony Fauci received an E-mail from Jeremy Farrar, Director of the UK’s Wellcome Trust.
“Tony, really would like to speak with you this evening,” he wrote.
“Will call shortly,” came an emailed response from Fauci’s assistant.
Farrar then wrote to Fauci: “Thanks Tony. Can you phone Kristian Anderson [sic] … He is expecting your call now. The people involved are: Kristian Anderson … Bob Garry … Eddie Holmes.” Farrar was referring to the eminent virologists Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research, Robert Garry of Tulane University, and Edward Holmes of the University of Sydney.”
Fauci had his phone call with Andersen that night, and what he heard clearly disturbed him. In an email to Farrar after the call, he wrote the following: “I told [Andersen] that as soon as possible he and Eddie Holmes should get a group of evolutionary biologists together to examine carefully the data to determine if his concerns are validated. He should do this very quickly and if everyone agrees with this concern, they should report it to the appropriate authorities. I would imagine that in the USA this would be the FBI and in the UK it would be MI5.”
What made Dr. Fauci so concerned that he thought it possibly warranted getting law enforcement involved? The answer doubtless lies in the e-mail that Kristian Andersen wrote to him that same night:
“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,” Andersen wrote in the email. “I should mention,” he added, “that after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.“
In another e-mail, Jeremy Farrar reported that Michael Farzan was “70:30” or “60:40” in favor of an “accidental-release” explanation and that “Bob”— an apparent reference to Robert Garry — was also surprised by the presence of a furin cleavage site in this virus. Farrar quoted Bob saying: “I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature. … it’s stunning.”
As was further reported in the Intercept:
Thus began a scramble to probe in private the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The following day, Saturday, February 1, Farrar organized a conference call with Fauci, Andersen, Holmes, Garry, and several other scientists, including Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh and Ron Fouchier, a prominent Dutch virologist whose work experimenting with the H5N1 influenza virus has sparked controversy in the past. Also invited on the call were Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the U.K. government, and Collins. This “close knit group,” as Farrar later described it, was to treat their discussion “in total confidence.”
Fauci spent part of the morning before the 2 p.m. ET conference call brushing up on what sorts of grants and collaborations his agency was involved in with research institutions in China. In an email to his deputy Hugh Auchincloss, he wrote: “It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on. … You will have tasks today that must be done.”
Here it is worth noting that Fauci, Farrar, and their virologist friends are not only communicating by E-mail, but also making references to communicating by phone. It is likely they were aware of the fact that their E-mails might someday be subpoenaed, so the content of their phone conversations was probably more alarming.
Conspicuously absent from this pow-wow was Ralph Baric, who, as everyone else on the thread well knew, was the world’s foremost authority on SARS CoVs. During the same period these guys were corresponding and chatting with each other, Baric was working on a paper with Christian Drosten (a leading virologist at Berlin’s Charite University Hospital) and other virologists to describe the precise taxonomy of the novel virus. I mention Drosten because, on February 8, 2020, Farrar wrote to him to seek his opinion. And yet, no one on the E-mail thread proposed seeking Ralph Baric’s opinion.
This E-mail exchange — which was later obtained by a FOIA request — has numerous charade elements — that is, the authors are aware they cannot completely ignore the extremely unusual features of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence that “are inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.” At the same time, they express a stunning reluctance to address in writing the rampaging bull Elephant in the Room — namely, the origin of the outbreak was in the vicinity of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The closest that any of these guys came to addressing this elephant was Kristian Andersen, who wrote on February 8:
“The fact that Wuhan became the epicenter of the ongoing epidemic caused by nCoV [novel coronavirus] is likely an unfortunate coincidence, but it raises questions that would be wrong to dismiss out of hand. Our main work over the last couple of weeks has been focused on trying to disprove any type of lab theory, but we are at a crossroad where the scientific evidence isn’t conclusive enough to say that we have high confidence in any of the three main theories considered.”
A Remarkable About Face
Something persuaded Kristian Andersen and Robert Garry to change their tune in short order, because soon after they exchanged these E-mails, they got to work on a paper that was accepted for publication on March 6, 2020. Their paper was titled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” and it was published in Nature Medicine—the same journal that published Ralph Baric’s 2015 paper about creating a chimeric coronavirus with his colleagues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology—a virus that “can …. replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV.”
When it came to authoring their Proximal Origin paper for the world to read, they dropped their concerns about the virus’s possible lab origins like a ton of bricks. Unequivocally they stated:
Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.
This paper was reported by the mainstream media as settling the matter. A notable example was a March 27 ABC News report headlined “Sorry conspiracy theorists. Study concludes Covid-19 ‘is not a laboratory construct.” Referring to the extraordinary and singular furin cleavage site, the ABC reporter wrote:
COVID-19 is 96% identical to a coronavirus found in bats, researchers said, but with a certain variation that could explain what has made it so infectious.
Robert Garry — who’d privately told Jeremy Farrar, “I just can’t figure out how this gets accomplished in nature”—told this reporter a few weeks later:
We know from the study of other coronaviruses that they’re able to acquire this variation and they can then become more pathogenic. This is a good explanation as to why this virus is so transmittable and has caused this pandemic.
What investigation did Professor Gary and his colleagues perform between their February conversation with Jeremy Farrar and their drafting of the Proximal Origin manuscript during the following fortnight?
The virologists exchanged hopeful e-mails that a pangolin — a peculiar scaled mammal that is critically endangered as a result of illegal poaching for its meat and hide — could be the source of the virus. However, this was just wishful thinking, because SARS-CoV-2 had not and never would be traced to a pangolin.
What exactly did Kristian Andersen — who’d just told Anthony Fauci he’d found “the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory” — see that caused him to change his mind in such a striking way? Tough to say, but according to Dr. Andrew Huff:
“Dr. Andersen’s funding from NIH and NIAID dramatically increased after he reversed his position that SARS-CoV-2 had all the signatures of being engineered. In fact, his funding in 2020 increased at a rate that I have never heard of or seen in the field of emerging infectious diseases research. His “continuing funding,” a statistic used by government agencies that fund research, nearly triples from $7,141,011 to $23,724,68I.
Not to be outdone by these doctors’ tour de force of Machiavellian duplicity, Jeremy Farrar also penned a a piece in the Lancet titled Statement in support of the scientists, public health professionals, and medical professionals of China combatting COVID-19 in which he condemned the conspiracy theorists who dared to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 came out of a lab.
“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”
The critical reader may wonder: Why is the perfectly rational concern that SARS-CoV-2 may have escaped from the WIV deemed a “conspiracy theory” — a pejorative label that is often applied to belittle and dismiss critical questioning of official assertions?
Joining Farrar was the great orchestrator himself—Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance, who’d played the key role in organizing and funding GOF research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
As the WHO saw it, Dr. Daszak was one of the world’s most qualified experts to investigate the origin of SARS-CoV-2, and so he was appointed to a WHO investigative team that travelled to Wuhan to get to the bottom of it. In March of 2021 he and his team submitted their Joint Report on the Origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The 120-page document gives the superficial impression of investigative rigor by presenting a long catalogue of genetic sequences of coronaviruses found in nature, but the researchers are unable to match any of them with SARS-CoV-2. Likewise, the researchers present testing survey data on a wide array of wild animals and animals for sale at Chinese food markets, but were unable to find SARS-CoV-2 present in any of them.
The final, ten-page section, titled POSSIBLE PATHWAYS OF EMERGENCE, presents the following hypothetical pathways, and assigns a likelihood to each of them.
” — direct zoonotic transmission (also termed: spillover)/ possible to likely
— introduction through an intermediate host followed by zoonotic transmission/ likely to very likely.
— introduction through the cold/ food chain/ possible.
— introduction through a laboratory incident/ extremely unlikely.”
While Daszak and his colleagues assign the greatest likelihood to “introduction through an intermediate host followed by zoonotic transmission,” they do not identify even a candidate species for the intermediate host. When SARS emerged in 2003, caged palm civits, for sale at food markets in southern China were identified as the intermediate host. Subsequent research generated the hypothesis that bats were the original reservoir. To date, no one has been able to trace any such zoonotic evolution of SARS-CoV-2.
Only the last page of the 120-page report addresses the hypothetical possibility of a laboratory incident. As Daszak and his colleagues wrote:
“There has been speculation regarding the presence of human ACE2 receptor binding and a furin-cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2, but both have been found in animal viruses as well, and elements of the furin-cleavage site are present in RmYN02 and the new Thailand bat SARSr-CoV. There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019, or genomes that in combination could provide a SARS-CoV-2 genome. …
In view of the above, a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely”
Note that the authors (including Peter Daszak) do not mention the pioneering discovery of SHCOI4, with its ACE2 binding ability, by Daszak and his WIV colleagues, which they reported in 2013. The authors also don’t mention the chimeric virus, SHC014-MA15, created by Baric and the same WIV colleagues in 2015— that is, the chimeric virus that would bind to the human ACE2 receptor and “replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV.”
The authors of the WHO Joint Report provide no supporting evidence that “There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019,” and nor do they acknowledge the possibility that such records may have been destroyed. They merely make this assertion. They do not mention the chimeric virus SHC014-MA15 or ask if the WIV kept samples of it in their BSL-3 lab or if they transferred the samples to their new BSL-4 lab that was opened in January 2018.
In June of 2021, Vanity Fair pointed out that Dr. Daszak — a key figure in the WHO commission to investigate the origin or SARS-CoV-2 — was one of the coauthors of the March 7, 2020 Lancet statement, condemning as “conspiracy theory” any suggestion that the virus was not of natural origin. It’s a testament to the current abysmal state of our media and public institutions that this was presented as a revelation. Dr. Daszak coauthored this statement and published it in a prestigious medical journal (accessed millions of times in the spring of 2020). Nevertheless, it was only when Vanity Fair pointed it out that the WHO decided that he had a conflict of interest and dismissed him from the investigative team.