COVID-19: Born in North Carolina, Sold to Wuhan Lab, Optimized for Pandemic Spread
Emerging evidence strongly suggests a research collaboration between a North Carolina scientist and two Wuhan, Chinese microbiologists is the smoking gun in the creation and release of the COVID-19 superbug. A coronavirus synthesized in two laboratories on opposite sides of the world into a chimera viral monstrosity, optimized for infectious spread and with a lethality 20 times that of the common influenza.
My initial research on the COVID-19 outbreak led nearly immediately to the work of Dr. Ralph Baric. A microbiologist and chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina who had raised the eyebrows and the ire of the immunological community in 2015 by undertaking an unauthorized “gain of function” study for the synthesis of a supercharged SARS coronavirus. Work strictly forbidden by both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Both Baric’s hubris in ignoring a CDC/WHO contravention against gain of function studies and his clear disregard for the consequences of his activities immediately captured instinctual attention as someone whose activities bore closer inspection for potential connection to the Wuhan crisis that is now a global pathogen gaining momentum with each passing day.
All that was missing was a direct connection between Baric’s maverick killer coronavirus research and the BSL-4 lab in Wuhan at the (Wuhan Institute for Science and Technology) that serves as China’s only bioweapons research facility, located in the very city where the COVID-19 pandemic began.
If only I’d read the finest of fine print sooner. Buried in the minutiae of Baric’s published study documents, two barely credited collaborators in the gain of function coronavirus study: Doctors Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli-Li. Microbiology and immunology researchers working at Wuhan Institute for Science and Technology, undertaking precisely the same gain of function study for a newly augmented coronavirus. A respiratory superbug with a particularly infectious surface protein array (SHC014) and the innards of a pneumococcal killer. The precursor to COVID-19.
But first, more background.
In 2015 Dr. Baric’s researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill raised the ire of some in the infectious disease community when they contravened a ban on particularly hazardous “Gain of Function” laboratory studies successfully engineering a virus that combined the highly adaptable SHC014 surface protein array with common SARS, producing a potential pandemic supervirus that proved fatal across species lines, infecting human lung cells and killing mice in laboratory trials. The CDC had banned all gain of function testing on American soil in October of 2013, but eventually issued a ruling allowing North Carolina virologist, Dr. Ralph Baric to continue his work because his study had predated the ban by a matter of weeks.
The creation of such a new, non-natural risk to human health triggered bioethics backlash and criticism from around the world, with several elite virologists and infectious disease specialists slamming Dr. Baric’s work as potentially catastrophic, irresponsible and an unnecessary risk, given that previous studies of past outbreaks had already confirmed the near seamless transitory capacity of the SHC014 protein array in humans. Baric’s work also demonstrated once again the ease with which existing viral pathogens can be lab altered and optimized, both for maximum infection potential and lethality in humans.
Contrary to public understanding, coronavirus refers not to a specific infection like the present outbreak originating in Wuhan, China, but to a broad spectrum of viruses with similar “coronal” surface protein features that allow them to bind to and infect human cells without first incubating and mutating in a second or third host species. The SHC014 corona protein is native to the Horseshoe Bat, a prevalent bat species in China that are both captured and sold live, butchered and cooked or fried whole as crunchy street food fare in markets across China. (I’ve eaten them.)
Because of their unique adaptability and highly mutagenic nature, direct crossover viruses like coronavirus are of particular human health risk and are responsible for some of the most virulent outbreaks in history, including Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan and Marburg, (similar and similarly deadly hemorrhagic fever filoviruses also originating in bats but with direct demonstrated infectious capacity in both simians and humans) as well as SARS, and MERS, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. Patient Zero as the first recorded case of Ebola was a vacationing Frenchman who camped near Mt. Elgon in Kenya in 1980 and is believed to have ventured inside nearby Kitum Cave, home to a colony of African fruit bats potentially numbering in the millions. The man died horribly only days later, hemorrhaging to death as his organs liquefied and ‘bled out.’
Bat viruses are very often, potential slate wipers in humans. And it is that lethality that has made these airborne superbugs intriguing fare for researchers often willing to take ungodly risks in the name of science. And potential profit. Far more troublingly, it also endows these pathogens with effective layers of plausible deniability for bioweapons research, development and deployment, cloaked in statistical relevance of an Asian petri dish where cross-species disease leaping is generational fact.
Translation: If you were going to commit bioweapons genocide against the human race, releasing an engineered bat-originated, cross-species superbug in a Chinese city would be close to the perfect crime. Ease of replication. Plausible deniability. And you’d need a scanning electron microscope and the wherewithal to use it to ever deduce the forensic truth.
One can very easily imagine a materials for play scenario that went something like this:
Dr. Baric is given his original bat virus feeder stock from the plentiful populations of Horseshoe bat colonies near Wuhan which are natural carriers of coronaviruses like the common cold. After successfully harvesting and modifying hosted common coronavirus with the SHC014 protein array, Dr. Baric negotiates a transfer of the newly augmented virus back to the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory as compensation for parallel study. Chinese researchers immediately go to work on further modifications, including for reasons unknown, the incorporation of HIV genetic markers, creating a virus that prefers the much stronger furin catalyst protein bond cleavage site, a bond 1,000 times stronger than the ACE2 protein bond of typical SARS coronavirus. Not a mutation, but a scientific augmentation for a clearly weaponized designer pathogen.
And in early December, the world is witness to the first case of COVID-19. A coronavirus with the SHC014 protein array, known to be housed at the Wuhan BSL-4 lab, roughly 700 feet from the “seafood market” that was initially blamed as the site origin of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak that is now sweeping the world.