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Is the Coronavirus a Bioweapon? By Brian Simpson

     One conspiracy theory on the internet has it that like in the zombie apocalypse movies in the series Resident Evil, the coronavirus is an escaped bioweapon:
  https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/real-umbrella-corp-wuhan-ultra-biohazard-lab-was-studying-worlds-most-dangerous-pathogens

“In February 2017, Nature penned an extensive profile of what it called the "Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens." The location of this BSL-4 rated lab? Why, Wuhan. A quick read of what this lab was meant to do, prompts the immediate question whether the coronavirus epidemic isn't a weaponized virus that just happened to escape the lab: The Wuhan lab cost 300 million yuan (US$44 million), and to allay safety concerns it was built far above the flood plain and with the capacity to withstand a magnitude-7 earthquake, although the area has no history of strong earthquakes. It will focus on the control of emerging diseases, store purified viruses and act as a World Health Organization ‘reference laboratory’ linked to similar labs around the world. “It will be a key node in the global biosafety-lab network,” says lab director Yuan Zhiming. The Chinese Academy of Sciences approved the construction of a BSL-4 laboratory in 2003, and the epidemic of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) around the same time lent the project momentum. The lab was designed and constructed with French assistance as part of a 2004 cooperative agreement on the prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases. But the complexity of the project, China’s lack of experience, difficulty in maintaining funding and long government approval procedures meant that construction wasn’t finished until the end of 2014.

The lab’s first project will be to study the BSL-3 pathogen that causes Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever: a deadly tick-borne virus that affects livestock across the world, including in northwest China, and that can jump to people. Future plans include studying the pathogen that causes SARS, which also doesn’t require a BSL-4 lab, before moving on to Ebola and the West African Lassa virus, What does BSL-4 mean? BSL-4 is the highest level of biocontainment: its criteria include filtering air and treating water and waste before they leave the laboratory, and stipulating that researchers change clothes and shower before and after using lab facilities. Such labs are often controversial. The first BSL-4 lab in Japan was built in 1981, but operated with lower-risk pathogens until 2015, when safety concerns were finally overcome. And here's why all this is an issue:

Worries surround the Chinese lab. The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, notes Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Below we repost the full Nature article because it strongly hints, without evidence for now, that the coronavirus epidemic may well have been a weaponized virus which "accidentally" escaped the Wuhan biohazard facility.

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens

A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns.”

     That motivated me to check the original piece in the journal Nature:
  https://www.nature.com/news/inside-the-chinese-lab-poised-to-study-world-s-most-dangerous-pathogens-1.21487

“A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns. Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations. But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats. “It will offer more opportunities for Chinese researchers, and our contribution on the BSL 4-level pathogens will benefit the world,” says George Gao, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Pathogenic Microbiology and Immunology in Beijing. There are already two BSL-4 labs in Taiwan, but the National Bio-safety Laboratory, Wuhan, would be the first on the Chinese mainland. The lab was certified as meeting the standards and criteria of BSL-4 by the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (CNAS) in January. The CNAS examined the lab’s infrastructure, equipment and management, says a CNAS representative, paving the way for the Ministry of Health to give its approval. A representative from the ministry says it will move slowly and cautiously; if the assessment goes smoothly, it could approve the laboratory by the end of June.

BSL-4 is the highest level of biocontainment: its criteria include filtering air and treating water and waste before they leave the laboratory, and stipulating that researchers change clothes and shower before and after using lab facilities. Such labs are often controversial. The first BSL-4 lab in Japan was built in 1981, but operated with lower-risk pathogens until 2015, when safety concerns were finally overcome. The expansion of BSL-4-lab networks in the United States and Europe over the past 15 years — with more than a dozen now in operation or under construction in each region — also met with resistance, including questions about the need for so many facilities. The Wuhan lab cost 300 million yuan (US$44 million), and to allay safety concerns it was built far above the flood plain and with the capacity to withstand a magnitude-7 earthquake, although the area has no history of strong earthquakes. It will focus on the control of emerging diseases, store purified viruses and act as a World Health Organization ‘reference laboratory’ linked to similar labs around the world. “It will be a key node in the global biosafety-lab network,” says lab director Yuan Zhiming. The Chinese Academy of Sciences approved the construction of a BSL-4 laboratory in 2003, and the epidemic of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) around the same time lent the project momentum. The lab was designed and constructed with French assistance as part of a 2004 cooperative agreement on the prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases. But the complexity of the project, China’s lack of experience, difficulty in maintaining funding and long government approval procedures meant that construction wasn’t finished until the end of 2014. The lab’s first project will be to study the BSL-3 pathogen that causes Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever: a deadly tick-borne virus that affects livestock across the world, including in northwest China, and that can jump to people. Future plans include studying the pathogen that causes SARS, which also doesn’t require a BSL-4 lab, before moving on to Ebola and the West African Lassa virus, which do. Some one million Chinese people work in Africa; the country needs to be ready for any eventuality, says Yuan. “Viruses don’t know borders.”

     Yes, viruses are truly global citizens!
  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7922379/Chinas-lab-studying-SARS-Ebola-Wuhan-outbreaks-center.html

“Scientists warned in 2017 that a SARS-like virus could escape a lab set up that year in Wuhan, China, to study some of the most dangerous pathogens in the world. Now, a SARS-like coronavirus has infected more than 800 there, spread to at least 10 other countries and killed 25 in Wuhan and nearby provinces.  China installed the first of a planned five to seven biolabs designed for maximum safety in Wuhan in 2017, for the purpose of studying the most high-risk pathogens, including the Ebola and the SARS viruses. Tim Trevan, a Maryland biosafety consultant, told Nature that year, when the lab was on the cusp of opening, that he worried that China's culture could make the institute unsafe because 'structures where everyone feels free to speak up and openness of information are important.' In fact, the SARS virus had 'escaped' multiple times from a lab in Beijing, according to the Nature article. The Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is located about 20 miles away from the Huanan Seafood Market and some have wondered if the outbreak's epicentre is coincidental, but the scientific community currently believes that the virus mutated through and jumped to people through animal-human contact at the market. But, 'at this point there's no reason to harbour suspicions' that the facility had anything to do with the outbreak, besides being responsible for the crucial genome sequencing that lets doctors diagnose it, Rutgers University microbiologist Dr Richard Ebright told DailyMail.com.”

     I wonder if Sinophilia magazines such as American Renaissance will be covering this contribution to human technological “advancement”?

 

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Thursday, 02 July 2020
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