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The Wuhan Plot Thickens By Brian Simpson

     Here is more on the “it was created in a Chinese lab scenario,” with biochemical proof of the artificial creation of the virus emerging:
  https://nypost.com/2020/05/17/coronavirus-taken-to-wuhan-market-by-someone-already-infected-study/

“A study found the coronavirus was taken to an animal market in Wuhan, China, by a person already infected with the disease, according to a report. “The publicly available genetic data does not point to cross-species transmission of the virus at the market,” said Alina Chan, a molecular biologist, and Shing Zhan, an evolutionary biologist, the Mail on Sunday reported. In their paper, the two said they were “surprised” to discover the coronavirus was “already pre-adapted to human transmission.” But they said all routes for animal to human transmission – including from bats – must be examined. “The possibility that a non-genetically engineered precursor could have adapted to humans while being studied in a laboratory should be considered,” the paper said. It was written by Chan and Ben Deverman, scientists at the Broad Institute, a research facility affiliated with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Zhan, from the University of British Columbia. The development adds to the growing criticism that the Chinese ruling Communist Party downplayed the severity of the outbreak and failed to report accurate numbers of the virus in the country. “We need to get to the bottom of many things in relation to COVID-19,” said Bob Seely, a member of the British Parliament. “We need to know where this virus began, why we were told at one time there was no human transmission, and what was the role of the Chinese Communist Party.” President Trump, who has blasted Beijing for a lack of transparency in its response to the pandemic, has claimed the coronavirus began in a Wuhan lab. The US intelligence community, which has concluded that the virus was not “man-made or genetically modified,” is investigating where the outbreak first occurred.”

     What would the unintelligent US intelligence agencies know? If the virus was already adapted to infect humans that indicates that it must have been constructed, skipping the longer-term evolutionary steps:
  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8326823/Landmark-study-Virus-didnt-come-animals-Wuhan-market.html

“China’s claims that the pandemic emerged from a wild animal market in Wuhan last December have been challenged by a landmark scientific study. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that analysis of the coronavirus by specialist biologists suggests that all available data shows it was taken into the market by someone already carrying the disease. They also say they were ‘surprised’ to find the virus was ‘already pre-adapted to human transmission’, contrasting it to another coronavirus that evolved rapidly as it spread around the planet in a previous epidemic. The explosive claims come as Beijing thwarts global efforts to establish the source of the virus. The news will fuel concerns over the Communist regime’s cover-up since the disease emerged last year in the central Chinese city. The new research is clear in its finding. ‘The publicly available genetic data does not point to cross-species transmission of the virus at the market,’ said Alina Chan, a molecular biologist, and Shing Zhan, an evolutionary biologist. Their paper insists all routes for ‘zoonotic’ (animal to human) transmission – in this case from bats – must be examined. It says: ‘The possibility that a non-genetically engineered precursor could have adapted to humans while being studied in a laboratory should be considered.’ The revelations add to the growing clamour for an international inquiry into the outbreak. ‘We need to get to the bottom of many things in relation to Covid-19,’ said Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Select Committee. ‘We need to know where this virus began, why we were told at one time there was no human transmission, and what was the role of the Chinese Communist Party.’ Sourcing the virus is key to understanding the disease, developing vaccines and stopping fresh outbreaks. But the issue has become fraught after US President Donald Trump claimed it emerged from a Wuhan laboratory working on bat-borne diseases and China responding by blaming American soldiers at a sports contest. Beijing health authorities have insisted the virus almost certainly came from an animal in Huanan market in Wuhan. They said it was ‘only a matter of time’ before they identified the crossover species behind transmission from bats to humans. The World Health Organisation quickly backed its claims. ‘The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan,’ it said in a statement.”

     Here is the link to the new research paper by Zhan et al. with the interpretation being our own:
  https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.01.073262v1

     There is also a paper by Piplani et al. which has been interpreted as also supporting the lab creation view of Covid-19:
  https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/exclusive-virus-researchers-uncover-evidence-implying-covid-19-was-created-in-a-lab
  https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/2005/2005.06199.pdf

“A team of Australian scientists has produced new evidence that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is optimized for penetration into human cells rather than animal cells, undermining the theory that the virus randomly evolved in an animal subject before passing into human beings, and suggesting instead that it was developed in a laboratory. The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, provides new but not yet conclusive evidence favoring the theory that the novel coronavirus originated not in a food market as has been claimed, but rather in a laboratory, presumably one operated by the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, the city in which the first outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in December of 2019. The lead researcher on the team says that the results represent either “a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention” in the creation of the virus. The authors of the study, led by vaccine researcher Nikolai Petrovsky of Flinders University in Australia, used a version of the novel coronavirus collected in the earliest days of the outbreak and applied computer models to test its capacity to bind to certain cell receptor enzymes, called “ACE2,” that allow the virus to infect human and animal cells to varying degrees of efficacy. They tested the propensity of the COVID-19 virus’s spike protein, which it uses to enter cells, to bind to the human type of ACE2 as well as to many different animal versions of ACE2, and found that the novel coronavirus most powerfully binds with human ACE2, and with variously lesser degrees of effectiveness with animal versions of the receptor. According to the study’s authors, this implies that the virus that causes COVID-19 did not come from an animal intermediary, but became specialized for human cell penetration by living previously in human cells, quite possibly in a laboratory. The authors write that “this finding is particularly surprising as, typically, a virus would be expected to have highest affinity for the receptor in its original host species, e.g. bat, with a lower initial binding affinity for the receptor of any new host, e.g. humans. However, in this case, the affinity of SARS-CoV-2 is higher for humans than for the putative original host species, bats, or for any potential intermediary host species.”

As a consequence, they add, a “possibility which still cannot be excluded is that SARSCoV-2 was created by a recombination event that occurred inadvertently or consciously in a laboratory handling coronavirus, with the new virus then accidentally released into the local human population. In a separate public statement about the research made by Prof. Petrovsky on April 17, the researcher notes that the results of his study are either "a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention,” and adds that it is “entirely plausible that the virus was created in the biosecurity facility in Wuhan by selection on cells expressing human ACE2, a laboratory that was known to be cultivating exotic bat coronaviruses at the time.” “If so the cultured virus could have escaped the facility either through accidental infection of a staff member who then visited the fish market several blocks away and there infected others, or by inappropriate disposal of waste from the facility that either infected humans outside the facility directly or via a susceptible vector such as a stray cat that then frequented the market and resulted in transmission there to humans,” he added. The researchers recognize that other possibilities exist, but regard them as improbable. They found that the novel coronavirus has a strong, but lesser binding effect on the ACE2 receptor of Pangolins, which are mammals eaten in China as a delicacy which has often been proposed as the intermediary of the novel coronavirus between bats and humans. However, they note that the Pangolin doesn’t offer a reasonable candidate for an intermediate species for human transmission, because “given the higher affinity of [the novel coronavirus] SARS-CoV-2 for human ACE2 than for bat ACE2, SARS-CoV-2 would have to have circulated in pangolins for a long period of time for this evolution and selection to occur and to date there is no evidence of a SARS-CoV-2 like virus circulating in pangolins.”

  https://www.scimex.org/newsfeed/expert-reaction-did-covid-19-come-from-a-lab-in-wuhan

“An extremely important but still unanswered question is what was the source of COVID-19 virus. While COVID-19 has close similarities to SARS and other bat viruses no natural virus matching to COVID-19 has been found in nature despite an intensive search to find its origins. This raises the very legitimate question of whether the COVID-19 virus might be the result of human intervention. Certainly, our and other analyses of the genomic sequence of the virus do not reveal any artificial gene inserts that would be the hallmark of a gene jockey, genetic engineers who manipulate or even create viruses by splicing in artificial inserts into their genome. These are generally easily recognisable and hence clear signatures of human intervention in the creation of a virus. The fact that these artificial inserts are not present has been interpreted by some to mean this virus is not the result of human manipulation. However, this logic is incorrect as there are other ways in which humans can manipulate viruses and that is caused by natural selection. What do I mean? All viruses and bacteria mutate and adapt to their environment over time, with selection of the fittest individuals for survival in that particular environment.

Take a bat coronavirus that is not infectious to humans, and force its selection by culturing it with cells that express human ACE2 receptor, such cells having been created many years ago to culture SARS coronaviruses and you can force the bat virus to adapt to infect human cells via mutations in its spike protein, which would have the effect of increasing the strength of its binding to human ACE2, and inevitably reducing the strength of its binding to bat ACE2. Viruses in prolonged culture will also develop other random mutations that do not affect its function. The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus. Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention. My group in collaboration with other Australian researchers have been using a modelling approach to study the possible evolutionary origins of COVID-19 by modelling interactions between its spike protein and a broad variety of ACE2 receptors from many animals and humans. This work which we will publish on a prepress server next week shows that the strength of binding of COVID-19 to human ACE2 far exceeds the predicted strength of its binding to the ACE2 of any of the other species. This points to the virus having been selected for its high binding to human ACE2.  In the absence of evidence of historic human infections with this virus, which could result in such selection, this either is a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention.

This, plus the fact that no corresponding virus has been found to exist in nature, leads to the possibility that COVID-19 is a  human-created virus. It is therefore entirely plausible that the virus was created in the biosecurity facility in Wuhan by selection on cells expressing human ACE2, a laboratory that was known to be cultivating exotic bat coronaviruses at the time. Is so the cultured virus could have escaped the facility either through accidental infection of a staff member who then visited the fish market several blocks away and there infected others, or by inappropriate disposal of waste from the facility that either infected humans outside the facility directly or via a susceptible vector such as a stray cat that then frequented the market and resulted in transmission there to humans. Whilst the facts cannot be known at this time, the nature of this event and its proximity to a high-risk biosecurity facility at the epicentre of the outbreak demands a full and independent international enquiry to ascertain whether a virus of this kind of COVID-19 was being cultured in the facility and might have been accidentally released."

     Faster than usual it seems, the truth will out. But, then what? China will simply tell the world to “go jump.”

 

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Sunday, 31 May 2020
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