U.S. Science Embrace of Wuhan “Gain-Of-Function” Viral Research Proved A Slippery Slope


By MIKE MAGEE

The truth hurts.

Eighteen months into a disaster that has claimed 3.5 million lives around the globe, the truth is seeping out. Human error likely caused the Covid pandemic, and America’s Medical-Industrial Complex was right in the middle of it.

Signs of a “great awakening” have emerged from various corners in the month of May.

On May 14, UNC’s top virologist, Ralph Baric, who worked closely with Wuhan chief virologist and batwoman extraordinare, Shi Zhengli, signed on with 17 other scientists to a Science editorial that demanded a reexamination of Covid’s causality writing “theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.”

On May 26, Francis Collins, head of the NIH, which funded in part Zhengli’s risky bat virus research (more on that in a moment), admitted to Congressional investigators that “we cannot exclude the possibility of some kind of a lab accident.”

And on June 3rd, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the ever-present Tony Fauci advised all who would listen “to keep an open mind.” What he would like us to open our minds to is not a Chinese run weaponized microbe conspiracy, but simply scientific recklessness and human error.

It’s now well established that three Wuhan virology scientists were hospitalized in the Fall of 2019 with Covid. But the initial report from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, of this cluster of cases of pneumonia was only released on the last day of 2019.

It took only 50 more days for the tight knit group of global research virologists to get their act together and pen a Lancet editorial in which they stated “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” and that they  “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.”

Their coordinator-in-chief was one Peter Daszak, chartered power broker within the U.S. Medical Industrial Complex and president of New York based EcoHealth Alliance which was a major funder of Shi Zhengli’s work in Wuhan.

Daszak is known for adopting militarized terms in the battle against global infectious diseases. In 2020 he wrote in the New York Times, “Pandemics are like terrorist attacks: We know roughly where they originate and what’s responsible for them, but we don’t know exactly when the next one will happen. They need to be handled the same way — by identifying all possible sources and dismantling those before the next pandemic strikes.”

Daszak’s argument that risks involved in Shi Zhengli’s Wuhan bat viruses were justified as defensive and preventive was convincing enough to the NIH and the Department of Defense that his EcoHealth Alliance was funded from 2013 to 2020 (contracts, grants, subgrants) to the tune of well over $100 million – $39 million from Pentagon /DOD funds, $65 million from USAID/State Dept., and  $20 million from HHS/NIH/CDC.

As veteran Science reporter Nicholas Wade deciphered in a classic article in Science – The Wire, “For 20 years, mostly beneath the public’s attention, they had been playing a dangerous game. In their laboratories they routinely created viruses more dangerous than those that exist in nature. They argued they could do so safely, and that by getting ahead of nature they could predict and prevent natural “spillovers,” the cross-over of viruses from an animal host to people. If SARS2 had indeed escaped from such a laboratory experiment, a savage blowback could be expected, and the storm of public indignation would affect virologists everywhere, not just in China.”

The EcoHealth Alliance’s connection to Wuhan, and Daszak’s connection to Shi Zhengli was somewhat insulated by a UNC virologist named Ralph Baric. Zhengli and Baric had teamed up in November, 2015 to manipulated the crucial spike protein of the SARS1 virus creating “chimera” – possessing genetic material from two different viral starins. At the time, other scientists were sounding alarms including Pasteur Institute’s Simon Wain-Hobson who wrote “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.”

The risky experiments, termed “gain-of-function” studies, were justified as super-secure, safe, predictive, and preventive. Shi returned to her labs in 2018 and 2019 with grant funding from Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Nicholas Wade read the grant proposal and somewhat alarmingly concluded that Shi was creating chimeric viruses with a range of human infectivity as measured in genetically altered “humanized” mice. In essense, she was assisting the virus in discovering “the best combination of coronavirus backbone and spike protein for infecting human cells.”

When you see pictures of scientists in space suits clumsily attempting to complete experiments, that is maximum safety – BSL4. As it turns out, Shi’s experiments on “gain-of-function” were conducted two rungs down the safety ladder at BSL2– , the safety level equivalent to a dentist’s office.

On January 15th of this year, the State Department fessed up releasing this statement, “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

It is not as if the Medical Industrial Complex was not warned. Seven years earlier, a group of concerned scientists called the Cambridge Working Group issued this statement: “Accident risks with newly created ‘potential pandemic pathogens’ raise grave new concerns. Laboratory creation of highly transmissible, novel strains of dangerous viruses, especially but not limited to influenza, poses substantially increased risks. An accidental infection in such a setting could trigger outbreaks that would be difficult or impossible to control.”

As Nicholas Wade’s investigation lays out in detail, while absolute proof remains to be uncovered, the overwhelming and rising mountain of evidence points to human error supported on a national scale. As Wade sees it, “The US government shares a strange common interest with the Chinese authorities: neither is keen on drawing attention to the fact that Dr. Shi’s coronavirus work was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.”

As Fauci stated this week, “We need to keep an open mind.” This apparently extends in both directions. His National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease recently in August, 2020, awarded $82 million to establish the Centers for Research in Emerging Infectious Diseases to ten principal investigators. Peter Daszak is #3 on the list.

Mike Magee, MD is a Medical Historian and Health Economist and author of “Code Blue: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex.“

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