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FTR #1129 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 5: The Magic Virus Theory, Part 2

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FTR #1129 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [6]

[7]Intro­duc­tion: Updat­ing our ongo­ing series of pro­grams con­cern­ing the Covid-19 out­break, we begin with sev­er­al arti­cles ana­lyz­ing the polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho-social ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the phe­nom­e­non. 

We have termed the Covid-19 out­break and its mul­ti-dimen­sion­al man­i­fes­ta­tions, a “bio-psy-op. [8]” Ampli­fy­ing what is meant by that term:

  1. An aca­d­e­m­ic paper [9]pro­duced by a Fed­er­al Reserve econ­o­mist posits the socio-polit­i­cal effects of the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic as a fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the rise of Nazism in Ger­many. Cit­ed by numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing The New York Times [10], Bloomberg New [11]s and Politi­co [9], the study under­scores some of our asser­tions con­cern­ing the fas­cist and extreme right-wing ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the pan­dem­ic. ” . . . . The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that ‘areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline’ due to the pan­dem­ic spent ‘less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.’. . . The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to ‘changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences’ fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pan­dem­ic . . . . may have ‘spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors’ and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties ‘whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.’ The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance [12] on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come. . . .”
  2. The social dis­lo­ca­tion caused by the Great Depres­sion also drove Ger­man and world polit­i­cal sen­ti­ment to the right, pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al momen­tum to glob­al forces of fas­cism. Cur­rent U.S. eco­nom­ic data bring that to mind. “U.S. Unem­ploy­ment Is Worst Since Depres­sion;” by Nel­son D. Schwartz and Ben Cas­sel­man; The New York Times; 5/9/2020; pp. A1-A13 [West­ern Edi­tion.]

  3. UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res warns that the pan­dem­ic has strength­ened eth­no-nation­al­ism, pop­ulism, big­otry and author­i­tar­i­an rule. Reac­tionary sen­ti­ment dri­ven by the pan­dem­ic has also spurred eugenic ratio­nale glob­al­ly. ” . . . . UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res said Fri­day the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic keeps unleash­ing ‘a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing’ and appealed for ‘an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.’ Guter­res said ‘anti-for­eign­er sen­ti­ment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have spread, and COVID-19-relat­ed anti-Mus­lim attacks have occurred.’ The UN chief said migrants and refugees ‘have been vil­i­fied as a source of the virus – and then denied access to med­ical treat­ment.’ . . . ‘With old­er per­sons among the most vul­ner­a­ble, con­temptible memes have emerged sug­gest­ing they are also the most expend­able,’ he said. ‘And jour­nal­ists, whistle­blow­ers, health pro­fes­sion­als, aid work­ers and human rights defend­ers are being tar­get­ed sim­ply for doing their jobs.’ . . . .”

  4. An arti­cle in The Guardian [13]–cit­ing a source with­in the Trump administration–compared the Covid-19 polit­i­cal land­scape in the U.S. with late Weimar Ger­many: ” . . . . Wel­come to the US in the age of coro­n­avirus. Faces and fists pound­ed the win­dows of Ohio’s capi­tol like a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. In Michi­gan, an armed crowd stormed the state house. Then, his­to­ry repeat­ed itself. . . . A Trump admin­is­tra­tion insid­er con­veyed that it was all a ‘bit’ rem­i­nis­cent of the ‘late’ Weimar Repub­lic. We know how that end­ed. . . .Society’s guardrails crashed, the volk demand­ed its pound of flesh and democ­ra­cy made the fright­en­ing­ly unimag­in­able pos­si­ble. Hell became part of the here and now. . . .”

  5. [14]Crit­i­cal obser­va­tions by Wolf­gang Schauble–the German/EU “Aus­ter­i­ty Czar” who wrought so much suf­fer­ing fol­low­ing the 2008 eco­nom­ic collapse–has clear­ly enun­ci­at­ed the func­tion­al and philo­soph­i­cal essence of “cor­po­ratist” and eugenic doc­trine. After the onset of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, he has redou­bled his “Teu­ton­ic bru­tal­i­ty” and his views have been embraced by the Ger­man estab­lish­ment: ” . . . . Schäuble’s tac­tics [dur­ing the finan­cial cri­sis] seemed to scare Europe with ‘trau­mat­ic effects’ and gave it a les­son in Ger­man eco­nom­ic ethics: Teu­ton­ic bru­tal­i­ty and at all costs. ‘Ter­ri­fy­ing,’ was the assess­ment the US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary made fol­low­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with Schäu­ble. Paris and Madrid were also appre­hen­sive; Athens called Schäu­ble an ‘arson­ist,’ on a ram­page through Europe. . . . Schäu­ble has elab­o­rat­ed in 2020 on what he had already made clear in 2012, dur­ing the inter­na­tion­al finan­cial cri­sis: ‘If I hear that every­thing else must take a back seat to the preser­va­tion of life, I must say that this, in such unequiv­o­cal­ness, is not right.’ Pro­tec­tion of human life does not have an ‘absolute pri­or­i­ty in our Basic Law.’ . . . Schäuble’s state­ments are exem­plary and are of ‘nation­al sig­nif­i­cance’ declared the Ger­man Ethics Coun­cil. . . .In fact, the gov­ern­men­t’s oblig­a­tion to the con­sti­tu­tion’s high­est val­ue — the pro­tec­tion of life — must be rel­a­tivized, just as Schäu­ble is doing, con­firm the major­i­ty of Ger­many’s gov­ern­ment lead­ers. . . .  a fel­low Green munic­i­pal politi­cian speaks in plain oper­a­tional terms; ‘Let me tell you quite blunt­ly: We may be sav­ing peo­ple in Ger­many, who, because of their age or seri­ous pre­vi­ous med­ical con­di­tions, may, be dead any­way in a half a year.’ . . . .”

In FTR #1128 [15], we hypoth­e­sized about the pos­si­ble role in the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic of a post-Apartheid, under­ground fas­cist milieu with links to ele­ments of CIA and vet­er­ans of Project Coast. Those who reject such an hypoth­e­sis would do well to con­sid­er the mus­ings of an FBI infor­mant knowl­edge­able about “Die Organ­isas­ie.” That such a milieu might be will­ing to tar­get the U.S. seems prob­a­ble: ” . . . . South African trade attaché Gideon Bouw­er raved about the abil­i­ty to keep whites in pow­er through bio­log­i­cal war­fare, and he hint­ed at being part of a sep­a­rate agenda—some sort of extragov­ern­men­tal con­spir­a­cy, like the one described in the Air Force report, that had plans to unleash bio­log­i­cal agents world­wide on South Africa’s ene­mies if the need should ever arise. ‘Just be ready,’ Fitz­patrick remem­bers Bouw­er warn­ing him cryp­ti­cal­ly, then ask­ing, ‘How fast could get your daugh­ter out of the coun­try if you had to?’ . . .”

The bulk of the dis­cus­sion elab­o­rates on dis­cus­sion of the virus orig­i­nat­ing in a laboratory–in the U.S., NOT Chi­na.

[16]As dis­cussed in FTR #1124 [17]–among oth­er programs–it is now pos­si­ble to cre­ate ANY virus from scratch, using “mail-order” or “design­er” genes. Sad­ly pre­dictable jour­nal­is­tic bro­mides that the Covid-19 coro­n­avirus could not have been/was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry fly in the face of bio-tech­nol­o­gy that has exist­ed for 20 years. A BBC sto­ry from 1999 [18] high­lights the fears of experts that the advent of such tech­nol­o­gy could enable the devel­op­ment of eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons: ” . . . . Advances in genet­ic knowl­edge could be mis­used to devel­op pow­er­ful bio­log­i­cal weapons that could be tai­lored to strike at spe­cif­ic eth­nic groups, the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion has warned. A BMA report Biotech­nol­o­gy, Weapons and Human­i­ty says that con­cert­ed inter­na­tion­al action is nec­es­sary to block the devel­op­ment of new, bio­log­i­cal weapons. It warns the win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so is very nar­row as tech­nol­o­gy is devel­op­ing rapid­ly and becom­ing ever more acces­si­ble. ‘. . . The BMA report warns that legit­i­mate research into micro­bi­o­log­i­cal agents and genet­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tic agents could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from research geared towards devel­op­ing more effec­tive weapons. . . . Dr Vivi­enne Nathanson, BMA Head of Health Pol­i­cy Research said:  ‘The his­to­ry of human­i­ty is a his­to­ry of war. Sci­en­tif­ic advances quick­ly lead to devel­op­ments in weapons tech­nol­o­gy. . . .‘Biotech­nol­o­gy and genet­ic knowl­edge are equal­ly open to this type of malign use. . . . ”

Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that the state­ments being issued that the virus was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry is not just irrel­e­vant, but absurd. ANY virus can be made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, from scratch as is being done for the SARS-CoV­‑2 (Covid-19) virus. The bro­mides being issued–all too predictably–that the virus could not have been/wasn’t made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry are the viro­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the Mag­ic Bul­let The­o­ry.

[19]In that con­text, we review [20] the fact that Ralph Baric–who did the gain-of-func­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion on the Horse­shoe Bat coronavirus–has been select­ed to engi­neer the Covid-19. ” . . . . Researchers are try­ing to cre­ate a copy of the virus. From scratch. Led by Ralph Bar­ic [21], an expert in coronaviruses—which get their name from the crown-shaped spike they use to enter human cells—the North Car­oli­na team expects to recre­ate the virus start­ing only from com­put­er read­outs of its genet­ic sequence post­ed online by Chi­nese labs last month. . . .”

Note what might be termed a “viro­log­ic Juras­sic Park” man­i­fes­ta­tion: ” . . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus [22] that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

We note in pass­ing the VERY unusu­al [23] aspects of Covid-19. ” . . . . ‘I’ve been study­ing virus­es since 1978,’ Dr. James Hil­dreth [24], Mehar­ry Med­ical Col­lege CEO and an infec­tious dis­ease expert based out of Nashville, told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move [25] this week (video above). ‘And I think it’s fair to say we’ve not encoun­tered a virus quite like this, just because of the broad range of tis­sue types in our body it infects.’ . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of two arti­cles refut­ing the “War­ren Report” of Covid-19 genesis–a Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle that is accept­ed as Gospel.

Like the Bible, it is open to seri­ous sci­en­tif­ic refu­ta­tion [26]” . . . . To put it sim­ply, the authors are say­ing that SARS-CoV­‑2 was not delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered because if it were, it would have been designed dif­fer­ent­ly. How­ev­er, the Lon­don-based mol­e­c­u­lar geneti­cist Dr Michael Anto­niou [27] com­ment­ed that this line of rea­son­ing fails to take into account that there are a num­ber of lab­o­ra­to­ry-based sys­tems that can select for high affin­i­ty RBD vari­ants that are able to take into account the com­plex envi­ron­ment of a liv­ing organ­ism. This com­plex envi­ron­ment may impact the effi­cien­cy with which the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein can find the ACE2 recep­tor and bind to it. An RBD select­ed via these more real­is­tic real-world exper­i­men­tal sys­tems would be just as ‘ide­al’, or even more so, for human ACE2 bind­ing than any RBD that a com­put­er mod­el could pre­dict. And cru­cial­ly, it would like­ly be dif­fer­ent in amino acid sequence. So the fact that SARS-CoV­‑2 doesn’t have the same RBD amino acid sequence as the one that the com­put­er pro­gram pre­dict­ed in no way rules out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it was genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. . . .”

[28]Dr. Michael Anto­niou notes that dif­fer­ent genet­ic engi­neer­ing process­es than the one high­light­ed in the Nature Med­i­cine paper can be used: ”  . . . . There is anoth­er method by which an enhanced-infec­tiv­i­ty virus can be engi­neered in the lab. A well-known alter­na­tive process that could have been used has the cum­ber­some name of “direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process [29]”. In this case, it would involve using genet­ic engi­neer­ing to gen­er­ate a large num­ber of ran­dom­ly mutat­ed ver­sions of the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein recep­tor bind­ing domain (RBD), which would then be select­ed for strong bind­ing to the ACE2 recep­tor and con­se­quent­ly high infec­tiv­i­ty of human cells. . . .”

The notion that the Nature Med­i­cine authors had not heard of the above process is not cred­i­ble: ” . . . . Such a direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process is a fre­quent­ly used method in lab­o­ra­to­ry research. So there is lit­tle or no pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle authors haven’t heard of it – not least, as it is con­sid­ered so sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly impor­tant that its inven­tors were award­ed [30] the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

Of more than pass­ing sig­nif­i­cance is anoth­er arti­cle [31] that finds seri­ous fault with the Nature Med­i­cine paper. ” . . . . Pro­fes­sor Stu­art New­man, pro­fes­sor of cell biol­o­gy and anato­my at New York Med­ical Col­lege, says that a key argu­ment used to deny that it could be a genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered strain that escaped from a lab­o­ra­to­ry actu­al­ly points to the exact oppo­site. In oth­er words, it indi­cates that SARS-CoV­‑2 could well be genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered and that it could have escaped from a lab. . . . As Adam Lau­r­ing, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of micro­bi­ol­o­gy, immunol­o­gy and infec­tious dis­eases at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Med­ical School, has not­ed [32], Andersen’s paper argues that, ‘the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus has some key dif­fer­ences in spe­cif­ic genes rel­a­tive to pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied coro­n­avirus­es – the ones a lab­o­ra­to­ry would be work­ing with. This con­stel­la­tion of changes makes it unlike­ly that it is the result of a lab­o­ra­to­ry ‘escape’.‘But Pro­fes­sor New­man says [33] that this is total­ly uncon­vinc­ing because ‘The ‘key dif­fer­ences’ were in regions of the coro­n­avirus spike pro­tein that were the sub­ject of genet­ic engi­neer­ing exper­i­ments in labs around the world (main­ly in the US and Chi­na) for two decades.’ . . .”

Pro­fes­sor New­man goes on to high­light oth­er, seri­ous flaws in the argu­ment: ” . . . In an email inter­view with GMWatch, New­man, who is edi­tor-in-chief of the jour­nal Bio­log­i­cal The­o­ry and co-author (with Tina Stevens) of the book Biotech Jug­ger­naut [34], ampli­fied this spec­u­la­tion by not­ing, ‘The Nature Med­i­cine paper points to vari­a­tions in two sites of the spike pro­tein of the new coro­n­avirus that the authors claim must have arisen by nat­ur­al selec­tion in the wild. How­ev­er, genet­ic engi­neer­ing of one of these sites, the ACE2 recep­tor bind­ing domain, has been pro­posed since 2005 in order to help gen­er­ate vac­cines against these virus­es (see this paper [35]). It is puz­zling that the authors of the Nature Med­i­cine com­men­tary did not cite this paper, which appeared in the promi­nent jour­nal Sci­ence.More­over, New­man added, “The sec­ond site that Ander­sen et al. assert arose by nat­ur­al means, a tar­get of enzyme cleav­age not usu­al­ly found in this class of virus­es, was in fact intro­duced by genet­ic engi­neer­ing in a sim­i­lar coro­n­avirus in a paper [36] they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . . .”

Worth not­ing, again, is the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion’s warn­ing dis­cussed above: ” . . . .The BMA report warns that legit­i­mate research into micro­bi­o­log­i­cal agents and genet­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tic agents could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from research geared towards devel­op­ing more effec­tive weapons. . . .”

As the GMWatch authors con­clude: ” . . . . Such ‘enhanced infec­tiv­i­ty’ research is car­ried out on virus­es all over the world (and not just in Chi­na) to inves­ti­gate their behav­iour and to devel­op vac­cines and oth­er ther­a­pies, as well as for ‘biode­fence’ pur­pos­es. . . .”

1a. We have termed the Covid-19 out­break and its mul­ti-dimen­sion­al man­i­fes­ta­tions, a “bio-psy-op.” [8] An aca­d­e­m­ic paper pro­duced by a Fed­er­al Reserve econ­o­mist posits the socio-polit­i­cal effects of the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic as a fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the rise of Nazism in Ger­many. 

(We have dis­cussed the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic and the pro­gres­sion from mil­i­tary sci­en­tists recov­er­ing the virus’ DNA to full recon­struc­tion of the organ­ism in 2005. Some of the rel­e­vant pro­grams: FTR #‘s 55 [37], 1116 [38], 1117 [39], 1118 [40], 1121 [41], 1124 [17].) 

Cit­ed by numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing The New York Times [10], Bloomberg New [11]s and Politi­co [9], the study under­scores some of our asser­tions con­cern­ing the fas­cist and extreme right-wing ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the pan­dem­ic. 

This time­ly and very impor­tant study will be ref­er­enced in future dis­cus­sion of the psy­cho­log­i­cal, soci­o­log­i­cal and socio-eco­nom­ic aspects of the Covid-19 out­break.

Kris­t­ian Blick­le’s analy­sis under­scores points we have made about the demo­graph­ic, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion the pan­dem­ic is hav­ing on the body politic.

A new aca­d­e­m­ic paper [42] pro­duced by the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of New York con­cludes that deaths caused by the 1918 influen­za pan­dem­ic “pro­found­ly shaped Ger­man soci­ety” in sub­se­quent years and con­tributed to the strength­en­ing of the Nazi Par­ty.

“The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that ‘areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline’ due to the pan­dem­ic spent ‘less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.’ . . .

“. . . . The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to ‘changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences’ fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pandemic’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate toll on young peo­ple may have ‘spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors’ and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties ‘whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.’ The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance [12] on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come. . . .”

“Fed Study Ties 1918 Flu Pan­dem­ic to Nazi Par­ty Gains” by Quint Forgey; Politi­co; 5/05/2020. [9]

A new aca­d­e­m­ic paper [42] pro­duced by the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank of New York con­cludes that deaths caused by the 1918 influen­za pan­dem­ic “pro­found­ly shaped Ger­man soci­ety” in sub­se­quent years and con­tributed to the strength­en­ing of the Nazi Par­ty.

The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that “areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline” due to the pan­dem­ic spent “less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.”

The paper also shows that “influen­za deaths of 1918 are cor­re­lat­ed with an increase in the share of votes won by right-wing extrem­ists, such as the Nation­al Social­ist Work­ers Par­ty” in Germany’s 1932 and 1933 elec­tions.

Togeth­er, the low­er spend­ing and flu-relat­ed deaths “had a strong effect on the share of votes won by extrem­ists, specif­i­cal­ly the extrem­ist nation­al social­ist par­ty” — the Nazis — the paper posits. “This result is stronger for right-wing extrem­ists, and large­ly non-exis­tent for left-wing extrem­ists.”

Despite becom­ing pop­u­lar­ly known as the Span­ish flu, the influen­za pan­dem­ic like­ly orig­i­nat­ed [43] in the Unit­ed States at a Kansas mil­i­tary base, even­tu­al­ly infect­ing about one-third of the glob­al pop­u­la­tion and killing at least 50 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide, accord­ing to [44] the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Ger­many expe­ri­enced rough­ly 287,000 influen­za deaths between 1918 and 1920, Blick­le writes.

The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to “changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences” fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pandemic’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate toll on young peo­ple may have “spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors” and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties “whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.”

The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance [12] on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come.

Ger­many expe­ri­enced rough­ly 287,000 influen­za deaths between 1918 and 1920, Blick­le writes.

The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to “changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences” fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pandemic’s dis­pro­por­tion­ate toll on young peo­ple may have “spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors” and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties “whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.”

The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance [12] on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come.

1b. The social dis­lo­ca­tion caused by the Great Depres­sion also drove Ger­man and world polit­i­cal sen­ti­ment to the right, pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al momen­tum to glob­al forces of fas­cism. Cur­rent U.S. eco­nom­ic data bring that to mind.

“U.S. Unem­ploy­ment Is Worst Since Depres­sion;” by Nel­son D. Schwartz and Ben Cas­sel­man; The New York Times; 5/9/2020; pp. A1-A13 [West­ern Edi­tion.]

1c. UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res warns that the pan­dem­ic has strength­ened eth­no-nation­al­ism, pop­ulism, big­otry and author­i­tar­i­an rule. Reac­tionary sen­ti­ment dri­ven by the pan­dem­ic has also spurred eugenic ratio­nale glob­al­ly. ” . . . . UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res said Fri­day the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic keeps unleash­ing ‘a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing’ and appealed for ‘an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.’ Guter­res said ‘anti-for­eign­er sen­ti­ment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have spread, and COVID-19-relat­ed anti-Mus­lim attacks have occurred.’ The UN chief said migrants and refugees ‘have been vil­i­fied as a source of the virus – and then denied access to med­ical treat­ment.’ . . . ‘With old­er per­sons among the most vul­ner­a­ble, con­temptible memes have emerged sug­gest­ing they are also the most expend­able,’ he said. ‘And jour­nal­ists, whistle­blow­ers, health pro­fes­sion­als, aid work­ers and human rights defend­ers are being tar­get­ed sim­ply for doing their jobs.’ . . . .”

“Covid-19 Has Unleashed ‘A Tsuna­mi of Hate,’ with A Surge in Anti-Semit­ic Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ries and Attacks on Mus­lims, UN Chief Warns” [Asso­ci­at­ed Press]; The Dai­ly Mail [UK-Online]; 5/8/2020. [45]

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Anto­nio Guter­res said Fri­day the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic keeps unleash­ing ‘a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing’ and appealed for ‘an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.’

Guter­res said ‘anti-for­eign­er sen­ti­ment has surged online and in the streets, anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have spread, and COVID-19-relat­ed anti-Mus­lim attacks have occurred.’

The UN chief said migrants and refugees ‘have been vil­i­fied as a source of the virus – and then denied access to med­ical treat­ment.’
Anto­nio Guterres@antonioaguterres
#COVID19 does not care who we are, where we live, or what we believe.

Yet the pan­dem­ic con­tin­ues to unleash a tsuna­mi of hate and xeno­pho­bia, scape­goat­ing and scare-mon­ger­ing.

That’s why I’m appeal­ing for an all-out effort to end hate speech glob­al­ly.

‘With old­er per­sons among the most vul­ner­a­ble, con­temptible memes have emerged sug­gest­ing they are also the most expend­able,’ he said. ‘And jour­nal­ists, whistle­blow­ers, health pro­fes­sion­als, aid work­ers and human rights defend­ers are being tar­get­ed sim­ply for doing their jobs.’ . . . .

1d. This arti­cle com­pares the activ­i­ties under the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion with that of the Weimar Repub­lic pri­or to when the Nazis seized pow­er. The arti­cle ref­er­ence the President’s sup­port for right wing extremists–“the volk”–in the face of eco­nom­ic col­lapse. ” . . . . A Trump admin­is­tra­tion insid­er con­veyed that it was all a ‘bit’ rem­i­nis­cent of the ‘late’ Weimar Repub­lic. We know how that end­ed. . . .Society’s guardrails crashed, the volk demand­ed its pound of flesh and democ­ra­cy made the fright­en­ing­ly unimag­in­able pos­si­ble. Hell became part of the here and now. . . .”

“Under Trump, Amer­i­ca has gone a bit late Weimar. We know how that end­ed” by Lloyd Green; The Guardian; 5/04/2020.  [13]

Wel­come to the US in the age of coro­n­avirus. Faces and fists pound­ed the win­dows of Ohio’s capi­tol like a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. In Michi­gan, an armed crowd stormed the state house. Then, his­to­ry repeat­ed itself.

Tak­ing a page from his Char­lottesville play­book, Don­ald Trump called the pro­test­ers “good peo­ple” and urged Gretchen Whit­mer, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nor of Michi­gan, to “make a deal” over the shut­down. The pres­i­dent tweet­ed that Whit­mer should “give a lit­tle, and put out the fire”. In oth­er words, nego­ti­ate over the bar­rel of a gun. After all, his base was “angry”.

One state over, in Illi­nois, an anti-shut­down pro­test­er waived a poster aimed at the state’s Jew­ish gov­er­nor, JB Pritzk­er: “Arbeit macht frei, JB.” The words that hung over the gates of Auschwitz.

A Trump admin­is­tra­tion insid­er con­veyed that it was all a “bit” rem­i­nis­cent of the “late” Weimar Repub­lic. We know how that end­ed.

Society’s guardrails crashed, the volk demand­ed its pound of flesh and democ­ra­cy made the fright­en­ing­ly unimag­in­able pos­si­ble. Hell became part of the here and now. . . .

. . . . Coro­n­avirus has unleashed more than death. Social fis­sures once buried have metas­ta­sized into jagged vol­canic chasms. The past is always with us, much as we try to jet­ti­son it. Weimar was less than a cen­tu­ry ago. Democ­ra­cy is more frag­ile than we may care to acknowl­edge.

Life and death are on the line and the pres­i­dent and his min­ions appear reluc­tant to grasp the real­i­ty.

2. In FTR #1128 [15], we hypoth­e­sized about the pos­si­ble role in the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic of a post-Apartheid, under­ground fas­cist milieu with links to ele­ments of CIA and vet­er­ans of Project Coast. Those who reject such an hypoth­e­sis would do well to con­sid­er the mus­ings of an FBI infor­mant knowl­edge­able about “Die Organ­isas­ie.” That such a milieu might be will­ing to tar­get the U.S. seems prob­a­ble: ” . . . . South African trade attaché Gideon Bouw­er raved about the abil­i­ty to keep whites in pow­er through bio­log­i­cal war­fare, and he hint­ed at being part of a sep­a­rate agenda—some sort of extragov­ern­men­tal con­spir­a­cy, like the one described in the Air Force report, that had plans to unleash bio­log­i­cal agents world­wide on South Africa’s ene­mies if the need should ever arise. ‘Just be ready,’ Fitz­patrick remem­bers Bouw­er warn­ing him cryp­ti­cal­ly, then ask­ing, ‘How fast could get your daugh­ter out of the coun­try if you had to?’ . . .”

The Med­i­cine Man” by Edward Humes; Los Ange­les Mag­a­zine; July, 2001. [46]

. . . . They say he [South African trade attaché Gideon Bouw­er] raved about the abil­i­ty to keep whites in pow­er through bio­log­i­cal war­fare, and he hint­ed at being part of a sep­a­rate agenda—some sort of extragov­ern­men­tal con­spir­a­cy, like the one described in the Air Force report, that had plans to unleash bio­log­i­cal agents world­wide on South Africa’s ene­mies if the need should ever arise. ‘Just be ready,’ Fitz­patrick remem­bers Bouw­er warn­ing him cryp­ti­cal­ly, then ask­ing, ‘How fast could get your daugh­ter out of the coun­try if you had to?’ ‘I have to be hon­est,’ Fitz­patrick says. ‘Gideon could be a great guy. But there was some­thing dan­ger­ous about him. And when he start­ed talk­ing about that mas­ter plan, about what a great ser­vice Ford had done for his coun­try, and about get­ting out of the coun­try, it gave me chills.’ . . .

3. Crit­i­cal obser­va­tions [47] by Wolf­gang Schauble–the German/EU “Aus­ter­i­ty Czar” who wrought so much suf­fer­ing fol­low­ing the 2008 eco­nom­ic collapse–has clear­ly enun­ci­at­ed the func­tion­al and philo­soph­i­cal essence of “cor­po­ratist” and eugenic doc­trine. After the onset of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, he has redou­bled his “Teu­ton­ic bru­tal­i­ty:”

Worth not­ing is the fact that the dis­par­i­ty between Ger­many and much of the North­ern EU and its beset South­ern com­pa­tri­ors, such as Italy, exac­er­bat­ed by the ’08 finan­cial crash, is dete­ri­o­rat­ing fur­ther, as a result of the Covid-19 out­break [48].

“Ger­many Threat­ens” by Rudi­ger Minow; Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy; 5/01/2020. [47]

. . . . Dur­ing the inter­na­tion­al finan­cial cri­sis, when Schäu­ble was Ger­many’s Min­is­ter of Finance, his EU coun­ter­parts trem­bled: Schäu­ble want­ed to force them to adapt harsh aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures. Because the fore­see­able social con­se­quences would cost lives, Schäuble’s tac­tics seemed to scare Europe with ‘trau­mat­ic effects’ and gave it a les­son in Ger­man eco­nom­ic ethics: Teu­ton­ic bru­tal­i­ty and at all costs. ‘Ter­ri­fy­ing,’ was the assess­ment the US Trea­sury Sec­re­tary made fol­low­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with Schäu­ble. Paris and Madrid were also appre­hen­sive; Athens called Schäu­ble an ‘arson­ist,’ on a ram­page through Europe. Schäu­ble has since climbed high­er on the gov­ern­ment lad­der. Schäu­ble now ranks sec­ond, after the Pres­i­dent, in the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many’s pro­to­co­lary sys­tem. . . . .”

. . . . In the midst of the Coro­na cri­sis, Schäu­ble ini­ti­at­ed an inter­view, con­sid­ered to be an unof­fi­cial guide­line for the Ger­man state’s life and death deci­sions. Its tenor deserves atten­tion, even beyond Ger­many’s bor­ders.

Should peo­ple have to die, because they are deprived of state resources, essen­tial for the eco­nom­ic cycle, such as cur­rent­ly dur­ing the Coro­na cri­sis? Does the pro­tec­tion of human life have absolute pri­or­i­ty in state pol­i­cy? In the inter­view, Schäu­ble has elab­o­rat­ed in 2020 on what he had already made clear in 2012, dur­ing the inter­na­tion­al finan­cial cri­sis: ‘If I hear that every­thing else must take a back seat to the preser­va­tion of life, I must say that this, in such unequiv­o­cal­ness, is not right.’ Pro­tec­tion of human life does not have an ‘absolute pri­or­i­ty in our Basic Law.’ Death is com­ing soon­er or lat­er any­way. ‘We are all going to die.’ (April 26, 2020)

Schäuble’s state­ments are exem­plary and are of ‘nation­al sig­nif­i­cance’ declared the Ger­man Ethics Coun­cil. The coun­cil is gov­ern­ment financed and pri­or­i­tizes ‘eco­nom­ic rights.’ They should ‘not be uncon­di­tion­al­ly sub­or­di­nat­ed’ to the pro­tec­tion of human life. There is a sort of rival­ry of val­ues. If the val­ue of life would have pri­or­i­ty, ‘free­dom’ would suf­fer, accord­ing to the unan­i­mous judg­ment of the ethics depart­ment of the Ger­man Eco­nom­ic Insti­tute (IW). From the stand­point of Ger­man con­sti­tu­tion­al law, accord­ing to a for­mer judge on the con­sti­tu­tion­al court, ‘the state’s effi­cien­cy’ would encounter its lim­its, if life were giv­en top pri­or­i­ty, where ‘every­thing else must lag arbi­trar­i­ly far behind.’

In fact, the gov­ern­men­t’s oblig­a­tion to the con­sti­tu­tion’s high­est val­ue — the pro­tec­tion of life — must be rel­a­tivized, just as Schäu­ble is doing, con­firm the major­i­ty of Ger­many’s gov­ern­ment lead­ers. Promi­nent voic­es from the par­lia­men­tary oppo­si­tion par­ties are also in agree­ment that the pro­tec­tion of human life, as the pri­ma­ry legit­imized duty of the state is a ‘ques­tion of assess­ment.’ From this the FDP draws the con­clu­sion: ‘there­fore, please reopen the busi­ness­es.’ ‘Enable pro­duc­tion.’ In har­mo­ny with Ger­many’s export econ­o­my lob­by­ists and the Pres­i­dent of the Bun­destag, the chair of the Greens is also one of the rel­a­tiviz­ers. He finds him­self in an alleged ‘dilem­ma,’ when he thinks of the pro­tec­tion of life dur­ing the Coro­na cri­sis, while a fel­low Green munic­i­pal politi­cian speaks in plain oper­a­tional terms; ‘Let me tell you quite blunt­ly: We may be sav­ing peo­ple in Ger­many, who, because of their age or seri­ous pre­vi­ous med­ical con­di­tions, may, be dead any­way in a half a year.’ . . . .”

4a. As dis­cussed in FTR #1124 [17]–among oth­er programs–it is now pos­si­ble to cre­ate ANY virus from scratch, using “mail-order” or “design­er” genes. Sad­ly pre­dictable jour­nal­is­tic bro­mides that the Covid-19 coro­n­avirus could not have been/was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry fly in the face of bio-tech­nol­o­gy that has exist­ed for 20 years.

In FTR #282 [49]–record­ed in May of 2001–we not­ed the ter­ri­ble sig­nif­i­cance of the devel­op­ment of such “Design­er Gene” tech­nol­o­gy.

A BBC sto­ry from 1999 high­lights the fears of experts that the advent of such tech­nol­o­gy could enable the devel­op­ment of eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons.

” . . . . Advances in genet­ic knowl­edge could be mis­used to devel­op pow­er­ful bio­log­i­cal weapons that could be tai­lored to strike at spe­cif­ic eth­nic groups, the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion has warned. A BMA report Biotech­nol­o­gy, Weapons and Human­i­ty says that con­cert­ed inter­na­tion­al action is nec­es­sary to block the devel­op­ment of new, bio­log­i­cal weapons. It warns the win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so is very nar­row as tech­nol­o­gy is devel­op­ing rapid­ly and becom­ing ever more acces­si­ble. ‘Recipes’ for devel­op­ing bio­log­i­cal agents are freely avail­able on the Inter­net, the report warns. . . . The BMA report warns that legit­i­mate research into micro­bi­o­log­i­cal agents and genet­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tic agents could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from research geared towards devel­op­ing more effec­tive weapons. . . . Dr Vivi­enne Nathanson, BMA Head of Health Pol­i­cy Research said:  ‘The his­to­ry of human­i­ty is a his­to­ry of war. Sci­en­tif­ic advances quick­ly lead to devel­op­ments in weapons tech­nol­o­gy. . . .‘Biotech­nol­o­gy and genet­ic knowl­edge are equal­ly open to this type of malign use. Doc­tors and oth­er sci­en­tists have an impor­tant role in pre­ven­tion. They have a duty to per­suade politi­cians and inter­na­tion­al agen­cies such as the UN to take this threat seri­ous­ly and to take action to pre­vent the pro­duc­tion of such weapons.’ . . . ”

 “Health: Genet­ic Weapons Alert”; BBC; 1/21/1999. [18]

Advances in genet­ic knowl­edge could be mis­used to devel­op pow­er­ful bio­log­i­cal weapons that could be tai­lored to strike at spe­cif­ic eth­nic groups, the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion has warned.

A BMA report Biotech­nol­o­gy, Weapons and Human­i­ty says that con­cert­ed inter­na­tion­al action is nec­es­sary to block the devel­op­ment of new, bio­log­i­cal weapons.

It warns the win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so is very nar­row as tech­nol­o­gy is devel­op­ing rapid­ly and becom­ing ever more acces­si­ble.

“Recipes” for devel­op­ing bio­log­i­cal agents are freely avail­able on the Inter­net, the report warns.

As genet­ic manip­u­la­tion becomes a stan­dard lab­o­ra­to­ry tech­nique, there is a risk that this new infor­ma­tion will also become wide­ly avail­able.

Pro­ce­dures to mon­i­tor against the mis­use of this new knowl­edge are urgent­ly need­ed, the BMA says.

Abuse of knowl­edge

The report iden­ti­fies two prin­ci­pal ways in which advanc­ing genet­ic knowl­edge could be mis­used for weapons devel­op­ment:

  • Genet­ic infor­ma­tion is already being used to “improve” ele­ments of bio­log­i­cal weapons, for exam­ple by increas­ing their antibi­ot­ic resis­tance. These devel­op­ments raise the spec­tre of high­ly tar­get­ed bio­log­i­cal weapons being used on the bat­tle­field.
  • Weapons could the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be devel­oped which affect par­tic­u­lar ver­sions of genes clus­tered in spe­cif­ic eth­nic or fam­i­ly groups.

Although genet­ic weapons which tar­get a par­tic­u­lar eth­nic group are not cur­rent­ly a prac­ti­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty, the report con­cludes it would be com­pla­cent to assume that they could nev­er be devel­oped in the future.

Humans from appar­ent­ly wide­ly diver­gent social groups actu­al­ly have more sim­i­lar­i­ties than dif­fer­ences in their genet­ic make up. But dif­fer­ences do exist and as the Human Genome Project advances, these dif­fer­ences can increas­ing­ly be iden­ti­fied.

The BMA report warns that legit­i­mate research into micro­bi­o­log­i­cal agents and genet­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tic agents could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from research geared towards devel­op­ing more effec­tive weapons.

The BMA says that urgent action is need­ed to strength­en the Bio­log­i­cal and Tox­in Weapons Con­ven­tion.

This has not been effec­tive in pro­hibit­ing the devel­op­ment of bio­log­i­cal weapons, the BMA says, because it does not have ade­quate ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­vi­sions.

The BMA has called on doc­tors and med­ical organ­i­sa­tions to cam­paign against the devel­op­ment of bio­log­i­cal weapons.

Seri­ous threat

Dr Vivi­enne Nathanson, BMA Head of Health Pol­i­cy Research said: “The his­to­ry of human­i­ty is a his­to­ry of war.

“Sci­en­tif­ic advances quick­ly lead to devel­op­ments in weapons tech­nol­o­gy.

“Biotech­nol­o­gy and genet­ic knowl­edge are equal­ly open to this type of malign use.

“Doc­tors and oth­er sci­en­tists have an impor­tant role in pre­ven­tion. They have a duty to per­suade politi­cians and inter­na­tion­al agen­cies such as the UN to take this threat seri­ous­ly and to take action to pre­vent the pro­duc­tion of such weapons.”

Dr Nathanson warned that get­ting rid of weapons once they are pro­duced is dif­fi­cult.

4b. Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that the state­ments being issued that the virus was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry is not just irrel­e­vant, but absurd. ANY virus can be made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, from scratch as is being done for the SARS-CoV­‑2 (Covid-19) virus.

The bro­mides being issued–all too predictably–that the virus could not have been/wasn’t made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry are the viro­log­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the Mag­ic Bul­let The­o­ry.

Ralph Baric–who did the gain-of-func­tion mod­i­fi­ca­tion on the Horse­shoe Bat coro­n­avirus, has been select­ed to engi­neer the Covid-19.

Note what might be termed a “viro­log­ic Juras­sic Park” man­i­fes­ta­tion: ” . . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus [22] that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

“Biol­o­gists rush to re-cre­ate the Chi­na coro­n­avirus from its DNA code” by Anto­nio Regal­a­do; MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Review; 02/15/2020 [20]

The world is watch­ing with alarm as Chi­na strug­gles to con­tain a dan­ger­ous new virus, now being called SARS-CoV­‑2. It has quar­an­tined entire cities, and the US has put a blan­ket ban on trav­ellers who’ve been there. Health offi­cials are scram­bling to under­stand how the virus is trans­mit­ted and how to treat patients.

But in one Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na lab, there’s a dif­fer­ent race. Researchers are try­ing to cre­ate a copy of the virus. From scratch.

Led by Ralph Bar­ic [21], an expert in coronaviruses—which get their name from the crown-shaped spike they use to enter human cells—the North Car­oli­na team expects to recre­ate the virus start­ing only from com­put­er read­outs of its genet­ic sequence post­ed online by Chi­nese labs last month.

The remark­able abil­i­ty to “boot up” virus­es from genet­ic instruc­tions is made pos­si­ble by com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­ture cus­tom DNA mol­e­cules, such as Inte­grat­ed DNA Tech­nol­o­gy, Twist Bio­science, and Atum. By order­ing the right genes, which cost a few thou­sand dol­lars, and then stitch­ing them togeth­er to cre­ate a copy of the coro­n­avirus genome, it’s pos­si­ble to inject the genet­ic mate­r­i­al into cells and jump-start the virus to life.

The abil­i­ty to make a lethal virus from mail-order DNA was first demon­strat­ed 20 years ago. It’s enough of a bioter­ror­ism con­cern that com­pa­nies care­ful­ly mon­i­tor who is order­ing which genes. . . . The tech­nol­o­gy imme­di­ate­ly cre­at­ed bio-weapon wor­ries. . . . Researchers at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) drove that point home in 2005 when they res­ur­rect­ed the influen­za virus [22] that killed tens of mil­lions in 1918–1919. . . .

4c. The arti­cle below high­lights the VERY unusu­al [23] aspects of Covid-19. ” . . . . ‘I’ve been study­ing virus­es since 1978,’ Dr. James Hil­dreth [24], Mehar­ry Med­ical Col­lege CEO and an infec­tious dis­ease expert based out of Nashville, told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move [25] this week (video above). ‘And I think it’s fair to say we’ve not encoun­tered a virus quite like this, just because of the broad range of tis­sue types in our body it infects.’ . . .”

“Coro­na Virus Expert: ‘We’ve Not Encoun­tered a Virus Quite Like This’” by Adri­ana Bel­monte [Yahoo Finance]; Yahoo News; 4/30/2020. [23]

The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic [50] has upend­ed nor­mal life across the world. 

There are over 1 mil­lion cas­es of COVID-19 [51] in the U.S., which is the glob­al leader in case count. World­wide, there are over 3 mil­lion cas­es. And for many doc­tors, the coro­n­avirus and its impacts are like noth­ing they’ve ever seen before.

“I’ve been study­ing virus­es since 1978,” Dr. James Hil­dreth [24], Mehar­ry Med­ical Col­lege CEO and an infec­tious dis­ease expert based out of Nashville, told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move [25] this week (video above). “And I think it’s fair to say we’ve not encoun­tered a virus quite like this, just because of the broad range of tis­sue types in our body it infects.”

The coro­n­avirus cre­ates the infec­tion known as COVID-19. The virus spreads through viral droplets from a cough or sneeze, which can trav­el into some­one else’s mouth, nose, or eyes. From there, accord­ing to Web­MD [52], it trav­els through the nasal pas­sage to the mucous mem­branes in your throat and latch­es on. 

With­in two to 14 days, a per­son can start show­ing symp­toms, which include fever, cough, chills, fatigue, and short­ness of breath. As the virus moves through the res­pi­ra­to­ry tract, it can inflame the lungs, caus­ing breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and lead­ing to pneu­mo­nia. 

“So any­one who has a com­pro­mised immune sys­tem, or their lungs are com­pro­mised in any way, they’re going to have real­ly poor out­comes,” Hil­dreth explained. 

The CDC has stat­ed [53] that those over the age of 65 and those with under­ly­ing health con­di­tions are most at risk for severe ill­ness from COVID-19. 

The peo­ple with under­ly­ing health con­di­tions at risk can be of any age. Those with asth­ma, chron­ic lung dis­ease, heart con­di­tions, obe­si­ty, dia­betes, liv­er dis­ease, kid­ney dis­ease, and those who are oth­er­wise immuno­com­pro­mised are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble. 

“It shuts down kid­neys,” Hil­dreth said. “As you’ve heard, it’s start­ing to cause blood clots in young peo­ple in their 30s and 40s who are dying of strokes. It caus­es real­ly severe lung dis­ease. And it also trig­gers some­thing called a cytokine storm [54], in which the immune sys­tem gets over exu­ber­ant and begins to destroy not just the virus, but the tis­sues around the virus.” 

Blood clot­ting is a new­er com­pli­ca­tion [55] that doc­tors have noticed in COVID-19 patients. A 41-year-old Broad­way actor named Nick Cordero, who has been in a med­ical­ly-induced coma for over a month because of the virus, had his leg ampu­tat­ed after devel­op­ing a clot. 

“We do need to find some­thing that can slow the virus down until we have a vac­cine,” Hil­dreth said. “But it’s fair to say that of all the virus­es that I’m aware that I’ve stud­ied or been involved with, this one is very dif­fer­ent, just in terms of the huge range of things that it does to the body.”

“It real­ly is an extra­or­di­nary chal­lenge, and like none we’ve seen before,” he added. “But I’m real­ly heart­ened by the fact that sci­en­tists all over the world have focused their atten­tion on it. And so, I’m con­fi­dent that we’re going to find some solu­tions in the com­ing months.”

5a. The pro­gram con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of two arti­cles refut­ing the “War­ren Report” of Covid-19 genesis–a Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle that is accept­ed as Gospel.

Like the Bible, it is open to seri­ous sci­en­tif­ic refu­ta­tion: ” . . . . To put it sim­ply, the authors are say­ing that SARS-CoV­‑2 was not delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered because if it were, it would have been designed dif­fer­ent­ly. How­ev­er, the Lon­don-based mol­e­c­u­lar geneti­cist Dr Michael Anto­niou [27] com­ment­ed that this line of rea­son­ing fails to take into account that there are a num­ber of lab­o­ra­to­ry-based sys­tems that can select for high affin­i­ty RBD vari­ants that are able to take into account the com­plex envi­ron­ment of a liv­ing organ­ism. This com­plex envi­ron­ment may impact the effi­cien­cy with which the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein can find the ACE2 recep­tor and bind to it. An RBD select­ed via these more real­is­tic real-world exper­i­men­tal sys­tems would be just as ‘ide­al’, or even more so, for human ACE2 bind­ing than any RBD that a com­put­er mod­el could pre­dict. And cru­cial­ly, it would like­ly be dif­fer­ent in amino acid sequence. So the fact that SARS-CoV­‑2 doesn’t have the same RBD amino acid sequence as the one that the com­put­er pro­gram pre­dict­ed in no way rules out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it was genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. . . .”

Dr. Michael Anto­niou notes that dif­fer­ent genet­ic engi­neer­ing process­es than the one high­light­ed in the Nature Med­i­cine paper can be used: ”  . . . . There is anoth­er method by which an enhanced-infec­tiv­i­ty virus can be engi­neered in the lab. A well-known alter­na­tive process that could have been used has the cum­ber­some name of “direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process [29]”. In this case, it would involve using genet­ic engi­neer­ing to gen­er­ate a large num­ber of ran­dom­ly mutat­ed ver­sions of the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein recep­tor bind­ing domain (RBD), which would then be select­ed for strong bind­ing to the ACE2 recep­tor and con­se­quent­ly high infec­tiv­i­ty of human cells. . . .”

The notion that the Nature Med­i­cine authors had not heard of the above process is not cred­i­ble: ” . . . . Such a direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process is a fre­quent­ly used method in lab­o­ra­to­ry research. So there is lit­tle or no pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle authors haven’t heard of it – not least, as it is con­sid­ered so sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly impor­tant that its inven­tors were award­ed [30] the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

“Was the COVID-19 virus genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered?” by Claire Robin­son; GMWatch; 04/22/2020 [26].

Since the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic took off, spec­u­la­tion has been rife about its ori­gins. The truth is that nobody knows for cer­tain how the virus first took hold. But despite that uncer­tain­ty, sug­ges­tions that the virus may have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered, or oth­er­wise lab-gen­er­at­ed, have been reject­ed as “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries” incom­pat­i­ble with the evi­dence.

Yet the main evi­dence that is cit­ed as end­ing all spec­u­la­tion about the role of genet­ic engi­neer­ing and as prov­ing the virus could only have been the prod­uct of nat­ur­al evo­lu­tion turns out to be sur­pris­ing­ly weak. Let’s take a look at it.

The authors of a recent­ly pub­lished paper [56] in the jour­nal Nature Med­i­cine argue that the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus dri­ving the pan­dem­ic arose through nat­ur­al muta­tion and selec­tion in ani­mal (notably bats and pan­golins) or human hosts, and not through lab­o­ra­to­ry manip­u­la­tion and acci­den­tal release. And they say they have iden­ti­fied two key char­ac­ter­is­tics of the virus that prove this: the absence of a pre­vi­ous­ly used virus back­bone and the way in which the virus binds to human cells.

Not the “ide­al” design for infec­tiv­i­ty?

As you would expect of a virus that can cause a glob­al pan­dem­ic, SARS-CoV­‑2 is good at infect­ing human cells. It does this by bind­ing with high affin­i­ty (that is, it binds strong­ly) to the cell sur­face mem­brane pro­tein known as angiotensin-con­vert­ing enzyme 2 (ACE2), which enables it to enter human cells. But, bas­ing their argu­ment on a com­put­er mod­el­ling sys­tem, the authors of the Nature Med­i­cine paper argue that the inter­ac­tion between the virus and the ACE2 recep­tor is “not ide­al”.

They say that the recep­tor-bind­ing domain (RBD) amino acid sequence of the SARS-CoV­‑2 spike pro­tein – the part of the spike pro­tein that allows the virus to bind to the ACE2 pro­tein on human cell sur­faces – is dif­fer­ent from those shown in the SARS-CoV fam­i­ly of virus­es to be opti­mal for recep­tor bind­ing.

They appear to argue, based on their and oth­ers [57]‘ com­put­er mod­el­ling data, that they have iden­ti­fied the “ide­al” CoV spike pro­tein RBD amino acid sequence for ACE2 recep­tor bind­ing. They then seem to imply that if you were to genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer SARS-CoV for opti­mal human ACE2 bind­ing and infec­tiv­i­ty, you would use the RBD amino acid sequence pre­dict­ed by their com­put­er mod­el­ling. But they point out that SARS-CoV­‑2 does not have exact­ly the same com­put­er pro­gram-pre­dict­ed RBD amino acid sequence. Thus they con­clude that it could not have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered, stat­ing: “This is strong evi­dence that SARS-CoV­‑2 is not the prod­uct of pur­pose­ful manip­u­la­tion.”

To put it sim­ply, the authors are say­ing that SARS-CoV­‑2 was not delib­er­ate­ly engi­neered because if it were, it would have been designed dif­fer­ent­ly.

How­ev­er, the Lon­don-based mol­e­c­u­lar geneti­cist Dr Michael Anto­niou [27] com­ment­ed that this line of rea­son­ing fails to take into account that there are a num­ber of lab­o­ra­to­ry-based sys­tems that can select for high affin­i­ty RBD vari­ants that are able to take into account the com­plex envi­ron­ment of a liv­ing organ­ism. This com­plex envi­ron­ment may impact the effi­cien­cy with which the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein can find the ACE2 recep­tor and bind to it. An RBD select­ed via these more real­is­tic real-world exper­i­men­tal sys­tems would be just as “ide­al”, or even more so, for human ACE2 bind­ing than any RBD that a com­put­er mod­el could pre­dict. And cru­cial­ly, it would like­ly be dif­fer­ent in amino acid sequence. So the fact that SARS-CoV­‑2 doesn’t have the same RBD amino acid sequence as the one that the com­put­er pro­gram pre­dict­ed in no way rules out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it was genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered.

Lim­its to com­put­er mod­el­ling

Dr Anto­niou said that the authors’ rea­son­ing is not con­clu­sive because it is based large­ly on com­put­er mod­el­ling, which, he says, is “not defin­i­tive but only pre­dic­tive. It can­not tell us whether any giv­en virus would be opti­mized for infec­tiv­i­ty in a real world sce­nario, such as in the human body. That’s because the envi­ron­ment of the human body will influ­ence how the virus inter­acts with the recep­tor. You can’t mod­el that accu­rate­ly with com­put­er mod­el­ling as there are sim­ply too many vari­ables to fac­tor into the equa­tion.”

Dr Anto­niou added, “Peo­ple can put too much faith in com­put­er pro­grams, but they are only a begin­ning. You then have to prove whether the com­put­er program’s pre­dic­tion is cor­rect or not by direct exper­i­men­ta­tion in a liv­ing organ­ism. This has not been done in the case of this hypoth­e­sis, so it remains unproven.”

It is even pos­si­ble that SARS-CoV­‑2 was opti­mized using a liv­ing organ­ism mod­el, result­ing in a virus that is bet­ter at infect­ing humans than any com­put­er mod­el could pre­dict.

More than one way to engi­neer a virus

The authors of the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle seem to assume that the only way to genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer a virus is to take an already known virus and then engi­neer it to have the new prop­er­ties you want. On this premise, they looked for evi­dence of an already known virus that could have been used in the engi­neer­ing of SARS-CoV­‑2.

And they failed to find that evi­dence. They stat­ed [56], “Genet­ic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV­‑2 is not derived from any pre­vi­ous­ly used virus back­bone.”

But Dr Anto­niou told us that while the authors did indeed show that SARS-CoV­‑2 was unlike­ly to have been built by delib­er­ate genet­ic engi­neer­ing from a pre­vi­ous­ly used virus back­bone, that’s not the only way of con­struct­ing a virus. There is anoth­er method by which an enhanced-infec­tiv­i­ty virus can be engi­neered in the lab.

A well-known alter­na­tive

A well-known alter­na­tive process that could have been used has the cum­ber­some name of “direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process [29]”. In this case, it would involve using genet­ic engi­neer­ing to gen­er­ate a large num­ber of ran­dom­ly mutat­ed ver­sions of the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein recep­tor bind­ing domain (RBD), which would then be select­ed for strong bind­ing to the ACE2 recep­tor and con­se­quent­ly high infec­tiv­i­ty of human cells.

This selec­tion can be done either with puri­fied pro­teins or, bet­ter still, with a mix­ture of whole coro­n­avirus (CoV) prepa­ra­tions and human cells in tis­sue cul­ture. Alter­na­tive­ly, the SARS-CoV spike pro­tein vari­ants can be genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered with­in what is known as a “phage dis­play library”. A phage is a virus that infects bac­te­ria and can be genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered to express on its exte­ri­or coat the CoV spike pro­tein with a large num­ber of vari­ants of the RBD. This prepa­ra­tion of phage, dis­play­ing on its sur­face a “library” of CoV spike pro­tein vari­ants, is then added to human cells under lab­o­ra­to­ry cul­ture con­di­tions in order to select for those that bind to the ACE2 recep­tor.

This process is repeat­ed under more and more strin­gent bind­ing con­di­tions until CoV spike pro­tein vari­ants with a high bind­ing affin­i­ty are iso­lat­ed.

Once any of the above selec­tion pro­ce­dures for high affin­i­ty inter­ac­tion of SARS-CoV spike pro­tein with ACE2 has been com­plet­ed, then whole infec­tious CoV with these prop­er­ties can be man­u­fac­tured.

Such a direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process is a fre­quent­ly used method in lab­o­ra­to­ry research. So there is lit­tle or no pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle authors haven’t heard of it – not least, as it is con­sid­ered so sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly impor­tant that its inven­tors were award­ed [30] the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018.

Yet the pos­si­bil­i­ty that this is the way that SARS-CoV­‑2 arose is not addressed by the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle authors and so its use has not been dis­proven.

No proof SARS-CoV­‑2 was not genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered

In sum, the Nature Med­i­cine arti­cle authors offer no evi­dence that the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus could not have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. That’s not to say that it was, of course. We can’t know one way or the oth­er on the basis of cur­rent­ly avail­able infor­ma­tion.

Dr Anto­niou wrote a short let­ter to Nature Med­i­cine to point out these omis­sions in the authors’ case. Nature Med­i­cine has no method of sub­mit­ting a sim­ple let­ter to the edi­tor, so Dr Anto­niou had to sub­mit it as a Mat­ters Aris­ing [58] com­men­tary, which the jour­nal defines as pre­sent­ing “chal­lenges or clar­i­fi­ca­tions” to an orig­i­nal pub­lished work.

Dr Antoniou’s com­ments were titled, “SARS-CoV­‑2 could have been cre­at­ed through lab­o­ra­to­ry manip­u­la­tion”. How­ev­er, Nature Med­i­cine refused to pub­lish them on the grounds that “we do not feel that they advance or clar­i­fy under­stand­ing” of the orig­i­nal arti­cle. The jour­nal offered no sci­en­tif­ic argu­ment to rebut his points.

In our view, those points do offer clar­i­fi­ca­tion to the orig­i­nal arti­cle, and what’s more, there is a strong pub­lic inter­est case for mak­ing them pub­lic. That’s why we repro­duce Dr Antoniou’s let­ter below this arti­cle, with his per­mis­sion.

Not genet­ic engi­neer­ing – but human inter­ven­tion

There is, inci­den­tal­ly, anoth­er pos­si­ble way that SARS-CoV­‑2 could have been devel­oped in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, but in this case with­out using genet­ic engi­neer­ing. This was point­ed out [32] by Niko­lai Petro­vsky, a researcher at the Col­lege of Med­i­cine and Pub­lic Health at Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty in South Aus­tralia. Petro­vsky says that coro­n­avirus­es can be cul­tured in lab dish­es with cells that have the human ACE2 recep­tor. Over time, the virus will gain adap­ta­tions that let it effi­cient­ly bind to those recep­tors. Along the way, that virus would pick up ran­dom genet­ic muta­tions that pop up but don’t do any­thing notice­able.

“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,” Petro­vsky said. “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.”

Dr Anto­niou agrees that this method is pos­si­ble – but he points out that wait­ing for nature to pro­duce the desired muta­tions is a lot slow­er than using genet­ic engi­neer­ing to gen­er­ate a large num­ber of ran­dom muta­tions that you can then select for the desired out­come by a direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary pro­ce­dure.

Because genet­ic engi­neer­ing great­ly speeds up the process, it is by far the most effi­cient way to gen­er­ate nov­el path­o­gen­ic virus­es in the lab. . . .

Con­clu­sion

It is clear that there is no con­clu­sive evi­dence either way at this point as to whether SARS-CoV­‑2 arose by nat­ur­al muta­tion and selec­tion in ani­mal and/or human hosts or was genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered in a lab­o­ra­to­ry. And in this light, the ques­tion of where this virus came from should con­tin­ue to be explored with an open mind.

*****

SARS-CoV­‑2 could have been cre­at­ed through lab­o­ra­to­ry manip­u­la­tion

Dr Michael Anto­niou

Kris­t­ian Ander­sen and col­leagues (“The prox­i­mal ori­gin of SARS-CoV­‑2”, Nature Med­i­cine, 26: 450–452, 2020) argue that their amino acid sequence com­par­isons and com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­el­ling defin­i­tive­ly proves that SARS-CoV­‑2 has arisen through nat­ur­al muta­tion and selec­tion in ani­mal or human hosts, and not through lab­o­ra­to­ry manip­u­la­tion and acci­den­tal release. How­ev­er, although the authors may indeed be cor­rect in how they per­ceive SARS-CoV­‑2 to have arisen, the data they present does not exclude the pos­si­bil­i­ty that this new coro­n­avirus vari­ant could have been cre­at­ed through an in vit­ro, direct­ed iter­a­tive evo­lu­tion­ary selec­tion process (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed_evolution [29]). Using this method, a very large library of ran­dom­ly muta­g­e­nized coro­n­avirus spike pro­teins could be select­ed for strong bind­ing to the ACE2 recep­tor and con­se­quent­ly high infec­tiv­i­ty of human cells. The pow­er of such direct­ed evo­lu­tion to select for opti­mal enzy­mat­ic and pro­tein-pro­tein inter­ac­tions was acknowl­edged by the award of the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018 (see https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2018/summary/ [30]).

5b. Of more than pass­ing sig­nif­i­cance is anoth­er arti­cle that finds seri­ous fault with the Nature Med­i­cine paper. ” . . . . Pro­fes­sor Stu­art New­man, pro­fes­sor of cell biol­o­gy and anato­my at New York Med­ical Col­lege, says that a key argu­ment used to deny that it could be a genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered strain that escaped from a lab­o­ra­to­ry actu­al­ly points to the exact oppo­site. In oth­er words, it indi­cates that SARS-CoV­‑2 could well be genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered and that it could have escaped from a lab. . . . As Adam Lau­r­ing, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of micro­bi­ol­o­gy, immunol­o­gy and infec­tious dis­eases at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Med­ical School, has not­ed [32], Andersen’s paper argues that, ‘the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus has some key dif­fer­ences in spe­cif­ic genes rel­a­tive to pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied coro­n­avirus­es – the ones a lab­o­ra­to­ry would be work­ing with. This con­stel­la­tion of changes makes it unlike­ly that it is the result of a lab­o­ra­to­ry ‘escape’.‘But Pro­fes­sor New­man says [33] that this is total­ly uncon­vinc­ing because ‘The ‘key dif­fer­ences’ were in regions of the coro­n­avirus spike pro­tein that were the sub­ject of genet­ic engi­neer­ing exper­i­ments in labs around the world (main­ly in the US and Chi­na) for two decades.’ . . .”

Pro­fes­sor New­man goes on to high­light oth­er, seri­ous flaws in the argu­ment: ” . . . In an email inter­view with GMWatch, New­man, who is edi­tor-in-chief of the jour­nal Bio­log­i­cal The­o­ry and co-author (with Tina Stevens) of the book Biotech Jug­ger­naut [34], ampli­fied this spec­u­la­tion by not­ing, ‘The Nature Med­i­cine paper points to vari­a­tions in two sites of the spike pro­tein of the new coro­n­avirus that the authors claim must have arisen by nat­ur­al selec­tion in the wild. How­ev­er, genet­ic engi­neer­ing of one of these sites, the ACE2 recep­tor bind­ing domain, has been pro­posed since 2005 in order to help gen­er­ate vac­cines against these virus­es (see this paper [35]). It is puz­zling that the authors of the Nature Med­i­cine com­men­tary did not cite this paper, which appeared in the promi­nent jour­nal Sci­ence.More­over, New­man added, “The sec­ond site that Ander­sen et al. assert arose by nat­ur­al means, a tar­get of enzyme cleav­age not usu­al­ly found in this class of virus­es, was in fact intro­duced by genet­ic engi­neer­ing in a sim­i­lar coro­n­avirus in a paper [36] they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . . .”

Worth not­ing, again, is the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion’s warn­ing dis­cussed above: ” . . . .The BMA report warns that legit­i­mate research into micro­bi­o­log­i­cal agents and genet­i­cal­ly tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tic agents could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from research geared towards devel­op­ing more effec­tive weapons. . . .”

As the GMWatch authors con­clude: ” . . . . Such ‘enhanced infec­tiv­i­ty’ research is car­ried out on virus­es all over the world (and not just in Chi­na) to inves­ti­gate their behav­iour and to devel­op vac­cines and oth­er ther­a­pies, as well as for ‘biode­fence’ pur­pos­es. . . .”

“Anoth­er expert chal­lenges asser­tions that SARS-CoV­‑2 was not genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered”; GMWatch; 04/27/2020 [31].

Anoth­er expert on biotech­nol­o­gy has attacked the evi­dence being used to quash sug­ges­tions that SARS-CoV­‑2, the virus strain that caus­es COVID-19, might have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. Pro­fes­sor Stu­art New­man, pro­fes­sor of cell biol­o­gy and anato­my at New York Med­ical Col­lege, says that a key argu­ment used to deny that it could be a genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered strain that escaped from a lab­o­ra­to­ry actu­al­ly points to the exact oppo­site. In oth­er words, it indi­cates that SARS-CoV­‑2 could well be genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered and that it could have escaped from a lab.

The evi­dence that is being cit­ed as prov­ing that SARS-CoV­‑2 is “not a lab­o­ra­to­ry con­struct or a pur­pose­ful­ly manip­u­lat­ed virus” is a paper [56] pub­lished by the immu­nol­o­gist Kris­t­ian Ander­sen and col­leagues in Nature Med­i­cine. As Adam Lau­r­ing, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of micro­bi­ol­o­gy, immunol­o­gy and infec­tious dis­eases at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Med­ical School, has not­ed [32], Andersen’s paper argues that, “the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus has some key dif­fer­ences in spe­cif­ic genes rel­a­tive to pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied coro­n­avirus­es – the ones a lab­o­ra­to­ry would be work­ing with. This con­stel­la­tion of changes makes it unlike­ly that it is the result of a lab­o­ra­to­ry ‘escape’.”

But Pro­fes­sor New­man says [33] that this is total­ly uncon­vinc­ing because “The ‘key dif­fer­ences’ were in regions of the coro­n­avirus spike pro­tein that were the sub­ject of genet­ic engi­neer­ing exper­i­ments in labs around the world (main­ly in the US and Chi­na) for two decades.”

So not only does New­man think that the virus could have escaped from a lab, he also thinks that it could have orig­i­nat­ed in a virus stock that had under­gone genet­ic engi­neer­ing at some point.

In an email inter­view with GMWatch, New­man, who is edi­tor-in-chief of the jour­nal Bio­log­i­cal The­o­ry and co-author (with Tina Stevens) of the book Biotech Jug­ger­naut [34], ampli­fied this spec­u­la­tion by not­ing, “The Nature Med­i­cine paper points to vari­a­tions in two sites of the spike pro­tein of the new coro­n­avirus that the authors claim must have arisen by nat­ur­al selec­tion in the wild. How­ev­er, genet­ic engi­neer­ing of one of these sites, the ACE2 recep­tor bind­ing domain, has been pro­posed since 2005 in order to help gen­er­ate vac­cines against these virus­es (see this paper [35]). It is puz­zling that the authors of the Nature Med­i­cine com­men­tary did not cite this paper, which appeared in the promi­nent jour­nal Sci­ence.

More­over, New­man added, “The sec­ond site that Ander­sen et al. assert arose by nat­ur­al means, a tar­get of enzyme cleav­age not usu­al­ly found in this class of virus­es, was in fact intro­duced by genet­ic engi­neer­ing in a sim­i­lar coro­n­avirus in a paper [36] they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty.

New­man said that he does not believe that these changes were delib­er­ate­ly intro­duced to increase the path­o­genic­i­ty of any sin­gle strain, but that SARS-CoV­‑2 may have had genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered com­po­nents in its his­to­ry before being inad­ver­tent­ly intro­duced into the human pop­u­la­tion.

New­man is not the only sci­en­tist that has spo­ken out about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered ele­ment to the virus. We recent­ly pub­lished an arti­cle [26] in which the mol­e­c­u­lar geneti­cist Dr Michael Anto­niou also cast doubt on asser­tions that the virus was not genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. Dr Anto­niou set out a method by which the virus could have been genet­i­cal­ly manip­u­lat­ed and select­ed for increased infec­tiv­i­ty in the lab­o­ra­to­ry.

Nei­ther Dr Anto­niou, nor Prof New­man, nor we our­selves make any sug­ges­tion that, in the event that genet­ic engi­neer­ing was involved, the inten­tion was to cre­ate a bioweapon. Such “enhanced infec­tiv­i­ty” research is car­ried out on virus­es all over the world (and not just in Chi­na) to inves­ti­gate their behav­iour and to devel­op vac­cines and oth­er ther­a­pies, as well as for “biode­fence” pur­pos­es. . . .