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Disturbing Article about DARPA and Bat-Borne Coronaviruses

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COMMENT: A thought-pro­vok­ing and dis­turb­ing arti­cle about DARPA research into bat-borne dis­eases, includ­ing some caused by coronaviruses–is set forth here. 

As read­ers digest this infor­ma­tion, remem­ber that DARPA can bring to bear the twined tech­nolo­gies arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and super-com­put­ers. It has the state of the art with respect to both. Com­bined with gene edit­ing, that tech­no­log­i­cal pair­ing offers the pos­si­bil­i­ty of tru­ly hor­ri­fy­ing syn­thet­ic virus­es.

Whit­ney Webb has pro­vid­ed us with trou­bling insight into Pen­ta­gon research–some of which remains clas­si­fied:

    •  Into bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es. ” . . . . the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), began spend­ing mil­lions on such research in 2018 and some of those Pen­ta­gon-fund­ed stud­ies were con­duct­ed at known U.S. mil­i­tary bioweapons labs bor­der­ing Chi­na and result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of dozens of new coro­n­avirus strains as recent­ly as last April. Fur­ther­more, the ties of the Pentagon’s main biode­fense lab to a virol­o­gy insti­tute in Wuhan, Chi­na — where the cur­rent out­break is believed to have begun — have been unre­port­ed in Eng­lish lan­guage media thus far. . . . For instance, DARPA spent $10 mil­lion on one project in 2018 ‘to unrav­el the com­plex caus­es of bat-borne virus­es that have recent­ly made the jump to humans, caus­ing con­cern among glob­al health offi­cials.” Anoth­er research project backed by both DARPA and NIH saw researchers at Col­orado State Uni­ver­si­ty exam­ine the coro­n­avirus that caus­es Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS) in bats and camels ‘to under­stand the role of these hosts in trans­mit­ting dis­ease to humans.’  . . . For instance, one study con­duct­ed in South­ern Chi­na in 2018 result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of 89 new ‘nov­el bat coro­n­avirus’ strains that use the same recep­tor as the coro­n­avirus known as Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS). That study was joint­ly fund­ed by the Chi­nese government’s Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, USAID — an orga­ni­za­tion long alleged to be a front for U.S. intel­li­gence, and the U.S. Nation­al Insti­tute of Health — which has col­lab­o­rat­ed with both the CIA and the Pen­ta­gon on infec­tious dis­ease and bioweapons research.. . . .”
    • At bio­log­i­cal research facil­i­ties ring­ing both Chi­na and Rus­sia. ” . . . .  One of those stud­ies focused on ‘Bat-Borne Zoonot­ic Dis­ease Emer­gence in West­ern Asia’ and involved the Lugar Cen­ter in Geor­gia, iden­ti­fied by for­mer Geor­gian gov­ern­ment offi­cialsthe Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and inde­pen­dent, inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Dilyana Gay­tandzhie­va as a covert U.S. bioweapons lab. . . . Anoth­er U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed study that dis­cov­ered still more new strains of ‘nov­el bat coro­n­avirus’ was pub­lished just last year. Titled ‘Dis­cov­ery and Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Nov­el Bat Coro­n­avirus Lin­eages from Kaza­khstan,’ focused on ‘the bat fau­na of cen­tral Asia, which link Chi­na to east­ern Europe’ and the nov­el bat coro­n­avirus lin­eages dis­cov­ered dur­ing the study were found to be ‘close­ly relat­ed to bat coro­n­avirus­es from Chi­na, France, Spain, and South Africa, sug­gest­ing that co-cir­cu­la­tion of coro­n­avirus­es is com­mon in mul­ti­ple bat species with over­lap­ping geo­graph­i­cal dis­tri­b­u­tions.’ In oth­er words, the coro­n­avirus­es dis­cov­ered in this study were iden­ti­fied in bat pop­u­la­tions that migrate between Chi­na and Kaza­khstan, among oth­er coun­tries, and is close­ly relat­ed to bat coro­n­avirus­es in sev­er­al coun­tries, includ­ing Chi­na. . . .”
    • Net­worked with Chi­nese research facil­i­ties in Wuhan. ” . . . . The USAMRIID’s prob­lem­at­ic record of safe­ty at such facil­i­ties is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern in light of the recent coro­n­avirus out­break in Chi­na. As this report will soon reveal, this is because USAMRIID has a decades-old and close part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wuhan’s Insti­tute of Med­ical Virol­o­gy, which is locat­ed in the epi­cen­ter of the cur­rent out­break. . . . Duke Uni­ver­si­ty is also joint­ly part­nered with China’s Wuhan Uni­ver­si­ty, which is based in the city where the cur­rent coro­n­avirus out­break began, which result­ed in the open­ing of the Chi­na-based Duke Kun­shan Uni­ver­si­ty (DKU) in 2018. Notably, China’s Wuhan Uni­ver­si­ty — in addi­tion to its part­ner­ship with Duke — also includes a mul­ti-lab Insti­tute of Med­ical Virol­o­gy that has worked close­ly with the US Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute for Infec­tious Dis­eases since the 1980s, accord­ing to its web­site. . . . ”
    • Into the DNA of both Russ­ian and Chi­nese pop­u­la­tions. ” . . . . Since the Pen­ta­gon began ‘redesign­ing’ its poli­cies and research towards a ‘long war’ with Rus­sia and Chi­na, the Russ­ian mil­i­tary has accused the U.S. mil­i­tary of har­vest­ing DNA from Rus­sians as part of a covert bioweapon pro­gram, a charge that the Pen­ta­gon has adamant­ly denied. Major Gen­er­al Igor Kir­illov, the head of the Russ­ian military’s radi­a­tion, chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion unit who made these claims, also assert­ed that the U.S. was devel­op­ing such weapons in close prox­im­i­ty to Russ­ian and Chi­nese bor­ders. Chi­na has also accused the U.S. mil­i­tary of har­vest­ing DNA from Chi­nese cit­i­zens with ill inten­tions, such as when 200,000 Chi­nese farm­ers were used in 12 genet­ic exper­i­ments with­out informed con­sent. Those exper­i­ments had been con­duct­ed by Har­vard researchers as part of a U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed project. . . .”
    • Into “gene-driving”–a biotech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment that can per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ic make­up of entire pop­u­la­tion groups and lead to the extinc­tion of oth­er groups. ” . . . . Con­cerns about Pen­ta­gon exper­i­ments with bio­log­i­cal weapons have gar­nered renewed media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after it was revealed in 2017 that DARPA was the top fun­der of the con­tro­ver­sial ‘gene dri­ve’ tech­nol­o­gy, which has the pow­er to per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ics of entire pop­u­la­tions while tar­get­ing oth­ers for extinc­tion. At least two of DARPA’s stud­ies using this con­tro­ver­sial tech­nol­o­gy were clas­si­fied and ‘focused on the poten­tial mil­i­tary appli­ca­tion of gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy and use of gene dri­ves in agri­cul­ture,’ accord­ing to media reports. The rev­e­la­tion came after an orga­ni­za­tion called the ETC Group obtained over 1,000 emails on the military’s inter­est in the tech­nol­o­gy as part of a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) request. Co-direc­tor of the ETC Group Jim Thomas said that this tech­nol­o­gy may be used as a bio­log­i­cal weapon: ‘Gene dri­ves are a pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous new tech­nol­o­gy and poten­tial bio­log­i­cal weapons could have dis­as­trous impacts on peace, food secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment, espe­cial­ly if mis­used, The fact that gene dri­ve devel­op­ment is now being pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed and struc­tured by the US mil­i­tary rais­es alarm­ing ques­tions about this entire field.’ . . . .”
    • Into over­lap­ping tech­nolo­gies man­i­fest­ing philoso­phies of eugen­ics and eth­nic cleans­ing. ” . . . . In addi­tion, one pre­lim­i­nary study on the coro­n­avirus respon­si­ble for the cur­rent out­break found that the recep­tor, Angiotensin-con­vert­ing enzyme 2 (ACE2), is not only the same as that used by the SARS coro­n­avirus, but that East Asians present a much high­er ratio of lung cells that express that recep­tor than the oth­er eth­nic­i­ties (Cau­casian and African-Amer­i­can) includ­ed in the study. . . . the U.S. Air Force pub­lished a doc­u­ment enti­tled ‘Biotech­nol­o­gy: Genet­i­cal­ly Engi­neered Pathogens,’ which con­tains the fol­low­ing pas­sage: ‘The JASON group, com­posed of aca­d­e­m­ic sci­en­tists, served as tech­ni­cal advis­ers to the U. S. gov­ern­ment. Their study gen­er­at­ed six broad class­es of genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered pathogens that could pose seri­ous threats to soci­ety. These include but are not lim­it­ed to bina­ry bio­log­i­cal weapons, design­er genes, gene ther­a­py as a weapon, stealth virus­es, host-swap­ping dis­eases, and design­er dis­eases (empha­sis added).’ . . .”
    • Into the use of “Insect Allies” to sup­pos­ed­ly pro­vide crops with pro­tec­tion against pests and disease–a tech­no­log­i­cal pro­gram crit­ics have charged masks an offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare man­i­fes­ta­tion. ” . . . . The most recent exam­ple of this involved DARPA’s “Insect Allies” pro­gram, which offi­cial­ly “aims to pro­tect the U.S. agri­cul­tur­al food sup­ply by deliv­er­ing pro­tec­tive genes to plants via insects, which are respon­si­ble for the trans­mis­sion of most plant virus­es” and to ensure “food secu­ri­ty in the event of a major threat,” accord­ing to both DARPA and media reports. How­ev­er, a group of well-respect­ed, inde­pen­dent sci­en­tists revealed in a scathing analy­sis of the pro­gram that, far from a ‘defen­sive’ research project, the Insect Allies pro­gram was aimed at cre­at­ing and deliv­er­ing ‘new class of bio­log­i­cal weapon.’ The sci­en­tists, writ­ing in the jour­nal Sci­ence and led by Richard Guy Reeves, from the Max Planck Insti­tute for Evo­lu­tion­ary Biol­o­gy in Ger­many, warned that DARPA’s pro­gram — which uses insects as the vehi­cle for as hor­i­zon­tal envi­ron­men­tal genet­ic alter­ation agents (HEGAAS) — revealed ‘an inten­tion to devel­op a means of deliv­ery of HEGAAs for offen­sive pur­pos­es (empha­sis added).’ . . .”
    • Osten­si­bly aimed at pre­vent­ing pan­demics but–very possibly–masking prepa­ra­tions for offen­sive bio­log­i­cal war­fare projects. ” . . . . Many of these recent research projects are relat­ed to DARPA’s Pre­vent­ing Emerg­ing Path­o­gen­ic Threats, or PREEMPT pro­gram, which was offi­cial­ly announced in April 2018. PREEMPT focus­es specif­i­cal­ly on ani­mal reser­voirs of dis­ease, specif­i­cal­ly bats, and DARPA even not­ed in its press release in the pro­gram that it ‘is aware of biosafe­ty and biose­cu­ri­ty sen­si­tiv­i­ties that could arise’ due to the nature of the research. . . . In addi­tion, while both DARPA’s PREEMPT pro­gram and the Pentagon’s open inter­est in bats as bioweapons were announced in 2018, the U.S. mil­i­tary — specif­i­cal­ly the Depart­ment of Defense’s Coop­er­a­tive Threat Reduc­tion Pro­gram — began fund­ing research involv­ing bats and dead­ly pathogens, includ­ing the coro­n­avirus­es MERS and SARS, a year pri­or in 2017. . . .”
    • That is heav­i­ly net­worked with the U.S. health and med­ical infra­struc­tures. ” . . . . The sec­ond phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny that was select­ed by CEPI to devel­op a vac­cine for the new coro­n­avirus is Mod­er­na Inc., which will devel­op a vac­cine for the nov­el coro­n­avirus of con­cern in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. NIH and which will be fund­ed entire­ly by CEPI. The vac­cine in ques­tion, as opposed to Inovio’s DNA vac­cine, will be a mes­sen­ger RNA (mRNA) vac­cine. Though dif­fer­ent than a DNA vac­cine, mRNA vac­cines still use genet­ic mate­r­i­al ‘to direct the body’s cells to pro­duce intra­cel­lu­lar, mem­brane or secret­ed pro­teins.’ Moderna’s mRNA treat­ments, includ­ing its mRNA vac­cines, were large­ly devel­oped using a $25 mil­lion grant from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es. . . .”
    • That is heav­i­ly net­worked with firms cho­sen to devel­op vac­cines for the Covid-19. ” . . . . the very com­pa­nies recent­ly cho­sen to devel­op a vac­cine to com­bat the coro­n­avirus out­break are them­selves strate­gic allies of DARPA. . . . For instance, the top fun­ders of Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals include both DARPA and the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA) and the com­pa­ny has received mil­lions in dol­lars in grants from DARPA, includ­ing a $45 mil­lion grant to devel­op a vac­cine for Ebo­la. Inovio spe­cial­izes in the cre­ation of DNA immunother­a­pies and DNA vac­cines, which con­tain genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered DNA that caus­es the cells of the recip­i­ent to pro­duce an anti­gen and can per­ma­nent­ly alter a person’s DNA. Inovio pre­vi­ous­ly devel­oped a DNA vac­cine for the Zika virus, but — to date — no DNA vac­cine has been approved for use in humans in the Unit­ed States. Inovio was also recent­ly award­ed over $8 mil­lion from the U.S. mil­i­tary to devel­op a small, portable intra­der­mal device for deliv­er­ing DNA vac­cines joint­ly devel­oped by Inovio and USAMRIID.”
    • Into vac­cines that have not been used on human beings and that use gene-alter­ing manip­u­la­tion that alarms crit­ics. ” . . . . Not only that, but these DARPA-backed com­pa­nies are devel­op­ing con­tro­ver­sial DNA and mRNA vac­cines for this par­tic­u­lar coro­n­avirus strain, a cat­e­go­ry of vac­cine that has nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly been approved for human use in the Unit­ed States. . . . Inovio’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. mil­i­tary in regards to DNA vac­cines is noth­ing new, as their past efforts to devel­op a DNA vac­cine for both Ebo­la and Mar­burg virus were also part of what Inovio’s CEO Dr. Joseph Kim called its ‘active biode­fense pro­gram’ that has ‘gar­nered mul­ti­ple grants from the Depart­ment of Defense, Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA), Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases (NIAID), and oth­er gov­ern­ment agen­cies.’ . . . . ”
    • The type of vac­cines that are being researched by Mod­er­na and Inovio has gen­er­at­ed alarm, which may be cir­cum­vent­ed by the fear sur­round­ing the Covid-19 out­break: ” . . . . Both DNA and mRNA vac­cines involve the intro­duc­tion of for­eign and engi­neered genet­ic mate­r­i­al into a person’s cells and past stud­ies have found that such vac­cines ‘pos­sess sig­nif­i­cant unpre­dictabil­i­ty and a num­ber of inher­ent harm­ful poten­tial haz­ards’ and that ‘there is inad­e­quate knowl­edge to define either the prob­a­bil­i­ty of unin­tend­ed events or the con­se­quences of genet­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tions.’ Nonethe­less, the cli­mate of fear sur­round­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break could be enough for the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to devel­op and dis­trib­ute such con­tro­ver­sial treat­ments due to fear about the epi­dem­ic poten­tial of the cur­rent out­break. . . .”
    • Involv­ing the U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases, locat­ed at Fort Det­rick, Mary­land, a facil­i­ty that was closed down in August of 2019 by the CDC for mul­ti­ple safe­ty vio­la­tions. ” . . . . The U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases (USAMRIID) facil­i­ty at Fort Det­rick, Mary­land — the U.S. military’s lead lab­o­ra­to­ry for ‘bio­log­i­cal defense’ research since the late 1960s — was forced to halt all research it was con­duct­ing with a series of dead­ly pathogens after the CDC found that it lacked ‘suf­fi­cient sys­tems in place to decon­t­a­m­i­nate waste­water’ from its high­est-secu­ri­ty labs and fail­ure of staff to fol­low safe­ty pro­ce­dures, among oth­er laps­es. The facil­i­ty con­tains both lev­el 3 and lev­el 4 biosafe­ty labs. While it is unknown if exper­i­ments involv­ing coro­n­avirus­es were ongo­ing at the time, USAMRIID has recent­ly been involved in research born out of the Pentagon’s recent con­cern about the use of bats as bioweapons. . . .”
    • Into the appli­ca­tion of genet­ic engi­neer­ing in order to cre­ate eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal war­fare weapons, as dis­cussed by the Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry. ” . . . . In what is arguably the think tank’s most con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment, titled ‘Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es,’ there are a few pas­sages that open­ly dis­cuss the util­i­ty of bioweapons, includ­ing the fol­low­ing sen­tences: ‘…com­bat like­ly will take place in new dimen­sions: in space, ‘cyber-space,’ and per­haps the world of microbes…advanced forms of bio­log­i­cal war­fare that can ‘tar­get’ spe­cif­ic geno­types may trans­form bio­log­i­cal war­fare from the realm of ter­ror to a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.’ . . .”

“Bats, Gene Edit­ing and Bioweapons: Rec­cent DARPA Exper­i­ments Raise Con­cerns Amid Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by Whit­ney Webb; The Last Amer­i­can Vagabond; 1/30/2020.

In recent weeks, con­cern over the emer­gence of a nov­el coro­n­avirus in Chi­na has grown expo­nen­tial­ly as media, experts and gov­ern­ment offi­cials around the world have open­ly wor­ried that this new dis­ease has the poten­tial to devel­op into a glob­al pan­dem­ic.

As con­cerns about the future of the ongo­ing out­break have grown, so too have the num­ber of the­o­ries spec­u­lat­ing about the outbreak’s ori­gin, many of which blame a vari­ety of state actors and/or con­tro­ver­sial bil­lion­aires. This has inevitably led to efforts to clamp down on “mis­in­for­ma­tion” relat­ed to the coro­n­avirus out­break from both main­stream media out­lets and major social media plat­forms.

How­ev­er, while many of these the­o­ries are clear­ly spec­u­la­tive, there is also ver­i­fi­able evi­dence regard­ing the recent inter­est of one con­tro­ver­sial U.S. gov­ern­ment agency in nov­el coro­n­avirus­es, specif­i­cal­ly those trans­mit­ted from bats to humans. That agency, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), began spend­ing mil­lions on such research in 2018 and some of those Pen­ta­gon-fund­ed stud­ies were con­duct­ed at known U.S. mil­i­tary bioweapons labs bor­der­ing Chi­na and result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of dozens of new coro­n­avirus strains as recent­ly as last April. Fur­ther­more, the ties of the Pentagon’s main biode­fense lab to a virol­o­gy insti­tute in Wuhan, Chi­na — where the cur­rent out­break is believed to have begun — have been unre­port­ed in Eng­lish lan­guage media thus far.

While it remains entire­ly unknown as to what caused the out­break, the details of DARPA’s and the Pentagon’s recent exper­i­men­ta­tion are clear­ly in the pub­lic inter­est, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that the very com­pa­nies recent­ly cho­sen to devel­op a vac­cine to com­bat the coro­n­avirus out­break are them­selves strate­gic allies of DARPA. Not only that, but these DARPA-backed com­pa­nies are devel­op­ing con­tro­ver­sial DNA and mRNA vac­cines for this par­tic­u­lar coro­n­avirus strain, a cat­e­go­ry of vac­cine that has nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly been approved for human use in the Unit­ed States.

Yet, as fears of the pan­dem­ic poten­tial of coro­n­avirus grow, these vac­cines are set to be rushed to mar­ket for pub­lic use, mak­ing it impor­tant for the pub­lic to be aware of DARPA’s recent exper­i­ments on coro­n­avirus­es, bats and gene edit­ing tech­nolo­gies and their broad­er impli­ca­tions.

Exam­in­ing the Recent Wuhan-Bioweapon Nar­ra­tive

As the coro­n­avirus out­break has come to dom­i­nate head­lines in recent weeks, sev­er­al media out­lets have pro­mot­ed claims that the report­ed epi­cen­ter of the out­break in Wuhan, Chi­na was also the site of lab­o­ra­to­ries alleged­ly linked to a Chi­nese gov­ern­ment biowar­fare pro­gram.

How­ev­er, upon fur­ther exam­i­na­tion of the sourc­ing for this seri­ous claim, these sup­posed links between the out­break and an alleged Chi­nese bioweapons pro­gram have come from two high­ly dubi­ous sources.

For instance, the first out­let to report on this claim was Radio Free Asia, the U.S.-government fund­ed media out­let tar­get­ing Asian audi­ences that used to be run covert­ly by the CIA and named by the New York Times as a key part in the agency’s “world­wide pro­pa­gan­da net­work.” Though it is no longer run direct­ly by the CIA, it is now man­aged by the gov­ern­ment-fund­ed Broad­cast­ing Board of Gov­er­nors (BBG), which answers direct­ly to Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, who was CIA direc­tor imme­di­ate­ly pri­or to his cur­rent post at the head of the State Depart­ment.

In oth­er words, Radio Free Asia and oth­er BBG-man­aged media out­lets are legal out­lets for U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da. Notably, the long-stand­ing ban on the domes­tic use of U.S. gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da on U.S. cit­i­zens was lift­ed in 2013, with the offi­cial jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of allow­ing the gov­ern­ment to “effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cate in a cred­i­ble way” and to bet­ter com­bat “al-Qaeda’s and oth­er vio­lent extrem­ists’ influ­ence.”

Return­ing to the sub­ject at hand, Radio Free Asia’s recent report on the alleged ori­gins of the out­break being linked to a Chi­nese state-linked virol­o­gy cen­ter cit­ed only Ren Rui­hong, the for­mer head of the med­ical assis­tance depart­ment at the Chi­nese Red Cross, for that claim. Rui­hong has been cit­ed as an expert in sev­er­al Radio Free Asia reports on dis­ease out­breaks in Chi­na, but has not been cit­ed as an expert by any oth­er Eng­lish-lan­guage media out­let.

Rui­hong told Radio Free Asia that:

“It’s a new type of mutant coronavirus.They haven’t made pub­lic the genet­ic sequence, because it is high­ly contagious…Genetic engi­neer­ing tech­nol­o­gy has got­ten to such a point now, and Wuhan is home to a viral research cen­ter that is under the aegis of the Chi­na Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, which is the high­est lev­el of research facil­i­ty in Chi­na.”

Though Rui­hong did not direct­ly say that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment was mak­ing a bioweapon at the Wuhan facil­i­ty, she did imply that genet­ic exper­i­ments at the facil­i­ty may have result­ed in the cre­ation of this new “mutant coro­n­avirus” at the cen­ter of the out­break.

With Radio Free Asia and its sin­gle source hav­ing spec­u­lat­ed about Chi­nese gov­ern­ment links to the cre­ation of the new coro­n­avirus, the Wash­ing­ton Times soon took it much far­ther in a report titled “Virus-hit Wuhan has two lab­o­ra­to­ries linked to Chi­nese bio-war­fare pro­gram.” That arti­cle, much like Radio Free Asia’s ear­li­er report, cites a sin­gle source for that claim, for­mer Israeli mil­i­tary intel­li­gence biowar­fare spe­cial­ist Dany Shoham.

Yet, upon read­ing the arti­cle, Shoham does not even direct­ly make the claim cit­ed in the article’s head­line, as he only told the Wash­ing­ton Times that: “Cer­tain lab­o­ra­to­ries in the [Wuhan] insti­tute have prob­a­bly been engaged, in terms of research and devel­op­ment, in Chi­nese [bio­log­i­cal weapons], at least col­lat­er­al­ly, yet not as a prin­ci­pal facil­i­ty of the Chi­nese BW align­ment (empha­sis added).”

While Shoham’s claims are clear­ly spec­u­la­tive, it is telling that the Wash­ing­ton Timeswould both­er to cite him at all, espe­cial­ly giv­en the key role he played in pro­mot­ing false claims that the 2001 Anthrax attacks was the work of Iraq’s Sad­dam Hus­sein. Shoham’s asser­tions about Iraq’s gov­ern­ment and weaponized Anthrax, which were used to bol­ster the case for the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq, have since been proven com­plete­ly false, as Iraq was found to have nei­ther the chem­i­cal or bio­log­i­cal “weapons of mass destruc­tion” that “experts” like Shoham had claimed.

Beyond Shoham’s own his­to­ry of mak­ing sus­pect claims, it is also worth not­ing that Shoham’s pre­vi­ous employ­er, Israeli mil­i­tary intel­li­gence, has a trou­bling past with bioweapons. For instance, in the late 1990s, it was report­ed by sev­er­al out­lets that Israel was in the process of devel­op­ing a genet­ic bioweapon that would tar­get Arabs, specif­i­cal­ly Iraqis, but leave Israeli Jews unaf­fect­ed.

Giv­en the dubi­ous past of Shoham and the clear­ly spec­u­la­tive nature of both his claims and those made in the Radio Free Asia report, one pas­sage in the Wash­ing­ton Times arti­cle is par­tic­u­lar­ly telling about why these claims have recent­ly sur­faced:

“One omi­nous sign, said a U.S. offi­cial, is that the false rumors since the out­break began sev­er­al weeks ago have begun cir­cu­lat­ing on the Chi­nese Inter­net claim­ing the virus is part of a U.S. con­spir­a­cy to spread germ weaponsThat could indi­cate Chi­na is prepar­ing pro­pa­gan­da out­lets to counter future charges the new virus escaped from one of Wuhan’s civil­ian or defense research lab­o­ra­to­ries (empha­sis added).”

How­ev­er, as seen in that very arti­cle, accu­sa­tions that the coro­n­avirus escaped from a Chi­nese-state-linked lab­o­ra­to­ry is hard­ly a future charge as both the Wash­ing­ton Times and Radio Free Asia have already been mak­ing that claim. Instead, what this pas­sage sug­gests is that the reports in both Radio Free Asia and the Wash­ing­ton Times were respons­es to the claims cir­cu­lat­ing with­in Chi­na that the out­break is linked to a “U.S. con­spir­a­cy to spread germ weapons.”

Though most Eng­lish-lan­guage media out­lets to date have not exam­ined such a pos­si­bil­i­ty, there is con­sid­er­able sup­port­ing evi­dence that deserves to be exam­ined. For instance, not only was the U.S. mil­i­tary, includ­ing its con­tro­ver­sial research arm — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), recent­ly fund­ing stud­ies in and near Chi­na that dis­cov­ered new, mutant coro­n­avirus­es orig­i­nat­ing from bats, but the Pen­ta­gon also became recent­ly con­cerned about the poten­tial use of bats as bioweapons.

In recent weeks, con­cern over the emer­gence of a nov­el coro­n­avirus in Chi­na has grown expo­nen­tial­ly as media, experts and gov­ern­ment offi­cials around the world have open­ly wor­ried that this new dis­ease has the poten­tial to devel­op into a glob­al pan­dem­ic.

As con­cerns about the future of the ongo­ing out­break have grown, so too have the num­ber of the­o­ries spec­u­lat­ing about the outbreak’s ori­gin, many of which blame a vari­ety of state actors and/or con­tro­ver­sial bil­lion­aires. This has inevitably led to efforts to clamp down on “mis­in­for­ma­tion” relat­ed to the coro­n­avirus out­break from both main­stream media out­lets and major social media plat­forms.

How­ev­er, while many of these the­o­ries are clear­ly spec­u­la­tive, there is also ver­i­fi­able evi­dence regard­ing the recent inter­est of one con­tro­ver­sial U.S. gov­ern­ment agency in nov­el coro­n­avirus­es, specif­i­cal­ly those trans­mit­ted from bats to humans. That agency, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), began spend­ing mil­lions on such research in 2018 and some of those Pen­ta­gon-fund­ed stud­ies were con­duct­ed at known U.S. mil­i­tary bioweapons labs bor­der­ing Chi­na and result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of dozens of new coro­n­avirus strains as recent­ly as last April. Fur­ther­more, the ties of the Pentagon’s main biode­fense lab to a virol­o­gy insti­tute in Wuhan, Chi­na — where the cur­rent out­break is believed to have begun — have been unre­port­ed in Eng­lish lan­guage media thus far.

While it remains entire­ly unknown as to what caused the out­break, the details of DARPA’s and the Pentagon’s recent exper­i­men­ta­tion are clear­ly in the pub­lic inter­est, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that the very com­pa­nies recent­ly cho­sen to devel­op a vac­cine to com­bat the coro­n­avirus out­break are them­selves strate­gic allies of DARPA. Not only that, but these DARPA-backed com­pa­nies are devel­op­ing con­tro­ver­sial DNA and mRNA vac­cines for this par­tic­u­lar coro­n­avirus strain, a cat­e­go­ry of vac­cine that has nev­er pre­vi­ous­ly been approved for human use in the Unit­ed States.

Yet, as fears of the pan­dem­ic poten­tial of coro­n­avirus grow, these vac­cines are set to be rushed to mar­ket for pub­lic use, mak­ing it impor­tant for the pub­lic to be aware of DARPA’s recent exper­i­ments on coro­n­avirus­es, bats and gene edit­ing tech­nolo­gies and their broad­er impli­ca­tions.

As the ongo­ing coro­n­avirus out­break cen­tered in Chi­na has spread to oth­er coun­tries and been blamed for a grow­ing num­ber of deaths, a con­sen­sus has emerged that this par­tic­u­lar virus, cur­rent­ly clas­si­fied as a “nov­el [i.e. new] coro­n­avirus,” is believed to have orig­i­nat­ed in bats and was trans­mit­ted to humans in Wuhan, Chi­na via a seafood mar­ket that also trad­ed exot­ic ani­mals. So-called “wet” mar­kets, like the one in Wuhan, were pre­vi­ous­ly blamed for past dead­ly coro­n­avirus out­breaks in Chi­na, such as the 2003 out­break of Severe Acute Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (SARS). 

In addi­tion, one pre­lim­i­nary study on the coro­n­avirus respon­si­ble for the cur­rent out­break found that the recep­tor, Angiotensin-con­vert­ing enzyme 2 (ACE2), is not only the same as that used by the SARS coro­n­avirus, but that East Asians present a much high­er ratio of lung cells that express that recep­tor than the oth­er eth­nic­i­ties (Cau­casian and African-Amer­i­can) includ­ed in the study. How­ev­er, such find­ings are pre­lim­i­nary and the sam­ple size is too small to draw any defin­i­tive con­clu­sions from that pre­lim­i­nary data.

Two years ago, media reports began dis­cussing the Pentagon’s sud­den con­cern that bats could be used as bio­log­i­cal weapons, par­tic­u­lar­ly in spread­ing coro­n­avirus­es and oth­er dead­ly dis­eases. The Wash­ing­ton Post assert­ed that the Pentagon’s inter­est in inves­ti­gat­ing the poten­tial use of bats to spread weaponized and dead­ly dis­eases was because of alleged Russ­ian efforts to do the same. How­ev­er, those claims regard­ing this Russ­ian inter­est in using bats as bioweapons date back to the 1980s when the Sovi­et Union engaged in covert research involv­ing the Mar­burg virus, research that did not even involve bats and which end­ed with the Sovi­et Union’s col­lapse in 1991.

Like much of the Pentagon’s con­tro­ver­sial research pro­grams, the bats as bioweapons research has been framed as defen­sive, despite the fact that no immi­nent threat involv­ing bat-prop­a­gat­ed bioweapons has been acknowl­edged. How­ev­er, inde­pen­dent sci­en­tists have recent­ly accused the Pen­ta­gon, par­tic­u­lar­ly its research arm DARPA, of claim­ing to be engaged in research it says is “defen­sive” but is actu­al­ly “offen­sive.” 

The most recent exam­ple of this involved DARPA’s “Insect Allies” pro­gram, which offi­cial­ly “aims to pro­tect the U.S. agri­cul­tur­al food sup­ply by deliv­er­ing pro­tec­tive genes to plants via insects, which are respon­si­ble for the trans­mis­sion of most plant virus­es” and to ensure “food secu­ri­ty in the event of a major threat,” accord­ing to both DARPA and media reports

How­ev­er, a group of well-respect­ed, inde­pen­dent sci­en­tists revealed in a scathing analy­sis of the pro­gram that, far from a “defen­sive” research project, the Insect Allies pro­gram was aimed at cre­at­ing and deliv­er­ing “new class of bio­log­i­cal weapon.” The sci­en­tists, writ­ing in the jour­nal Sci­ence and led by Richard Guy Reeves, from the Max Planck Insti­tute for Evo­lu­tion­ary Biol­o­gy in Ger­many, warned that DARPA’s pro­gram — which uses insects as the vehi­cle for as hor­i­zon­tal envi­ron­men­tal genet­ic alter­ation agents (HEGAAS) — revealed “an inten­tion to devel­op a means of deliv­ery of HEGAAs for offen­sive pur­pos­es (empha­sis added).”

What­ev­er the real moti­va­tion behind the Pentagon’s sud­den and recent con­cern about bats being used as a vehi­cle for bioweapons, the U.S. mil­i­tary has spent mil­lions of dol­lars over the past sev­er­al years fund­ing research on bats, the dead­ly virus­es they can har­bor — includ­ing coro­n­avirus­es — and how those virus­es are trans­mit­ted from bats to humans. 

For instance, DARPA spent $10 mil­lion on one project in 2018 “to unrav­el the com­plex caus­es of bat-borne virus­es that have recent­ly made the jump to humans, caus­ing con­cern among glob­al health offi­cials.” Anoth­er research project backed by both DARPA and NIH saw researchers at Col­orado State Uni­ver­si­ty exam­ine the coro­n­avirus that caus­es Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS) in bats and camels “to under­stand the role of these hosts in trans­mit­ting dis­ease to humans.” Oth­er U.S. mil­i­tary-fund­ed stud­ies, dis­cussed in detail lat­er in this report, dis­cov­ered sev­er­al new strains of nov­el coro­n­avirus­es car­ried by bats, both with­in Chi­na and in coun­tries bor­der­ing Chi­na.

Many of these recent research projects are relat­ed to DARPA’s Pre­vent­ing Emerg­ing Path­o­gen­ic Threats, or PREEMPT pro­gram, which was offi­cial­ly announced in April 2018. PREEMPT focus­es specif­i­cal­ly on ani­mal reser­voirs of dis­ease, specif­i­cal­ly bats, and DARPA even not­ed in its press release in the pro­gram that it “is aware of biosafe­ty and biose­cu­ri­ty sen­si­tiv­i­ties that could arise” due to the nature of the research. 

DARPA’s announce­ment for PREEMPT came just a few months after the U.S. gov­ern­ment decid­ed to con­tro­ver­sial­ly end a mora­to­ri­um on so-called “gain-of-func­tion” stud­ies involv­ing dan­ger­ous pathogens. VICE News explained “gain-of-func­tion” stud­ies as fol­lows:

“Known as ‘gain-of-func­tion’ stud­ies, this type of research is osten­si­bly about try­ing to stay one step ahead of nature. By mak­ing super-virus­es that are more path­o­gen­ic and eas­i­ly trans­mis­si­ble, sci­en­tists are able to study the way these virus­es may evolve and how genet­ic changes affect the way a virus inter­acts with its host. Using this infor­ma­tion, the sci­en­tists can try to pre-empt the nat­ur­al emer­gence of these traits by devel­op­ing antivi­ral med­ica­tions that are capa­ble of staving off a pan­dem­ic (empha­sis added).”

In addi­tion, while both DARPA’s PREEMPT pro­gram and the Pentagon’s open inter­est in bats as bioweapons were announced in 2018, the U.S. mil­i­tary — specif­i­cal­ly the Depart­ment of Defense’s Coop­er­a­tive Threat Reduc­tion Pro­gram — began fund­ing research involv­ing bats and dead­ly pathogens, includ­ing the coro­n­avirus­es MERS and SARS, a year pri­or in 2017. One of those stud­ies focused on “Bat-Borne Zoonot­ic Dis­ease Emer­gence in West­ern Asia” and involved the Lugar Cen­ter in Geor­gia, iden­ti­fied by for­mer Geor­gian gov­ern­ment offi­cialsthe Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and inde­pen­dent, inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Dilyana Gay­tandzhie­va as a covert U.S. bioweapons lab.

It is also impor­tant to point out the fact that the U.S. military’s key lab­o­ra­to­ries involv­ing the study of dead­ly pathogens, includ­ing coro­n­avirus­es, Ebo­la and oth­ers, was sud­den­ly shut down last July after the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) iden­ti­fied major “biosafe­ty laps­es” at the facil­i­ty

The U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases (USAMRIID) facil­i­ty at Fort Det­rick, Mary­land — the U.S. military’s lead lab­o­ra­to­ry for “bio­log­i­cal defense” research since the late 1960s — was forced to halt all research it was con­duct­ing with a series of dead­ly pathogens after the CDC found that it lacked “suf­fi­cient sys­tems in place to decon­t­a­m­i­nate waste­water” from its high­est-secu­ri­ty labs and fail­ure of staff to fol­low safe­ty pro­ce­dures, among oth­er laps­es. The facil­i­ty con­tains both lev­el 3 and lev­el 4 biosafe­ty labs. While it is unknown if exper­i­ments involv­ing coro­n­avirus­es were ongo­ing at the time, USAMRIID has recent­ly been involved in research born out of the Pentagon’s recent con­cern about the use of bats as bioweapons.

The deci­sion to shut down USAMRIID gar­nered sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle media cov­er­age, as did the CDC’s sur­pris­ing deci­sion to allow the trou­bled facil­i­ty to “par­tial­ly resume” research late last Novem­ber even though the facil­i­ty was and is still not at “full oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty.” The USAMRIID’s prob­lem­at­ic record of safe­ty at such facil­i­ties is of par­tic­u­lar con­cern in light of the recent coro­n­avirus out­break in Chi­na. As this report will soon reveal, this is because USAMRIID has a decades-old and close part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wuhan’s Insti­tute of Med­ical Virol­o­gy, which is locat­ed in the epi­cen­ter of the cur­rent out­break.

THE PENTAGON IN WUHAN?

Beyond the U.S. military’s recent expen­di­tures on and inter­est in the use of bats of bioweapons, it is also worth exam­in­ing the recent stud­ies the mil­i­tary has fund­ed regard­ing bats and “nov­el coro­n­avirus­es,” such as that behind the recent out­break, that have tak­en place with­in or in close prox­im­i­ty to Chi­na.

For instance, one study con­duct­ed in South­ern Chi­na in 2018 result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of 89 new “nov­el bat coro­n­avirus” strains that use the same recep­tor as the coro­n­avirus known as Mid­dle East Res­pi­ra­to­ry Syn­drome (MERS). That study was joint­ly fund­ed by the Chi­nese government’s Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy, USAID — an orga­ni­za­tion long alleged to be a front for U.S. intel­li­gence, and the U.S. Nation­al Insti­tute of Health — which has col­lab­o­rat­ed with both the CIA and the Pen­ta­gon on infec­tious dis­ease and bioweapons research.

The authors of the study also sequenced the com­plete genomes for two of those strains and also not­ed that exist­ing MERS vac­cines would be inef­fec­tive in tar­get­ing these virus­es, lead­ing them to sug­gest that one should be devel­oped in advance. This did not occur.

Anoth­er U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed study that dis­cov­ered still more new strains of “nov­el bat coro­n­avirus” was pub­lished just last year. Titled “Dis­cov­ery and Char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Nov­el Bat Coro­n­avirus Lin­eages from Kaza­khstan,” focused on “the bat fau­na of cen­tral Asia, which link Chi­na to east­ern Europe” and the nov­el bat coro­n­avirus lin­eages dis­cov­ered dur­ing the study were found to be “close­ly relat­ed to bat coro­n­avirus­es from Chi­na, France, Spain, and South Africa, sug­gest­ing that co-cir­cu­la­tion of coro­n­avirus­es is com­mon in mul­ti­ple bat species with over­lap­ping geo­graph­i­cal dis­tri­b­u­tions.” In oth­er words, the coro­n­avirus­es dis­cov­ered in this study were iden­ti­fied in bat pop­u­la­tions that migrate between Chi­na and Kaza­khstan, among oth­er coun­tries, and is close­ly relat­ed to bat coro­n­avirus­es in sev­er­al coun­tries, includ­ing Chi­na.

The study was entire­ly fund­ed by the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense, specif­i­cal­ly the Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA) as part of a project inves­ti­gat­ing coro­n­avirus­es sim­i­lar to MERS, such as the afore­men­tioned 2018 study. Yet, beyond the fund­ing of this 2019 study, the insti­tu­tions involved in con­duct­ing this study are also worth not­ing giv­en their own close ties to the U.S. mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment.

The study’s authors are affil­i­at­ed with either the Kaza­khstan-based Research Insti­tute for Bio­log­i­cal Safe­ty Prob­lems and/or Duke Uni­ver­si­ty. The Research Insti­tute for Bio­log­i­cal Safe­ty Prob­lems, though offi­cial­ly a part of Kazakhstan’s Nation­al Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­o­gy, has received mil­lions from the U.S. gov­ern­ment, most of it com­ing from the Pentagon’s Coop­er­a­tive Threat Reduc­tion Pro­gram. It is the Kaza­khstan government’s offi­cial depos­i­to­ry of “high­ly dan­ger­ous ani­mal and bird infec­tions, with a col­lec­tion of 278 path­o­gen­ic strains of 46 infec­tious dis­eases.” It is part of a net­work of Pen­ta­gon-fund­ed “bioweapons labs” through­out the Cen­tral Asian coun­try, which bor­ders both of the U.S.’ top rival states — Chi­na and Rus­sia.

Duke University’s involve­ment with this study is also inter­est­ing giv­en that Duke is a key part­ner of DARPA’s Pan­dem­ic Pre­ven­tion Plat­form (P3) pro­gram, which offi­cial­ly aims “to dra­mat­i­cal­ly accel­er­ate dis­cov­ery, inte­gra­tion, pre-clin­i­cal test­ing, and man­u­fac­tur­ing of med­ical coun­ter­mea­sures against infec­tious dis­eases.” The first step of the Duke/DARPA pro­gram involves the dis­cov­ery of poten­tial­ly threat­en­ing virus­es and “develop[ing] meth­ods to sup­port viral prop­a­ga­tion, so that virus can be used for down­stream stud­ies.”

Duke Uni­ver­si­ty is also joint­ly part­nered with China’s Wuhan Uni­ver­si­ty, which is based in the city where the cur­rent coro­n­avirus out­break began, which result­ed in the open­ing of the Chi­na-based Duke Kun­shan Uni­ver­si­ty (DKU) in 2018. Notably, China’s Wuhan Uni­ver­si­ty — in addi­tion to its part­ner­ship with Duke — also includes a mul­ti-lab Insti­tute of Med­ical Virol­o­gy that has worked close­ly with the US Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute for Infec­tious Dis­eases since the 1980s, accord­ing to its web­site. As pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed, the USAMRIID facil­i­ty in the U.S. was shut down last July for fail­ures to abide by biosafe­ty and prop­er waste dis­pos­al pro­ce­dures, but was allowed to par­tial­ly resume some exper­i­ments late last Novem­ber.

THE PENTAGON’S DARK HISTORY OF GERM WARFARE

The U.S. mil­i­tary has a trou­bling past of hav­ing used dis­ease as a weapon dur­ing times of war. One exam­ple involved the U.S.’ use of germ war­fare dur­ing the Kore­an War, when it tar­get­ed both North Korea and Chi­na by drop­ping dis­eased insects and voles car­ry­ing a vari­ety of pathogens — includ­ing bubon­ic plague and hem­or­rhag­ic fever — from planes in the mid­dle of the night. Despite the moun­tain of evi­dence and the tes­ti­mo­ny of U.S. sol­diers involved in that pro­gram, the U.S. gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary denied the claims and ordered the destruc­tion of rel­e­vant doc­u­men­ta­tion.

In the post World War II era, oth­er exam­ples of U.S. research aimed at devel­op­ing bio­log­i­cal weapons have emerged, some of which have recent­ly received media atten­tion. One such exam­ple occurred this past July, when the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives demand­ed infor­ma­tion from the U.S. mil­i­tary on its past efforts to weaponize insects and Lyme dis­ease between 1950 and 1975.

The U.S. has claimed that it has not pur­sued offen­sive bio­log­i­cal weapons since 1969 and this has been fur­ther sup­port­ed by the U.S.’ rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Bio­log­i­cal Weapons Con­ven­tion (BWC), which went into effect in 1975. How­ev­er, there is exten­sive evi­dence that the U.S. has con­tin­ued to covert­ly research and devel­op such weapons in the years since, much of it con­duct­ed abroad and out­sourced to pri­vate com­pa­nies, yet still fund­ed by the U.S. mil­i­tary. Sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors, includ­ing Dilyana Gay­tandzhie­va, have doc­u­ment­ed how the U.S. pro­duces dead­ly virus­es, bac­te­ria and oth­er tox­ins at facil­i­ties out­side of the U.S. — many of them in East­ern Europe, Africa and South Asia — in clear vio­la­tion of the BWC.

Aside from the military’s own research, the con­tro­ver­sial neo­con­ser­v­a­tive think tank, the now defunct Project for a New Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry (PNAC), open­ly pro­mot­ed the use of a race-spe­cif­ic genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied bioweapon as a “polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.” In what is arguably the think tank’s most con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­ment, titled “Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es,” there are a few pas­sages that open­ly dis­cuss the util­i­ty of bioweapons, includ­ing the fol­low­ing sen­tences:

“…com­bat like­ly will take place in new dimen­sions: in space, “cyber-space,” and per­haps the world of microbes…advanced forms of bio­log­i­cal war­fare that can “tar­get” spe­cif­ic geno­types may trans­form bio­log­i­cal war­fare from the realm of ter­ror to a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful tool.”

Though numer­ous mem­bers of PNAC were promi­nent in the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion, many of its more con­tro­ver­sial mem­bers have again risen to polit­i­cal promi­nence in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion.

Sev­er­al years after “Rebuild­ing America’s Defens­es” was pub­lished, the U.S. Air Force pub­lished a doc­u­ment enti­tled “Biotech­nol­o­gy: Genet­i­cal­ly Engi­neered Pathogens,” which con­tains the fol­low­ing pas­sage:

“The JASON group, com­posed of aca­d­e­m­ic sci­en­tists, served as tech­ni­cal advis­ers to the U. S. gov­ern­ment. Their study gen­er­at­ed six broad class­es of genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered pathogens that could pose seri­ous threats to soci­ety. These include but are not lim­it­ed to bina­ry bio­log­i­cal weapons, design­er genes, gene ther­a­py as a weapon, stealth virus­es, host-swap­ping dis­eases, and design­er dis­eases (empha­sis added).”

Con­cerns about Pen­ta­gon exper­i­ments with bio­log­i­cal weapons have gar­nered renewed media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after it was revealed in 2017 that DARPA was the top fun­der of the con­tro­ver­sial “gene dri­ve” tech­nol­o­gy, which has the pow­er to per­ma­nent­ly alter the genet­ics of entire pop­u­la­tions while tar­get­ing oth­ers for extinc­tion. At least two of DARPA’s stud­ies using this con­tro­ver­sial tech­nol­o­gy were clas­si­fied and “focused on the poten­tial mil­i­tary appli­ca­tion of gene dri­ve tech­nol­o­gy and use of gene dri­ves in agri­cul­ture,” accord­ing to media reports.

The rev­e­la­tion came after an orga­ni­za­tion called the ETC Group obtained over 1,000 emails on the military’s inter­est in the tech­nol­o­gy as part of a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) request. Co-direc­tor of the ETC Group Jim Thomas said that this tech­nol­o­gy may be used as a bio­log­i­cal weapon:

“Gene dri­ves are a pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous new tech­nol­o­gy and poten­tial bio­log­i­cal weapons could have dis­as­trous impacts on peace, food secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment, espe­cial­ly if mis­used, The fact that gene dri­ve devel­op­ment is now being pri­mar­i­ly fund­ed and struc­tured by the US mil­i­tary rais­es alarm­ing ques­tions about this entire field.”

Though the exact moti­va­tion behind the military’s inter­est in such tech­nol­o­gy is unknown, the Pen­ta­gon has been open about the fact that it is devot­ing much of its resources towards the con­tain­ment of what it con­sid­ers the two great­est threats to U.S. mil­i­tary hege­mo­ny: Rus­sia and Chi­na. Chi­na has been cit­ed as the great­est threat of the two by sev­er­al Pen­ta­gon offi­cials, includ­ing John Rood, the Pentagon’s top advis­er for defense pol­i­cy, who described Chi­na as the great­est threat to “our way of life in the Unit­ed States” at the Aspen Secu­ri­ty Forum last July.

Since the Pen­ta­gon began “redesign­ing” its poli­cies and research towards a “long war” with Rus­sia and Chi­na, the Russ­ian mil­i­tary has accused the U.S. mil­i­tary of har­vest­ing DNA from Rus­sians as part of a covert bioweapon pro­gram, a charge that the Pen­ta­gon has adamant­ly denied. Major Gen­er­al Igor Kir­illov, the head of the Russ­ian military’s radi­a­tion, chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion unit who made these claims, also assert­ed that the U.S. was devel­op­ing such weapons in close prox­im­i­ty to Russ­ian and Chi­nese bor­ders. 

Chi­na has also accused the U.S. mil­i­tary of har­vest­ing DNA from Chi­nese cit­i­zens with ill inten­tions, such as when 200,000 Chi­nese farm­ers were used in 12 genet­ic exper­i­ments with­out informed con­sent. Those exper­i­ments had been con­duct­ed by Har­vard researchers as part of a U.S. gov­ern­ment-fund­ed project.

Darpa and Its Part­ners Cho­sen to Devel­op Coro­n­avirus Vac­cine

Last Thurs­day, the Coali­tion for Epi­dem­ic Pre­pared­ness Inno­va­tions (CEPI) announced that it would fund three sep­a­rate pro­grams in order to pro­mote the devel­op­ment of a vac­cine for the new coro­n­avirus respon­si­ble for the cur­rent out­break.

CEPI — which describes itself as “a part­ner­ship of pub­lic, pri­vate, phil­an­thropic and civ­il orga­ni­za­tions that will finance and co-ordi­nate the devel­op­ment of vac­cines against high pri­or­i­ty pub­lic health threats” — was found­ed in 2017 by the gov­ern­ments of Nor­way and India along with the World Eco­nom­ic Forum and the Bill and Melin­da Gates Foun­da­tion. Its mas­sive fund­ing and close con­nec­tions to pub­lic, pri­vate and non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions have posi­tioned it to be able to finance the rapid cre­ation of vac­cines and wide­ly dis­trib­ute them.

CEPI’s recent announce­ment revealed that it would fund two phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies — Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Mod­er­na Inc. — as well as Australia’s Uni­ver­si­ty of Queens­land, which became a part­ner of CEPI ear­ly last year. Notably, the two phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies cho­sen have close ties to and/or strate­gic part­ner­ships with DARPA and are devel­op­ing vac­cines that con­tro­ver­sial­ly involve genet­ic mate­r­i­al and/or gene edit­ing. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Queens­land also has ties to DARPA, but those ties are not relat­ed to the university’s biotech­nol­o­gy research, but instead engi­neer­ing and mis­sile devel­op­ment.

For instance, the top fun­ders of Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals include both DARPA and the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA) and the com­pa­ny has received mil­lions in dol­lars in grants from DARPA, includ­ing a $45 mil­lion grant to devel­op a vac­cine for Ebo­la. Inovio spe­cial­izes in the cre­ation of DNA immunother­a­pies and DNA vac­cines, which con­tain genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered DNA that caus­es the cells of the recip­i­ent to pro­duce an anti­gen and can per­ma­nent­ly alter a person’s DNA. Inovio pre­vi­ous­ly devel­oped a DNA vac­cine for the Zika virus, but — to date — no DNA vac­cine has been approved for use in humans in the Unit­ed States. Inovio was also recent­ly award­ed over $8 mil­lion from the U.S. mil­i­tary to devel­op a small, portable intra­der­mal device for deliv­er­ing DNA vac­cines joint­ly devel­oped by Inovio and USAMRIID.

How­ev­er, the CEPI grant to com­bat coro­n­avirus may change that, as it specif­i­cal­ly funds Inovio’s efforts to con­tin­ue devel­op­ing its DNA vac­cine for the coro­n­avirus that caus­es MERS. Inovio’s MERS vac­cine pro­gram began in 2018 in part­ner­ship with CEPI in a deal worth $56 mil­lion. The vac­cine cur­rent­ly under devel­op­ment uses “Inovio’s DNA Med­i­cines plat­form to deliv­er opti­mized syn­thet­ic anti­genic genes into cells, where they are trans­lat­ed into pro­tein anti­gens that acti­vate an individual’s immune sys­tem” and the pro­gram is part­nered with U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases (USAMRIID) and the NIH, among oth­ers. That pro­gram is cur­rent­ly under­go­ing test­ing in the Mid­dle East.

Inovio’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. mil­i­tary in regards to DNA vac­cines is noth­ing new, as their past efforts to devel­op a DNA vac­cine for both Ebo­la and Mar­burg virus were also part of what Inovio’s CEO Dr. Joseph Kim called its “active biode­fense pro­gram” that has “gar­nered mul­ti­ple grants from the Depart­ment of Defense, Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA), Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases (NIAID), and oth­er gov­ern­ment agen­cies.”

CEPI’s inter­est in increas­ing its sup­port to this MERS-spe­cif­ic pro­gram seems at odds with its claim that doing so will com­bat the cur­rent coro­n­avirus out­break, since MERS and the nov­el coro­n­avirus in ques­tion are not anal­o­gous and treat­ments for cer­tain coro­n­avirus­es have been shown to be inef­fec­tive against oth­er strains.

It is also worth not­ing that Inovio Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals was the only com­pa­ny select­ed by CEPI with direct access to the Chi­nese phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mar­ket through its part­ner­ship with China’s Apol­lo­Bio Corp., which cur­rent­ly has an exclu­sive license to sell Inovio-made DNA immunother­a­py prod­ucts to Chi­nese cus­tomers.

The sec­ond phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny that was select­ed by CEPI to devel­op a vac­cine for the new coro­n­avirus is Mod­er­na Inc., which will devel­op a vac­cine for the nov­el coro­n­avirus of con­cern in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S. NIH and which will be fund­ed entire­ly by CEPI. The vac­cine in ques­tion, as opposed to Inovio’s DNA vac­cine, will be a mes­sen­ger RNA (mRNA) vac­cine. Though dif­fer­ent than a DNA vac­cine, mRNA vac­cines still use genet­ic mate­r­i­al “to direct the body’s cells to pro­duce intra­cel­lu­lar, mem­brane or secret­ed pro­teins.”

Moderna’s mRNA treat­ments, includ­ing its mRNA vac­cines, were large­ly devel­oped using a $25 mil­lion grant from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es. Moderna’s past and ongo­ing research efforts have includ­ed devel­op­ing mRNA vac­cines tai­lored to an individual’s unique DNA as well as an unsuc­cess­ful effort to cre­ate a mRNA vac­cine for the Zika Virus, which was fund­ed by the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Both DNA and mRNA vac­cines involve the intro­duc­tion of for­eign and engi­neered genet­ic mate­r­i­al into a person’s cells and past stud­ies have found that such vac­cines “pos­sess sig­nif­i­cant unpre­dictabil­i­ty and a num­ber of inher­ent harm­ful poten­tial haz­ards” and that “there is inad­e­quate knowl­edge to define either the prob­a­bil­i­ty of unin­tend­ed events or the con­se­quences of genet­ic mod­i­fi­ca­tions.” Nonethe­less, the cli­mate of fear sur­round­ing the coro­n­avirus out­break could be enough for the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to devel­op and dis­trib­ute such con­tro­ver­sial treat­ments due to fear about the epi­dem­ic poten­tial of the cur­rent out­break.

How­ev­er, the ther­a­pies being devel­oped by Inovio, Mod­ern and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Queens­land are in align­ment with DARPA’s objec­tives regard­ing gene edit­ing and vac­cine tech­nol­o­gy. For instance, in 2015, DARPA geneti­cist Col. Daniel Wat­ten­dorf described how the agency was inves­ti­gat­ing a “new method of vac­cine pro­duc­tion [that] would involve giv­ing the body instruc­tions for mak­ing cer­tain anti­bod­ies. Because the body would be its own biore­ac­tor, the vac­cine could be pro­duced much faster than tra­di­tion­al meth­ods and the result would be a high­er lev­el of pro­tec­tion.”

Accord­ing to media reports on Wattendorf’s state­ments at the time, the vac­cine would be devel­oped as fol­lows:

“Sci­en­tists would har­vest viral anti­bod­ies from some­one who has recov­ered from a dis­ease such as flu or Ebo­la. After test­ing the anti­bod­ies’ abil­i­ty to neu­tral­ize virus­es in a petri dish, they would iso­late the most effec­tive one, deter­mine the genes need­ed to make that anti­body, and then encode many copies of those genes into a cir­cu­lar snip­pet of genet­ic mate­r­i­al — either DNA or RNA, that the person’s body would then use as a cook­book to assem­ble the anti­body.”

Though Wat­ten­dorf assert­ed that the effects of those vac­cines wouldn’t be per­ma­nent, DARPA has since been pro­mot­ing per­ma­nent gene mod­i­fi­ca­tions as a means of pro­tect­ing U.S. troops from bio­log­i­cal weapons and infec­tious dis­ease. “Why is DARPA doing this? [To] pro­tect a sol­dier on the bat­tle­field from chem­i­cal weapons and bio­log­i­cal weapons by con­trol­ling their genome — hav­ing the genome pro­duce pro­teins that would auto­mat­i­cal­ly pro­tect the sol­dier from the inside out,” then-DARPA direc­tor Steve Walk­er (now with Lock­heed Mar­tin) said this past Sep­tem­ber of the project, known as “Safe Genes.”

Con­clu­sion

Research con­duct­ed by the Pen­ta­gon, and DARPA specif­i­cal­ly, has con­tin­u­al­ly raised con­cerns, not just in the field of bioweapons and biotech­nol­o­gy, but also in the fields of nan­otech­nol­o­gy, robot­ics and sev­er­al oth­ers. DARPA, for instance, has been devel­op­ing a series of unset­tling research projects that ranges from microchips that can cre­ate and delete mem­o­ries from the human brain to vot­ing machine soft­ware that is rife with prob­lems.

Now, as fear regard­ing the cur­rent coro­n­avirus out­break begins to peak, com­pa­nies with direct ties to DARPA have been tasked with devel­op­ing its vac­cine, the long-term human and envi­ron­men­tal impacts of which are unknown and will remain unknown by the time the vac­cine is expect­ed to go to mar­ket . . . . 

Fur­ther­more, DARPA and the Pentagon’s past his­to­ry with bioweapons and their more recent exper­i­ments on genet­ic alter­ation and extinc­tion tech­nolo­gies as well as bats and coro­n­avirus­es in prox­im­i­ty to Chi­na have been large­ly left out of the nar­ra­tive, despite the infor­ma­tion being pub­licly avail­able. Also left out of the media nar­ra­tive have been the direct ties of both the USAMRIID and DARPA-part­nered Duke Uni­ver­si­ty to the city of Wuhan, includ­ing its Insti­tute of Med­ical Virol­o­gy.

Though much about the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus out­break remains unknown, the U.S. military’s ties to the afore­men­tioned research stud­ies and research insti­tu­tions are worth detail­ing as such research — while jus­ti­fied in the name of “nation­al secu­ri­ty” — has the fright­en­ing poten­tial to result in unin­tend­ed, yet world-alter­ing con­se­quences. The lack of trans­paren­cy about this research, such as DARPA’s deci­sion to clas­si­fy its con­tro­ver­sial genet­ic extinc­tion research and the technology’s use as a weapon of war, com­pounds these con­cerns. While it is impor­tant to avoid reck­less spec­u­la­tion as much as pos­si­ble, it is the opin­ion of this author that the infor­ma­tion in this report is in the pub­lic inter­est and that read­ers should use this infor­ma­tion to reach their own con­clu­sions about the top­ics dis­cussed here­in.

 

 

Discussion

3 comments for “Disturbing Article about DARPA and Bat-Borne Coronaviruses”

  1. More food for thought. Fol­low the mon­ey? Fol­low the weaponized super-spread­er? 1. The first report­ed case in the US came through SEA-TAC air­port and was a Wash­ing­ton State res­i­dent. 2. Ground zero for the virus is in Kirk­land, WA right down the street from Microsoft head­quar­ters in Red­mond, Wa. 3. The “Vax Mas­ter” him­self Bill Gates has been odd­ly silent about the pan­dem­ic spread­ing right in his back­yard. We’ve even had Steve Woz­ni­ak speak up. Noth­ing from Gates. 4. The Pacif­ic North­west has his­tor­i­cal­ly been seen as the Nazi Bas­tion. 5. Gates accept­ed with­out com­ment some BS phil­an­thropic award from Naren­dra Modi recent­ly.

    Posted by Joanna Doe | March 10, 2020, 4:36 pm
  2. Posted by The Gary Webb Experience | March 14, 2020, 3:26 am
  3. @The Gary Webb Expe­ri­ence–

    Has the thought ever occurred to YOU that this is far more than a “mask­ing” of the col­lapse of a bub­ble?

    Sig­nif­i­cant investors–J. Kyle Bass, Tom­my Hicks, Jr., Renais­sance Tech­nolo­gies etc.–knew this was com­ing and are “short­ing,” invest­ing in key firms, etc.

    This is NOT the col­lapse of ANYTHING!

    This is NOT “the col­lapse of cap­i­tal­ism!~

    This is the meta­mor­pho­sis of cap­i­tal­ism into its most ruth­less iteration–fascism-and, as well, the meta­mor­pho­sis of fas­cism into ITS most ruth­less iter­a­tion-Nazism!

    Against Chi­na, of course, col­laps­ing the bub­ble, of course, how­ev­er vast num­bers of peo­ple are going to be exter­mi­nat­ed around the world, start­ing with the poor, Third Worlders, the elder­ly in indus­tri­al soci­ety.

    This is how the Nazi SS Death’s Head looks the bet­ter part of a cen­tu­ry down the road.

    Enjoy.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 18, 2020, 5:09 pm

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