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FTR #1130 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 6: The Magic Virus Theory, Part 3

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FTR #1130 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment. [6]

[7]Intro­duc­tion: In addi­tion to review­ing and high­light­ing cogent argu­ments that the SARS-Cov2 (Covid-19) virus may indeed have been made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry, the pro­gram exam­ines sig­nif­i­cant aspects of the hereto­fore puz­zling epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus. (We do NOT believe that the virus was syn­the­sized by Chi­na, as “Team Trump” is charg­ing.)

First, how­ev­er, the broad­cast sets forth infor­ma­tion about the quest for a Covid-19 vac­cine.

The make­up of Don­ald Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed” [8]pro­gram to devel­op a Covid-19 vac­cine in record time is alarm­ing. (No vac­cine has ever been devel­oped for human use in less than four years.)

“Oper­a­tion Warp Speed”:

[9]Note that Mon­cef Slaoui holds 10 mil­lion dol­lars worth [10] of Mod­er­na stock, which has tripled in val­ue since the Covid-19 out­break began:” . . . . The for­mer phar­ma exec­u­tive tapped by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to lead the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s hunt for a COVID-19 vac­cine has more than $10 mil­lion in stock options in one of the com­pa­nies receiv­ing fed­er­al fund­ing. . . . Described across four sep­a­rate fil­ings, Slaoui has 155,438 options in Mod­er­na. The stake is worth $10,366,000 at Mod­er­na’s cur­rent share price, $66.69 at the time of pub­li­ca­tion. Mod­er­na shares have almost tripled in val­ue dur­ing 2020. The $66.69 fig­ure rep­re­sents an increase of  184% from the $23.46 it was trad­ing for on Jan­u­ary 1. . . .” (The day the pro­gram was record­ed, Mod­er­na’s stock increased by 25% in val­ue, and Slaoui announced he would sell his stock.)

In past posts [11] and pro­grams [12], we have not­ed the Moderna–one of the com­pa­nies select­ed to devel­op a Covid-19 vac­cine, has been sub­stan­tial­ly under­writ­ten by the Pen­ta­gon (DARPA). 

Key points of dis­cus­sion in that regard:

  1. Mod­er­na is using nov­el vac­cine tech­nol­o­gy using the injec­tion of genet­ic mate­r­i­al to cre­ate anti­bod­ies. This tech­nol­o­gy has nev­er been used on human beings. “. . . . 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 [13] from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es [14]. . . .”
  2. The tech­nol­o­gy has alarm­ing pos­si­ble neg­a­tive side-effects. “. . . . Both DNA and mRNA vac­cines involve the intro­duc­tion of for­eign and engi­neered genet­ic mate­r­i­al into a person’s cells and past stud­ies have found [15] 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. . . .”
  3. Loom­ing large in the back­ground of the Mod­er­na vac­cine tech­nol­o­gy is DARPA fund­ing of “gene dri­ve” tech­nol­o­gy. . . . . Con­cerns about Pen­ta­gon exper­i­ments with bio­log­i­cal weapons have gar­nered renewed media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after it was revealed in 2017 that DARPA [16] 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 [17]. . . . Co-direc­tor of the ETC Group Jim Thomas said that [17] 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.’ . . . . How­ev­er, the ther­a­pies being devel­oped by Inovio, Mod­er­na 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 [18] 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.’ . . . .”

As dis­cussed in FTR #1124 [19]–among oth­er programs–it is now pos­si­ble to cre­ate ANY virus from scratch, using “mail-order” or “design­er” genes. In FTR #282 [20]–record­ed in May of 2001–we not­ed the ter­ri­ble sig­nif­i­cance of the devel­op­ment of such “Design­er Gene” tech­nol­o­gy.

A BBC sto­ry from 1999 [21] 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.  . . . 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. . . .”

We high­light infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR #1129 [22], for pur­pos­es of empha­siz­ing the flim­sy nature of the argu­ment pre­sent­ed in a paper from Nature Med­i­cine [23].

Many sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical peo­ple dis­miss­ing the argu­ment that the Covid-19 coro­n­avirus may have been cre­at­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry may be act­ing out of the sin­cere desire to pre­clude a full-dress Cold War between the U.S. and Chi­na. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has tire­less­ly flogged the “Chi­na did it and it came from a lab­o­ra­to­ry” meme. Many lib­er­als who dis­missed the obvi­ous fact that Pres­i­dent Kennedy was mur­dered by a cabal of pow­er­ful U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty inter­ests did so because of what Peter Dale Scott calls a “lev­el one cover-up”–alleged Sovi­et and/or Cas­tro Cuban manip­u­la­tion of Lee Har­vey Oswald, fab­ri­cat­ed by the exe­cu­tion­ers them­selves.

Two telling, thought­ful, sub­stan­tive cri­tiques of the Nature Med­i­cine [23] arti­cle shed light on the flim­sy nature of its argu­ments.

It would not be unfair to char­ac­ter­ize the arti­cle as “The War­ren Report” of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic.

[24]

Genet­ic Engi­neer­ing

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 [25] 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 [26]”. 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 [27] the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

Of more than pass­ing sig­nif­i­cance is anoth­er arti­cle [28] 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 [29], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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 [32]). 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 [33] they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . . .”

Worth not­ing, again, is the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion’s warn­ing dis­cussed in FTR #1129 [22], as well as 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. . . .”

Reports are now emerg­ing of pos­si­ble Covid-19 infec­tion among ath­letes who par­tic­i­pat­ed at the Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan in Octo­ber 19. 

We have spec­u­lat­ed at some length about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that infect­ing those very healthy, superbly-con­di­tioned indi­vid­u­als might have been an excel­lent vehi­cle for spread­ing the virus around the world. 

Fur­ther dis­cus­sion of this can be found in FTR #‘s 1118 [34] and 1122 [35]. We note that Chi­na has spec­u­lat­ed about the Wuhan Mil­i­tary World Games being a vehi­cle for the U.S. to spread the infec­tion.

We have not­ed that lan­guage is, past a point, inad­e­quate to ana­lyze and dis­cuss some of the major con­sid­er­a­tions in the Covid-19 “op.” A bio-weapons would require a very small num­ber of agents in order to be effec­tive­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed. In addi­tion, we note that–in the age of mind con­trol [36]–an oper­a­tive can be dis­pensed to per­form a func­tion with­out their knowl­edge.

In addi­tion to French ath­letes [37], con­tin­gents from Swe­den, Spain [38] and Italy [39] appear to have become infect­ed [40]. The appar­ent infec­tion of the French ath­letes pre-dates the first con­firmed case in Chi­na by 20 days.

A fish mer­chant [37] who worked near Charles De Gaulle Air­port test­ed pos­i­tive for the virus on Decem­ber 27.

The appar­ent­ly infect­ed ath­letes par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Mil­i­tary World Games fur­ther com­pli­cates the puz­zling epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus.

Doc­tors quot­ed in a New York Times [41] piece under­score the anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus: ” . . . . In San Jose, tis­sue sam­pling from a woman who died on Feb. 6  [42]revealed that she was prob­a­bly the first known per­son in the U.S. whose death was linked to the coro­n­avirus — a strong sign that the virus may have been cir­cu­lat­ing in that part of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia in Jan­u­ary. But was it part of a large, pre­vi­ous­ly unrec­og­nized out­break?

“Dr. George Ruther­ford, a pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­o­gy and bio­sta­tis­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, the­o­rized that per­haps the woman, who worked for a com­pa­ny that had an office in Wuhan, was one of only a small num­ber of peo­ple who con­tract­ed the virus at that time and that trans­mis­sions prob­a­bly petered out for some rea­son. Oth­er­wise, he said, the region would have seen a much big­ger out­break. . . .

“. . . . Dr. [Trevor] Bed­ford said he also believed this was the more like­ly sce­nario, not­ing that up to half of peo­ple with coro­n­avirus infec­tions have no symp­toms. . . .

“. . . . There could have been a tiny num­ber of iso­lat­ed coro­n­avirus cas­es among trav­el­ers to the Unit­ed States in Decem­ber, Dr. Bed­ford said. But it is pret­ty clear that none of them spread.

In part, sci­en­tists can tell that by look­ing at the genom­ic fin­ger­prints of each case. But anoth­er clue is the rapid rate at which the virus spreads, Dr. Ruther­ford said. . . . Researchers are not see­ing any chains that appear to go that far back. . . .”

Lead­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s rhetor­i­cal and polit­i­cal charge [43] against Chi­na is Mike Pom­peo. Charg­ing that the virus “escaped” from a lab in Wuhan and equiv­o­cat­ing about whether that release was inten­tion­al, Koch broth­ers-pro­tege Pom­peo cit­ed alleged duplic­i­ty on behalf of Chi­na’s com­mu­nist par­ty in con­nec­tion with the virus. ” . . . . ‘I can tell you that there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of evi­dence that this came from that lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan,’ Pom­peo said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sun­day. ‘Do you think they inten­tion­al­ly released that virus, or it was an acci­dent in the lab?’ Co-Anchor Martha Rad­datz pressed. ‘I can’t answer your ques­tion about that,’ he said, ‘because the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty has refused to coop­er­ate with world health experts.’ . . .”

The Chi­nese med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic estab­lish­ment has worked close­ly with coun­ter­parts glob­al­ly in an attempt to ana­lyze and treat the virus.

The high­ly anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy, the lack of symp­toms in half of infect­ed patients, the wide vari­ety of symp­toms the virus caus­es and, last­ly, the fact that this was a nov­el virus and result­ing infec­tion are all fac­tors to be con­sid­ered in eval­u­at­ing the time­li­ness of the Chi­nese response.

Pom­peo also asserts that the virus was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry.

Next, we high­light a mis­lead­ing sto­ry in Rupert Mur­doch’s The Dai­ly Tele­graph [44] out of Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. The sto­ry alleges that the Five Eyes elec­tron­ic intel­li­gence net­work has cor­rob­o­rat­ed the “it came from a Chi­nese lab” meme.

Of more than pass­ing inter­est is the dis­clo­sure that the project on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es con­duct­ed in the Wuhan lab­o­ra­to­ry was a joint U.S./Chinese project, and that Ralph Bar­ic [45] was a key Amer­i­can part­ner [19] in the project.

This is the under­tak­ing [46] about which we have report­ed and dis­cussed [22] exten­sive­ly in the past!  . . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with ‘Sci­ence Dai­ly’ at the time: ‘This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.’ . . . .”

Bar­ic was the selectee to recon­struct the SARS Cov2 virus from scratch. Note that the arti­cle below dis­cuss­es the U.S. sus­pen­sion of the “gain of func­tion” exper­i­ments and 2017 resump­tion of same, some­how spin­ning this into the “Chi­na did it” dis­in­for­ma­tion.

The mil­i­tary has links to the Wuhan lab: ” . . . . 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. . . .”

A Guardian [47] arti­cle sources UK intel­li­gence assets claim­ing that the 15-page dossier didn’t come from a Five Eyes intel­li­gence assess­ment. They assert that it was based on open-source mate­ri­als and put for­ward by the US as “a tool for build­ing a counter-nar­ra­tive and apply­ing pres­sure to Chi­na.”

We con­clude with analy­sis of Trump’s deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er.

Against the back­ground of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s anti-Chi­na cam­paign rhetoric and attempts to pin the blame for Covid-19 on a “lab­o­ra­to­ry” leak and/or delib­er­ate release, we note that the offen­sive is being pushed by The Don­ald’s deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Matthew Pot­tinger.

“. . . . Matthew Pot­tinger [48], the deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er who report­ed on SARS out­breaks [49] as a jour­nal­ist in Chi­na, pressed intel­li­gence agen­cies [50] in Jan­u­ary to gath­er infor­ma­tion that might sup­port any ori­gin the­o­ry linked to a lab. . . .”

Pot­tinger is the son of for­mer Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al J. Stan­ley Pot­tinger [51].

Pot­tinger, Senior was [52]: Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al for Civ­il Rights under Nixon and Ford; report­ed by Don­ald Freed and Fred Lan­dis (in “Death in Wash­ing­ton”) to have foiled inves­ti­ga­tions into the assas­si­na­tions of Mar­tin Luther King and Orlan­do Lete­lier; the attor­ney for the Hashe­mi broth­ers in the Octo­ber Sur­prise inves­ti­ga­tion; a close per­son­al friend of George H.W. Bush (for whom CIA head­quar­ters was named) and, last but cer­tain­ly not least, Glo­ria Steinem’s lover for nine years.

Despite the fact that Steinem tout­ed her CIA back­ground as good jour­nal­is­tic cre­den­tials in both “The New York Times” and “The Wash­ing­ton Post” (both with long-stand­ing CIA links them­selves), Pot­tinger has defend­ed her against charges that she worked for the CIA!!

Worth not­ing, as well, is the fact that the Lete­lier assas­si­na­tion was one of the mur­ders con­duct­ed under Oper­a­tion Con­dor, assist­ed by the CIA. Lete­lier was killed by a car bomb in Wash­ing­ton D.C., while J.Stanley Pot­tinger’s good friend George H.W. Bush was in charge of the CIA when Lete­lier was hit.

(We have cov­ered Oper­a­tion Con­dor in numer­ous pro­grams, includ­ing AFA #19 [53]One of the oper­a­tional cen­ters of Con­dor was the Chilean Nazi enclave Colo­nia Dig­nidad. In FTR #839 [54], we set forth author Peter Lev­en­da’s brave, fright­en­ing vis­it to “The Colony.” This should be digest­ed by any­one inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of which Pot­tinger, Sr., is a part.)

One won­ders if Matthew may have fol­lowed J. Stan­ley into the CIA, if in fact Dad­dio is Agency, as Mr. Emory sus­pects.

In FTR #s 998 [55], 999 [56], 1000 [57], we set forth what Mr. Emory calls “weaponized fem­i­nism.” Refash­ion­ing the doc­trine of advanc­ing the cause of women into a legal and polit­i­cal weapon for destroy­ing tar­get­ed men, dom­i­nant man­i­fes­ta­tions of the #MeToo move­ment have served the cause of the far right.

Resembling–in its essence–the “libid­i­nal McCarthy­ism” of Arthur Miller’s play “The Cru­cible,” [58]  many high-pro­file man­i­fes­ta­tions of #MeToo have been pro­pelled by evi­den­tiary mate­r­i­al that ranges from dubi­ous to ludi­crous to non-exis­tent.

We find it more than coin­ci­den­tal that Bernie Sanders sup­port­er [59] Tara Read­e’s shape-shift­ing accu­sa­tions against Joe Biden have sur­faced decades after the alleged incident–coinciding with Biden’s chal­leng­ing of Trump and with Pot­tinger, Jr. help­ing to direct the admin­is­tra­tion’s traf­fic.

1. The make­up of Don­ald Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed” [8]pro­gram to devel­op a Covid-19 vac­cine in record time is alarm­ing. (No vac­cine has ever been devel­oped for human use in less than four years.)

“Oper­a­tion Warp Speed”:

“Trump Vows Vac­cine by End of Year, and Mobi­lizes Mil­i­tary to Help” by David E. Sanger, Mag­gie Haber­man and Noah Wei­land; The New York Times; 5/15/2020. [8]

. . . .The new chief of what Mr. Trump calls Oper­a­tion Warp Speed, Mon­cef Slaoui, a for­mer chair­man of vac­cines at Glax­o­SmithK­line, called Mr. Trump’s goal “very cred­i­ble,” even though the fastest a new vac­cine has been devel­oped and dis­trib­uted is four years and most have tak­en con­sid­er­ably longer [60].

Dr. Slaoui, now a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist, said that he had “recent­ly seen ear­ly data from a clin­i­cal tri­al with a coro­n­avirus vac­cine, and these data made me feel even more con­fi­dent that we will be able to deliv­er a few hun­dred mil­lion dos­es of vac­cine” — enough to inoc­u­late much of the Unit­ed States — “by the end of 2020.”

He did not iden­ti­fy which vac­cine he was refer­ring to, but until Fri­day, when he resigned to take on the new job with the White House, Dr. Slaoui served on the board of Mod­er­na, a biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny that has an exper­i­men­tal coro­n­avirus vac­cine that just entered Phase 2 of clin­i­cal tri­als to deter­mine if it is effec­tive.

As the chair­man of the Mod­er­na board’s prod­uct devel­op­ment com­mit­tee, Dr. Slaoui might have been privy to the ear­ly indi­ca­tions of tests of whether the company’s approach appeared promis­ing, now that it is being inject­ed into human sub­jects. . . .

. . . . Mr. Slaoui will serve as the chief advis­er on the effort, and Gen. Gus­tave F. Per­na, a four-star gen­er­al who is in charge the Army Matériel Com­mand, will be the chief oper­at­ing offi­cer.

Mr. Slaoui said he dis­cussed the job with Jared Kush­n­er, the president’s son-in-law and senior advis­er, who had been search­ing for a so-called czar for ther­a­peu­tics and vac­cine devel­op­ment, and Dr. Deb­o­rah L. Birx, the White House’s coro­n­avirus response coor­di­na­tor.

Gen­er­al Per­na, who runs the Army’s com­plex sup­ply chain, said that he was asked by Gen. Mark A. Mil­ley, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to help run the man­u­fac­tur­ing logis­tics relat­ed to the vac­cine devel­op­ment. Beyond the vac­cine itself, there are also sub­stan­tial chal­lenges in ensur­ing ade­quate capac­i­ty of the sup­plies need­ed to dis­trib­ute and admin­is­ter it [61], start­ing with the spe­cial glass in which vac­cine dos­es are trans­port­ed.

Mr. Slaoui and Gen­er­al Per­na met for the first time on Wednes­day, and they have been in fre­quent con­tact since then, the gen­er­al said in a sep­a­rate inter­view. They will have offices in the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, where the sec­re­tary, Alex M. Azar II, helped devel­op Oper­a­tion Warp Speed at the president’s request. . . .

2. Mon­cef Slaoui holds 10 mil­lion dol­lars worth [10] of Mod­er­na stock, which has tripled in val­ue since the Covid-19 out­break began:” . . . . The for­mer phar­ma exec­u­tive tapped by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to lead the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s hunt for a COVID-19 vac­cine has more than $10 mil­lion in stock options in one of the com­pa­nies receiv­ing fed­er­al fund­ing. . . . Described across four sep­a­rate fil­ings, Slaoui has 155,438 options in Mod­er­na. The stake is worth $10,366,000 at Mod­er­na’s cur­rent share price, $66.69 at the time of pub­li­ca­tion. Mod­er­na shares have almost tripled in val­ue dur­ing 2020. The $66.69 fig­ure rep­re­sents an increase of  184% from the $23.46 it was trad­ing for on Jan­u­ary 1. . . .”

 “The Ex-Phar­ma Exec Lead­ing Trump’s Covid-19 Vac­cine Pro­gram Has $10 Mil­lion in Stock Options for a Com­pa­ny Get­ting Fed­er­al Fund­ing’ by Kier­an Cor­co­ran; Busi­ness Insid­er; 3/16/2020. [10]

The for­mer phar­ma exec­u­tive tapped by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to lead the fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s hunt for a COVID-19 vac­cine has more than $10 mil­lion in stock options in one of the com­pa­nies receiv­ing fed­er­al fund­ing.

Dr Mon­cef Slaoui, a Bel­gian-Amer­i­can, was this week named Chief Sci­en­tist for Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed,” which aims to devel­op a work­ing vac­cine as fast as pos­si­ble. . . .

. . . . In order to take up the posi­tion, Slaoui resigned his role on the board of direc­tors for Mod­er­na Inc. [62], a biotech com­pa­ny based in Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts. Accord­ing to the Asso­ci­at­ed Press [63], Slaoui’s White House role is unpaid. . . .

. . . . How­ev­er, fil­ings with the US Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion [64] show that Slaoui con­tin­ues to hold valu­able stock options in Mod­er­na.

Described across four sep­a­rate fil­ings, Slaoui has 155,438 options in Mod­er­na. The stake is worth $10,366,000 at Mod­er­na’s cur­rent share price, $66.69 at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Mod­er­na shares have almost tripled in val­ue dur­ing 2020. The $66.69 fig­ure rep­re­sents an increase of  184% from the $23.46 it was trad­ing for on Jan­u­ary 1.

Part of this sharp increase was fueled by an injec­tion of more than $400 mil­lion from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to assist tri­als of a coro­n­avirus vac­cine. . . .

3. In past posts [11] and pro­grams [12], we have not­ed the Moderna–one of the com­pa­nies select­ed to devel­op a Covid-19 vac­cine, has been sub­stan­tial­ly under­writ­ten by the Pen­ta­gon (DARPA). 

Key points of dis­cus­sion in that regard:

Bats, Gene Edit­ing and Bioweapons: Rec­cent DARPA Exper­i­ments Raise Con­cerns Amid Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by Whit­ney Webb; The Last Amer­i­can Vagabond; 1/30/2020. [65]

. . . . Con­cerns about Pen­ta­gon exper­i­ments with bio­log­i­cal weapons have gar­nered renewed media atten­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly after it was revealed in 2017 that DARPA [16] 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 [17]. 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 [17] 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.’ . . . .

. . . . 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 [13] from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es [14]. . . .

. . . . Both DNA and mRNA vac­cines involve the intro­duc­tion of for­eign and engi­neered genet­ic mate­r­i­al into a person’s cells and past stud­ies have found [15] 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, Mod­er­na 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 [18] 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 [18] 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 [66] of the project, known as ‘Safe Genes [67].’ . . .

. . . . 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. . . .

4. As dis­cussed in FTR #1124 [19]–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 [20]–record­ed in May of 2001–we not­ed the ter­ri­ble sig­nif­i­cance of the devel­op­ment of such “Design­er Gene” tech­nol­o­gy.

A BBC sto­ry from 1999 [21] 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.’ . . . 

5a. We high­light infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR #1129 [22], for pur­pos­es of empha­siz­ing the flim­sy nature of the argu­ment pre­sent­ed in a paper from Nature Med­i­cine [23].

Many sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical peo­ple dis­miss­ing the argu­ment that the Covid-19 coro­n­avirus may have been cre­at­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry may be act­ing out of the sin­cere desire to pre­clude a full-dress Cold War between the U.S. and Chi­na. The Trump admin­is­tra­tion has tire­less­ly flogged the “Chi­na did it and it came from a lab­o­ra­to­ry” meme. Many lib­er­als who dis­missed the obvi­ous fact that Pres­i­dent Kennedy was mur­dered by a cabal of pow­er­ful U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty inter­ests did so because of what Peter Dale Scott calls a “lev­el one cover-up”–alleged Sovi­et and/or Cas­tro Cuban manip­u­la­tion of Lee Har­vey Oswald, fab­ri­cat­ed by the exe­cu­tion­ers them­selves.

That notwith­stand­ing, there is abun­dant evi­dence of a man-made ori­gin of the virus. (We do NOT believe that the event was authored–deliberately or accidentally–by Chi­na. The Covid-19 out­break [11] occurred in the mid­dle of a “Full-Court-Press” covert and overt regime-change oper­a­tion against Chi­na by the U.S. and its allies, and we feel that those inter­ests are the exec­u­tive ele­ments behind the pan­dem­ic.)

Two telling, thought­ful, sub­stan­tive cri­tiques of the Nature Med­i­cine [23] arti­cle shed light on the flim­sy nature of its argu­ments.

It would not be unfair to char­ac­ter­ize the arti­cle as “The War­ren Report” of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic.

[24]

Genet­ic Engi­neer­ing

Like the Bible, it is open to seri­ous sci­en­tif­ic refu­ta­tion [68]” . . . . 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 [25] 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 [26]”. 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 [27] the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

“Was the COVID-19 virus genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered?” by Claire Robin­son; GMWatch; 04/22/2020 [68].

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 [23] 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 [69]‘ 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 [25] 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 [23], “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 [26]”. 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 [27] 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 [70] 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 [29] 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 [26]). 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/ [27]).

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 [29], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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 [32]). 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 [33] they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . . .”

Worth not­ing, again, is the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion’s warn­ing dis­cussed in FTR #1129, [22]as well as 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 [28].

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 [23] 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 [29], 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 [30] 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 [31], 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 [32]). 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 [33] 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 [68] 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. . . .

7a. Reports are now emerg­ing of pos­si­ble Covid-19 infec­tion among ath­letes who par­tic­i­pat­ed at the Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan in Octo­ber 19. 

We have spec­u­lat­ed at some length about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that infect­ing those very healthy, superbly-con­di­tioned indi­vid­u­als might have been an excel­lent vehi­cle for spread­ing the virus around the world. 

Fur­ther dis­cus­sion of this can be found in FTR #‘s 1118 [34] and 1122 [35]. We note that Chi­na has spec­u­lat­ed about the Wuhan Mil­i­tary World Games being a vehi­cle for the U.S. to spread the infec­tion.

We have not­ed that lan­guage is, past a point, inad­e­quate to ana­lyze and dis­cuss some of the major con­sid­er­a­tions in the Covid-19 “op.” A bio-weapons would require a very small num­ber of agents in order to be effec­tive­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed. In addi­tion, we note that–in the age of mind con­trol [36]–an oper­a­tive can be dis­pensed to per­form a func­tion with­out their knowl­edge.

“Did Euro­pean Ath­letes Catch Coro­n­avirus While Com­pet­ing at The Mil­i­tary World Games in Octo­ber? French Del­e­ga­tion Returned with Fevers, After Fish­mon­ger is Found to Have Been Con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed in Decem­ber” by Ross Ibbet­son; Dai­ly Mail [online]; 5/6/2020. [37]

French ath­letes believe they caught coro­n­avirus [71] at the World Mil­i­tary Games in Wuhan in Octo­ber, 20 days before the first record­ed case in Chi­na [72].

It comes after it was revealed that French­man Amirouche Ham­mar, 43, had been infect­ed with COVID-19 out­side Paris as ear­ly as Decem­ber.

The hos­pi­tal where Ham­mar was treat­ed for chest pains has since re-test­ed sam­ples and found the fish­mon­ger was pos­i­tive for the virus on Decem­ber 27. It is not known where he caught the virus, although his wife works close to Charles de Gaulle air­port.

A num­ber of French ath­letes who were at the World Mil­i­tary Games from Octo­ber 18 to 27 have since described com­ing down with severe flu-like symp­toms while at the event.

Elodie Clou­v­el, a world cham­pi­on mod­ern pen­tath­lete, was asked on March 25 whether she was anx­ious about spend­ing the sum­mer in Japan for the Olympics. She told Loire 7: ‘No because I think that with Velentin (Belaud, her part­ner, also a pen­tath­lete) we have already had the coro­n­avirus, well the COVID-19.’

The 31-year-old went on: ‘We were in Wuhan for the World Mil­i­tary Games at the end of Octo­ber. And after­wards, we all fell ill. Valentin missed three days of train­ing. Me, I was sick too. [...] I had things I had nev­er had before. We weren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly wor­ried because no one was talk­ing about it yet.’

She added: ‘A lot of ath­letes at the World Mil­i­tary Games were very ill. We were recent­ly in touch with a mil­i­tary doc­tor who told us: “I think you had it because a lot of peo­ple from this del­e­ga­tion were ill.“ ‘ . . . .

. . . . French media report that sick ath­letes were also not­ed in some oth­er del­e­ga­tions, includ­ing the Swedish del­e­ga­tion, with peo­ple return­ing to Swe­den with strong fevers.

Around 100 peo­ple from the Swedish Armed Forces attend­ed the World Mil­i­tary Games in Wuhan and stayed in the city for two weeks. 

Sev­er­al com­peti­tors fell ill and were screened for the virus, although none were report­ed to have test­ed pos­i­tive. . . .

7b. The incu­ba­tion peri­od when infect­ed peo­ple are asymp­to­matic is any­where from 2 days to 2 weeks. So it would be very inter­est­ing to know when exact­ly those ath­letes dis­played symp­toms dur­ing the games. Was it at the very begin­ning near Octo­ber 17 or near the end at Octo­ber 28? And when did those ath­letes arrive in Wuhan? 

Also keep in mind that there have been mul­ti­ple stud­ies now sug­gest­ing that more infec­tious strains may have emerged in Wuhan. In addi­tion to the Cam­bridge team’s find­ing of a “B Type” strain that emerged in Wuhan in Decem­ber that appeared to be bet­ter adapt­ed at spread­ing among Asian pop­u­la­tions, there was the ear­li­er study by a Chi­nese team that found the ear­li­er ‘S‑type’ strain get­ting rapid­ly over­tak­en by a new ‘L‑type’ strain that popped up in Wuhan in Decem­ber [73].

If more infec­tious strains emerged in Wuhan in Decem­ber and dom­i­nat­ed the spread of the virus around the world, while less infec­tious strains start­ed the pan­dem­ic it becomes more plau­si­ble that the ini­tial out­break didn’t start in Wuhan. Oth­er ear­ly cas­es in oth­er coun­tries (see below) as well as infect­ed ath­letes at the Mil­i­tary World Games sug­gest that it could have start­ed damn near any­where. 

“coro­n­avirus symp­toms fol­low­ing the World Mil­i­tary Games in Wuhan in Octo­ber 2019” by Dim­itris Kouimt­sidis; The Olive Press; 05/08/2020 [38]

SPANISH ath­letes returned from the World Mil­i­tary Games in Wuhan in Octo­ber hav­ing dis­played coro­n­avirus symp­toms.

Accord­ing to the Min­istry of Defence none of the sus­pect­ed vic­tims had been test­ed.

The Span­ish team was made up of about 170 peo­ple.

Accord­ing to Min­istry sources who spoke to El Mun­do, two ath­letes dis­played flu-like symp­toms dur­ing the Games between Octo­ber 17–28 and two oth­ers dis­played them upon their return to Spain.

One of these ath­letes told El Mun­do: “The author­i­ties just took it as a sore throat or flu infec­tion and they treat­ed us as if we were already cured, it was very bad.” . . .

7c. Ital­ian ath­letes also appear to have been sick­ened, and in con­sid­er­able num­bers. The lit­er­al trans­la­tions pro­vid­ed make it appear that the ath­letes were already infect­ed when they got to Wuhan. That may well be a prob­lem in trans­la­tion.

Note that fend­er Mat­teo Tal­iar­i­ol opined that “many oth­er del­e­ga­tions” got ill as well.

“Ath­letes: ‘Sick in Wuhan Back in Octo­ber’” by Foot­ball Italia Staff; Foot­ball Italia; 5/7/2020. [39]

Some ath­letes who were at the Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan back in Octo­ber 2019 claim ‘every­one was sick’ with symp­toms rem­i­nis­cent of COVID-19, two months before the first con­firmed case.

The nov­el coro­n­avirus was first report­ed in Decem­ber 2019 in the Chi­nese city of Wuhan, with an inves­ti­ga­tion from ear­ly Jan­u­ary.

It then spread to Europe with the first con­firmed cas­es in Italy on Feb­ru­ary 20.

How­ev­er, there are some sug­ges­tions from ath­letes who took part in the Mil­i­tary World Games that the virus was present as ear­ly as Octo­ber 2019.

That tour­na­ment took place in Wuhan from Octo­ber 17–27, 2019.

“We all got sick, six out of six in our apart­ment, and we also heard from many oth­er del­e­ga­tions who got ill too,” Olympic gold medal­list fencer Mat­teo Tagliar­i­ol told La Repub­bli­ca.

“The medics there had almost run out of sup­plies, Vale­rio Aspromonte stayed in bed almost the whole time. I had a fever and cough for three weeks and antibi­otics did noth­ing. Then it spread to my son and my girl­friend.

“I am not a doc­tor, but the symp­toms looked like those of COVID-19. I was strug­gling to breathe and for­tu­nate­ly it went after three weeks.” . . . .

7d. More about the Ital­ian del­e­ga­tion:

Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan in Focus: ‘We Are All Sick;’” by Dim­i­tar Dilkoff [Copy­right Dim­i­tar Dilkoff]; Web24News; 5/7/2020. [40]

Some ath­letes who were at the Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan back in Octo­ber 2019 claim ‘every­one was sick’ with symp­toms rem­i­nis­cent of COVID-19, two months before the first con­firmed case.

The nov­el coro­n­avirus was first report­ed in Decem­ber 2019 in the Chi­nese city of Wuhan, with an inves­ti­ga­tion from ear­ly Jan­u­ary.

It then spread to Europe with the first con­firmed cas­es in Italy on Feb­ru­ary 20.

How­ev­er, there are some sug­ges­tions from ath­letes who took part in the Mil­i­tary World Games that the virus was present as ear­ly as Octo­ber 2019.

That tour­na­ment took place in Wuhan from Octo­ber 17–27, 2019.

“We all got sick, six out of six in our apart­ment, and we also heard from many oth­er del­e­ga­tions who got ill too,” Olympic gold medal­list fencer Mat­teo Tagliar­i­ol told La Repub­bli­ca.

“The medics there had almost run out of sup­plies, Vale­rio Aspromonte stayed in bed almost the whole time. I had a fever and cough for three weeks and antibi­otics did noth­ing. Then it spread to my son and my girl­friend.

“I am not a doc­tor, but the symp­toms looked like those of COVID-19. I was strug­gling to breathe and for­tu­nate­ly it went after three weeks.” . . . .

Fenc­ing Olympic cham­pi­on Mat­teo Tagliar­i­ol already sus­pects the mil­i­tary world games held in Wuhan, Chi­na last Octo­ber, as a hotspot of the coro­na pan­dem­ic. “When we arrived in Wuhan, we were all sick. All six peo­ple in my apart­ment were sick, includ­ing many ath­letes from oth­er del­e­ga­tions,” the 37-year-old Ital­ian told the Cor­riere del­la Sera news­pa­per.

The Mil­i­tary World Games were held in Wuhan from Octo­ber 18–27, 2019. The first case of infec­tion was offi­cial­ly report­ed in Chi­na in Decem­ber. How­ev­er, there is spec­u­la­tion that the coro­n­avirus has already spread.

“I had a severe cough, many oth­er ath­letes had a fever,” said Tagliar­i­ol, who won gold in epee fenc­ing in Bei­jing in 2008. The worst await­ed him when he returned to Italy.

“I had a very high fever and could not breathe. Antibi­otics did not help either. I was sick and very weak for three weeks. Then my two-year-old son Leo fell ill. He coughed for three weeks. My part­ner also got sick, but in When I start­ed talk­ing about the virus, I thought: I was infect­ed. I rec­og­nized the symp­toms of COVID 19. I am an ath­lete, I was very bad for my stan­dards, “said Tagliar­i­ol.

Almost 10,000 ath­letes from more than 140 coun­tries had par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Mil­i­tary World Games in Wuhan, from Ger­many there were 243 ath­letes. More than 230,000 vol­un­teers were involved in the com­pe­ti­tions. . . .

8a. Doc­tors quot­ed in a New York Times [41] piece under­score the anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus: 

“When Did the Coro­n­avirus Arrive in the U.S.? Here’s a Review of the Evi­dence” by Mike Bak­er; The New York Times; 5/16/2020. [41]

. . . . In San Jose, tis­sue sam­pling from a woman who died on Feb. 6  [42]revealed that she was prob­a­bly the first known per­son in the U.S. whose death was linked to the coro­n­avirus — a strong sign that the virus may have been cir­cu­lat­ing in that part of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia in Jan­u­ary.

But was it part of a large, pre­vi­ous­ly unrec­og­nized out­break?

Dr. George Ruther­ford, a pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­o­gy and bio­sta­tis­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, the­o­rized that per­haps the woman, who worked for a com­pa­ny that had an office in Wuhan, was one of only a small num­ber of peo­ple who con­tract­ed the virus at that time and that trans­mis­sions prob­a­bly petered out for some rea­son. Oth­er­wise, he said, the region would have seen a much big­ger out­break. . . .

. . . . Dr. [Trevor] Bed­ford said he also believed this was the more like­ly sce­nario, not­ing that up to half of peo­ple with coro­n­avirus infec­tions have no symp­toms.

There could have been a tiny num­ber of iso­lat­ed coro­n­avirus cas­es among trav­el­ers to the Unit­ed States in Decem­ber, Dr. Bed­ford said. But it is pret­ty clear that none of them spread.

In part, sci­en­tists can tell that by look­ing at the genom­ic fin­ger­prints of each case. But anoth­er clue is the rapid rate at which the virus spreads, Dr. Ruther­ford said.

It appears that ear­ly in the out­break, one infec­tion was spread­ing to about four oth­er peo­ple, on aver­age, with an incu­ba­tion peri­od for new infec­tions of about four days. So a case seed­ed in Decem­ber would rapid­ly quadru­ple through new gen­er­a­tions, most like­ly grow­ing expo­nen­tial­ly to mil­lions of cas­es from a sin­gle unbro­ken chain of trans­mis­sion by the end of Feb­ru­ary. Researchers are not see­ing any chains that appear to go that far back.

Mod­el­ers look­ing back at the growth of out­breaks else­where have reached sim­i­lar con­clu­sions. One esti­mat­ed that New York’s out­break could have begun with per­haps 10 infect­ed peo­ple who con­tract­ed the virus some­time between the end of Jan­u­ary to the mid­dle of Feb­ru­ary, when the first cas­es of com­mu­ni­ty trans­mis­sion were iden­ti­fied and hos­pi­tals began see­ing more cas­es. . . .

8b. The anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus becomes all the more sig­nif­i­cant in that we are told that New York was the epi­cen­ter of infec­tion in the Unit­ed States.

“Amer­i­can Out­break Caught Fire in New York” by Bene­dict Carey and James Glanz; The New York Times; 5/08/2020; pp. A1-A9 [West­ern Edi­tion].

8c. Lead­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s rhetor­i­cal and polit­i­cal charge against Chi­na is Mike Pom­peo. Charg­ing that the virus “escaped” from a lab in Wuhan and equiv­o­cat­ing about whether that release was inten­tion­al, Koch broth­ers-pro­tege Pom­peo cit­ed alleged duplic­i­ty on behalf of Chi­na’s com­mu­nist par­ty in con­nec­tion with the virus. ” . . . . ‘I can tell you that there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of evi­dence that this came from that lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan,’ Pom­peo said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sun­day. ‘Do you think they inten­tion­al­ly released that virus, or it was an acci­dent in the lab?’ Co-Anchor Martha Rad­datz pressed. ‘I can’t answer your ques­tion about that,’ he said, ‘because the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty has refused to coop­er­ate with world health experts.’ . . .”

The Chi­nese med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic estab­lish­ment has worked close­ly with coun­ter­parts glob­al­ly in an attempt to ana­lyze and treat the virus.

The high­ly anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy, the lack of symp­toms in half of infect­ed patients, the wide vari­ety of symp­toms the virus caus­es and, last­ly, the fact that this was a nov­el virus and result­ing infec­tion are all fac­tors to be con­sid­ered in eval­u­at­ing the time­li­ness of the Chi­nese response.

Pom­peo also assert that the virus was not made in a lab­o­ra­to­ry.

“Pom­peo says ‘enor­mous evi­dence’ for unproven the­o­ry that coro­n­avirus came from lab” by Ash­ley Brown, Conor Finnegan and Jack Arn­holz; ABC News; 05/03/2020 [43]

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said there are “enor­mous” signs that the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break orig­i­nat­ed a bio­med­ical lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan, Chi­na — the city where cas­es first explod­ed [74].

“I can tell you that there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of evi­dence that this came from that lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan,” Pom­peo said on ABC’s “This Week” Sun­day.

“Do you think they inten­tion­al­ly released that virus, or it was an acci­dent in the lab?” Co-Anchor Martha Rad­datz pressed.

“I can’t answer your ques­tion about that,” he said, “because the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty has refused to coop­er­ate with world health experts.”

NEW: Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo tells @MarthaRaddatz [75] Chi­na “did all that it could to make sure the world didn’t learn in a time­ly fash­ion” about COVID-19.“It was a clas­sic com­mu­nist dis­in­for­ma­tion effort,” he adds and they will be held “account­able.” https://t.co/EKV20Fhx2H [76] pic.twitter.com/YrQRGkeYNk [77]— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) May 3, 2020 [78]

The White House last week ordered U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies to look into [79] whether Chi­na con­cealed infor­ma­tion ear­ly on about the nov­el coro­n­avirus, two admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials told ABC News last week.

Pom­peo on Sun­day agreed the virus was not man­made.

A recent press release from the Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence (ODNI) that said, “The Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty also con­curs with the wide sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus that the COVID-19 virus was not man­made or genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied.” . . . .

. . . . Sev­er­al pub­lic health and epi­demi­o­log­i­cal experts have told ABC News it is “vast­ly more like­ly” that the first infec­tion — what’s called “zoonot­ic spillover” — occurred in the wild, giv­en the “huge bar­ri­ers between peo­ple and virus­es in the lab­o­ra­to­ry set­ting,” accord­ing to Dr. Chris­tine John­son, direc­tor of the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development’s Pre­dict project and a pro­fes­sor at UC Davis School of Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cine. . . .

8d. A mis­lead­ing sto­ry in Rupert Mur­doch’s The Dai­ly Tele­graph [44] out of Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, alleged that the Five Eyes elec­tron­ic intel­li­gence net­work has cor­rob­o­rat­ed the “it came from a Chi­nese lab” meme.

Of more than pass­ing inter­est is the dis­clo­sure that the project on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es con­duct­ed in the Wuhan lab­o­ra­to­ry was a joint U.S./Chinese project, and that Ralph Bar­ic [45] was a key Amer­i­can part­ner [19] in the project.

This is the under­tak­ing [46] about which we have report­ed and dis­cussed [22] exten­sive­ly in the past! . . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with ‘Sci­ence Dai­ly’ at the time: ‘This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.’ . . . .”

Bar­ic was the selectee to recon­struct the SARS Cov2 virus from scratch. Note that the arti­cle below dis­cuss­es the U.S. sus­pen­sion of the “gain of func­tion” exper­i­ments and 2017 resump­tion of same, some­how spin­ning this into the “Chi­na did it” dis­in­for­ma­tion.

“Coro­n­avirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against Chi­na bat virus pro­gram” by Shar­ri Mark­son; The Dai­ly Tele­graph; 05/04/2020 [44]

Chi­na delib­er­ate­ly sup­pressed or destroyed evi­dence of the coro­n­avirus out­break in an “assault on inter­na­tion­al trans­paren­cy’’ that cost tens of thou­sands of lives, accord­ing to a dossier pre­pared by con­cerned West­ern gov­ern­ments on the COVID-19 con­ta­gion.

The 15-page research doc­u­ment, obtained by The Sat­ur­day Tele­graph, lays the foun­da­tion for the case of neg­li­gence being mount­ed against Chi­na.

It states that to the “endan­ger­ment of oth­er coun­tries” the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment cov­ered-up news of the virus by silenc­ing or “dis­ap­pear­ing” doc­tors who spoke out, destroy­ing evi­dence of it in lab­o­ra­to­ries and refus­ing to pro­vide live sam­ples to inter­na­tion­al sci­en­tists who were work­ing on a vac­cine.

It can also be revealed the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment trained and fund­ed a team of Chi­nese sci­en­tists who belong to a lab­o­ra­to­ry which went on to genet­i­cal­ly mod­i­fy dead­ly coro­n­avirus­es that could be trans­mit­ted from bats to humans and had no cure, and is now the sub­ject of a probe into the ori­gins of COVID-19.

As intel­li­gence agen­cies inves­ti­gate whether the virus inad­ver­tent­ly leaked from a Wuhan lab­o­ra­to­ry, the team and its research led by sci­en­tist Shi Zhengli fea­ture in the dossier pre­pared by West­ern gov­ern­ments that points to sev­er­al stud­ies they con­duct­ed as areas of con­cern.

It cites their work dis­cov­er­ing sam­ples of coro­n­avirus from a cave in the Yun­nan province with strik­ing genet­ic sim­i­lar­i­ty to COVID-19, along with their research syn­the­sis­ing a bat-derived coro­n­avirus that could not be treat­ed. . . .

. . . . It notes a 2013 study con­duct­ed by a team of researchers, includ­ing Dr Shi, who col­lect­ed a sam­ple of horse­shoe bat fae­ces from a cave in Yun­nan province, Chi­na, which was lat­er found to con­tain a virus 96.2 per cent iden­ti­cal to SARS-CoV­‑2, the virus that caused COVID-19.

The research dossier also ref­er­ences work done by the team to syn­the­sise SARS-like coro­n­avirus­es, to analyse whether they could be trans­mis­si­ble from bats to mam­mals. This means they were alter­ing parts of the virus to test whether it was trans­mis­si­ble to dif­fer­ent species.

Their Novem­ber 2015 study, done in con­junc­tion with the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na, con­clud­ed that the SARS-like virus could jump direct­ly from bats to humans and there was no treat­ment that could help.

The study acknowl­edges the incred­i­ble dan­ger of the work they were con­duct­ing.

“The poten­tial to pre­pare for and mit­i­gate future out­breaks must be weighed against the risk of cre­at­ing more dan­ger­ous pathogens,” they wrote. . . .

. . . . One of Dr Shi’s co-authors on that paper, Pro­fes­sor Ralph Bar­ic from North Car­oli­na Uni­ver­si­ty, said in an inter­view with Sci­ence Dai­ly at the time: “This virus is high­ly path­o­gen­ic and treat­ments devel­oped against the orig­i­nal SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebo­la fail to neu­tralise and con­trol this par­tic­u­lar virus.” . . . .

. . . . Dr Shi’s pro­tégé, Peng Zhou — now the head of the Bat Virus Infec­tion and Immu­ni­ty Project at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy — spent three years at the bio-con­tain­ment facil­i­ty Aus­tralian Ani­mal Health Lab­o­ra­to­ry between 2011 and 2014. He was sent by Chi­na to com­plete his doc­tor­ate at the CSIRO from 2009–2010. . . .

. . . . The US with­drew fund­ing from con­tro­ver­sial exper­i­ments that make pathogens more potent or like­ly to spread dan­ger­ous virus­es in Octo­ber 2014, con­cerned it could lead to a glob­al pan­dem­ic.

The pause on fund­ing for 21 “gain of func­tion” stud­ies was then lift­ed in Decem­ber 2017. . . .

8e. A Guardian [47] arti­cle sources UK intel­li­gence assets claim­ing that the 15-page dossier didn’t come from a Five Eyes intel­li­gence assess­ment. They assert that it was based on open-source mate­ri­als and put for­ward by the US as “a tool for build­ing a counter-nar­ra­tive and apply­ing pres­sure to Chi­na.”

“Five Eyes net­work con­tra­dicts the­o­ry Covid-19 leaked from lab” by Dan Sab­bagh; The Guardian; 05/04/2020 [47]

There is no cur­rent evi­dence to sug­gest that coro­n­avirus leaked from a Chi­nese research lab­o­ra­to­ry, intel­li­gence sources have told the Guardian, con­tra­dict­ing recent White House claims that there is grow­ing proof this is how the pan­dem­ic began.

The sources also insist­ed that a “15-page dossier” high­light­ed by the Aus­tralian Dai­ly Tele­graph which accused Chi­na of a dead­ly cov­er up was not culled from intel­li­gence from the Five Eyes net­work [80], an alliance between the UK, US, Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Cana­da. . . .

. . . . Amer­i­can sci­en­tists who have worked with the Wuhan Insti­tute add its safe­ty stan­dards are com­pa­ra­ble to West­ern equiv­a­lents [81] – and the pre­vail­ing the­o­ry is that the virus was passed onto humans via one of the country’s live ani­mal mar­kets [82].

Australia’s Dai­ly Tele­graph – a Syd­ney tabloid owned by Rupert Mur­doch – has been focus­ing on the Wuhan lab for sev­er­al days, cul­mi­nat­ing in a week­end report which cit­ed a 15-page dossier com­piled, it said, by “con­cerned West­ern gov­ern­ments” amid an inves­ti­ga­tion by British and oth­er mem­bers of the Five Eyes intel­li­gence agen­cies.

Intel­li­gence sources in Aus­tralia were quick to say they believed it was based on open source, pub­lic domain mate­r­i­al. One told the Guardian they believed the infor­ma­tion that appeared in the News Corp title was most like­ly to have orig­i­nal­ly come from the US: “My instinct is that it was a tool for build­ing a counter-nar­ra­tive and apply­ing pres­sure to Chi­na. So it’s the intent behind it that’s most impor­tant. So pos­si­bly open source leads with a clas­si­fi­ca­tion slapped on it.”

9. In Mis­cel­la­neous [83] Archive [84] Show M4 [85], we exam­ined Glo­ria Steinem’s CIA back­ground and peo­ple and insti­tu­tions in her milieu sug­ges­tive of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that her Agency links are not sole­ly in the past. (A tran­script of the broad­cast is avail­able [52] on this web­site as well.) 

Against the back­ground of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s anti-Chi­na cam­paign rhetoric and attempts to pin the blame for Covid-19 on a “lab­o­ra­to­ry” leak and/or delib­er­ate release, we note that the offen­sive is being pushed by The Don­ald’s deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Matthew Pot­tinger.

“. . . . Matthew Pot­tinger [48], the deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er who report­ed on SARS out­breaks [49] as a jour­nal­ist in Chi­na, pressed intel­li­gence agen­cies [50] in Jan­u­ary to gath­er infor­ma­tion that might sup­port any ori­gin the­o­ry linked to a lab. . . .”

Pot­tinger is the son of for­mer Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al J. Stan­ley Pot­tinger [51].

Pot­tinger, Senior was: Assis­tant Attor­ney Gen­er­al for Civ­il Rights under Nixon and Ford; report­ed by Don­ald Freed and Fred Lan­dis (in “Death in Wash­ing­ton”) to have foiled inves­ti­ga­tions into the assas­si­na­tions of Mar­tin Luther King and Orlan­do Lete­lier; the attor­ney for the Hashe­mi broth­ers in the Octo­ber Sur­prise inves­ti­ga­tion; a close per­son­al friend of George H.W. Bush (for whom CIA head­quar­ters was named) and, last but cer­tain­ly not least, Glo­ria Steinem’s lover for nine years.

Despite the fact that Steinem tout­ed her CIA back­ground as good jour­nal­is­tic cre­den­tials in both “The New York Times” and “The Wash­ing­ton Post” (both with long-stand­ing CIA links them­selves), Pot­tinger has defend­ed her against charges that she worked for the CIA!!

Worth not­ing, as well, is the fact that the Lete­lier assas­si­na­tion was one of the mur­ders con­duct­ed under Oper­a­tion Con­dor, assist­ed by the CIA. Lete­lier was killed by a car bomb in Wash­ing­ton D.C., while J.Stanley Pot­tinger’s good friend George H.W. Bush was in charge of the CIA when Lete­lier was hit.

(We have cov­ered Oper­a­tion Con­dor in numer­ous pro­grams, includ­ing AFA #19 [53]One of the oper­a­tional cen­ters of Con­dor was the Chilean Nazi enclave Colo­nia Dig­nidad. In FTR #839 [54], we set forth author Peter Lev­en­da’s brave, fright­en­ing vis­it to “The Colony.” This should be digest­ed by any­one inter­est­ed in the his­to­ry of which Pot­tinger, Sr., is a part.)

One won­ders if Matthew may have fol­lowed J. Stan­ley into the CIA, if in fact Dad­dio is Agency, as Mr. Emory sus­pects.

In FTR #s 998 [55], 999 [56], 1000 [57], we set forth what Mr. Emory calls “weaponized fem­i­nism.” Refash­ion­ing the doc­trine of advanc­ing the cause of women into a legal and polit­i­cal weapon for destroy­ing tar­get­ed men, dom­i­nant man­i­fes­ta­tions of the #MeToo move­ment have served the cause of the far right.

Resembling–in its essence–the “libid­i­nal McCarthy­ism” of Arthur Miller’s play “The Cru­cible,” [58]  many high-pro­file man­i­fes­ta­tions of #MeToo have been pro­pelled by evi­den­tiary mate­r­i­al that ranges from dubi­ous to ludi­crous to non-exis­tent.

We find it more than coin­ci­den­tal that Bernie Sanders sup­port­er [59] Tara Read­e’s shape-shift­ing accu­sa­tions against Joe Biden have sur­faced decades after the alleged incident–coinciding with Biden’s chal­leng­ing of Trump and with Pot­tinger, Jr. help­ing to direct the admin­is­tra­tion’s traf­fic.

“Trump Offi­cials Are Said to Press Spies to Link Virus and Wuhan Labs” by Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes, Edward Wong and Adam Gold­man; The New York Times; 04/30/2020 [86]

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, a for­mer C.I.A. direc­tor and the administration’s most vocal hard-lin­er on Chi­na, has tak­en the lead in push­ing Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agen­cies for more infor­ma­tion, accord­ing to cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials.

Matthew Pot­tinger [48], the deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er who report­ed on SARS out­breaks [49] as a jour­nal­ist in Chi­na, pressed intel­li­gence agen­cies [50] in Jan­u­ary to gath­er infor­ma­tion that might sup­port any ori­gin the­o­ry linked to a lab. . . .

. . . . Any Amer­i­can intel­li­gence report blam­ing a Chi­nese insti­tu­tion and offi­cials for the out­break could sig­nif­i­cant­ly harm rela­tions with Chi­na [87] for years to come. And Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials could use it to try to prod oth­er nations to pub­licly hold Chi­na account­able for coro­n­avirus deaths even when the pandemic’s exact ori­gins can­not be deter­mined.

Mr. Trump made clear on Thurs­day evening of his inter­est in intel­li­gence sup­port­ing the the­o­ry the virus emerged acci­den­tal­ly from a Wuhan lab. In response to a ques­tion from a reporter, the pres­i­dent said he had seen intel­li­gence that sup­port­ed the idea but quick­ly back­tracked, adding that he “was not allowed” to share the intel­li­gence and that his admin­is­tra­tion was exam­in­ing mul­ti­ple the­o­ries about the ori­gin of the virus. . . .