Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'China' is associated with 114 posts.

FTR #1134 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 9: Covid-19 Updates

As indi­cat­ed by the title of the pro­gram, this broad­cast updates var­i­ous arti­cles and book excerpts con­cern­ing Covid-19.

A Dai­ly Mail Online [UK] arti­cle sets forth two bogus papers con­tend­ing that the SARS CoV‑2 virus was genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered by the Chi­nese as a bioweapon in a lab­o­ra­to­ry and that it “escaped.” Note the cham­pi­oning of one of the papers by a for­mer head of MI6 and the author­ship of the sec­ond by The Epoch Times, the paper of the Falun Gong cult. Linked to CIA, Steve Ban­non’s anti-Chi­na milieu and the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, the orga­ni­za­tion is a fas­cist mind con­trol cult dis­cussed in numer­ous shows, includ­ing FTR #‘s 1089 and 1090. 

1.–“A for­mer MI6 chief was yes­ter­day accused by Gov­ern­ment offi­cials of ped­dling ‘fan­ci­ful claims’ that coro­n­avirus was acci­den­tal­ly cre­at­ed in a Chi­nese lab­o­ra­to­ry. British secu­ri­ty agen­cies believe Covid-19 is not a man-made virus and is ‘high­ly like­ly’ to have occurred nat­u­ral­ly and spread to humans through ani­mals. And Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock has said there is ‘no evi­dence’ to back up the the­o­ry that it orig­i­nat­ed in a lab­o­ra­to­ry. But Sir Richard Dearlove, who was head of the MI6 from 1999 to 2004, cit­ed a recent report claim­ing the dis­ease was acci­den­tal­ly man­u­fac­tured by Chi­nese sci­en­tists.
2.–“ ‘I do think that this start­ed as an acci­dent,’ Sir Richard told The Dai­ly Telegraph’s ‘Plan­et Nor­mal’ pod­cast. ‘It rais­es the issue: if Chi­na ever were to admit respon­si­bil­i­ty, does it pay repa­ra­tions? I think it will make every coun­try in the world rethink how it treats its rela­tion­ship with Chi­na.’ He added: ‘Look at the sto­ries... of attempts by the [Bei­jing] lead­er­ship to lock down any debate about the ori­gins of the pan­dem­ic and the way peo­ple have been arrest­ed or silenced.’ . . . . The paper – co-authored by Pro­fes­sor Angus Dal­gleish, a renowned oncol­o­gist and vac­cine researcher who works at St George’s Hos­pi­tal, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don, and Birg­er Sorensen, a Nor­we­gian virol­o­gist – con­tains none of the stark alle­ga­tions that orig­i­nal­ly stunned its review­ers.
3..–“The ini­tial paper that trig­gered wild rumours failed strin­gent tests of ver­i­fi­ca­tion and is under­stood to have been reject­ed in April by emi­nent inter­na­tion­al jour­nals such as Nature and the Jour­nal of Virol­o­gy. Bio­med­ical experts from the Fran­cis Crick Insti­tute and Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don are said to have refut­ed its con­clu­sions. Then one of the paper’s co-authors, Dr John Fredrik Moxnes, chief sci­en­tif­ic advis­er to the Nor­we­gian mil­i­tary, asked for his name to be with­drawn. This week, after numer­ous rewrites, the paper was pub­lished by the Quar­ter­ly Review of Bio­physics Dis­cov­ery. And those orig­i­nal world-shak­ing con­clu­sions have now with­ered to innu­en­do. No accu­sa­tion of Chi­nese manip­u­la­tion appears. . . .”
4.–”. . . . Back in April, a slick­ly pro­duced inves­tiga­tive doc­u­men­tary, Track­ing Down The Ori­gin Of The Wuhan Coro­n­avirus, was released online. It claimed con­clu­sive proof that the Covid-19 virus had been cre­at­ed as a bio­log­i­cal ‘weapon of mass destruc­tion’ in a Chi­nese lab. . . .”
5.–“At first sight, it seemed a shock­ing­ly con­vinc­ing piece of jour­nal­ism. On behalf of this news­pa­per, I cross-checked every claim: The experts it cit­ed and the fac­tu­al evi­dence unearthed. I also researched the back­grounds of its mak­ers. I then approached some of the world’s best inde­pen­dent sci­en­tif­ic author­i­ties to ask their opin­ion. They all agreed – this entic­ing­ly spicy sto­ry just did­n’t stand up.”
6.–“It had been pro­duced by a US based anti-Chi­nese gov­ern­ment media organ­i­sa­tion called the Epoch Times. Its ‘experts’ were vet­er­an hard-Right­ists. Most damn­ing­ly, its sci­en­tif­ic ‘facts’ were twist­ed out of shape.So much, then, for the Chi­nese-man­u­fac­tured coro­n­avirus con­spir­a­cy . . .”

Steve Ban­non is at the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Chi­na effort and–to no one’s surprise–never real­ly left the Trump White House.

When assess­ing Ban­non as a polit­i­cal ani­mal, one should nev­er for­get that among the impor­tant ide­o­log­i­cal influ­ences on him is Julius Evola, an Ital­ian fas­cist who found Mus­soli­ni too mod­er­ate and ulti­mate­ly took his cues from the Nazi SS, who were financ­ing his work by the end of World War II.

” . . . . Don­ald Trump’s light­ning-rod 2016 cam­paign boss and for­mer White House chief strate­gist who was ban­ished from the West Wing in 2017 has qui­et­ly crept back into 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Ave., reestab­lish­ing ties to staffers, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to his pet issues of Chi­na and immi­gra­tion. . . . Anoth­er for­mer admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told The Post that Ban­non nev­er real­ly left the White House after he was fired, main­tain­ing con­tacts and keep­ing up reg­u­lar chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with offi­cials there. . . .”

In addi­tion, as dis­cussed in FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112, Ban­non is part of a net­work that includes J. Kyle Bass and Tom­my Hicks, Jr. This nexus involves asym­met­ri­cal invest­ing with regard to the Hong Kong and Chi­nese economies and the inter-agency gov­ern­men­tal net­works involved in both overt and covert anti-Chi­na poli­cies imple­ment­ed by Team Trump. As will be seen below, they also are net­work­ing with the mis-named “Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19.” In that regard, they are also help­ing steer pol­i­cy that con­trols devel­op­ment of treat­ment and vac­cines for Covid-19. The man­age­ment of drug and vac­cine devel­op­ment, in turn, dou­bles back to mar­ket-dri­ving invest­ment dynam­ics.

An inter­est­ing sum­ma­tion of char­ac­ter­is­tics of a “delib­er­ate” epi­dem­ic are eval­u­at­ed against the find­ing that New York City was the epi­cen­ter of the U.S. Covid-19 out­break: 

Bit­ten: The Secret His­to­ry of Lyme Dis­ease and Bio­log­i­cal Weapons by Kris New­by; Harper­Collins [HC]; Copy­right 2019 by Kris New­by; ISBN 9780062896728; p. 185.

Poten­tial epi­demi­o­log­i­cal clues to a delib­er­ate epi­dem­ic:

Clue no. 1–A high­ly unusu­al event with large num­bers of casu­al­ties: Check!

Clue no. 2–Higher mor­bid­i­ty or mor­tal­i­ty than is expect­ed. Check!

Clue no. 3–Uncommon dis­ease. Check!

Clue no. 4–Point-source out­break. Check!

Clue no. 5–Multiple epi­demics. Check! (Glob­al pan­dem­ic)

                      –Z. F. Dem­bek, et al., “Dis­cern­ment Between Delib­er­ate and Nat­ur­al Infec­tious Dis­ease Out­breaks”

The pre­vail­ing view of the Covid-19 out­break con­tends that the Amer­i­can out­break spread out­ward from New York City. The strain of SARS CoV‑2 that appeared in New York came, in turn, from Europe. 

This does­n’t make sense. There were con­firmed cas­es of the virus on the West Coast that did not come from New York. A Euro­pean strain of the virus trans­mit­ted to New York City would have come in via air. In such an event, there would have been a well-doc­u­ment­ed out­break of Covid-19 among flight atten­dants, who oper­ate in close con­tact with pas­sen­gers in cramped cir­cum­stances, as well as expe­ri­enc­ing jet lag, which com­pro­mis­es the immune sys­tem.

Next, we review an aspect of the 2001 anthrax attacks. We high­light­ed the 2001 anthrax attacks in con­nec­tion with the Covid-19 out­break in New York City in FTR #1128.

We note that the Anthrax attacks appear to have oper­at­ed in over­lap­ping con­texts, includ­ing jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the war in Iraq. 

The 2001 anthrax attacks appear to have served as a provo­ca­tion that jus­ti­fied a ten-fold increase in spend­ing for bio­log­i­cal war­fare devel­op­ment. The num­ber of BSL‑4 labs (hav­ing dual civil­ian and mil­i­tary use) increased from two in 2001, to a dozen in 2007.

This increase occurred while Don­ald Rums­feld was George W. Bush’s sec­re­tary of defense. He went to that posi­tion from being Chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors for Gilead Sci­ences, the man­u­fac­tur­er of remde­sivir.

We will delve into the pol­i­tics of the anthrax attacks in the future.

In the con­text of the above arti­cle, note that the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health have also part­nered with CIA and the Pen­ta­gon, as under­scored by an arti­cle about a BSL‑4 lab at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty. Note that Europe and the U.S. have twelve BSL4 labs apiece. Tai­wan has two. Chi­na has one:

1.–As the arti­cle notes, as of 2007, the U.S. had “more than a dozen” BSL4 labs–China com­mis­sioned its first as of 2017. a ten­fold increase in fund­ing for BSL4 labs occurred because of the anthrax attacks of 2001. Those attacks might be seen as some­thing of a provo­ca­tion, spurring a dra­mat­ic increase in “dual use” biowar­fare research, under the cov­er of “legit­i­mate” medical/scientific research. In FTR #1128, we hypoth­e­sized about the milieu of Stephen Hat­fill and apartheid-linked inter­ests as pos­si­ble authors of a vec­tor­ing of New York City with Sars COV2: ” . . . . Before the anthrax mail­ings of 2001, the Unit­ed States had just two BSL4 labs—both with­in the razor-wire con­fines of gov­ern­ment-owned cam­pus­es. Now, thanks to a ten­fold increase in funding—from $200 mil­lion in 2001 to $2 bil­lion in 2006—more than a dozen such facil­i­ties can be found at uni­ver­si­ties and pri­vate com­pa­nies across the coun­try. . . .”
2.–The Boston Uni­ver­si­ty lab exem­pli­fies the Pen­ta­gon and CIA pres­ence in BSL‑4 facil­i­ty “dual use”: ” . . . . But some sci­en­tists say that argu­ment obscures the true pur­pose of the cur­rent biode­fense boom: to study poten­tial bio­log­i­cal weapons. ‘The uni­ver­si­ty por­trays it as an emerg­ing infec­tious dis­ease lab,’ says David Ozonoff, a Boston Uni­ver­si­ty epi­demi­ol­o­gist whose office is right across the street from the new BSL4 facil­i­ty. ‘But they are talk­ing about study­ing things like small pox and inhala­tion anthrax, which pose no pub­lic health threat oth­er than as bioweapons.’ . . . The orig­i­nal NIH man­date for the lab indi­cat­ed that many groups—including the CIA and Depart­ment of Defense—would be allowed to use the lab for their own research, the nature of which BU might have lit­tle con­trol over. . . .”

Piv­ot­ing to dis­cus­sion and review of the polit­i­cal, finan­cial and cor­po­rate con­nec­tions to the devel­op­ment of med­i­c­i­nal treat­ments for, and vac­cines to pre­vent, Covid-19, we recap details rel­e­vant to the extra­or­di­nary tim­ing of a 4/29 announce­ment of favor­able results for a tri­al of remde­sivir. That announce­ment drove equi­ties mar­kets high­er and was ben­e­fi­cial to the stock of Gilead Sci­ences.

We present a Stat News arti­cle on the inter­nal delib­er­a­tions behind the deci­sions to mod­i­fy the NIAID study. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance is the DSMB delib­er­a­tion. Note the time­line of the DSMB delib­er­a­tion, com­bined with the announce­ment on 4/29 that drove the mar­kets high­er.

1.–The deci­sion was made to cut it short before the ques­tion of remdesivir’s impact on mor­tal­i­ty could be answered: ” . . . .The Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases has described to STAT in new detail how it made its fate­ful deci­sion: to start giv­ing remde­sivir to patients who had been assigned to receive a place­bo in the study, essen­tial­ly lim­it­ing researchers’ abil­i­ty to col­lect more data about whether the drug saves lives — some­thing the study, called ACTT‑1, sug­gests but does not prove. In the tri­al, 8% of the par­tic­i­pants giv­en remde­sivir died, com­pared with 11.6% of the place­bo group, a dif­fer­ence that was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant. A top NIAID offi­cial said he had no regrets about the deci­sion. ‘There cer­tain­ly was una­nim­i­ty with­in the insti­tute that this was the right thing to do,’ said H. Clif­ford Lane, NIAID’s clin­i­cal direc­tor. . . .”
2.–In addi­tion, patients sched­uled to receive place­bo received remde­sivir, instead. ” . . . . Steven Nis­sen, a vet­er­an tri­al­ist and car­di­ol­o­gist at the Cleve­land Clin­ic, dis­agreed that giv­ing place­bo patients remde­sivir was the right call. ‘I believe it is in society’s best inter­est to deter­mine whether remde­sivir can reduce mor­tal­i­ty, and with the release of this infor­ma­tion doing a place­bo-con­trolled tri­al to deter­mine if there is a mor­tal­i­ty ben­e­fit will be very dif­fi­cult,’ he said. ‘The ques­tion is: Was there a route, or is there a route, to deter­mine if the drug can pre­vent death?’ The deci­sion is ‘a lost oppor­tu­ni­ty,’ he said. . . .”
3.–Steven Nis­sen was not alone in his crit­i­cism of the NIAID’s deci­sion. ” . . . .Peter Bach, the direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Health Pol­i­cy and Out­comes at Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter, agreed with Nis­sen. ‘The core under­stand­ing of clin­i­cal research par­tic­i­pa­tion and clin­i­cal research con­duct is we run the tri­al rig­or­ous­ly to pro­vide the most accu­rate infor­ma­tion about the right treat­ment,’ he said. And that answer, he argued, should ide­al­ly have deter­mined whether remde­sivir saves lives. The rea­son we have shut our whole soci­ety down, Bach said, is not to pre­vent Covid-19 patients from spend­ing a few more days in the hos­pi­tal. It is to pre­vent patients from dying. ‘Mor­tal­i­ty is the right end­point,’ he said. . . .”
4.–Not only was the admin­is­tra­tion of remde­sivir instead of place­bo pri­or­i­tized, but the NIAID study itself was atten­u­at­ed! ” . . . . But the change in the study’s main goal also changed the way the study would be ana­lyzed. Now, the NIAID decid­ed, the analy­sis would be cal­cu­lat­ed when 400 patients out of the 1,063 patients the study enrolled had recov­ered. If remde­sivir turned out to be much more effec­tive than expect­ed, ‘inter­im’ analy­ses would be con­duct­ed at a third and two-thirds that number.The job of review­ing these analy­ses would fall to a com­mit­tee of out­side experts on what is known as an inde­pen­dent data and safe­ty mon­i­tor­ing board, or DSMB. . . .”
5.–The per­for­mance of the DSMB for the remde­sivir study is note­wor­thy: ” . . . . But the DSMB for the remde­sivir study did not ever meet for an inter­im effi­ca­cy analy­sis, Lane said. All patients had been enrolled by April 20. The data for a DSMB meet­ing was cut off on April 22. The DSMB met and, on April 27, it made a rec­om­men­da­tion to the NIAID. . . .”
The DSMB meet­ing on 4/27 deter­mined the switch from place­bo to remde­sivir. Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that this was JUST BEFORE the 4/29 announce­ment that drove the mar­kets high­er and the same day on which key Trump aide–and for­mer Gilead Sci­ences lob­by­ist Joe Gro­gan resigned! ” . . . . . That deci­sion, Lane said, led the NIAID to con­clude that patients who had been giv­en place­bo should be offered remde­sivir, some­thing that start­ed hap­pen­ing after April 28. . . .”
6.–Dr. Ethan Weiss gave an accu­rate eval­u­a­tion of the NIAID study: ” . . . . ‘We’ve squan­dered an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to do good sci­ence,’ [Dr. Ethan] Weiss said. ‘If we could ever go back and do some­thing all over, it would be the infra­struc­ture to actu­al­ly learn some­thing. Because we’re not learn­ing enough.’ . . . .”

The remark­able han­dling of the NIAID study, the tim­ing of the announce­ment of the alto­geth­er lim­it­ed suc­cess of the atten­u­at­ed tri­al and the rise in equi­ties as a result of the announce­ment may be best under­stood in the con­text of the role played in Trump pan­dem­ic deci­sion-mak­ing by an elite group of bil­lion­aires and scientists–including con­vict­ed felon Michael Milken (the “junk bond king”).

1.–” . . . . Call­ing them­selves ‘Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19,’ the col­lec­tion of top researchers, bil­lion­aires and indus­try cap­tains will act as an ‘ad hoc review board’ for the tor­rent of coro­n­avirus research, ‘weed­ing out’ flawed data before it reach­es pol­i­cy­mak­ers, the Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed on Mon­day. They are also act­ing as a go-between for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies seek­ing to build a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel with Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. The group . . . . has advised Nick Ayers, an aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, as well as oth­er agency heads, in the past month. Pence is head­ing up the White House coro­n­avirus task force. . . .”
2.–” . . . The brainy bunch is led by Thomas Cahill, a 33-year-old doc­tor who became a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist . . . . Cahill’s clout comes from build­ing con­nec­tions through his invest­ment firm, New­path Part­ners, with Sil­i­con Valley’s Peter Thiel, the founder of Pay­Pal, and bil­lion­aire busi­ness­men Jim Palot­ta and Michael Milken. . . .”

Note that Peter Thiel played a dom­i­nant role in bankrolling New­path Part­ners, and the oth­er finan­cial angel who ele­vat­ed Cahill–Brian Sheth–introduced him to Tom­my Hicks, Jr., the co-chair­man of the RNC. In FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112, we looked at Hicks’ net­work­ing with Steve Ban­non asso­ciate J. Kyle Bass, as well as his role in the inter-agency net­works dri­ving the anti-Chi­na effort.

” . . . . At the helm of the effort: The 33-year-old and very-much-under-the-radar ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tom Cahill, who leads life sci­ences-focused New­path Part­ners. Cahill com­plet­ed his M.D. and PhD at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty a mere two years ago before land­ing at blue-chip invest­ment firm Rap­tor Group through a friend. He went on to found New­path with some $125 mil­lion after impress­ing well-con­nect­ed names like ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel and Vista Equi­ty Part­ners co-founder Bri­an Sheth. . . . It was through Sheth, for exam­ple, that Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19 con­nect­ed with the co-chair­man of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Thomas Hicks Jr. . . .”

The fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s extreme focus on remde­sivir has been shaped, in large mea­sure, by the influ­ence of “Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19”:

1.–“Scientists to Stop Covid-19” is shep­herd­ing remde­sivir: ” . . . . Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19 rec­om­mends that in this phase, the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) should work to coor­di­nate with Gilead phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to focus on expe­dit­ing the results of clin­i­cal tri­als of remde­sivir, a drug iden­ti­fied as a poten­tial treat­ment for COVID-19. The group also rec­om­mends admin­is­ter­ing dos­es of the drug to patients in an ear­ly stage of infec­tion, and notes remde­sivir will essen­tial­ly be a place­hold­er until a more effec­tive treat­ment is pro­duced.
2.–The group is doing so by atten­u­at­ing the reg­u­la­to­ry process for coro­n­avirus drugs: “Gov­ern­ment enti­ties and agen­cies appear to adhere to the rec­om­men­da­tions out­lined by the group, with the Jour­nal report­ing that the FDA and the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs (VA) have imple­ment­ed some of the sug­ges­tions, name­ly relax­ing drug man­u­fac­tur­er reg­u­la­tions and require­ments for poten­tial coro­n­avirus treat­ment drugs. . . .”

We con­clude dis­cus­sion of the remde­sivir machi­na­tions with a piece about the tim­ing of the announce­ment of Grogan’s depar­ture.

” . . . . Gro­gan has served as the direc­tor of the White House Domes­tic Pol­i­cy Coun­cil since Feb­ru­ary 2019, over­see­ing a broad array of pol­i­cy issues includ­ing health care and reg­u­la­tion. . . . Gro­gan was one of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of the White House coro­n­avirus task force launched in late Jan­u­ary. . . . Gro­gan worked as a lob­by­ist for drug com­pa­ny Gilead Sci­ences before join­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. . . .”

The depar­ture was announced in the Wall Street Jour­nal on the morn­ing of Wednes­day, April 29, the same day we got our first pub­lic reports of the NIAID clin­i­cal tri­al of remde­sivir that was pos­i­tive enough to show it short­ened the time to recov­ery and the same day the FDA grant­ed remde­sivir emer­gency use sta­tus. 

Note, again, the tim­ing of the DSM­B’s actions, as well as the influ­ence of “Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19.”

In FTR #1130, we not­ed that Mon­cef Slaoui–formerly in charge of prod­uct devel­op­ment for Moderna–was cho­sen to head Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed.” He will be work­ing with Four-Star Gen­er­al Gus­tave Per­na, cho­sen by Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen­er­al Mark Mil­ley.

Even after agree­ing to sell his Mod­er­na stock, Mon­cef Slaoui’s invest­ments raise alarm­ing questions–note that he is a “ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist” and a long­time for­mer exec­u­tive at Glaxo-Smithk­line:

The cir­cum­stances of his appoint­ment will per­mit him to avoid scruti­ny: ” . . . . In agree­ing to accept the posi­tion, Dr. Slaoui did not come on board as a gov­ern­ment employ­ee. Instead, he is on a con­tract, receiv­ing $1 for his ser­vice. That leaves him exempt from fed­er­al dis­clo­sure rules that would require him to list his out­side posi­tions, stock hold­ings and oth­er poten­tial con­flicts. And the con­tract posi­tion is not sub­ject to the same con­flict-of-inter­est laws and reg­u­la­tions that exec­u­tive branch employ­ees must fol­low. . . .”
He will retain a great deal of Glaxo-Smithk­line stock: ” . . . . He did not say how much his GSK shares were worth. When he left the com­pa­ny in 2017, he held about [500,000 in West­ern Print Edi­tion] 240,000 shares and share equiv­a­lents, accord­ing to the drug company’s annu­al report and an analy­sis by the exec­u­tive com­pen­sa­tion firm Equi­lar. . . .”
Fur­ther analy­sis of Slaoui’s posi­tion deep­ens con­cern about the integri­ty of the process: ” . . . . ‘This is basi­cal­ly absurd,’ said Vir­ginia Can­ter, who is chief ethics coun­sel for Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton. ‘It allows for no pub­lic scruti­ny of his con­flicts of inter­est.’ Ms. Can­ter also said fed­er­al law barred gov­ern­ment con­trac­tors from super­vis­ing gov­ern­ment employ­ees. . . . Ms. Can­ter, a for­mer ethics lawyer in the Oba­ma and Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tions, the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion and oth­er agen­cies, point­ed out that GSK’s vac­cine can­di­date with Sanofi could wind up com­pet­ing with oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers vying for gov­ern­ment approval and sup­port. ‘If he retains stock in com­pa­nies that are invest­ing in the devel­op­ment of a vac­cine, and he’s involved in over­see­ing this process to select the safest vac­cine to com­bat Covid-19, regard­less of how won­der­ful a per­son he is, we can’t be con­fi­dent of the integri­ty of any process in which he is involved,’ Ms. Can­ter said.In addi­tion, his affil­i­a­tion with Medicxi could com­pli­cate mat­ters: Two of its investors are GSK and a divi­sion of John­son & John­son, which is also devel­op­ing a poten­tial vac­cine. . . .”

Next, we turn to Mod­er­na’s ani­mal tri­al for the mes­sen­ger RNA vac­cine it is devel­op­ing. There are sev­er­al con­sid­er­a­tions to be weighed in con­nec­tion with the Mod­er­na vac­cine.

1.–Again, the chair­man of Trump’s “Warp Speed” vac­cine devel­op­ment program–Moncef Slaoui–was in charge of Mod­er­na’s prod­uct devel­op­ment oper­a­tion.
2.–Moderna’s tri­al with mice was pos­i­tive with regard to gen­er­at­ing anti­body lev­els high enough to pre­vent ADE.
3.–Antibody Depen­dent Enhance­ment (ADE),  is a phe­nom­e­na where low lev­els of inef­fec­tive anti­bod­ies latch onto the virus and exac­er­bate an over­ac­tive immune response that leads to the dead­liest symp­toms likes cytokine-storms. This dan­ger was seen with SARS and attempts to cre­ate a SARS vac­cine so it’s a rea­son­able fear with SARS-CoV­‑2.
4.–The Phase III (human) tri­al is going to be start­ed in July, involv­ing 30,000 peo­ple. Alarm­ing­ly, those 30,000 peo­ple will all be receiv­ing the exact same dosage, 100 micro­grams, and that means the phase III tri­al won’t be test­ing sub-opti­mal dosages. The big Phase III tri­al won’t be test­ing for ADE in humans. 
5.–We may have a night­mare sit­u­a­tion where polit­i­cal pres­sure gives undo weight to ani­mal safe­ty results, leapfrog­ging over the neces­si­ty of test­ing for side effects. 
6.–The ani­mal tri­als have been severe­ly crit­i­cized: ” . . . . ‘This is the barest begin­ning of pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion,’ said Dr. Gre­go­ry Poland, an immu­nol­o­gist and vac­cine researcher at the Mayo Clin­ic who has seen the paper, which has yet to under­go peer-review. Poland said the paper was incom­plete, dis­or­ga­nized and the num­bers of ani­mals test­ed were small. . . . Poland, who was not involved with the research, said the paper leaves out ‘impor­tant para­me­ters’ that could help sci­en­tists judge the work. . . .”
7.–We MIGHT cre­ate a vac­cine that pro­tects those who get a strong immune response while endan­ger­ing those with sub-pro­tec­tive responses–a “eugenic” vac­cine.
8.–The ani­mal tri­als have been severe­ly crit­i­cized: ” . . . . ‘This is the barest begin­ning of pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion,’ said Dr. Gre­go­ry Poland, an immu­nol­o­gist and vac­cine researcher at the Mayo Clin­ic who has seen the paper, which has yet to under­go peer-review. Poland said the paper was incom­plete, dis­or­ga­nized and the num­bers of ani­mals test­ed were small. . . . Poland, who was not involved with the research, said the paper leaves out ‘impor­tant para­me­ters’ that could help sci­en­tists judge the work. . . .”
9.–The phase II clin­i­cal tri­als on humans are still under­way and won’t be com­plet­ed before Novem­ber.  Phase III is going to be get­ting under­way in July. The Human clin­i­cal tri­als are already under­way at the same time the ani­mal safe­ty tri­als have yet to be com­plet­ed.
10.–Side effects can take a while to man­i­fest.

We pro­vid­ed detailed crit­i­cal com­ments on Mod­er­na’s Phase I tri­al in FTR #1132.

We con­clude with a New York Times arti­cle sets forth a “Vac­cine Octo­ber Sur­prise” sce­nario for this fall.

” . . . . In a des­per­ate search for a boost, he could release a coro­n­avirus vac­cine that has not been shown to be safe and effec­tive as an Octo­ber sur­prise. Oct. 23, 2020, 9 a.m., with 10 days before the elec­tion, Fox New releas­es a poll show­ing Pres­i­dent Trump trail­ing Joe Biden by eight per­cent­age points. Oct. 23, 2020, 3 p.m., at a hasti­ly con­vened news con­fer­ence, Pres­i­dent Trump announces that the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion has just issued an Emer­gency Use Autho­riza­tion for a coro­n­avirus vac­cine. Mr. Trump declares vic­to­ry over Covid-19, demands that all busi­ness­es reopen imme­di­ate­ly and pre­dicts a rapid eco­nom­ic recov­ery. Giv­en how this pres­i­dent has behaved, this incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous sce­nario is not far-fetched. In a des­per­ate search for a polit­i­cal boost, he could release a coro­n­avirus vac­cine before it had been thor­ough­ly test­ed and shown to be safe and effec­tive. . . .”


Azov International

In numer­ous pro­grams, we have not­ed inter­na­tion­al net­work­ing between the Ukrain­ian Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion and ele­ments around the world: Azov is part of the “Inter­mar­i­um Revival” that is seen as using Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of the Ukraine “piv­ot point” as a spring­board for a glob­al Nazi takeover. Amer­i­can Nazis and white suprema­cists are among the ele­ments net­work­ing with Azov and then “bring­ing it all back home” to their native lands. Azov Bat­tal­ion and Pravy Sek­tor (“Right Sec­tor”) ele­ments have decamped to Hong Kong, net­work­ing with the so-called “Pro-Democ­ra­cy” forces and work­ing on behalf of EU NGOs. The Ukrain­ian Nazi influ­ence has tak­en hold in Hong Kong: ” . . . . The inter­est has been mutu­al, with Hong Kong’s ‘democ­rats’ draw­ing inspi­ra­tion from Ukraine’s pro-West­ern Euro­maid­an ‘rev­o­lu­tion’ that has empow­ered far-right, fascis­tic forces. Hong Kong pro­test­ers have embraced the slo­gan ‘Glo­ry to Hong Kong’, adapt­ed from ‘Sla­va Ukrayi­ni’ or ‘Glo­ry to Ukraine’, a slo­gan invent­ed by Ukrain­ian fas­cists and used by Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors dur­ing WWII that was re-pop­u­lar­ized by the Euro­maid­an move­ment. . . . ” Azov appears to have influ­ence in Brazil, as well, alleged­ly hav­ing recruit­ed fight­ers from that coun­try: ” . . . . The country’s sim­mer­ing neo-Nazi move­ment, with its secret world of swastikas, hate pro­pa­gan­da and street vio­lence, was being recruit­ed by rightwing extrem­ists in Ukraine to fight against pro-Russ­ian rebels in the Euro­pean country’s civ­il war. Ukraine’s Mis­an­throp­ic Divi­sion, an extreme right group aligned with the Azov Bat­tal­ion, an ultra­na­tion­al­ist para­mil­i­tary group aligned with Kiev, was behind the recruit­ment dri­ve, Mr Jardim, Brazil’s fore­most neo-Nazi hunter, alleged. . . .”


FTR #1132 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 8: Remdesivir Uber Alles

This broad­cast details the process of vet­ting the anti-Covid-19 drug remde­sivir, high­light­ing the insti­tu­tion­al short­cuts tak­en in test­ing the prod­uct, as well as the dubi­ous nature of the bil­lion­aires net­work­ing with offi­cials involved in the approval process.

Before ana­lyz­ing remde­sivir, how­ev­er, we update dis­cus­sion about the SARS CoV‑2 virus hav­ing been engi­neered, not­ing joint U.S.-Chinese projects in which bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es were genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered. The process­es used to mod­i­fy the virus­es would not show any overt evi­dence of human manip­u­la­tion.

Most impor­tant­ly, these projects received financ­ing from insti­tu­tions with doc­u­ment­ed links to U.S. intel­li­gence and mil­i­tary inter­ests.

Research into the his­to­ry of GOF (gain-of-func­tion) work on bat coro­n­avirus­es at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy indi­cates mul­ti­ple areas of U.S. intel­li­gence pres­ence in that work. 

It was pub­licly dis­closed in a 2017 paper that the US and Chi­na col­lab­o­rat­ed on “gain-of-func­tion” research on bat coro­n­avirus­es to infect humans and that the work received fund­ing from the Unit­ed States Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development–a fre­quent cut-out for the CIA.

In addi­tion, the work was also fund­ed in part by the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health, which have col­lab­o­rat­ed with both CIA and the Pen­ta­gon in BSL‑4 (Bio-Safe­ty-Lev­el 4) projects. 

The Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy has also part­nered with the USAMRIID since the mid-1980’s.

Impor­tant to note is the fact that it was pub­lic infor­ma­tion that some of this work was done in a biosafe­ty-lev­el 2 lab­o­ra­to­ry, giv­ing an observ­er intent on under­tak­ing a bio­log­i­cal war­fare covert oper­a­tion against Chi­na use­ful field intel­li­gence about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of WIV for such an “op.”

1.–The inves­ti­ga­tion of infec­tiv­i­ty used unde­tectable meth­ods, negat­ing arti­cles claim­ing the virus could not have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered: ” Evi­dence has emerged that researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV) in Chi­na, work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with sci­en­tists in the USA, have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer­ing bat virus­es for the past sev­er­al years to inves­ti­gate infec­tiv­i­ty – using unde­tectable meth­ods. . . . The evi­dence rebuts claims by jour­nal­ists and some sci­en­tists that the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus respon­si­ble for the cur­rent COVID-19 pan­dem­ic could not have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered because it lacks the ‘signs’ or ‘sig­na­tures’ that sup­pos­ed­ly would be left behind by genet­ic engi­neer­ing tech­niques. . . .”

2.–Dr. Richard Ebright not­ed that the research was joint­ly fund­ed by the U.S. and Chi­na, that Peter Daszak (about whom we have voiced reser­va­tions in the past) was one of the Amer­i­can col­lab­o­ra­tors. Fur­ther­more, the research was fund­ed in part by USAID, a com­mon U.S. intel­li­gence cut-out. ” . . . . Dr Richard Ebright, an infec­tious dis­ease expert at Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty (USA), has alert­ed the pub­lic to evi­dence that WIV and US-based researchers were genet­i­cal­ly engi­neer­ing bat virus­es to inves­ti­gate their abil­i­ty to infect humans, using com­mon­ly used meth­ods that leave no sign or sig­na­ture of human manip­u­la­tion. Ebright flagged up a sci­en­tif­ic paper pub­lished in 2017 by WIV sci­en­tists, includ­ing Shi Zhengli, the virol­o­gist lead­ing the research into bat coro­n­avirus­es, work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Peter Daszak of the US-based Eco­Health Alliance. Fund­ing was shared between Chi­nese and US insti­tu­tions, the lat­ter includ­ing the US Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health and USAID. The researchers report hav­ing con­duct­ed virus infec­tiv­i­ty exper­i­ments where genet­ic mate­r­i­al is com­bined from dif­fer­ent vari­eties of SARS-relat­ed coro­n­avirus­es to form nov­el ‘chimeric’ ver­sions. This formed part of their research into what muta­tions were need­ed to allow cer­tain bat coro­n­avirus­es to bind to the human ACE2 recep­tor – a key step in the human infec­tiv­i­ty of SARS-CoV­‑2. . . .”

3.–Furthermore, the researchers used a type of genet­ic engi­neer­ing that leaves no sig­na­ture of human manip­u­la­tion: ” . . . . The WIV sci­en­tists did this, Ebright points out, ‘using ‘seam­less lig­a­tion’ pro­ce­dures that leave no sig­na­tures of human manip­u­la­tion’. This is note­wor­thy because it is a type of genet­ic engi­neer­ing that Ander­sen and his team exclud­ed from their inves­ti­ga­tion into whether SARS-CoV­‑2 could have been engi­neered – and it was in use at the very lab that is the prime sus­pect for a lab escape. . . .”

4.–In addi­tion, Ebright high­lights the 2015 work done by Ralph Bar­ic in col­lab­o­ra­tion with WIV’s Shi Zhengli–a project we have dis­cussed at length in the past: ” . . . . A group of sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na in the USA, with the WIV’s Shi Zhengli as a col­lab­o­ra­tor, pub­lished a study in 2015 describ­ing sim­i­lar exper­i­ments involv­ing chimeric coro­n­avirus­es, which were also cre­at­ed using stan­dard unde­tectable genet­ic engi­neer­ing tech­niques. . . .”

5.–Ebright also cites work done in a bio-safe­ty lev­el 2 lab­o­ra­to­ry. : ” . . . . Ebright points out that the paper states, ‘All work with the infec­tious virus was per­formed under biosafe­ty lev­el 2 con­di­tions’. This lev­el is suit­able for work involv­ing agents of only ‘mod­er­ate poten­tial haz­ard to per­son­nel and the envi­ron­ment’. . . .But they are not at fault in fail­ing to use BSL‑4 for this work, as SARS coro­n­avirus­es are not aerosol-trans­mit­ted. The work does, how­ev­er, fall under biosafe­ty lev­el 3, which is for work involv­ing microbes that can cause seri­ous and poten­tial­ly lethal dis­ease via inhala­tion. . . .”

6.–Dr. Jonathan Lath­am under­scored the reser­va­tions expressed by many con­cern­ing “gain-of-func­tion” exper­i­ments on these kinds of coro­n­avirus­es: ” . . . . The bio­sci­en­tist Dr Jonathan Lath­am crit­i­cised the kind of research on bat coro­n­avirus­es that has been tak­ing place in Wuhan and the USA as ‘pro­vid­ing an evo­lu­tion­ary oppor­tu­ni­ty’ for such virus­es ‘to jump into humans’. Lath­am, who has a doc­tor­ate in virol­o­gy, argues that this kind of work is sim­ply ‘pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for con­t­a­m­i­na­tion events and leak­ages from labs, which hap­pen on a rou­tine basis’. . . .”

U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Disease–located at Ft. Det­rick and closed by the CDC for safe­ty vio­la­tions in August, 2019.

Note, again, that the whole world was informed back in 2017 that  dan­ger­ous research involv­ing the cre­ation of bat coro­n­avirus­es to infect humans was being car­ried out in Chi­na.  Note again, that the research was fund­ed in part by the US, includ­ing USAID–a fre­quent U.S. intel­li­gence cut-out; the NIH–which has active­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with both CIA and Pen­ta­gon. The WIV has also part­nered with the USAMRIID.

Flash for­ward a cou­ple of years and we have a night­mare virus that ini­tial­ly appeared to pop up near­by the WIV, with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion aggres­sive­ly push­ing the idea that it escaped from that lab.

In that con­text, we note the fol­low­ing:

1.–In 2017, Chi­na got approval for its first BSL‑4 lab in Wuhan, the first of sev­er­al planned BSL‑4 labs. “A lab­o­ra­to­ry in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dan­ger­ous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and sev­en biosafe­ty level‑4 (BSL‑4) labs across the Chi­nese main­land by 2025, and has gen­er­at­ed much excite­ment, as well as some con­cerns. . . . Some sci­en­tists out­side Chi­na wor­ry about pathogens escap­ing, and the addi­tion of a bio­log­i­cal dimen­sion to geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions between Chi­na and oth­er nations. . . .”

2.–As will be seen below, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of BSL‑4 labs has sparked wor­ries about “dual use” tech­nol­o­gy: ” . . . . The expan­sion of BSL-4-lab net­works in the Unit­ed States and Europe over the past 15 years — with more than a dozen now in oper­a­tion or under con­struc­tion in each region — also met with resis­tance, includ­ing ques­tions about the need for so many facil­i­ties. . . .”

3.–The above-men­tioned Richard Ebright notes that the pro­lif­er­a­tion of BSL‑4 labs will spur sus­pi­cion of “dual use” tech­nol­o­gy, in which osten­si­ble med­ical research masks bio­log­i­cal war­fare research: ” . . . . But Ebright is not con­vinced of the need for more than one BSL‑4 lab in main­land Chi­na. He sus­pects that the expan­sion there is a reac­tion to the net­works in the Unit­ed States and Europe, which he says are also unwar­rant­ed. He adds that gov­ern­ments will assume that such excess capac­i­ty is for the poten­tial devel­op­ment of bioweapons. ‘These facil­i­ties are inher­ent­ly dual use,’ he says. . . .”

In the con­text of the above arti­cles, note that the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health have also part­nered with CIA and the Pen­ta­gon, as under­scored by an arti­cle about a BSL‑4 lab at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty. Note that the U.S. and Europe have twelve BSL4 labs apiece, Tai­wan has two, while Chi­na has one:

1.–As the arti­cle notes, as of 2007, the U.S. had “more than a dozen” BSL4 labs–China com­mis­sioned its first as of 2017. a ten­fold increase in fund­ing for BSL4 labs occurred because of the anthrax attacks of 2001. Those attacks might be seen as some­thing of a provo­ca­tion, spurring a dra­mat­ic increase in “dual use” biowar­fare research, under the cov­er of “legit­i­mate” medical/scientific research. In FTR #1128, we hypoth­e­sized about the milieu of Stephen Hat­fill and apartheid-linked inter­ests as pos­si­ble authors of a vec­tor­ing of New York City with Sars COV2: ” . . . . Before the anthrax mail­ings of 2001, the Unit­ed States had just two BSL4 labs—both with­in the razor-wire con­fines of gov­ern­ment-owned cam­pus­es. Now, thanks to a ten­fold increase in funding—from $200 mil­lion in 2001 to $2 bil­lion in 2006—more than a dozen such facil­i­ties can be found at uni­ver­si­ties and pri­vate com­pa­nies across the coun­try. . . .”

2.–The Boston Uni­ver­si­ty lab exem­pli­fies the Pen­ta­gon and CIA pres­ence in BSL‑4 facil­i­ty “dual use”: ” . . . . But some sci­en­tists say that argu­ment obscures the true pur­pose of the cur­rent biode­fense boom: to study poten­tial bio­log­i­cal weapons. ‘The uni­ver­si­ty por­trays it as an emerg­ing infec­tious dis­ease lab,’ says David Ozonoff, a Boston Uni­ver­si­ty epi­demi­ol­o­gist whose office is right across the street from the new BSL4 facil­i­ty. ‘But they are talk­ing about study­ing things like small pox and inhala­tion anthrax, which pose no pub­lic health threat oth­er than as bioweapons.’ . . . The orig­i­nal NIH man­date for the lab indi­cat­ed that many groups—including the CIA and Depart­ment of Defense—would be allowed to use the lab for their own research, the nature of which BU might have lit­tle con­trol over. . . .”

Note, also that:

1.–The WIV has part­nered with the U.S. Army’s Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases, locat­ed at Ft. Det­rick.

2.–In ear­ly August of 2019, short­ly before the record­ed start of the out­break in Wuhan, Chi­na, the U.S. Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases at that facil­i­ty was closed down by the CDC due to mul­ti­ple safe­ty violations.“All research at a Fort Det­rick lab­o­ra­to­ry that han­dles high-lev­el dis­ease-caus­ing mate­r­i­al, such as Ebo­la, is on hold indef­i­nite­ly after the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion found the orga­ni­za­tion failed to meet biosafe­ty stan­dards. . . . The CDC sent a cease and desist order in July. After USAMRIID received the order from the CDC, its reg­is­tra­tion with the Fed­er­al Select Agent Pro­gram, which over­sees dis­ease-caus­ing mate­r­i­al use and pos­ses­sion, was sus­pend­ed. That sus­pen­sion effec­tive­ly halt­ed all bio­log­i­cal select agents and tox­in research at USAMRIID . . . .”

Fol­low­ing the update on the WIV and BSL‑4 lab­o­ra­to­ries, we piv­ot to analy­sis of the ele­va­tion of remde­sivir as the “go-to” treat­ment du jour for Covid-19. Of para­mount impor­tance is the remark­able time­line: The DSMB (data safe­ty and mon­i­tor­ing board) ” . . . . the DSMB for the remde­sivir study did not ever meet for an inter­im effi­ca­cy analy­sis, Lane said. All patients had been enrolled by April 20. The data for a DSMB meet­ing was cut off on April 22. The DSMB met and, on April 27, it made a rec­om­men­da­tion to the NIAID. . . . That deci­sion, Lane said, led the NIAID to con­clude that patients who had been giv­en place­bo should be offered remde­sivir, some­thing that start­ed hap­pen­ing after April 28. . . .” 

As will be seen, it was on 4/29 that Joe Gro­gan resigned. (See below.)

When pos­i­tive news on a NIAID study on the drug remde­sivir were released–on 4/29–it drove broad gains in the stock mar­ket. In FTR #1131, we not­ed that dis­clo­sures con­cern­ing pos­i­tive news about Mod­er­na’s exper­i­men­tal Covid-19 vac­cine also proved to be a sim­i­lar dri­ver of the stock mar­ket, as well as of Mod­er­na’s stock.

Dis­cus­sion of the hard details of sev­er­al remde­sivir tri­als begins with dis­cus­sion of an NIAID tri­al that helped move the mar­kets, as seen above. The tri­al was a mod­est suc­cess, indi­cat­ing that recov­ery for recent­ly infect­ed patients was about 31% faster than for place­bo. There was no sig­nif­i­cant sta­tis­ti­cal dif­fer­ence in mortality–the most impor­tant mea­sure of effec­tive­ness accord­ing to many experts.

” . . . . Dur­ing an appear­ance along­side Pres­i­dent Trump in the Oval Office, Antho­ny Fau­ci, the direc­tor of NIAID, part of the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health, said the data are a ‘very impor­tant proof of con­cept’ and that there was rea­son for opti­mism. He cau­tioned the data were not a ‘knock­out.’ At the same time, the study achieved its pri­ma­ry goal, which was to improve the time to recov­ery, which was reduced by four days for patients on remde­sivir. The pre­lim­i­nary data showed that the time to recov­ery was 11 days on remde­sivir com­pared to 15 days for place­bo, a 31% decrease. The mor­tal­i­ty rate for the remde­sivir group was 8%, com­pared to 11.6% for the place­bo group; that mor­tal­i­ty dif­fer­ence was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant. . . .”

Next we present a Stat News arti­cle on the inter­nal delib­er­a­tions behind the deci­sions to mod­i­fy the NIAID study. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance is the DSMB delib­er­a­tion. Note the time­line of the DSMB delib­er­a­tion, com­bined with the announce­ment on 4/29 that drove the mar­kets high­er.

1.–The deci­sion was made to cut it short before the ques­tion of remdesivir’s impact on mor­tal­i­ty could be answered: ” . . . .The Nation­al Insti­tute of Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases has described to STAT in new detail how it made its fate­ful deci­sion: to start giv­ing remde­sivir to patients who had been assigned to receive a place­bo in the study, essen­tial­ly lim­it­ing researchers’ abil­i­ty to col­lect more data about whether the drug saves lives — some­thing the study, called ACTT‑1, sug­gests but does not prove. In the tri­al, 8% of the par­tic­i­pants giv­en remde­sivir died, com­pared with 11.6% of the place­bo group, a dif­fer­ence that was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant. A top NIAID offi­cial said he had no regrets about the deci­sion. ‘There cer­tain­ly was una­nim­i­ty with­in the insti­tute that this was the right thing to do,’ said H. Clif­ford Lane, NIAID’s clin­i­cal direc­tor. . . .”

2.–In addi­tion, patients sched­uled to receive place­bo received remde­sivir, instead. ” . . . . Steven Nis­sen, a vet­er­an tri­al­ist and car­di­ol­o­gist at the Cleve­land Clin­ic, dis­agreed that giv­ing place­bo patients remde­sivir was the right call. ‘I believe it is in society’s best inter­est to deter­mine whether remde­sivir can reduce mor­tal­i­ty, and with the release of this infor­ma­tion doing a place­bo-con­trolled tri­al to deter­mine if there is a mor­tal­i­ty ben­e­fit will be very dif­fi­cult,’ he said. ‘The ques­tion is: Was there a route, or is there a route, to deter­mine if the drug can pre­vent death?’ The deci­sion is ‘a lost oppor­tu­ni­ty,’ he said. . . .”

3.–Steven Nis­sen was not alone in his crit­i­cism of the NIAID’s deci­sion. ” . . . .Peter Bach, the direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Health Pol­i­cy and Out­comes at Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter, agreed with Nis­sen. ‘The core under­stand­ing of clin­i­cal research par­tic­i­pa­tion and clin­i­cal research con­duct is we run the tri­al rig­or­ous­ly to pro­vide the most accu­rate infor­ma­tion about the right treat­ment,’ he said. And that answer, he argued, should ide­al­ly have deter­mined whether remde­sivir saves lives. The rea­son we have shut our whole soci­ety down, Bach said, is not to pre­vent Covid-19 patients from spend­ing a few more days in the hos­pi­tal. It is to pre­vent patients from dying. ‘Mor­tal­i­ty is the right end­point,’ he said. . . .”

4.–Not only was the admin­is­tra­tion of remde­sivir instead of place­bo pri­or­i­tized, but the NIAID study itself was atten­u­at­ed! ” . . . . But the change in the study’s main goal also changed the way the study would be ana­lyzed. Now, the NIAID decid­ed, the analy­sis would be cal­cu­lat­ed when 400 patients out of the 1,063 patients the study enrolled had recov­ered. If remde­sivir turned out to be much more effec­tive than expect­ed, ‘inter­im’ analy­ses would be con­duct­ed at a third and two-thirds that number.The job of review­ing these analy­ses would fall to a com­mit­tee of out­side experts on what is known as an inde­pen­dent data and safe­ty mon­i­tor­ing board, or DSMB. . . .”

5.–The per­for­mance of the DSMB for the remde­sivir study is note­wor­thy: ” . . . . But the DSMB for the remde­sivir study did not ever meet for an inter­im effi­ca­cy analy­sis, Lane said. All patients had been enrolled by April 20. The data for a DSMB meet­ing was cut off on April 22. The DSMB met and, on April 27, it made a rec­om­men­da­tion to the NIAID. . . .”

6.–The DSMB meet­ing on 4/27 deter­mined the switch from place­bo to remde­sivir. Of para­mount impor­tance is the fact that this was JUST BEFORE the 4/29 announce­ment that drove the mar­kets high­er and the same day on which key Trump aide–and for­mer Gilead Sci­ences lob­by­ist Joe Gro­gan resigned! ” . . . . . That deci­sion, Lane said, led the NIAID to con­clude that patients who had been giv­en place­bo should be offered remde­sivir, some­thing that start­ed hap­pen­ing after April 28. . . .”

7.–Dr. Ethan Weiss gave an accu­rate eval­u­a­tion of the NIAID study: ” . . . . ‘We’ve squan­dered an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to do good sci­ence,’ [Dr. Ethan] Weiss said. ‘If we could ever go back and do some­thing all over, it would be the infra­struc­ture to actu­al­ly learn some­thing. Because we’re not learn­ing enough.’ . . . .”

Next, we ana­lyze a STAT News excerpt that goes into more of the con­cerns about the Gilead study design.

The Gilead study was designed with­out any con­trol group, so the ques­tion of how much remde­sivir actu­al­ly helps sick patients (or doesn’t help) can’t be defin­i­tive­ly answered by that study.

The arti­cle also gives Gilead’s expla­na­tion for why they left out a con­trol group: due to the lim­it­ed sup­plies of the drug the com­pa­ny decid­ed to pri­or­i­tize on pro­duc­ing more of the drug itself rather than a place­bo con­trol. It’s an expla­na­tion that only makes sense if pro­duc­ing place­bo dos­es was some­how a sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal chal­lenge, which seems dubi­ous.

Due to a lack of a con­trol group, the study instead focus­es on answer­ing the ques­tion of whether or not the recov­ery times for patients dif­fers between groups receiv­ing a 10-day course of the drug vs a 5‑day course. The patients were severe­ly ill but not on ven­ti­la­tors when enrolled in the study (so the patients that need the drug most weren’t test­ed). The pre­lim­i­nary results released Wednes­day sug­gest there is no dif­fer­ence between the recov­ery times for the two groups.

1.–The Gilead study lacked a con­trol group: ” . . . .  But out­side experts in clin­i­cal tri­al design wor­ry that the results, instead of lead­ing to a clear pic­ture of whether the med­i­cine is effec­tive, will instead mud­dy the waters fur­ther. The main con­cern, they say, stems from the fact that the Gilead tri­al expect­ed to read out this week, which was con­duct­ed among patients with severe dis­ease, lacks a con­trol group — that is, patients who are ran­dom­ly assigned to receive the best treat­ment avail­able, but not remde­sivir. As designed, the only ran­dom­iza­tion is the dura­tion of treat­ment: either five days or 10 days of drug. With­out a true con­trol group of patients, many experts say, it will be dif­fi­cult to deter­mine whether remde­sivir is effec­tive. . . .”

2.–The above-men­tioned Steven Nis­sen summed up the use­ful­ness of the Gilead tri­al. ” . . . . ‘The over­all study itself has lit­tle or no sci­en­tif­ic val­ue since all patients are receiv­ing the drug,’ said Steven Nis­sen, the chief aca­d­e­m­ic offi­cer at the Cleve­land Clin­ic and lead inves­ti­ga­tor of many tri­als for heart drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion. ‘The study, as designed, is essen­tial­ly use­less and can­not be used by the FDA for con­sid­er­a­tion of remde­sivir for approval to treat coro­n­avirus,’ Nis­sen said. . . .”

3.–Gilead’s spokesper­son alleged that the com­pa­ny had a lim­it­ed sup­ply of place­bo and remde­sivir. ” . . . . ‘In the ear­ly stages of the pan­dem­ic, we not only had a lim­it­ed sup­ply of remde­sivir but also a lim­it­ed sup­ply of the matched place­bo required for place­bo-con­trolled stud­ies,’ said Amy Flood, a Gilead spokesper­son. ‘We chose to pri­or­i­tize man­u­fac­tur­ing active drug over place­bo, and we pro­vid­ed our sup­ply of place­bo to Chi­na and NIAID for their stud­ies of remde­sivir.’ . . .”

5.–A num­ber of crit­ics shared Steven Nis­sen’s opin­ion about the sci­en­tif­ic val­ue of the study. ” . . . . Crit­ics point to Gilead’s deci­sion to com­pare two groups giv­en remde­sivir for either five days or 10 days. The prob­lem with this strat­e­gy, they say, is that an inef­fec­tive drug that did noth­ing and a very effec­tive drug that con­sis­tent­ly helped patients over­come the virus would look the same in such a study. Only if the 10-day course were more effec­tive, or if it was worse because of side effects, would the study have any clear result. . . .”

6.–Nissen was more opti­mistic about a sec­ond forth­com­ing Gilead tri­al. Sloan Ket­ter­ing’s Peter Bach did not share that opti­mism. ” . . . .Yet anoth­er tri­al in less sick patients, also run by Gilead, does have a con­trol group and may give a clear­er answer. Nis­sen sees ‘a rea­son­able study design.’ But Bach was more crit­i­cal, say­ing that even though that study has a con­trol group, the lack of a place­bo means the study might not be trust­wor­thy. That’s because its main goal, time to improve­ment of symp­toms, could be affect­ed by the per­cep­tions of clin­i­cians and the patients them­selves. Bach said the hos­pi­tals con­duct­ing the study ‘are eas­i­ly capa­ble of wrap­ping syringes in brown paper and blind­ing the whole thing. I don’t under­stand why you would run a tri­al like this.’ . . . .”

Although it was cut short due to the wan­ing of the pan­dem­ic in Chi­na, a WHO-leaked study was not encour­ag­ing with regard to remde­sivir’s effi­ca­cy as a treat­ment for Covid-19.

1.–The Chi­nese study was a ram­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al: ” . . . . Encour­ag­ing data from patients in that study at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go were described by researchers at a vir­tu­al town hall and obtained by STAT last week. How­ev­er, unlike those data, these new results are from a ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al, the med­ical gold stan­dard. . . .”

2.–The Chi­nese study found that remde­sivir was of no val­ue in pre­vent­ing Covid-19 deaths. As not­ed above, the effect of the drug on mor­tal­i­ty was the main con­sid­er­a­tion. Our soci­ety has not been shut down to afford peo­ple short­er stays in the hos­pi­tal, but to pre­vent death. ” . . . . Accord­ing to the sum­ma­ry of the Chi­na study, remde­sivir was ‘not asso­ci­at­ed with a dif­fer­ence in time to clin­i­cal improve­ment’ com­pared to a stan­dard of care con­trol. After one month, it appeared 13.9% of the remde­sivir patients had died com­pared to 12.8% of patients in the con­trol arm. The dif­fer­ence was not sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant. . . .”

3.–The Chi­nese study pro­duced a grim assess­ment of remde­sivir: ” . . . . ‘In this study of hos­pi­tal­ized adult patients with severe COVID-19 that was ter­mi­nat­ed pre­ma­ture­ly, remde­sivir was not asso­ci­at­ed with clin­i­cal or viro­log­i­cal ben­e­fits,’ the sum­ma­ry states. The study was ter­mi­nat­ed pre­ma­ture­ly because it was dif­fi­cult to enroll patients in Chi­na, where the num­ber of Covid-19 cas­es was decreas­ing. An out­side researcher said that the results mean that any ben­e­fit from remde­sivir is like­ly to be small. ‘If there is no ben­e­fit to remde­sivir in a study this size, this sug­gests that the over­all ben­e­fit of remde­sivir in this pop­u­la­tion with advanced infec­tion is like­ly to be small in the larg­er Gilead tri­al,’ said Andrew Hill, senior vis­it­ing research fel­low at Liv­er­pool Uni­ver­si­ty. . . .”

After dis­cussing a num­ber of prob­lems that Gilead Sci­ences may encounter in the pro­duc­tion of sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of remde­sivir to be effec­tive, the broad­cast con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of the inap­pro­pri­ate­ly-named “Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19.”

The remark­able han­dling of the NIAID study, the tim­ing of the announce­ment of the alto­geth­er lim­it­ed suc­cess of the atten­u­at­ed tri­al, and the rise in equi­ties as a result of the announce­ment may be best under­stood in the con­text of the role played in Trump pan­dem­ic deci­sion-mak­ing by an elite group of bil­lion­aires and scientists–including Peter Thiel and con­vict­ed felon Michael Milken (the “junk bond king”).

1.–” . . . . Call­ing them­selves ‘Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19,’ the col­lec­tion of top researchers, bil­lion­aires and indus­try cap­tains will act as an ‘ad hoc review board’ for the tor­rent of coro­n­avirus research, ‘weed­ing out’ flawed data before it reach­es pol­i­cy­mak­ers, the Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed on Mon­day. They are also act­ing as a go-between for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies seek­ing to build a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel with Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. The group . . . . has advised Nick Ayers, an aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, as well as oth­er agency heads, in the past month. Pence is head­ing up the White House coro­n­avirus task force. . . .”

2.–” . . . The brainy bunch is led by Thomas Cahill, a 33-year-old doc­tor who became a ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist . . . . Cahill’s clout comes from build­ing con­nec­tions through his invest­ment firm, New­path Part­ners, with Sil­i­con Valley’s Peter Thiel, the founder of Pay­Pal, and bil­lion­aire busi­ness­men Jim Palot­ta and Michael Milken. . . .”

Note that Thiel played a dom­i­nant role in bankrolling New­path Part­ners, and the oth­er finan­cial angel who ele­vat­ed Cahill–Brian Sheth–introduced him to Tom­my Hicks, Jr., the co-chair­man of the RNC. In FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112, we looked at Hicks’ net­work­ing with Steve Ban­non asso­ciate J. Kyle Bass, as well as his role in the inter-agency net­works dri­ving the anti-Chi­na effort.

1.–” . . . . At the helm of the effort: The 33-year-old and very-much-under-the-radar ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tom Cahill, who leads life sci­ences-focused New­path Part­ners. Cahill com­plet­ed his M.D. and PhD at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty a mere two years ago before land­ing at blue-chip invest­ment firm Rap­tor Group through a friend. He went on to found New­path with some $125 mil­lion after impress­ing well-con­nect­ed names like ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel and Vista Equi­ty Part­ners co-founder Bri­an Sheth. . . . It was through Sheth, for exam­ple, that Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19 con­nect­ed with the co-chair­man of the Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Thomas Hicks Jr. . . .”

The fed­er­al gov­ern­men­t’s extreme focus on remde­sivir has been shaped, in large mea­sure, by the influ­ence of “Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19”:

1.–“Scientists to Stop Covid-19” is shep­herd­ing remde­sivir: ” . . . . Sci­en­tists to Stop COVID-19 rec­om­mends that in this phase, the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) should work to coor­di­nate with Gilead phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to focus on expe­dit­ing the results of clin­i­cal tri­als of remde­sivir, a drug iden­ti­fied as a poten­tial treat­ment for COVID-19. The group also rec­om­mends admin­is­ter­ing dos­es of the drug to patients in an ear­ly stage of infec­tion, and notes remde­sivir will essen­tial­ly be a place­hold­er until a more effec­tive treat­ment is pro­duced.

2.–The group is doing so by atten­u­at­ing the reg­u­la­to­ry process for coro­n­avirus drugs: “Gov­ern­ment enti­ties and agen­cies appear to adhere to the rec­om­men­da­tions out­lined by the group, with the Jour­nal report­ing that the FDA and the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs (VA) have imple­ment­ed some of the sug­ges­tions, name­ly relax­ing drug man­u­fac­tur­er reg­u­la­tions and require­ments for poten­tial coro­n­avirus treat­ment drugs. . . .”

We con­clude with a piece about the announce­ment of Grogan’s depar­ture.

” . . . . Gro­gan has served as the direc­tor of the White House Domes­tic Pol­i­cy Coun­cil since Feb­ru­ary 2019, over­see­ing a broad array of pol­i­cy issues includ­ing health care and reg­u­la­tion. . . . Gro­gan was one of the orig­i­nal mem­bers of the White House coro­n­avirus task force launched in late Jan­u­ary. . . . Gro­gan worked as a lob­by­ist for drug com­pa­ny Gilead Sci­ences before join­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. . . .”

The depar­ture was announced in the Wall Street Jour­nal on the morn­ing of Wednes­day, April 29, the same day we got our first pub­lic reports of the NIAID clin­i­cal tri­al of remde­sivir that was pos­i­tive enough to show it short­ened the time to recov­ery and the same day the FDA grant­ed remde­sivir emer­gency use sta­tus. 

Note, again, the tim­ing of the DSM­B’s actions, as well as the imflu­ence of “Sci­en­tists to Stop Covid-19.”


Complications With The “Chinese-Lab-Did-It” Theory

A new arti­cle from “GMWatch” details work at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy involv­ing genet­ic manip­u­la­tion of bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es sim­i­lar to the SARS CoV‑2. These manip­u­la­tions involved genet­ic engi­neer­ing tech­niques that would not be detectable as such. Most impor­tant­ly, these experiments–reported in papers pub­lished in 2017–were joint U.S.-Chinese under­tak­ings, with insti­tu­tion­al par­tic­i­pa­tion and financ­ing by orga­ni­za­tions con­nect­ed to Amer­i­can intel­li­gence and the Pen­ta­gon. Specif­i­cal­ly, the exper­i­ments were financed, in part, by USAID–a fre­quent “cut-out” for CIA and oth­er agen­cies’ “ops.” In addi­tion, the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health were finan­cial­ly and oper­a­tional­ly involved in the experiments–NIH has net­worked with both the CIA and Pen­ta­gon on BSL‑4 (Bio-Safe­ty-Lev­el 4) projects. Worth not­ing is that the 2017 paper dis­closed that some of the work was done at a Bio-Safe­ty-Lev­el 2 lab, a rel­a­tive­ly low-secu­ri­ty insti­tu­tion. This offered a would-be male­fac­tor field intel­li­gence that would be use­ful for stag­ing a “virus-escaped-from-Chi­nese-Lab” gam­bit. A “Nature” arti­cle notes that Chi­na was about to open its first BSL‑4 lab with help from Europe. The proflif­er­a­tion of BSL‑4 labs is wor­ri­some to some observers: ” . . . . The expan­sion of BSL-4-lab net­works in the Unit­ed States and Europe over the past 15 years — with more than a dozen now in oper­a­tion or under con­struc­tion in each region — also met with resis­tance, includ­ing ques­tions about the need for so many facil­i­ties. . . . Some sci­en­tists out­side Chi­na wor­ry about pathogens escap­ing, and the addi­tion of a bio­log­i­cal dimen­sion to geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions between Chi­na and oth­er nations.” Fur­ther­more : ” . . . . [Pro­fes­sor Richard] Ebright is not con­vinced of the need for more than one BSL‑4 lab in main­land Chi­na. He sus­pects that the expan­sion there is a reac­tion to the net­works in the Unit­ed States and Europe, which he says are also unwar­rant­ed. He adds that gov­ern­ments will assume that such excess capac­i­ty is for the poten­tial devel­op­ment of bioweapons. ‘These facil­i­ties are inher­ent­ly dual use,’ he says. . . .” In 2007, “Newsweek” fea­tured a sto­ry illus­trat­ing the use of uni­ver­si­ty BSL‑4 labs by CIA and the Pen­ta­gon, as a con­di­tion of an NIH con­tract with Boston Uni­ver­si­ty: ” . . . .The orig­i­nal NIH man­date for the lab indi­cat­ed that many groups—including the CIA and Depart­ment of Defense—would be allowed to use the lab for their own research, the nature of which BU might have lit­tle con­trol over. . . .” The Unit­ed States Army Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases has net­worked with the WIV since the mid-1980s. As we have not­ed in a num­ber of pro­grams and posts, the USAMRIID was closed down in August of 2019 for safe­ty vio­la­tions.


FTR #1131 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 7: Moderna Uber Alles

We begin by Intro­duc­ing the top­ic of Mod­er­na’s SARS Cov‑2 vac­cine as a mon­ey mak­er for both Mod­er­na and as a dri­ver for the mar­ket as a whole, we note last Mon­day’s announce­ment which gen­er­at­ed a major boost in the val­ue of Mod­er­na’s stock and a strong, gen­er­al ral­ly. The lat­ter appar­ent­ly stems from opti­mism that a sucess­ful vac­cine will alle­vi­ate the eco­nom­ic dam­age from Covid-19.

A Mar­ket­Watch piece about the rapid fluc­tu­a­tion of Mod­er­na’s stock under­scores the sig­nif­i­cance of the tim­ing of an announce­ment cast­ing Mod­er­na’s vac­cine tri­al in over­ly opti­mistic light:

1.–Moderna’s CEO (Stephen Ban­cel) and CFO (Lorence Kim) both sold stock on Fri­day, in accor­dance with pre­arranged trans­ac­tions. Bear in mind, that (as dis­cussed in FTR #1130) Mod­er­na’s stock was trad­ing at $23.46 at the begin­ning of the year, and the company–which has nev­er mar­ket­ed a vaccine–was the ben­e­fi­cia­ry of $483 mil­lion dol­lars in fed­er­al fund­ing ear­li­er in the year.) ” . . . . On Fri­day, Ban­cel sold 11,046 shares at a weight­ed aver­age price of $65.56 for about $724,200, as part of a pre­de­ter­mined trad­ing plan adopt­ed Dec. 28, 2018, accord­ing to a Form 4 fil­ing with the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion. He also dis­posed of 1,577 shares as part of a ‘bona fide’ gift. . . . Also, on Fri­day, Kim sold 20,000 shares at a weight­ed aver­age price of $65.53 for about $1.31 mil­lion, as part of a pre­de­ter­mined trad­ing plan. . . .”

2.–Kim also simul­ta­ne­ous­ly bought and sold shares of his firm for a net prof­it of $16.79 mil­lion on Mon­day, the day of an over­ly opti­mistic announce­ment by Mod­er­na. The for­tu­itous­ly timed Mod­er­na announce­ment made the fir­m’s CFO rough­ly $4 mil­lion: ” . . . . On Mon­day, he [Kim] exer­cised options to buy 241,000 shares at a weight­ed aver­age price of $12.45 for about $3 mil­lion, also as part of a pre­de­ter­mined plan. At the same time, Kim exe­cut­ed sales of 241,000 shares, at a weight­ed aver­age price of $82.12 for about $19.79 mil­lion. That means Kim net­ted about $16.79 mil­lion on the simul­ta­ne­ous buy and sale of shares. . . . with Monday’s stock price surge fol­low­ing the announce­ment of ear­ly data on its vac­cine can­di­date poten­tial­ly adding $4 mil­lion to Kim’s cof­fers. . . .”

3.–The above-ref­er­enced announce­ment by Mod­er­na led to a dra­mat­ic increase in Mod­er­na’s stock and boost­ed the mar­ket as a whole. Mod­er­na announced that evening that it would sell $1.34 bil­lion in stock to help its vac­cine oper­a­tion: ” . . . . Shares of Mod­er­na closed at a record high of $80.00 on Mon­day after the com­pa­ny released a slice of pos­i­tive inter­im clin­i­cal data from the first phase of its COVID-19 vac­cine tri­al. That night it announced it would sell $1.34 bil­lion in stock to help fund man­u­fac­tur­ing costs asso­ci­at­ed with the exper­i­men­tal COVID-19 vac­cine. . . .”

4.–Moderna’s stock nose­dived at the end of the trad­ing day on Tues­day, due to a crit­i­cal arti­cle from Stat News: ” . . . . The stock took a nose dive on Tues­day, clos­ing at $71.67, like­ly due in some degree to a Stat News sto­ry that ques­tioned a lack of clin­i­cal clar­i­ty in the data it pro­vid­ed to investors. . . .”
Mod­er­na’s announce­ment was crit­i­cal­ly assessed by Stat News, which point­ed out that the results were incom­plete at best: ” . . . . In a clin­i­cal-tri­al data dis­clo­sure on Mon­day, Mod­er­na shared that eight out of 45 par­tic­i­pants in its COVID-19 vac­cine study devel­oped neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies, a deci­sion that Stat’s Helen Bran­swell described as a ‘rea­son for cau­tion.’ It didn’t share infor­ma­tion about the immune response to the exper­i­men­tal vac­cine in the remain­ing 37 par­tic­i­pants. . . .”

5.–Nonetheless, Mod­er­na’s stock–bolstered by gov­ern­ment investment–has been on a dra­mat­ic upward swing: ” . . . . The company’s stock was up 3.8% in trad­ing on Wednes­day. Year-to-date, it has soared 270.2%, even though the com­pa­ny has no approved prod­ucts. . . .”

There are seri­ous ques­tions about the sub­stance of Mod­er­na’s state­ment:

1.–Moderna’s much tout­ed report on its vaccine—which trig­gered an upsurge in the mar­kets on Monday—appears to have been incom­plete, at best, and pur­pose­ful­ly decep­tive, at worst. “ . . . . While Mod­er­na blitzed the media, it revealed very lit­tle infor­ma­tion — and most of what it did dis­close were words, not data.. . . . If you ask sci­en­tists to read a jour­nal arti­cle, they will scour data tables, not cor­po­rate state­ments. With sci­ence, num­bers speak much loud­er than words. Even the fig­ures the com­pa­ny did release don’t mean much on their own, because crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion — effec­tive­ly the key to inter­pret­ing them — was with­held. . . .”

2.–Part of the rea­son for alarm and skep­ti­cism con­cerns the behav­ior of the NIAID—whose direc­tor is Antho­ny Fau­ci: “ . . . . The Nation­al Insti­tute for Aller­gy and Infec­tious Dis­eases has part­nered with Mod­er­na on this vac­cine. Sci­en­tists at NIAID made the vaccine’s con­struct, or pro­to­type, and the agency is run­ning the Phase 1 tri­al. This week’s Mod­er­na read­out came from the ear­li­est of data from the NIAID-led Phase 1. NIAID doesn’t hide its light under a bushel. The insti­tute gen­er­al­ly trum­pets its find­ings, often offer­ing direc­tor Antho­ny Fau­ci . . . or oth­er senior per­son­nel for inter­views. But NIAID did not put out a press release Mon­day and declined to pro­vide com­ment on Moderna’s announce­ment. . . .”

3.–To begin with, Moderna’s announce­ment was only sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sub­stan­tive for 8 of the 45 vol­un­teer sub­jects: “ . . . . The company’s state­ment led with the fact that all 45 sub­jects (in this analy­sis) who received dos­es of 25 micro­grams (two dos­es each), 100 micro­grams (two dos­es each), or a 250 micro­grams (one dose) devel­oped bind­ing anti­bod­ies. Lat­er, the state­ment indi­cat­ed that eight vol­un­teers — four each from the 25-micro­gram and 100-micro­gram arms — devel­oped neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies. Of the two types, these are the ones you’d real­ly want to see. We don’t know results from the oth­er 37 tri­al par­tic­i­pants. . . .”

4.–It is pos­si­ble that neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies may have been devel­oped in the 37 test sub­jects whose data was not released because the test­ing process is exact­ing. Still the state­ment war­rants cau­tion, at the least. “ . . . . This doesn’t mean that they didn’t devel­op neu­tral­iz­ing antibodies.Testing for neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies is more time-con­sum­ing than oth­er anti­body tests and must be done in a biose­cu­ri­ty lev­el 3 lab­o­ra­to­ry. Mod­er­na dis­closed the find­ings from eight sub­jects because that’s all it had at that point. Still, it’s a rea­son for cau­tion . . . .”

5.–In addi­tion, the age of the sub­jects was not released and that is rel­e­vant. “ . . . . Sep­a­rate­ly, while the Phase 1 tri­al includ­ed healthy vol­un­teers ages 18 to 55 years, the exact ages of these eight peo­ple are unknown. If, by chance, they most­ly clus­tered around the younger end of the age spec­trum, you might expect a bet­ter response to the vac­cine than if they were most­ly from the senior end of it. And giv­en who is at high­est risk from the SARS-CoV­‑2 coro­n­avirus, pro­tect­ing old­er adults is what Covid-19 vac­cines need to do. . . .”

6.–In addi­tion, there was no data released as to the dura­bil­i­ty of the neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies. If, for the sake of argu­ment, they are not long-last­ing, the util­i­ty of the vac­cine is neg­li­gi­ble. “ . . . . The report of neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies in sub­jects who were vac­ci­nat­ed comes from blood drawn two weeks after they received their sec­ond dose of vac­cine. Two weeks. ‘That’s very ear­ly. We don’t know if those anti­bod­ies are durable,’ said Anna Durbin, a vac­cine researcher at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty. . . .”

7.–Still anoth­er point of contention/alarm con­cerns the vari­abil­i­ty in neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies among recov­ered patients: “ . . . . But stud­ies have shown anti­body lev­els among peo­ple who have recov­ered from the ill­ness vary enor­mous­ly; the range that may be influ­enced by the sever­i­ty of a person’s dis­ease. John ‘Jack’ Rose, a vac­cine researcher from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty, point­ed STAT to a study from Chi­na that showed that, among 175 recov­ered Covid-19 patients stud­ied, 10 had no detectable neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies. Recov­ered patients at the oth­er end of the spec­trum had real­ly high anti­body lev­els. So though the com­pa­ny said the anti­body lev­els induced by vac­cine were as good as those gen­er­at­ed by infec­tion, there’s no real way to know what that com­par­i­son means. . . .”

8.–It is less than encour­ag­ing that Mod­er­na dis­closed that more rel­e­vant data will be dis­closed in a report to be released in con­junc­tion with NIAID: “ . . . . STAT asked Mod­er­na for infor­ma­tion on the anti­body lev­els it used as a com­para­tor. The response: That will be dis­closed in an even­tu­al jour­nal arti­cle from NIAID, which is part of the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health. . . .”

9.–Ann Durbin was struck by the word­ing of Moderna’s release: “ . . . . Durbin was struck by the word­ing of the company’s state­ment, point­ing to this sen­tence: ‘The lev­els of neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies at day 43 were at or above lev­els gen­er­al­ly seen in con­va­les­cent sera.’ ‘I thought: Gen­er­al­ly? What does that mean?’ Durbin said. Her ques­tion, for the time being, can’t be answered. . . .”

10.–Jack Rose com­ment­ed on the opaque nature of Moderna’s release: “. . . . Rose said the com­pa­ny should dis­close the infor­ma­tion. ‘When a com­pa­ny like Mod­er­na with such incred­i­bly vast resources says they have gen­er­at­ed SARS‑2 neu­tral­iz­ing anti­bod­ies in a human tri­al, I would real­ly like to see num­bers from what­ev­er assay they are using,’ he said. . . .”

10.–To date, Mod­er­na issues press releas­es, not papers that can be vet­ted by the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty: “ . . . . It doesn’t pub­lish on its work in sci­en­tif­ic jour­nals. What is known has been dis­closed through press releas­es. That’s not enough to gen­er­ate con­fi­dence with­in the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty. ‘My guess is that their num­bers are mar­gin­al or they would say more,’ Rose said about the company’s SARS‑2 vac­cine, echo­ing a sus­pi­cion that oth­ers have about some of the company’s oth­er work. ‘I do think it’s a bit of a con­cern that they haven’t pub­lished the results of any of their ongo­ing tri­als that they men­tion in their press release. They have not pub­lished any of that,’ Durbin not­ed. . . .”

After sum­ma­riz­ing a high­ly tech­ni­cal arti­cle warn­ing that of the pos­si­ble con­se­quences of intro­duc­ing a SARS Cov‑2 vac­cine that gen­er­ates inad­e­quate­ly high lev­els of anti­bod­ies, we detail a 2016 STAT News arti­cle about Mod­er­na high­lights a num­ber of areas of con­cern, giv­en the speed and rel­a­tive­ly opaque nature of the poten­tial intro­duc­tion of its Covid-19 vac­cine.

The financ­ing of the com­pa­ny by DARPA, and Mon­cef Slaoui’s join­ing with Four Star Gen­er­al Per­na (ele­vat­ed by the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen­er­al Mark A. Mil­ley) are of addi­tion­al con­cern.

1.–As of 2016, Mod­er­na had the largest val­u­a­tion of any pri­vate biotech firm and for­mer employ­ees felt that Mod­er­na prized mon­ey over sci­ence. Note that, as will be reviewed lat­er in the pro­gram, its stock has risen expo­nen­tial­ly as a result of the injec­tion of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Bear in mind that Mod­er­na has also been under­writ­ten by DARPA. “ . . . . Mod­er­na is worth more than any oth­er pri­vate biotech in the US, and for­mer employ­ees said they felt that Ban­cel prized the company’s ever-increas­ing val­u­a­tion, now approach­ing $5 bil­lion, over its sci­ence. . . .”

2.–Moderna has main­tained a cul­ture of secre­cy, which in 2016, applied to the first two prod­ucts under­go­ing phase 1 tri­als: “ . . . . Mod­er­na just moved its first two poten­tial treat­ments — both vac­cines — into human tri­als. In keep­ing with the cul­ture of secre­cy, though, exec­u­tives won’t say which dis­eases the vac­cines tar­get, and they have not list­ed the stud­ies on the pub­lic fed­er­al reg­istry, ClinicalTrials.gov. List­ing is option­al for Phase 1 tri­als, which are meant to deter­mine if a drug is safe, but most com­pa­nies vol­un­tar­i­ly dis­close their work. . . .”

3.–Protein ther­a­py has been a dri­ving eco­nom­ic and ther­a­peu­tic fac­tor in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal busi­ness: “ . . . . For decades, com­pa­nies have endeav­ored to craft bet­ter and bet­ter pro­tein ther­a­pies, lead­ing to new treat­ments for can­cer, autoim­mune dis­or­ders, and rare dis­eases. Such ther­a­pies are cost­ly to pro­duce and have many lim­i­ta­tions, but they’ve giv­en rise to a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar indus­try. The anti-inflam­ma­to­ry Humi­ra, the world’s top drug at $14 bil­lion in sales a year, is a shin­ing exam­ple of pro­tein ther­a­py. . . .”

4.–Moderna aims at doing an end run around that tech­nol­o­gy with the injec­tion of mRNA (mes­sen­ger RNA) or DNA. This is a risky tech­nol­o­gy: “ . . . . Moderna’s tech­nol­o­gy promised to sub­vert the whole field, cre­at­ing ther­a­peu­tic pro­teins inside the body instead of in man­u­fac­tur­ing plants. The key: har­ness­ing mes­sen­ger RNA, or mRNA. . . . . It’s high­ly risky. Big phar­ma com­pa­nies had tried sim­i­lar work and aban­doned it because it’s exceed­ing­ly hard to get RNA into cells with­out trig­ger­ing nasty side effects. . . . .”

5.–CEO Ban­cel has main­tained the company’s cul­ture of secre­cy: “ . . . . Under Ban­cel, Mod­er­na has been loath to pub­lish its work in Sci­ence or Nature, but enthu­si­as­tic to her­ald its poten­tial on CNBC and CNN, tak­ing part in seg­ments on the world’s most dis­rup­tive com­pa­niesand the poten­tial “cure for can­cer.” . . .”

6.–Moderna had dra­con­ian atti­tude toward employ­ees from its incep­tion: “ . . . . From the begin­ning, Ban­cel made clear that Moderna’s sci­ence sim­ply had to work. And that any­one who couldn’t make it work didn’t belong. The ear­ly Mod­er­na was a chaot­ic, unpre­dictable work­place, accord­ing to for­mer employ­ees. One recalls find­ing him­self out of a job when a quick-turn­around exper­i­ment failed to pan out. Anoth­er helped train a group of new hires only to real­ize they were his replace­ments. . . .”

7.–Joe Bolen exem­pli­fied the treat­ment Mod­er­na met­ed out: “ . . . . Most stun­ning to employ­ees was the abrupt depar­ture of Joseph Bolen, who came aboard in 2013 to lead Moderna’s R&D efforts. Bolen was a big-name hire in biotech cir­cles, an expe­ri­enced chief sci­en­tif­ic offi­cer who had guid­ed Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to FDA approval for a block­buster can­cer drug. . . ‘No sci­en­tist in his right mind would leave that job unless there was some­thing wrong with the sci­ence or the per­son­nel,” said a per­son close to the com­pa­ny at the time.’ . . .”

8.–Bolen had com­pa­ny: “ . . . . Bolen wasn’t alone. Chief Infor­ma­tion Offi­cer John Reyn­ders joined in 2013 to make Mod­er­na what he called the world’s “first ful­ly dig­i­tal biotech,”only to step down a year lat­er. Michael Morin, brought in to lead Moderna’s sci­en­tif­ic efforts in can­cer in 2014, last­ed less than 18 months. As did Greg Licholai, hired in 2015 to direct the company’s projects in rare dis­eases. The lat­ter two key lead­er­ship posi­tions remain unfilled. . . .”

9.–The expla­na­tion of CFO Lorence Kim is less than reas­sur­ing from the stand­point of prod­uct safe­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty: “ . . . . ‘We force every­one to grow with the com­pa­ny at unprece­dent­ed speed,’ Mod­er­na Chief Finan­cial Offi­cer Lorence Kim said. ‘Some peo­ple grow with the com­pa­ny; oth­ers don’t.’ . . .”

10.–Beginning in 2013, Mod­er­na part­nered with a series of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giants, includ­ing AstraZeneca, which has been select­ed to devel­op a Covid-19 vac­cine: “ . . . . That’s when Mod­er­na — which had just 25 employ­ees — signed a stag­ger­ing $240 mil­lion part­ner­ship with UK phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giant AstraZeneca. It was the most mon­ey phar­ma had ever spent on drugs that had not yet been test­ed in humans. . . .”

11.–The firm has been lav­ish­ly cap­i­tal­ized: “ . . . . In ear­ly 2015, Mod­er­na dis­closed a $450 mil­lion financ­ing round, the largest ever for a pri­vate biotech com­pa­ny. This month, the com­pa­ny broke its own record, rais­ing anoth­er $474 mil­lion. . . . Though it has yet to reveal data from a sin­gle clin­i­cal tri­al, Mod­er­na is now val­ued at $4.7 bil­lion, accord­ing to Pitch­book. . . .”

12.–Initially, Mod­er­na aimed at devel­op­ing prod­ucts that would be admin­is­tered for a peri­od of years: “ . . . . From the start, Mod­er­na her­ald­ed its abil­i­ty to pro­duce pro­teins with­in cells, which could open up a world of ther­a­peu­tic tar­gets unreach­able by con­ven­tion­al drugs. The most rev­o­lu­tion­ary treat­ments, which could chal­lenge the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar mar­ket for pro­tein ther­a­py, would involve repeat­ed dos­es of mRNA over many years, so a patient’s body con­tin­ued to pro­duce pro­teins to keep dis­ease at bay. . . .”

13.–Instead of pro­duc­ing treat­ments that would be admin­is­tered over a peri­od of years, the com­pa­ny focused on vac­cines: “ . . . . But Moderna’s first human tri­als aren’t so ambi­tious, focus­ing instead on the crowd­ed field of vac­cines, where the com­pa­ny has only been work­ing since 2014. . . . The choice to pri­or­i­tize vac­cines came as a dis­ap­point­ment to many in the com­pa­ny, accord­ing to a for­mer man­ag­er. The plan had been to rad­i­cal­ly dis­rupt the biotech indus­try, the man­ag­er said, so ‘why would you start with a clin­i­cal pro­gram that has very lim­it­ed upside and lots of com­pe­ti­tion?’” . . . .”

14.–The answer to Moderna’s focus on vac­cines may be due to issues of prod­uct safe­ty: “ . . . Deliv­ery — actu­al­ly get­ting RNA into cells — has long bedev­iled the whole field. On their own, RNA mol­e­cules have a hard time reach­ing their tar­gets. They work bet­ter if they’re wrapped up in a deliv­ery mech­a­nism, such as nanopar­ti­cles made of lipids. But those nanopar­ti­cles can lead to dan­ger­ous side effects, espe­cial­ly if a patient has to take repeat­ed dos­es over months or years. . . .”

15.–Vaccines will only admin­is­ter mRNA at the time of vac­ci­na­tion, rather than over a long peri­od of time: “ . . . . ‘I would say that mRNA is bet­ter suit­ed for dis­eases where treat­ment for short dura­tion is suf­fi­cient­ly cura­tive, so the tox­i­c­i­ties caused by deliv­ery mate­ri­als are less like­ly to occur,’ said Katal­in Karikó, a pio­neer in the field who serves as a vice pres­i­dent at BioN­Tech. . . That makes vac­cines the low­est hang­ing fruit in mRNA, said Franz-Wern­er Haas, CureVac’s chief cor­po­rate offi­cer. ‘From our point of view, it’s obvi­ous why [Mod­er­na] start­ed there,’ he said.’ . . .”

16.–Moderna’s expla­na­tion for its focus on vac­cines is not reassuring—the speed with which it can pro­ceed to human tri­als. The firm’s secre­cy has gen­er­at­ed alarm: “ . . . . Mod­er­na said it pri­or­i­tized vac­cines because they pre­sent­ed the fastest path to human tri­als, not because of set­backs with oth­er projects. ‘The notion that [Mod­er­na] ran into dif­fi­cul­ties isn’t borne in real­i­ty,’ said Afeyan. But this is where Moderna’s secre­cy comes into play: Until there’s pub­lished data, only the com­pa­ny and its part­ners know what the data show. Every­one out­side is left guess­ing — and, in some cas­es, wor­ry­ing that Mod­er­na won’t live up to its hype. . . .”

17.–Moderna applies soft­ware and a busi­ness mod­el derived from Tes­la, Ama­zon and Uber: “ . . . . Mod­er­na has pio­neered an auto­mat­ed sys­tem mod­eled on the soft­ware Tes­la uses to man­age orders, Ban­cel said: Sci­en­tists sim­ply enter the pro­tein they want a cell to express, and testable mRNA arrives with­in weeks. . . . That has always been part of the plan, for­mer employ­ees said, point­ing to Bancel’s fas­ci­na­tion with the tech indus­try. Uber and Ama­zon were not the first to come up with their respec­tive busi­ness ideas, but they were the ones that built enough scale to ward off com­pe­ti­tion. And Mod­er­na is posi­tion­ing itself to do the same in mRNA. . . .”

Mon­cef Slaoui’s  opti­mistic state­ment on the Fri­day before the Mon­day announce­ment, presents impor­tant con­text for Moderna’s Mon­day announce­ment. That announce­ment moved mar­kets based on inad­e­quate data. “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed” (head­ed by Slaoui) sug­gests that can­di­date Trump  is very inter­est­ed in those pre­lim­i­nary results as well. 

Eliz­a­beth War­ren scored Slaoui’s con­flict of interest–a con­sid­er­a­tion that will be dis­cussed at length: ” . . . . Fol­low­ing Mon­cef Slaoui’s Fri­day appoint­ment as a co-leader of the Warp Speed pro­gram, he’s set to sell about 155,000 shares in Mod­er­na, accord­ing to press reports. They were worth an esti­mat­ed $10 mil­lion Fri­day, but after Monday’s stock run-up on pos­i­tive ear­ly data, they’re now val­ued at about $12.4 mil­lion. . . . Fol­low­ing Slaoui’s selec­tion, Sen. Eliz­a­beth War­ren tweet­ed that it’s a ‘huge con­flict of inter­est’ for him to keep the Mod­er­na stock as he assumes the new role. She said he should ‘divest imme­di­ate­ly.’ In a now-delet­ed tweet, Slaoui respond­ed that there ‘is no con­flict of inter­est, and there nev­er has been,’ Busi­ness Insid­er reports. . . .”

Even after agree­ing to sell his Mod­er­na stock, Slaoui’s invest­ments raise alarm­ing questions–note that he is a “ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist” and a long­time for­mer exec­u­tive at Glaxo-Smithk­line:

1.–The cir­cum­stances of his appoint­ment will per­mit him to avoid scruti­ny: ” . . . . In agree­ing to accept the posi­tion, Dr. Slaoui did not come on board as a gov­ern­ment employ­ee. Instead, he is on a con­tract, receiv­ing $1 for his ser­vice. That leaves him exempt from fed­er­al dis­clo­sure rules that would require him to list his out­side posi­tions, stock hold­ings and oth­er poten­tial con­flicts. And the con­tract posi­tion is not sub­ject to the same con­flict-of-inter­est laws and reg­u­la­tions that exec­u­tive branch employ­ees must fol­low. . . .”

2.–He will retain a great deal of Glaxo-Smithk­line stock: ” . . . . He did not say how much his GSK shares were worth. When he left the com­pa­ny in 2017, he held about [500,000 in West­ern Print Edi­tion] 240,000 shares and share equiv­a­lents, accord­ing to the drug company’s annu­al report and an analy­sis by the exec­u­tive com­pen­sa­tion firm Equi­lar. . . .”

3.–Further analy­sis of Slaoui’s posi­tion deep­ens con­cern about the integri­ty of the process: ” . . . . ‘This is basi­cal­ly absurd,’ said Vir­ginia Can­ter, who is chief ethics coun­sel for Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton. ‘It allows for no pub­lic scruti­ny of his con­flicts of inter­est.’ Ms. Can­ter also said fed­er­al law barred gov­ern­ment con­trac­tors from super­vis­ing gov­ern­ment employ­ees. . . . Ms. Can­ter, a for­mer ethics lawyer in the Oba­ma and Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tions, the Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion and oth­er agen­cies, point­ed out that GSK’s vac­cine can­di­date with Sanofi could wind up com­pet­ing with oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers vying for gov­ern­ment approval and sup­port. ‘If he retains stock in com­pa­nies that are invest­ing in the devel­op­ment of a vac­cine, and he’s involved in over­see­ing this process to select the safest vac­cine to com­bat Covid-19, regard­less of how won­der­ful a per­son he is, we can’t be con­fi­dent of the integri­ty of any process in which he is involved,’ Ms. Can­ter said. In addi­tion, his affil­i­a­tion with Medicxi could com­pli­cate mat­ters: Two of its investors are GSK and a divi­sion of John­son & John­son, which is also devel­op­ing a poten­tial vac­cine. . . .”

Mod­er­na stands to make bil­lions of dol­lars if their vac­cine goes to mar­ket:

1.–” . . . . What investors are bet­ting on, for Mod­er­na and oth­ers devel­op­ing vac­cines against the SARS-CoV­‑2 virus, is that a third of the devel­oped world’s pop­u­la­tion will get vac­ci­nat­ed every year. That could amount to a $10 bil­lion annu­al busi­ness, at an esti­mat­ed price of $30 per vac­ci­na­tion. . . .”

2.–” . . . . Mor­gan Stan­ley ana­lysts this past week­end sug­gest­ed that pric­ing might start at $5 to $10 a dose dur­ing this first pan­dem­ic cri­sis, then rise to a range of $13 to $30 for pre­ven­tive dos­es in future years. But at BMO Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, ana­lyst George Farmer spec­u­lat­ed that Mod­er­na could start charg­ing $125 per treat­ment in the U.S. mar­ket and raise that price over time to $200. . . . ”

We close the pro­gram with a reminder of the extent to which fed­er­al fund­ing dri­ves the val­ue of Mod­er­na: ” . . . . ‘Instead of wait­ing for the data and then scal­ing up with man­u­fac­tur­ing process … we can make as many dos­es as we can. We are doing both in par­al­lel,’ he said. The com­pa­ny plans to hire up to 150 peo­ple to sup­port the effort. Ban­cel said the com­pa­ny ‘couldn’t have done this’ with­out the fund­ing com­mit­ment from the Bio­med­ical Advanced Research and Devel­op­ment Author­i­ty, which is part of the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. . . .”


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

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” 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”:

1.–Is head­ed by Mon­cef Slaoui, for­mer­ly the chair­man of Mod­er­na’s prod­uct devel­op­ment com­mit­tee: ” . . . . 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. . . .”

2.–Is seen by Slaoui as promis­ing by Slaoui, who may well be ref­er­enc­ing tests on Mod­er­na’s mRNA vac­cine: “. . . . 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.’ . . . .”

3.–Will be assist­ed by a four-star gen­er­al: ” . . . . . . . . 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. . . .”

4.–Perna was recruit­ed by the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs: ” . . . . 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. . . .”

Note that Mon­cef Slaoui holds 10 mil­lion dol­lars worth 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 and pro­grams, 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 from DARPA and it often touts is strate­gic alliance with DARPA in press releas­es. . . .”

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

A BBC sto­ry from 1999 high­lights the fears of experts that the advent of such tech­nol­o­gy could enable the devel­op­ment of eth­no-spe­cif­ic bio­log­i­cal weapons: ” . . . . Advances in genet­ic knowl­edge could be mis­used to devel­op pow­er­ful bio­log­i­cal weapons that could be tai­lored to strike at spe­cif­ic eth­nic groups, the British Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion has warned. A BMA report Biotech­nol­o­gy, Weapons and Human­i­ty says that con­cert­ed inter­na­tion­al action is nec­es­sary to block the devel­op­ment of new, bio­log­i­cal weapons.  . . . 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, for pur­pos­es of empha­siz­ing the flim­sy nature of the argu­ment pre­sent­ed in a paper from Nature Med­i­cine.

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 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.

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 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”. 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 the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

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, 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 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, 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). 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 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, 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 and 1122. 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–an oper­a­tive can be dis­pensed to per­form a func­tion with­out their knowl­edge.

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

A fish mer­chant 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 piece under­score the anom­alous epi­demi­ol­o­gy of the virus: ” . . . . In San Jose, tis­sue sam­pling from a woman who died on Feb. 6 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 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” 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 was a key Amer­i­can part­ner in the project.

This is the under­tak­ing about which we have report­ed and dis­cussed 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 in ques­tion: ” . . . . 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” 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, the deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er who report­ed on SARS out­breaks as a jour­nal­ist in Chi­na, pressed intel­li­gence agen­cies 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.

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. One of the oper­a­tional cen­ters of Con­dor was the Chilean Nazi enclave Colo­nia Dig­nidad. In FTR #839, 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, 999, 1000, 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,”  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 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.


Moderna, The Military, Medicine and Money

In past posts and pro­grams, we have not­ed that Moderna–which has been select­ed to devel­op a Covid-19 vaccine–has been sub­stan­tial­ly under­writ­ten by the Pen­ta­gon (DARPA). The vac­cine they are devel­op­ing is a mRNA (mes­sen­ger RNA) vaccine–a type of vac­cine that has nev­er been admin­is­tered to human sub­jects and is seen as very risky: ” . . . . 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.’ . . .” The head of Trump’s “Oper­a­tion Warp Speed” coro­n­avirus vac­cine pro­gram is Mon­cef Slaoui, for­mer­ly in charge of Mod­er­na’s prod­uct devel­op­ment com­mit­tee. He says 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. . . .” This despite the fact that no vac­cine has been approved for human use in less than four years. Slaoui will be assist­ed by Gen­er­al Gus­tave F. Per­na, whose appoint­ment was facil­i­tat­ed by Gen­er­al Mark A. Mil­ley, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs. Inter­est­ing­ly, Slaoui holds more than $10 mil­lion worth of Mod­er­na stock, which has increased 184% since the begin­ning of the year, due to ” . . . . more than $400 mil­lion from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to assist tri­als of a coro­n­avirus vac­cine. . . .”


Supplement #2 to “The Magic Virus Theory” Series

In FTR #1129, we fur­ther devel­oped argu­ments that the Covid-19 coro­n­avirus may well have been genet­i­cal­ly engi­neered (and NOT by Chi­na as is alleged by “Team Trump.”) In the first of two arti­cles from the jour­nal “GMWatch,” Dr. Michael Anto­niou notes that there are a num­ber of lab­o­ra­to­ry tech­niques effec­tive at pro­duc­ing a genome equal­ly func­tion­al from the stand­point of infec­tiv­i­ty to the com­put­er mod­el on which the “Nature Med­i­cine” authors rely: ” . . . . 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. . . .” Fur­ther­more, Dr. Anto­niou informs us that anoth­er tech­nique could pro­duce the desired results, using a process the devel­op­ment of which received the Nobel Prize for Chem­istry in 2018!: ”  . . . . 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’. 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. . . . 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 the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018! . . .” In a sec­ond “GMWatch” arti­cle, Pro­fes­sors Stu­art New­man and Adam Lau­r­ing point out that: ” . . . . 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 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.’ . . .” In addi­tion, Pro­fes­sor New­man high­lights an arti­cle cit­ed by the “Nature Med­i­cine” authors that dis­proves their the­sis! ” . . . 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,’ 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). 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 they DO cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . .”


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

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

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

1.–An aca­d­e­m­ic paper pro­duced by a Fed­er­al Reserve econ­o­mist posits the socio-polit­i­cal effects of the 1918 flu pan­dem­ic as a fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the rise of Nazism in Ger­many. Cit­ed by numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Politi­co, the study under­scores some of our asser­tions con­cern­ing the fas­cist and extreme right-wing ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the pan­dem­ic. ” . . . . The paper, pub­lished this month and authored by New York Fed econ­o­mist Kris­t­ian Blick­le, exam­ined munic­i­pal spend­ing lev­els and vot­er extrem­ism in Ger­many from the time of the ini­tial influen­za out­break until 1933, and shows that ‘areas which expe­ri­enced a greater rel­a­tive pop­u­la­tion decline’ due to the pan­dem­ic spent ‘less, per capi­ta, on their inhab­i­tants in the fol­low­ing decade.’. . . The paper’s find­ings are like­ly due to ‘changes in soci­etal pref­er­ences’ fol­low­ing the 1918 out­break, Blick­le argues — sug­gest­ing the influen­za pan­dem­ic . . . . may have ‘spurred resent­ment of for­eign­ers among the sur­vivors’ and dri­ven vot­ers to par­ties ‘whose plat­form matched such sen­ti­ments.’ The con­clu­sions come amid fears that the cur­rent coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic will shake up inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics and spur extrem­ism around the world, as offi­cials and pub­lic health experts look to pre­vi­ous out­breaks for guid­ance on how to nav­i­gate the months and years to come. . . .”

2.–The social dis­lo­ca­tion caused by the Great Depres­sion also drove Ger­man and world polit­i­cal sen­ti­ment to the right, pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al momen­tum to glob­al forces of fas­cism. Cur­rent U.S. eco­nom­ic data bring that to mind. “U.S. Unem­ploy­ment Is Worst Since Depres­sion;” by Nel­son D. Schwartz and Ben Cas­sel­man; The New York Times; 5/9/2020; pp. A1-A13 [West­ern Edi­tion.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like the Bible, it is open to seri­ous sci­en­tif­ic refu­ta­tion: ” . . . . 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 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”. 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 the Nobel Prize in Chem­istry in 2018. . . .”

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, 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 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, 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). 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 they do cite. This was done to explore mech­a­nisms of path­o­genic­i­ty. . . . .”

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

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


French Athletes Competing at the Military World Games May Well Have Been Infected

In FTR #‘s 1118 and 1122, we spec­u­lat­ed at some length about the pos­si­bil­i­ty that infect­ing the very healthy, superbly-con­di­tioned indi­vid­u­als par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Mil­i­tary World Games in Chi­na might have been an excel­lent vehi­cle for spread­ing the virus around the world. Reports are now emerg­ing of pos­si­ble Covid-19 infec­tion among ath­letes who par­tic­i­pat­ed at the games.