Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, many scientists suspected SARS-CoV-2 might have originated in a biosafety laboratory, most likely in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began in December 2019. Among them, Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and a virologist, and Allison Wilson, Ph.D., a molecular biologist were experts who discussed the idea of a lab origin.
I interviewed Latham about some of their theories in July 2020. His interview is featured in “Cover-Up of SARS-CoV-2 Origin?” Latham and Wilson argue that while the virus most likely has a bat origin, the mechanism by which it jumped from bat to human was not a natural one and they have previously presented three different theories by which the virus may have been created in and escaped from a lab.
In a February 16, 2021, article1 in Independent Science News, the pair again reviewed the evidence for a laboratory origin, and the reasons why a zoonotic origin will never be found.
Why Zoonotic Origin Is Most Unlikely
Aside from not being known for exotic culinary dishes involving animals such as bats, Wuhan, located in central China, is an unlikely location for zoonotic virus spillover as it has “no cultural, geographic or climatic predisposing factors,” Latham and Wilson note. Wuhan is also not a known hotspot for exotic animal smuggling.
The well-recognized absence of bats in Wuhan is why researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) traveled several hundred miles to collect bat coronavirus samples.
What’s more, Latham and Wilson cite research showing that “when WIV researchers needed to study a Chinese population that was not routinely exposed to bat coronaviruses (as a control group), they chose Wuhan residents.” Zheng-li Shi, head of coronavirus research at the WIV, even admitted that she “had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.”
According to Latham and Wilson, “The chance of a person from Wuhan being patient zero is approximately 1 in 630,” based on calculations that take into account the population size of Wuhan, the global population and the fact that coronavirus-carrying animals are found virtually all over the world.
“It truly is very, very, unlikely that a natural zoonotic pandemic would start in Wuhan. Yet no commentator on the outbreak seems to have properly acknowledged the true scale of this improbability,” Latham and Wilson write.2
Another coincidence that strongly points to a lab origin is the fact that the WIV not only has the world’s largest collection of bat coronaviruses, but WIV researchers had also singled out one specific coronavirus out of 28 relevant species for more in-depth work, “and it is a member of this species that broke out in Wuhan,” Latham and Wilson note, adding:
“This, then, is a further curious coincidence: for a pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to emerge in Wuhan and be a member of the species most studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Zoonotic Spillover of SARS-CoV-2 Is Not Random
Latham and Wilson go on to review the research done at the WIV in more detail, comparing and contrasting it to the natural evolution of coronaviruses. There are four basic types of coronaviruses: Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma- and Delta-coronaviruses. (For an illustration of the evolutionary tree of these viruses, please see the original article.3)
Of these four, only two are of interest when we’re searching for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 — the Alpha and Beta versions, of which there are 28 species, and “apparently random” coronavirus spillovers from Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses are known to have occurred in the past. (There are very few Gamma- and Delta-coronaviruses, and none is known to affect humans.)
Six of the 28 Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses are known to affect humans: HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, MERS, SARS, HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 (SARS-CoV-2 makes No. 7). When you locate these six viruses on the coronavirus evolutionary tree, you find that they are widely distributed, which is an indication that previous zoonotic spillovers have been random.
Not so with SARS-CoV-2, though. When you place SARS-CoV-2 on this evolutionary tree, its location is not random like the others. Rather, it emerged from original SARS (as evidenced by its name). Latham and Wilson explain:4
“From a zoonotic perspective, nothing appears to be special about these SARS-related coronaviruses. Consequently, the emergence of a second pandemic virus from the same coronavirus species constitutes a second surprising coincidence.
We can again calculate its probability. If each Alpha and Beta coronavirus species is equally likely to spill over to humans, which is consistent with our understanding, then the probability of a virus from the SARS-related coronavirus species starting a zoonotic pandemic is 1 in 28.
(And if there are undiscovered coronavirus species — pretty much a certainty — the number will be greater still). It is a coincidence that, just like the emergence in Wuhan, heavily favors a lab escape if we take into account the specifics of the coronavirus research program at the WIV …”
Zheng-li’s Research Revolved Around the Pandemic Virus
Latham and Wilson then go on to review 18 publications by Zheng-li, starting in 2005, describing her research into SARS-like coronaviruses. They point out that while Zheng-li collected a wide array of bat viruses, her specific research focus was the zoonotic spillover potential of a single species, namely SARS-related coronaviruses (one of the six Alpha- and Beta-coronaviruses known to infect humans).
“So while most discussions of a potential lab escape have mentioned that SARS-CoV-2 emerged within commuting distance of the WIV and that researchers at the WIV worked on bat coronaviruses, none have mentioned that the coincidence is much greater than that.
Zheng-li Shi concentrated, especially with her potentially highly risky molecular research, on the particular species of coronavirus that is responsible for the pandemic,” Latham and Wilson write, adding that:
“If one accepts as reasonable the assumptions made above, the probability of Wuhan being the site of a natural SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is obtained by multiplying 1 in 630 by 1 in 28. The chance of Wuhan hosting a SARS-related coronavirus outbreak is thus 17,640 to 1.”
They also dismiss the argument that these are little more than circumstantial evidences that could be due to sheer chance. Circumstantial evidence is not a “special category of evidence,” they point out; rather, “all evidence of causation is composed of coincidences.”
“All an observer can do is to add up the coincidences until they surmise that the threshold of reasonable doubt has been surpassed. Conclusions are always provisional, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, anyone open to persuasion ought at this point to conclude that a probability of 17,640 to 1 far exceeds that threshold. A lab escape should at this point be the default hypothesis.”
WIV Held Closest Known Relative to SARS-CoV-2
Since the beginning of the outbreak, we’ve also discovered that the WIV held a virus sample known as RaTG13 which, so far, is the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2. While Zheng-li has denied extensive study on RaTG13, scientific publications reveal this virus has been studied since at least 2017.
In addition to all of this, no substantive zoonotic theory has ever been presented, which makes it far less plausible than any of the lab-origin theories. While several potential intermediate species have been proposed, none has actually been found to carry SARS-CoV-2 or a precursor to it.
Our prediction … simply based on assessing the probabilities, is that no convincing natural zoonotic origin for the pandemic will ever be found by China or the WHO or anyone else — for the simple reason that one does not exist. ~ Jonathan Latham, Ph.D., and Allison Wilson, Ph.D.
What’s more, as detailed in “Top Medical Journal Caught in Massive Cover-Up” and “Lawsuits Begin Over SARS-CoV-2 Lab Leak,” the scientific cornerstone for the zoonotic origin theory hinges on two seriously flawed papers published in PLOS Pathogens and Nature.
Both journals apparently allowed data sets to be secretly changed without publishing notices of correction. Authors appear to have renamed samples, failed to attribute samples properly, and produced a genomic profile that doesn’t match the samples in the paper.
Some data are also missing. An investigation into the discrepancies found RaTG13, which is 96% identical to SARS-CoV-2, is actually btCoV-4991, a virus found in samples collected in 2013 and studies on them published in 2016. Meanwhile, there are at least “four distinct lab origin theories,” Wilson and Latham note, including:5
1. The serial passage theory, which proposes the virus was created by serial passaging through an animal host or cell culture.6
2. Evidence of genetic manipulation, including the chimeric structure of the virus and the presence of a furin cleavage site.7 While a majority of the viral genetic sequence is close to that of RaTG13, its receptor binding domain is nearly identical to that of a pangolin coronavirus, while the furin cleavage site has not been seen in any other SARS-like coronaviruses.
Others have pointed out that the virus, which is highly adapted to human lung cells, appears to have evolved in the absence of immune system antibodies, which suggests mutation within cell culture.8
In “China Deletes Key SARS-CoV-2 Related Science,” I also review evidence9 suggesting SARS-CoV-2 was created by serial passaging an ancestor virus through transgenic mice equipped with human ACE2 receptors. (Research10 has confirmed transgenic mice with human ACE2 receptors are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, whereas normal mice are not.)
3. The failed vaccine development theory.11
4. The Mojiang miners passage theory,12,13 which proposes a precursor to SARS-CoV-2 — possibly RaTG13, as this virus was collected from that very same mine — sickened six miners in 2012, and once inside these patients, some of whom were ill for several weeks, it mutated into SARS-CoV-2. Samples from four of the hospitalized miners were sent to the WIV.
“To-date, there are conflicting claims about the results of those tests and nothing has been formally published. The Mojiang Miners Passage theory proposes, however, that, by the time they arrived at the WIV, these patient-derived samples contained a highly adapted human virus, which subsequently escaped,” Wilson and Latham write, adding:
“Our prediction … simply based on assessing the probabilities, is that no convincing natural zoonotic origin for the pandemic will ever be found by China or the WHO or anyone else — for the simple reason that one does not exist.”
WHO Investigation Into COVID-19 Origin Is Blatantly Corrupt
Despite the complete absence of a plausible zoonotic origin theory, the World Health Organization’s investigative commission, tasked with identifying the origin of SARS-CoV-2, has now officially cleared the WIV and two other biosafety level 4 laboratories in Wuhan of wrongdoing, saying these labs had nothing to do with the COVID-19 outbreak.14,15,16
They’ve also stated that the lab-escape theory will no longer be part of the team’s investigation going forward.
The WHO team and its Chinese counterparts now insist the most likely scenario is that SARS-CoV-2 piggybacked its way into the Wuhan market in shipments of frozen food from other areas of China where coronavirus-carrying bats are known to reside, or another country, possibly in Europe. As a result, the WHO team is considering expanding its scope to look into other countries as the potential source of the virus.
As noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed17 by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, “By lending credence to this improbable theory, WHO is damaging trust in the important project of figuring out where the virus originated.”
There are obvious problems with the WHO’s conclusions. For starters, no serious investigation was actually done. The WHO team was not equipped or designed to conduct a forensic examination of laboratory practices;18 rather, they relied on information obtained directly from the Chinese team.
Secondly, China was allowed to hand pick the members of the WHO’s investigative team, which includes Peter Daszak, Ph.D., who has close professional ties to the WIV and has gone on record dismissing the lab-origin theory as “pure baloney.”19,20
He was also the mastermind behind the publication of a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory.”21,22 This manufactured “scientific consensus” was then relied on by the media to “debunk” theories and evidence showing the pandemic virus most likely originated from a laboratory.
No Credible Evidence Food Is a Route of Transmission
The inclusion of Dazsak on this team virtually guaranteed the dismissal of the lab-origin theory from the very start, and based on the lame justifications given by the team leader, Danish food safety and zoonosis scientist Ben Embarek, it seems clear they had no intention of looking at evidence that might implicate the WIV or any other Wuhan lab.
For example, Embarek claims that officials at the WIV “are the best ones to dismiss the claims and provide answers” about the potential for a lab leak. But suspects in an investigation are hardly the most reliable sources of evidence to dismiss suspicions against them.
Embarek further insisted that lab accidents are “extremely rare,” hence it’s “very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place.”23 This too is a wholly unconvincing argument that flies in the face of available data.
According to the Cambridge Working Group in 2014, “biosafety incidents involving regulated pathogens have been occurring on average over twice a week” in the U.S. alone,24,25 and virology labs accidentally released the original SARS virus on no less than four separate occasions.26,27 Three of those four instances led to outbreaks.28 The 1977 H1N1 influenza outbreaks in the Soviet Union and China were also the result of a lab escape.29
Thirdly, a number of scientific bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods have resolutely dismissed the frozen food origination story, as no credible evidence has surfaced suggesting food, food packaging or food handling might be a significant route of transmission.30
Why the Lab-Origin Theory Must Be Quashed
You may be wondering, if there’s so much evidence pointing toward a lab origin, why are leading health authorities and scientists dismissing it all and insisting SARS-CoV-2 is a natural occurrence, mysterious as it might be? The answer undoubtedly comes down to money.
Should the COVID-19 pandemic be officially recognized as the result of a lab accident, the world might be forced to take a cold hard look at gain-of-function research that allows for the creation of these new pathogens. The end result would ideally be the banning of such research worldwide, which means tens of thousands of researchers would lose their jobs. Prestigious careers would be spoiled.
On top of that, the culprits might face criminal charges under the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, and nations might be held financially responsible for the economic destruction caused by the pandemic around the globe. These are no minor issues. They offer plenty of incentive to cover up the truth.
As Rutgers microbiologist and founding member of the Cambridge Working Group, Richard Ebright, told Boston Magazine:31
“For the substantial subset of virologists who perform gain-of-function research, avoiding restrictions on research funding, avoiding implementation of appropriate biosafety standards, and avoiding implementation of appropriate research oversight are powerful motivators.”
Antonio Regalado, biomedicine editor of MIT Technology Review, was even more blunt, stating that if SARS-CoV-2 was found to be a lab creation, “it would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom.”32 There’s little doubt that this is the reason why the lab origin theory has been roundly labeled as pure conspiracy theory spread by science deniers and Trump flag-wielding kooks.
Such a stance is extremely unhealthy, however, as it seeks to strangle not only free speech but also scientific inquiry, and “criminalizes” logic in general. In a February 15, 2021, AP News article,33 the three authors identify several professors and organizations as “superspreaders” of disinformation about SARS-CoV-2’s origin.
Among them are Francis Boyle, a bioweapons expert who drafted the 1989 Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act; Luc Montagnier, a world-renowned virologist who won the Nobel prize for his discovery of HIV; and the Center for Research on Globalization. The remainder are individuals and organizations that I, having written many hundreds of articles about COVID-19 over the past year, have never even heard of.
According to AP, the parties on this list have no training in virology (apparently, Nobel prize-winning virologists aren’t good enough) and therefore do not have the expertise to speak on the issue of viral origins. However, they don’t mention the many who have presented evidence for a lab origin who do have all the “right” credentials.
It’s also worth noting that the AP article was produced in collaboration with the Atlantic Council, which is part of the technocratic hub that is using the pandemic to further its Great Reset agenda. That alone qualifies the article as pure globalist propaganda.
If SARS-CoV-2 really was the result of zoonotic spillover, the easiest and most effective way to quash “conspiracy theories” about a lab origin would be to present compelling evidence for a plausible theory. So far, that hasn’t happened, and as noted by Latham and Wilson, the most likely reason for that is because the virus does not have a natural zoonotic origin, and you cannot find that which does not exist.
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