April 04, 2020

Paitent Zero

Way back in the before time, when one could go out for tacos and toilet paper was not the coin of the realm, Brickmuppet Blog noted with interest evidence linking the Worrisome Woe from Wuhan to the two microbiology research centers in the city which spawned it. 

Now there's this:

This fellow used to be very bullish on China until a few years ago, so this is not a partisan hit-job. He thinks he's found patient zero. 
National Review has an analysis of his video here.

Regarding the lab's head scientist mentioned in the video, back on February 14th we linked to some articles and videos on the matter and after a bit of our own research reported that:

 Zhengli Shi, the administrator of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, (one of the two(!) virology labs in Wuhan) was involved in a rather infamous 2015 experiment at the University of North Carolina to create a really virulent and deadly coronavirus. The idea seems to have been to figure out a worst case scenario and how to plan for it. One the one hand, preparedness is good...on the other hand virulent and deadly man-made coronaviruses are bad, m'kay...and on the gripping hand, the U.S. had just passed a law against that area of research because genetically engineered genocidal death plagues are a demographic that suffers from a robustly bi-partisan lack of support in Congress.  In any event, Dr. Shi went and filed a patent for genetically engineering coronavirus proteins.

Scientific American did a glowing piece on her as well early last month. 

Now to be clear, this facility she heads is a different lab from the Class 4 facility also in Wuhan. Dr. Zhengli Shi appears to have been studying ways to mitigate coronaviruses, examples of which had caused SARS and MERS. There is no real evidence that this is a bioweapon per se. Evidence IS strong however that this outbreak is due to a lab accident. This is in part because that the bats, that are the presumed vectors were not for sale at the infamous wet-market and live nearly a thousand clicks from Wuhan.    Everything, including the paper mentioned in the video, points to a lab accident, one that likely claimed the life of a scientist at the lab, Huang Yanling, a graduate student at the virology lab. 

From the National Review article linked above. 

She has disappeared, had her info removed from the labs personnel page (though her name remains) and, the Chinese government vehemently denies that she's dead, but can't seem to find her to refute the matter. 

What sort of lab accident might it have been? Well the now 'memory-holed' report contained the following passage.
In one of their studies, 155 bats including Rhinolophus affinis were captured in Hubei province, and other 450 bats were captured in Zhejiang province 4. The expert in collection was noted in the Author Contributions (JHT). Moreover, he was broadcasted for collecting viruses on nation-wide newspapers and websites in 2017 and 2019 7,8. He described that
he was once by attacked by bats and the blood of a bat shot on his skin. He knew the extreme danger of the infection so he quarantined himself for 14 days 7. In another accident, he quarantined himself again because bats peed on him. He was once thrilled for capturing
a bat carrying a live tick.

Additionally, there is this...

Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing 4, 5. The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens. They were only ~280 meters from the seafood market. The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital (Figure 1, bottom) where the first group
of doctors were infected during this epidemic. It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.

So there is a lot of ways that this could have gotten out, especially given china's track record with these things (SARS for instance). 

The referenced report was written and submitted for peer review by Chinese scientists attempting to track down the origins of the virus.  It was purged from the internet by the Chinese government in mid to late February. Of course this is the internet so "purged" is relative. A copy has been in the secure magic smoke tubes beneath the Guano mines of Niue since Febuary 16th. Read the whole report. It's short. 

This does strongly support what was being reported here and elsewhere back in February, that the outbreak escaped from a lab.  The reason that these viruses were being so intensely studied in China (and Canada, and the U.S.A. and elsewhere) is because their terrifying potential had been realized after SARS.  

So it does not necessarily follow that this is a bioweapon. For one thing, this would likely be much more lethal if that was the case.

That doesn't mean that such a development is not a concern for the future, as this passage from the "banned report" reminds us. 

The second laboratory was ~12 kilometers from the seafood market and belonged to Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences 1, 9, 10. This laboratory reported that the Chinese horseshoe bats were natural reservoirs for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which caused the 2002-3 pandemic 9. The principle investigator participated in a project which generated a chimeric virus using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, and reported the potential for human emergence 10. A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak from the laboratory.

So, both Dr. Zengli Shi and the other, military operated lab, had, in the past, been involved in creating chimeric coronaviruses. Thus, while there is no evidence that this bug is artificial or a bioweapon, the potential is certainly there and the disruption of our society that this pathogen (which seems to kill between 1 and 4 percent of its victims) has wrought should be a warning for us all. 

For now though we need to focus on the matter at hand. Where it came from is not as important in the immediate future as how we deal with it. In the longer term though, we need to ensure that we are prepared for such occurrences moving forward and to the greatest extent possible decouple ourselves from the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Coronachan: The personification of malign Chicom influence.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 04:43 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 1083 words, total size 11 kb.

1 It's a lousy bioweapon, but it's plausible that it's a containment failure of some experiment.  The only thing we know for sure is China is asshole.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sat Apr 4 21:52:35 2020 (PiXy!)

2 "the Chinese government vehemently denies that she's dead, but can't seem to find her to refute the matter."
Sure, that seems plausible in the land of massive facial recognition.

Posted by: Rick C at Mon Apr 6 10:00:59 2020 (Iwkd4)

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