For reasons we might never find out, we’re finally allowed to blame China and not be censored. Our Masters might pretend the three sick people of Wuhan in 2019 made for a compelling reason to establish a doubt is reasonable, and to stop censoring “the lab theory,” but I wasn’t born yesterday.

The sudden freedom is even more mysterious than the virus

I was noting on May 27 that Facebook decided to stop censoring the post claiming SARS-CoC-2 was man-made (here, chapter 17._The puzzled censors), but as much as I was surprised, I couldn’t be impressed. I didn’t see it coming, the same way I couldn’t understand the interest around Dr. Fauci’s e-mails. People fall for all kind of red herrings. It wasn’t a sign of a democratic opening, nor a proof that “they” finally wanted to know the truth. “Someone” might have a greater plan, which can’t be wrong as long as China loses face, but I’m only going to be a spectator to that war.

The good news remains: we’re free to blame China. I can only hope Ars Technica will finally comply too, and they won’t consider anymore a reference to chopsticks as a racial slur:

Although, “they” aren’t good at coordinating things. This month we were supposed to celebrate the LGBTQ month, as Comrade First-Secretary Biden has ordered us. Photo courtesy of DS Hathaway:

What I’m concerned of is a possible anti-Chinese wave of violence in the US. Americans are dumbshits more often than not, and they’re violent.

Back to inquiring on Wuhan

Oh, what are we going to do with so much freedom, beyond blaming the Chinese for the upcoming 4th wave of the pandemic? Well, I stopped watching Rai’s Report (e.g. Affari di Covid, May 31), but it looks like they insist on putting PresaDiretta’s investigations on YouTube. On March 29 they had Sars-Cov2: anatomia di un complotto, two months later they added a version with English subtitles (there was another one for a couple of days, later replaced by Rai):

Complotto and conspiracy are misnomers: it’s a cover-up, a hushed-up story, a whitewashing of the Chinese mega-fuckup. The conflicts of interests have been simply ignored, because what could the sheeple do?

According to Rai, in Wuhan there are at least nine institutions to have laboratories with biosafety levels 2, 3, and 4 and that are (or were) doing research on coronaviruses using bats or other animals, although I could only count seven in their report:

WHO to Wuhan virology labs: “did the virus come out of here?” Answer: “No.” “Well, OK, thanks, we’re leaving…”

You should know Alina Chan from Rai’s documentary, so here’s two relevant threads of hers (open each tweet in a new browser tab to see all the tweets from a thread):

Pay attention to the various (A to F) possibilities, including combinations of them!

👉 The funniest thing is this one: it appears that the whole lab-made SARS-CoV-2 issue has blown up due to a random inquisitive Indian in his late 20s from West Bengal (not a scientist!) who calls himself TheSeeker268. He even used Google Translate to read Chinese scientific papers! How Amateur Sleuths Broke the Wuhan Lab Story and Embarrassed the Media:

The people responsible for uncovering this evidence are not journalists or spies or scientists. They are a group of amateur sleuths, with few resources except curiosity and a willingness to spend days combing the internet for clues. Throughout the pandemic, about two dozen or so correspondents, many anonymous, working independently from many different countries, have uncovered obscure documents, pieced together the information, and explained it all in long threads on Twitter—in a kind of open-source, collective brainstorming session that was part forensic science, part citizen journalism, and entirely new. They call themselves DRASTIC, for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19.

For a long time, DRASTIC’s discoveries stayed confined to the strange world of Twitter, known only to a few nerdy followers. The sleuths ran into a fair number of dead ends, got into the occasional spat with scientists who disagreed with their interpretations, and produced a firehose of reporting. Gradually, the quality of their research and the rigor of their thinking drew a larger following, including many professional scientists and journalists.

Thanks to DRASTIC, we now know that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had an extensive collection of coronaviruses gathered over many years of foraging in the bat caves, and that many of them—including the closest known relative to the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2—came from a mineshaft where three men died from a suspected SARS-like disease in 2012. We know that the WIV was actively working with these viruses, using inadequate safety protocols, in ways that could have triggered the pandemic, and that the lab and Chinese authorities have gone to great lengths to conceal these activities. We know that the first cases appeared weeks before the outbreak at the Huanan wet market that was once thought to be ground zero.

👉 Dr Monali C. Rahalkar and Dr Rahul Bahulikar: How an Indian scientist couple worked to trace origin, course of COVID-19:

We also knew that Shi’s lab had collected a bat coronavirus, RaTG13, that was 96.2 per cent similar to Sars-CoV-2.

Shi had described Sars-CoV-2 for the first time in a paper in Nature in 2020. But it did not mention RaTG13 as an actual virus, and it seemed more like a bat fecal sample. No detailed information of this first cousin of Sars-CoV-2 was given—except that it was a sample that her group had collected in Yunnan in 2013.

We spent two weeks getting more information about RaTG13. A preprint published by Dean Bengston in April 2020 mentioned that this virus had an older name (Ra4991), and therefore, a reference. We found the reference where Ra4991 was mentioned.

In 2013, WIV made an expedition to an abandoned mineshaft in Mojiang, Yunnan. The mine had several types of bats in large numbers, especially horseshoe bats. Horseshoe bats are the natural reservoir of Sars and Sars-CoV-2.

WIV had found that only one beta coronavirus, Ra4991, came from the intermediate horseshoe bat, whose scientific name is Rhinolophus affinis. “That’s how the Ra in RaTG13 could have come from!” we guessed.

And we recollected that, in her interview, the Bat Woman had talked about a mineshaft in Mojiang where a lethal pneumonia-like disease had occurred in six miners in 2012. A diverse group of coronaviruses was discovered in the mine following the outbreak.

We found a third reference for the Mojiang mine in the Science Magazine news published in 2014. It said that in April 2012, a pneumonia-like illness had occurred in six miners who were cleaning bat faeces from a copper mineshaft in Mojiang, killing three of them. The last clue confirmed what we thought: Yes! This could be the same mine where WIV had picked up RaTG13.

When we found the connection between the Mojiang mine, the miners’ pneumonia and RaTG13, we decided to publish a small preprint to disclose this discovery to the scientific world. We also communicated our findings to Nature in the ‘Matters Arising’ category.

The day we published our preprint, an email popped up from an unknown person. His Twitter name was @TheSeeker268. The Seeker’s email said: “I also wish to bring your kind attention to the post-analysis on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment process of the six Mojiang mineshaft patients.” And he attached a tweet with a link to a master’s thesis in the Chinese language and a crude translation of the same.

The Seeker had found the thesis on the cnki.net website, which is the official website for master’s and PhD theses in China and, therefore, considered to be a valid source. We translated the thesis using google translation. A professional translation is now available online thanks to a research agency (bioscienceresource.org).

We collected the following information from the thesis: In early April 2012, in a place called Tongguan in Mojiang, four men were hired for cleaning bat faeces in an abandoned copper mine. The layer of bat waste must have been thick, and probably the workers worked without any protection such as gloves or masks. The oldest of them was 62, and the others were in their forties.

After working for about ten days, they had cough, fever and breathlessness. And, after 14 days, they were so sick that they could not work anymore. All of them consulted local doctors or hospitals but eventually landed up in a sophisticated hospital in Kunming. All had raging fevers, cough, body pain and breathing difficulty. Eventually, most of them needed ventilators.

As this batch of four became ill, two younger men were hired for the same job. But, after working for four or five days, they came down with a running fever and cough. These two also landed in the same hospital.

After ten days, the oldest man breathed his last. He had severe pneumonia and acute respiratory stress, and his condition degraded day by day. The reason for the death was cardiac arrest. The second man died in June 2012. He had the same symptoms. The two young men recovered and were discharged.

The doctors were puzzled by this mysterious illness. China already had the experience of Sars. They knew Sars had originated in bats, passed through the intermediate hosts, civet cats, and then jumped to people. Did this illness, too, do so?

👉 Have another long feature, in Vanity Fair: The Lab-Leak Theory: Inside the Fight to Uncover COVID-19’s Origins:

Gilles Demaneuf is a data scientist with the Bank of New Zealand in Auckland. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome ten years ago, and believes it gives him a professional advantage. “I’m very good at finding patterns in data, when other people see nothing,” he says.

Early last spring, as cities worldwide were shutting down to halt the spread of COVID-19, Demaneuf, 52, began reading up on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. The prevailing theory was that it had jumped from bats to some other species before making the leap to humans at a market in China, where some of the earliest cases appeared in late 2019. The Huanan wholesale market, in the city of Wuhan, is a complex of markets selling seafood, meat, fruit, and vegetables. A handful of vendors sold live wild animals—a possible source of the virus.

That wasn’t the only theory, though. Wuhan is also home to China’s foremost coronavirus research laboratory, housing one of the world’s largest collections of bat samples and bat-virus strains. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally. After SARS, bats became a major subject of study for virologists around the world, and Shi became known in China as “Bat Woman” for her fearless exploration of their caves to collect samples. More recently, Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have performed high-profile experiments that made pathogens more infectious. Such research, known as “gain-of-function,” has generated heated controversy among virologists.

To some people, it seemed natural to ask whether the virus causing the global pandemic had somehow leaked from one of the WIV’s labs—a possibility Shi has strenuously denied.

On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China” and asserted: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

The Lancet statement effectively ended the debate over COVID-19’s origins before it began. To Gilles Demaneuf, following along from the sidelines, it was as if it had been “nailed to the church doors,” establishing the natural origin theory as orthodoxy. “Everyone had to follow it. Everyone was intimidated. That set the tone.”

The statement struck Demaneuf as “totally nonscientific.” To him, it seemed to contain no evidence or information. And so he decided to begin his own inquiry in a “proper” way, with no idea of what he would find.

Demaneuf began searching for patterns in the available data, and it wasn’t long before he spotted one. China’s laboratories were said to be airtight, with safety practices equivalent to those in the U.S. and other developed countries. But Demaneuf soon discovered that there had been four incidents of SARS-related lab breaches since 2004, two occuring at a top laboratory in Beijing. Due to overcrowding there, a live SARS virus that had been improperly deactivated, had been moved to a refrigerator in a corridor. A graduate student then examined it in the electron microscope room and sparked an outbreak.

Demaneuf published his findings in a Medium post, titled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: a review of SARS Lab Escapes.” By then, he had begun working with another armchair investigator, Rodolphe de Maistre. A laboratory project director based in Paris who had previously studied and worked in China, de Maistre was busy debunking the notion that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a “laboratory” at all. In fact, the WIV housed numerous laboratories that worked on coronaviruses. Only one of them has the highest biosafety protocol: BSL-4, in which researchers must wear full-body pressurized suits with independent oxygen. Others are designated BSL-3 and even BSL-2, roughly as secure as an American dentist’s office.

Having connected online, Demaneuf and de Maistre began assembling a comprehensive list of research laboratories in China. As they posted their findings on Twitter, they were soon joined by others around the world. Some were cutting-edge scientists at prestigious research institutes. Others were science enthusiasts. Together, they formed a group called DRASTIC, short for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19. Their stated objective was to solve the riddle of COVID-19’s origin.

Under the circumstances, Dr. Fauci seems late to the show: Fauci urges China to release medical records of Wuhan lab workers:

The records in question concern three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology who reportedly became sick in November 2019, and six miners who fell ill after entering a bat cave in 2012. Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology subsequently visited the cave to take samples from the bats. Three of the miners died.

“I would like to see the medical records of the three people who are reported to have got sick in 2019,” Fauci said. “Did they really get sick, and if so, what did they get sick with?

“The same with the miners who got ill years ago … What do the medical records of those people say? Was there [a] virus in those people? What was it? It is entirely conceivable that the origins of Sars-Cov-2 was in that cave and either started spreading naturally or went through the lab.”

🙁 And, to my regret, everyone seems to have forgotten about Nicholas Wade: to me, it’s his revelations that made me consider this scenario! I mentioned The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?, The Stakes of Finding COVID-19’s Origins and Did Covid leak from a Wuhan lab, after all? in chapter 10._The conspiracy theory that might be true! in my previous post on the matter.

On a positive note…

…Donald Trump just said, “all nations should work together to present China a bill for a minimum of $10 trillion to compensate for the damage they’ve caused.”

Who’s the country everyone loves?

Now even Biden had to admit that Trump was right: a classified report on the genomic makeup of SARS-CoV-2 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded in May 2020 that the virus may have leaked from the Chinese lab in Wuhan (WSJ):

A report on the origins of Covid-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis claiming the virus leaked from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, according to people familiar with the classified document.

The study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was drawn on by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins during the final months of the Trump administration.

It is attracting fresh interest in Congress now that President Biden has ordered that U.S. intelligence agencies report to him within weeks on how the virus emerged. Mr. Biden said that U.S. intelligence has focused on two scenarios—whether the coronavirus came from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.

People familiar with the study said that it was prepared by Lawrence Livermore’s “Z Division,” which is its intelligence arm. Lawrence Livermore has considerable expertise on biological issues. Its assessment drew on genomic analysis of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, they said.

The cherry on the cake

Did you know of Zhou Yusen, the Chinese scientist who filed a patent for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on February 24, 2020, then presumably died in May 2020? The Australian had a sensationalist headline: US paid Chinese People’s Liberation Army to engineer coronaviruses. Excerpts from the otherwise poorly written, tabloid-style article:

… decorated military scientist Zhou Yusen … was the first to file a patent for a Covid-19 vaccine on February 24 last year, according to documents obtained by The Weekend Australian.

This was only five weeks after China admitted there was human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Zhou is listed as the lead inventor on the patent application lodged by the “Institute of Military Medicine, Academy of Military Sciences of the PLA”.

Nikolai Petrovsky, a medical researcher at Flinders University who has been developing a Covid-19 vaccine, said that while it was technically possible to have a vaccine in this time frame, it ­appeared to be a “remarkable achievement”.

He said it left open the possibility the Chinese scientists were working on a vaccine before authorities publicly admitted there was a coronavirus outbreak.

“This is something we have never seen achieved before, raising the question of whether this work may have started much ­earlier,” Professor Petrovsky said.

In an extraordinary twist, Five Eyes intelligence agencies are ­investigating the unexplained death of PLA scientist Zhou in May 2020 as part of their probe into the origins of Covid-19.

While he was an award-­winning military scientist, there were no reports paying tribute to his life. His death was only mentioned in passing in a Chinese-media report in July and at the end of a December scientific paper. Both had the word ­“deceased” in brackets after his name.

The Weekend Australian has established that his death has been treated as unusual and is an early line of inquiry under the new Five Eyes probe into the origins of Covid-19 launched by Joe Biden.

Other references to the issue, in Daily Mail (on MSN), in Swarajya Magazine (on Yahoo News India), in Agenzia Italia.

Vectors by Vecteezy

Bonus link

We have this saying from Publilius Syrus: “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” A better equivalent is the Romanian saying, “După război mulți viteji se arată,” which literally means “After the war many brave men show up.” The sea isn’t calm, and the war hasn’t even started, but it’s easy to find “theoretical proofs” that SARS-CoV-2 has been engineered, now that the censorship on this idea has been revoked.

So here we have Steven Quay, MD and founder of Atossa Genetics, now Atossa Therapeutics, and Richard Muller, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California Berkeley: The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak: The Covid-19 pathogen has a genetic footprint that has never been observed in a natural coronavirus.

Why didn’t anyone say this earlier? I suppose they were too busy supporting the official thesis, or maybe they hated Trump so much, that every single time Trump said “China!”, they felt compelled to say “Not China!”.