1. I know about biological warfare/biodefense. I am the first person in the world (according to publicly available literature) to have analyzed an epidemic and demonstrated that the epidemic was due to biological warfare. (1992 study of the 1978-1980 Rhodesian anthrax outbreak, published in Medicine and Global Survival, aka Physicians for Social Responsibility Quarterly (name changed), hosted by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War).
2. Prior to genetic engineering techniques being developed (1973) and widely used (since late 1970s), more ‘primitive’ means of causing mutations, with the intention of developing biological weapons, were employed. Such methods were used by the Japanese beginning in the 1930s, by the US beginning in the 1940s, and by a number of other countries. They resulted in biological weapons that were tested, well-described, and in some cases, used. Such methods were also used subsequent to the 1970s.
3. These methods can result in biowarfare agents that lack the identifiable signature of a microbial agent constructed in a lab from known RNA or DNA sequences. In fact, it would be desirable to produce such agents, since it would be difficult to prove they were deliberately constructed in a lab. Here are just a few possibilities for how one might create new, virulent mutants:
a) exposing microorganisms to chemical or radiological agents that cause high mutation rates and selecting for desired characteristics
b) passaging virus through a number of lab animals or tissue cultures
c) mixing viruses together and seeking recombinants with a new mix of virulence factors
4. Top scientists circled their wagons to protest against “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” in a statement published in The Lancet March 7. (It was published earlier online.) Their reported aim was to “stand with” public health professionals and scientists in China. Many who signed the statement have worked in biodefense. Signers include Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, and James Hughes, former director of CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases and former assistant Surgeon General.
magazine wrote an article
in support of these scientists, which included the following:
The authors of The Lancet statement note that scientists from several countries who have studied SARS-CoV-2 “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” just like many other viruses that have recently emerged in humans. “Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus,” the statement says.
Five additional scientists soon provided the “scientific evidence” to back up the natural origin claim. These 5 scientists have been affiliated with signers of the statement above, they too have worked in biodefense, and their article was published in Nature Medicine (in the print version) on March 17, 2020.
These scientists set up a straw man to knock down: they claimed that had the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 is the official name of the virus) been created in a lab: “if genetic manipulation had been performed,” then a known coronavirus backbone would have been used. But because no known backbone forms part of SARS-CoV-2, “the evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus.”
“If someone were seeking to engineer a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they would have constructed it from the backbone of a virus known to cause illness,” the report said. “But the scientists found that the SARS-CoV-2 backbone differed substantially from those of already known coronaviruses and mostly resembled related viruses found in bats and pangolins.”
Their work was then discussed by Francis Collins, the current director of the NIH.
Dr. Collins says,
“Some folks are even making outrageous claims that the new coronavirus causing the pandemic was engineered in a lab and deliberately released to make people sick. A new study debunks such claims by providing scientific evidence that this novel coronavirus arose naturally…
this study leaves little room to refute a natural origin for COVID-19…
I know that the groups of scientists who wrote these pieces in The Lancet and Nature Medicine, as well as NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, know that you don’t need genetic engineering methods to create a bioweapon. Like me, they are old, they recall a world before genetic engineering, they know the history of biowarfare, and they know the score. Why then are they participating in this charade?
Update April 29: Newsweek has been delving into “gain of function” (which means increasing the virulence of a pathogen) coronavirus research in Wuhan, China which might have contributed to the formation of SARS-CoV-2… and the interesting fact (which I posted about here) that the US government provided financial support for this research. Newsweek’s pieces were posted April 27, and 29. My other pieces questioning the origin of SARS-CoV-2 are here and here.