Like everyone else in the world, we here at The Objective Observer have been interested in this topic for quite some time. It’s only natural. After all, it’s not every day that a novel virus threatens to wipe out humanity in a global pandemic. However, we have specifically avoided this topic because it is a veritable minefield of conspiracy theory.
Side note, if Kamala is reading this article, a minefield is where landmines are located. Landmines are anti-personnel devices designed to blow things up, not land where you mine things like coal. Just here to be helpful.
In any case, the conspiracy theories are all over the place with this whole COVID-19 origin. So, it was with some small interest and a healthy dose of skepticism that a number of us watched a recent Steve Hilton video that seemed to pin the origins of COVID-19 squarely on the shoulders of research funded in part by the
United States government and even more specifically by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Dr. Fauci.
OK Steve, you big, loveable, bald-headed conspiracy nut job you, some interesting facts and evidence for sure but most of that has been out there already as far back as April 2020 and May 2020. And besides, MSN followed up Steve Hilton’s broadcast with it’s own story about what a ridiculous conspiracy theory that is. In it MSN unequivocally states:
“The idea that the virus was somehow man-made has been repeatedly debunked.”
OK, so over hyphenation aside, if the virus is not manmade then the
United States and Fauci couldn’t have funded its creation, case closed. And since MSN is the pinnacle of journalistic integrity and the gold standard in unbiased, fact-based reporting… Ahem. Yeah, we’d better click that link for “repeatedly debunked” just to be sure. Huh, imagine that, it would appear that MSN and The Objective Observer have different definitions for the word “debunked”. Turns out that the fact check on claims that COVID-19 virus are manmade is “Partly False” stating:
“We rate the claim that COVID-19 may have originated in a Chinese lab as PARTLY FALSE. Suggestions that the novel coronavirus was manmade or has been engineered for use in bioweapons in a high-security biomedical laboratory in Wuhan, China, are untrue, based on scientific research since the virus began its global spread. Beyond that, however, investigations continue into where COVID-19 began, and no conclusions can be drawn, nor has evidence been presented, that definitively explains the pathogen’s origin. Circumstantial evidence suggests the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan lab due to a lapse in safety measures.”
In short, the manmade claim is discredited based on the assumption that if engineered for military use it would be based on a much more deadly version of the coronavirus. But what if military application was not the origin of the engineered virus?
Shit, here we go.
Turns out that Steve Hilton subsequently released another video with even more interesting facts and information. Crap, we had better go fact check this dude. We start with the research paper on COVID-19, A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) released on January 20th, 2020. This paper says that COVID-19 most closely resembles a sample in their labs, RaTG13:
“—for all sequences—RaTG13 is the closest relative of 2019-nCoV and they form a distinct lineage from other SARSr-CoVs”
OK, so COVID-19 seems to come from bats. But what about this RaTG13, what do we know about it? Well, we can look it up on GenBank. The paper cited above seems to be the first mention of it. However, there is an odd note:
/note=”former lab designation: Bat coronavirus Ra4991″
What about this Ra4991? What do we know about it? Well, it seems to first appear in another WIV paper, Coexistence of multiple coronaviruses in several bat colonies in an abandoned mineshaft from 2016. Apparently, in 2012 six miners from Mojiang County, Yunnan Province, China, were cleaning out a mineshaft of bat droppings and contracted some weird illness. Three of the six died. The illness was not transferred to any of their relatives or acquaintances or to hospital staff that treated them. Meaning that this virus variant was apparently not transmissible between humans. This led to a WIV study of the bats in the mineshaft conducted in 2012-2013 resulting in the research paper, which states:
“From the 138 positive samples, 152 RdRp partial coronavirus sequences (approximately 400 bp) were obtained, indicating co-infections of two viruses. Two sequences (HiBtCoV/3740-2 and RaBtCoV/4991) were homologous to betacoronaviruses, all other 150 sequences were homologous to alphacoronaviruses”
OK, so this RaTG13 virus in the WIV seems to have originally been this RaBtCoV/4991 variant that came from the Yunnan Province of China. For those of you who are a little light on Chinese geography, the distance between Yunnan and Wuhan is about 1,000 miles. Thus, we can conclude that the WIV had this RaTG13 virus in their possession around the 2013/2014 time frame.
OK, that’s all terribly interesting about historical information regarding the closest phylogenic matches to COVID-19 and perhaps lends some credence to the idea that COVID-19 is an escapee of the WIV, but how does the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Dr. Fauci come into the picture?
Well, perhaps coincidently, it turns out that in 2014 the NIH was funding “gain of function” research into bat coronavirus. The project was 1R01AI110964-01. The project’s abstract states the following:
“The three specific aims of this project are to:
- 1. Assess CoV spillover potential at high risk human-wildlife interfaces in China. This will include quantifying he nature and frequency of contact people have with bats and other wildlife; serological and molecular screening of people working in wet markets and highly exposed to wildlife; screening wild-caught and market sampled bats from 30+ species for CoVs using molecular assays; and genomic characterization and isolation of novel CoVs.
- 2. Develop predictive models of bat CoV emergence risk and host range. A combined modeling approach will include phylogenetic analyses of host receptors and novel CoV genes (including functional receptor binding domains); a fused ecological and evolutionary model to predict host-range and viral sharing; and mathematical matrix models to examine evolutionary and transmission dynamics.
- 3. Test predictions of CoV inter-species transmission. Predictive models of host range (i.e. emergence potential) will be tested experimentally using reverse genetics, pseudovirus and receptor binding assays, and virus infection experiments across a range of cell cultures from different species and humanized mice.“
Wait, WTF is gain of function research? Gain of function research is a field of medical research focused on viruses “accelerating mutation processes to adapt their transmissibility, virulence and antigenicity, to better predict emerging infectious diseases and develop vaccines.”.
Essentially, you bioengineer a super bug using genetic engineering or the splicing of two or more viruses together to create a new, novel “chimera” virus, release it in a lab full of mice or human cells and study how things get infected and die in order to learn something about how to combat a global pandemic.
Holy shit, was the WIV really doing that kind of crazy dangerous shit on bat corona viruses? Apparently they were according to the WIV research paper published on November 30th, 2017, Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus. The funding for the paper specifically cites NIH project 1R01AI110964-01 and specifically speaks about its successes in using gain of function techniques to adapt bat coronaviruses to be transmissible to and “work” in humans…in the lab.
“Our previous studies demonstrated the capacity of both WIV1 and WIV16 to use ACE2 orthologs for cell entry and to efficiently replicate in human cells [17,18]. In this study, we confirmed the use of human ACE2 as receptor of two novel SARSr-CoVs by using chimeric viruses with the WIV1 backbone replaced with the S gene of the newly identified SARSr-CoVs. Rs7327’s S protein varied from that of WIV1 and WIV16 at three aa residues in the receptor-binding motif, including one contact residue (aa 484) with human ACE2.”
Just so we are clear, a “chimeric virus” is a manmade virus created by combining two or more other viruses together. And the “S protein” is what is called the “spike” protein, and this protein controls what types of cells the virus can invade (only bat cells, only human cells or both human and bat cells for example). But, no way, the NIH didn’t actually fund that shit. Oops, apparently so:
OK, fine, but surely that does not implicate Dr. Fauci. Shit, apparently so:
“In 1968, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In 1974, he became head of the Clinical Physiology Section, LCI, and in 1980 was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. In 1984, he became director of NIAID, a position he still holds as of 2021.” – Wikipedia, Anthony Fauci
Oh, hmm, apparently Dr. Fauci is a big believer in gain of function research, considering it “worth the risk“.
Alright, we need to cut this out, we are clearly falling down a rabbit hole filled with conspiratorial landmines, let’s put together a timeline of everything so that we can disprove this whole conspiracy notion once and for all.
- 1984 – Dr. Fauci becomes director of NIAID at the NIH
- December 30th, 2011 – Dr. Fauci writes a Washington Post op-ed promoting gain of function research
- 2012 – Chinese miners get sick in bat infested mineshaft
- 2012-2013 – WIV field research at mineshaft collects 152 variants of bat coronavirus including Ra4991
- May 27th, 2014 – NIH awards funding for gain of function research into bat coronaviruses, project 1R01AI110964-01
- October 2014 – Obama administration ends gain of function research and asks that all current projects end
- May 2015 – $133,000 payment from NIH to Wuhan for project 1R01AI110964-01
- February 2016 – Research paper released from WIV identifying Ra4991 as likely culprit in miners’ illness
- May 2016 – $133,000 payment from NIH to Wuhan for project 1R01AI110964-01
- May 2017 – $133,000 payment from NIH to Wuhan for project 1R01AI110964-01
- November 2017 – Progress report from WIV regarding successes in using gain of function techniques to adapt bat coronaviruses to be transmissible and work in humans
- December 2017 -Gain of function research reinstated in
UnitedStates. That’s $399,000 paid to WIV for a gain of function research project while it was “banned” by the Obama administration.
- May 2018 – $133,000 payment from NIH to Wuhan for project 1R01AI110964-01
- May 2019 – $66,500 payment from NIH to Wuhan for project 1R01AI110964-01
- December 12th, 2019 – Start of COVID-19 outbreak as officially reported by China
- January 20th, 2020 – Paper released tying COVID-19 to WIV lab virus RaTG13, which is really Ra4991
- May 28th, 2020 – GM Watch, “Lab Escape Theory of SARS-CoV-2 Origin Gaining Scientific Support”
- June 4th, 2020 – Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “Did the SARS-CoV-2 Virus Arise from a Bat Coronavirus Research Program in a Chinese Laboratory? Very Possibly”
- July 4th, 2020 – The Times (UK), “Revealed: Seven-Year Coronavirus Trail from Mine Deaths to a Wuhan Lab”
- May 17th, 2020 – Newsweek, “Scientists Shouldn’t Rule Out Lab As Source of Coronavirus, New Study Says”
- June 2nd, 2020 – Independent Science News, “The Case Is Building That COVID-19 Had a Lab Origin”
- June 10th, 2020 – Taiwan News, “Norwegian virologist claims coronavirus is ‘chimera’ Made in Chinese Lab”
- July 13th, 2020 – Scientific paper The Evidence which Suggests that This Is No Naturally Evolved Virus published
- January 15th, 2021 – Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.”
OK, so if we are looking at this objectively, we can’t really rule out that the virus was manmade after all. We certainly wouldn’t call the virus being manmade “debunked”. That said, we also can’t definitively say that it is manmade either. And, the only way to tie COVID-19’s creation to funding from the NIH and Dr. Fauci would be if Ra4991/RaTG13 really is the progenitor of COVID-19 and underwent gain of function research at WIV as part of the 1R01AI110964-01 project and this ended up creating COVID-19 and subsequently escaping the lab. Let’s be absolutely crystal clear, that’s a lot of hoops to jump through in order to arrive at that conclusion. See, this is the minefield of conjecture that is the origins of COVID-19.
Perhaps one day we will learn the truth about the origins of COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) is in Wuhan right now and one of the WHO investigators, Peter Daszak, clearly states that there is no evidence of the virus coming from the WIV. Wait a minute, Peter Daszak? Where have we seen that name before? Oh yeah, Peter Daszak was the project leader for project 1R01AI110964-01. Jesus H. Christ, this rabbit hole runs deep! Can you say “conflict of interest”?!? OK, well the odds of us ever learning the true origins of COVID-19 pretty much just flew right out the window.
Well, we here at The Objective Observer have had enough of rabbit holes filled with conspiratorial landmines for one day. We will close with pondering the lesson of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a novel that warns of the dangers of science pushing the limits in order to achieve fantastic results without fully thinking through the consequences. Perhaps one day Dr. Frankenstein’s monster will finally be given a name, COVID-19.