Researchers draw attention to hazards posed by biosafety labs and "gain-of-function" research
An excellent summary of evidence suggesting the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic may have originated in laboratory in Wuhan, China, has been published by “an anonymous group of researchers” who claim not to be “affiliated with any company, nation state, or organization”.
The document focuses on evidence implicating two potential culprits: the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Both are known to have been working on bat coronaviruses that are closely related to SARS-CoV-2.
The authors write, "The goal of this document is to examine evidence that may prove that (1) the SARS-CoV-2 virus was present at a biolaboratory in Wuhan, China, and (2) the SARS-CoV-2 virus was introduced into the greater Wuhan population by an infected lab worker or animal. These claims from this point on will be referred to as Claim 1 and Claim 2.
"This document does not attempt to provide a concrete conclusion on whether either claim is factually true. Rather, it examines the probability that each claim is true to allow the reader to make his or her own conclusions. While either claim cannot be irrevocably proven true, an attempt has been made to ensure the evidence used to support these claims is as factual as possible."
The authors do not state or imply that the virus was deliberately engineered as a bioweapon or released as one. They are also keen to distance themselves from the anti-Chinese sentiment that is being whipped up in some sectors of the media around the lab escape hypothesis, calling this trend "racist".
The document does, however, present convincing evidence that the virus could have been the product of laboratory "gain-of-function" studies.
Gain-of-function studies are intended to make pathogenic viruses more virulent or more transmissible. They are often carried out for vaccine or therapeutics development, or for "biodefence" reasons. The authors state that one of their aims is "to further spread global awareness of the hazards posed by biolaboratories, in particular gain-of-function studies, and proximal location to urban areas".
These types of studies have been coming in for increasing criticism from scientists and others for several years, due to their ability to result in pathogen escapes.
The new document is extensively sourced and professionally written in a way that makes it easy for the layperson to understand the arguments. It clearly forms part of an ongoing investigation, as the authors periodically post notices of evidence gaps and ask for readers to contribute further evidence.
We are publishing the Conclusion to the new document below because it summarizes the arguments well – but do read the full document at the original URL to see all the evidence and sources cited.
Evidence SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a biological laboratory in Wuhan, China
Published April 16, 2020; Updated May 2, 2020
Up until this point, we have been presenting each of our claims in a vacuum. Let us put them together:
At some point in late 2019, many people who visited the The Huanan Seafood Market fell ill due to a new disease. To date the origin of this disease is unknown.
This market is less than 9 miles away from The Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, which:
* Collaborated with French authorities to construct its BSL-4 lab, however the company meant to inspect its safety standards bailed out of the project and French scientists who were supposed to work there were never sent there
* Developed chimeric SARS-like coronaviruses
* Conducted ’dangerous’ gain-of-function research on the SARS-CoV-1 virus
* Established a 96.2% match with SARS-CoV-2 and a virus they sampled from a cave over 1,000 miles away from Wuhan
* Injected live piglets with bat coronaviruses as recently as July 2019: Paper 5, Paper 7, Paper 8
* Tested its disinfecting procedures with a bat coronavirus
* Published a paper on a close descendant of SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, in November 2019
* Collected bat samples with improper PPE even after a researcher was bitten by one
* Was hiring researchers to work on bat coronaviruses as recently as November 2019
* The United States State Department claimed had ’inadequate safety’
* Deleted a press release detailing a U.S. State Department visit
* Has not provided concrete evidence that one of their prior researchers is still alive, despite rumors on Chinese social media that they are "Patient Zero", despite one of their other top researchers coming out and swearing the virus had nothing to do with her lab
* Had a researcher accuse the director of the Institute of selling infected lab animals to vendors on Weibo (with pictures of herself and her employee ID included); afterwards, she claimed she was ’hacked’
* Had staff trained by a Chinese-Canadian scientist at Canada’s only BSL-4 lab who has now been under RCMP investigation for nearly a year following a shipment of Ebola and Henipahvirus from that lab to a lab in China
The market is also less than 3 miles away from the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control, which:
* Was actually already accused of being the source of the outbreak from a now-withdrawn academic paper from a notable Chinese scholar at the South China University of China
* Once kept horseshoe bats, a known reservoir of SARS-CoV-1, within its labs
* Once performed surgery on live animals within its labs
* Had a researcher who quarantined on two separate occasions; once upon coming into contact with bat blood after being ’attacked’ and another time when he was urinated upon in a cave while wearing inadequate personal protection
Let us also look at the actions of China before and after the outbreak, which:
* Had the SARS-CoV-1 virus escape from a lab in Beijing, twice
* Compensated families after 27 students were infected with Brucella bacteria during an anatomy course in 2011
* Is currently investigating a similar Brucella outbreak amongst "over 100 Students and Staff" in December 2019
* Issued bio-safety guidelines to ’fix chronic management loopholes at virus labs’
* Arrested a ’top academician’ for illegally selling lab animals and ’experimental milk’ in January 2020
* Censored local medical professionals who attempted to report the outbreak
* Ordered local labs to destroy any samples of the new virus
* Withheld the virus’s genome nearly a week after they sequenced it
* Continually insisted on no human-to-human transmission
* Launched the largest national quarantine in human history once containment failed
* Issued an order preventing the unauthorized publishing of any academic material related to SARS-CoV-2
* Allowed a Party spokesperson to accuse the United States Army of intentionally bringing SARS-CoV-2 to Wuhan
* Is continuing to refuse an independent investigation into the outbreak origins and threatened Australia with boycotts if they investigated
Also in January 2020, the United States Department of Justice arrested two Chinese nationals and the Chair of the "Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University" for allegedly receiving illegal payments from China, "acting as an agent of a foreign government," and "attempting to smuggle 21 vials of biological research to China."
Back to the market: the The Huanan Seafood Market didn’t even have bats for sale, and most bats species in Wuhan would be hibernating at the time of outbreak. It was reported that 34% of cases had no contact with the market, and ’No epidemiological link was found between the first patient and later cases’.
If an infected animal was indeed the culprit, why did it fail to infect a single person outside of the market? It could not have been infected at the market, because there were no bats that could serve as sources of infection. So, where were all the infected people outside of Wuhan by the time SARS-CoV-2 started spreading in the market?
We hope that this document adequately addressed each claim with what evidence is available and fulfilled its secondary responsibility of educating you on biolaboratory safety. By now, we hope you understand that these claims are not impossible; they are in fact more than likely.
We may never be certain of the truth. What we are certain of, however, is that these claims shouldn’t be discounted, and far more research must be done to disprove either one.
Our work as a global community must continue.