[For updates, go to end of article.]
After two brief statements, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a renegade post-doc virologist from Hong Kong School of Public Health (& WHO Reference Lab), has finally come forth with detailed scientific arguments, re: “lab-engineering” of The Virus. DailyMail UK has a fairly decent background story.
Yan claimed she was one of the very first people outside PRC to be alerted to SARS2/COVID. She was asked by her bosses at HKU to acquire inside details from her own network contacts in Wuhan (her degrees are from PRC schools, she speaks Mandarin), hinting that she had blockbuster revelations yet to come. She point blank called the Chinese CDC out for covering up knowledge of human-to-human transmission in the earliest days of the outbreak.
It wasn’t clear how much she was being “handled” by US authorities in the midst of Cold War-level claims / counter-claims around the #WuhanWhodunnit (as we fondly call it).
Her appearance added fuel to the fire.
Here is one line from her paper:
These transformations have then staged the SARSCoV-2 virus to eventually become a highly-transmissible, onset-hidden, lethal, sequelae-unclear, and massively disruptive pathogen.
That verbiage is entirely in-line with the rhetoric of public health authorities, WHO, CDC, et al. (Yan claims this is actually the first of TWO reports, by the way.)
Just to be clear, the paper has not been peer-reviewed, nor published in a journal, it sits on Zenodo, an open pre-print server.
Here’s a graphic outlining those “transformations”:
The paper is titled:
Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route With co-authors Shu Kang, Jie Guan, Shanchang Hu (Shu Kang is author of NerdHasPower blog, one of the earlier proponents of the lab-modified thesis; the others lack stated affiliations, but may be employees of the organization below).
As a point of contact, it provides an email at the Rule of Law Society/Foundation – an anti-PRC NGO that prominently features, yes, Steve Bannon, multiple times on the home-page. The organization seems to be funded by Chinese millionaire, Miles Guo.
The geopolitical upshot seems to be that the PRC military labs were involved – not Dr. Shi Zheng Li at Wuhan Institute of Virology (“WIV”) — as most speculation has alleged so far, inspired by Li’s renown in bat coronaviruses. And no doubt that is why Rule of Law is happy to host Dr. Yan.
Although “bat-lady” ShengLi Zhi had worked through, and published, many if not all of the technical steps required, Yan insinuates it would be have been “too obvious” for her to use one of the publicly inventoried viruses in the WIV library – imputing a deceit on somebody’s part. Which seems like a weirdly slanted statement for an otherwise highly technical paper.
The key thing here is that this supports one set of allegations out there that the CCP, or some parts thereof (?), intentionally released the virus — presumably to cripple its geopolitical competitors? — while prepared to “take the hit” to its own economy. That scenario is supposed to explain the rapid, draconian lockdowns, which then became the template for Iran, and Italy, and many other governments to follow.
Both sides were collaborating in what arguably amounts to Dual-Use Research.
Look, nobody knows for sure how the virus originated.
However, the analyses arguing it was lab-processed, at least to some degree via “serial passage in animals”, are stacking up. (More recent reports that the virus was already in circulation in fall 2019 complicate things further. There are also plenty of shenigans with Fort Detrick closures and interceptions of Chinese scientists with mystery vials at borders – Charlie Lieber’s nanotech research at Wuhan University, etc.)
The moral of the story, by the way, is this:
Pathogen-Gain-of-Function-Research needs to be blown open to the public, and global livestreaming fora need to happen, to give humanity a voice in this extremely dangerous realm of science. (Just to be clear, much gain-of-function research is not performed with pathogens. The problem is in making pathogens stronger.) This controversy over SARS2 presents an absolutely key moment to raise these issues, whatever the logistical reality of the #Whodunnit.
For geeks, Yan identifies two bat coronavirus strains she believes were used as “backbones / templates” for the genetic engineering of the spike protein, furin cleavage site, and other aspects of the viruses replication machinery. (Strains ZC45 and/or ZXC21, just in case you were curious!)
Much of the other recent speculation and detective work online has been focused instead on the RATG13 strain, which has been linked with the injury of 6 mine workers in Mojiang Province, or alternately is believed to be simply an entirely fake genome and some kind of decoy.
However, the lockdown panic can also equally be explained if it was an accidental release from a known CV “species”. (Personally, we hope this is the case, but variants are possible too.)
It shows the capabilities and the track record were all there — which had already been shown by a handful of other reports.
A lot of Yan’s arguments cover similar ground as other studies, zeroing on in the spike protein, furin-cleavage site, and ACE2 receptors. Such features are prominently expressed in mammals, and humans, lending the virus greater infectiousness than other bat coronaviruses.
Specialists will have to go through the paper to parse Yan’s genetic analyses. Our impression is that it sets out clear arguments why the virus probably wasn’t zoonotic, and a step-by-step method by which the virus could have been created. It doesn’t provide any direct, definitive “forensic”-level evidence, contrary to Yan’s statements on TV.
Evidence presented in this part reveals that certain aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 genome are extremely difficult to reconcile to being a result of natural evolution. The alternative theory we suggest is that the virus may have been created by using ZC45/ZXC21 bat coronavirus(es) as the backbone and/or template. The Spike protein, especially the RBM within it, should have been artificially manipulated, upon which the virus has acquired the ability to bind hACE2 and infect humans. This is supported by the finding of a unique restriction enzyme digestion site at either end of the RBM. An unusual furin-cleavage site may have been introduced and inserted at the S1/S2 junction of the Spike protein, which contributes to the increased virulence and pathogenicity of the virus. These transformations have then staged the SARSCoV-2 virus to eventually become a highly-transmissible, onset-hidden, lethal, sequelae-unclear, and massively disruptive pathogen. Evidently, the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 could have been created through gain-of-function manipulations at the WIV is significant and should be investigated thoroughly and independently.
To engineer and create a human-targeting coronavirus, they would have to pick a bat coronavirus as the template/backbone. This can be conveniently done because many research labs have been actively
collecting bat coronaviruses over the past two decades. However, this template virus ideally should not be one from Dr. Zhengli Shi’s collections, considering that she is widely known to have been
engaged in gain-of-function studies on coronaviruses. Therefore, ZC45 and/or ZXC21, novel bat coronaviruses discovered and owned by military laboratories33, would be suitable as the template/backbone. It is also possible that these military laboratories had discovered other closely related viruses from the same location and kept some unpublished. Therefore, the actual template could be ZC45, or ZXC21, or a close relative of them. The postulated pathway described below would be the same regardless of which one of the three was the actual template.
Here are the two first video appearances of Yan:
Here’s how the paper closes, draw your own conclusions:
Motives aside, the following facts about SARS-CoV-2 are well-supported:
If it was a laboratory product, the most critical element in its creation, the backbone/template virus (ZC45/ZXC21), is owned by military research laboratories.
The genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 has likely undergone genetic engineering, through which the virus has gained the ability to target humans with enhanced virulence and infectivity.
The characteristics and pathogenic effects of SARS-CoV-2 are unprecedented. The virus is highly transmissible, onset-hidden, multi-organ targeting, sequelae-unclear, lethal, and associated with
various symptoms and complications.
SARS-CoV-2 caused a world-wide pandemic, taking hundreds of thousands of lives and shutting down the global economy. It has a destructive power like no other. Judging from the evidence that we and others have gathered, we believe that finding the origin of SARS-CoV-2 should involve an independent audit of the WIV P4 laboratories and the laboratories of their close collaborators. Such an investigation should have taken place long ago and should not be delayed any further.
We also note that in the publication of the chimeric virus SHC015-MA15 in 2015, the attribution of funding of Zhengli Shi by the NIAID was initially left out. It was reinstated in the publication in 2016 in a corrigendum, perhaps after the meeting in January 2016 to reinstate NIH funding for gain-of-function research on viruses. This is an unusual scientific behavior, which needs an explanation for. What is not thoroughly described in this report is the various evidence indicating that several coronaviruses recently published (RaTG1318, RmYN0230, and several pangolin coronaviruses) are highly suspicious and likely fraudulent. These fabrications would serve no purpose other than to deceive the scientific community and the general public so that the true identity of SARS-CoV-2 is hidden. Although exclusion of details of such evidence does not alter the conclusion of the current report, we do believe that these details would provide additional support for our contention that SARS-CoV-2 is a laboratory-enhanced virus and a product of gain-of-function research. A follow-up report focusing on such additional evidence is now being prepared and will be submitted shortly.
PS – This post will inevitably be updated, as we have time to assimilate the details and follow the reactions of others more expert in this stuff. We have two long drafts written months ago trying to summarize the pro and con arguments, but the science was just too complex and the events were moving too rapidly. Maybe we’ll post them as addenda.
PPS – Virologists dissect and dismiss the Yan paper:
Here is JC Couey’s video commentary on the Yan Report, part I:
(BTW Shengli Zhi recently gave a public lecture as part of a recent 2020 Cell Symposium, but we’re having a hard time finding a link to the original video. JC Couey (above), replayed parts of it in one of his regular YT downloads.)
[9/17] In a subsequent stream, JC Couey unpacks this paper, which is the first comprehensive inventory of circumstantial details around COVID origin and WIV, and badly needed. Compiled in part by a group of citizen science researchers, it leans to the lab-leak scenario, but doesn’t question the RATG sequence that Yan and others have pointed to as bogus or an outright diversion.