COVID-19 – China’s Synthetic Virus?

What we know:

  • Jan 2nd – The Director of the Virology Institute sent an email to all internal staff. The email stated, “Notice regarding the strict prohibition of disclosure of any information related to the Wuhan unknown pneumonia”

  • Jan. 21 – New drug, “Remdesivir”, provided for free by the US to China for Wuhan Coronavirus Treatment, was patented by Wuhan Institute of Virology

  • Feb. 3rd – Dr. Why Xiaohua Alert – Warned about the safety at the Wuhan Virology Lab

  • Feb 4th – Xu Bo – Blew whistle that Wuhan Lab was suspected of manufacturing virus

  • Feb. 7th – Top Biochemical Weapons Expert of China’s Army officially assumed control over Wuhan Virology Lab

  • Feb. 14th – Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for the inclusion of bio-security into China’s national security framework, and to accelerate the introduction of a bio-security law

  • Feb 15th – Virology lab removes ‘patient zero’ from institutes official website

  • Feb. 17th – Institute researcher, Chen Quanjiao, blew the whistle that the Director of the Institute, Wang Yanyi, was suspected of leaking the virus.

FLASHBACK: 2015 – China creates a human-to-human Coranavirus

A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence

The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV underscores the threat of cross-species transmission events leading to outbreaks in humans. Here we examine the disease potential of a SARS-like virus, SHC014-CoV, which is currently circulating in Chinese horseshoe bat populations1. Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system2, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. The results indicate that group 2b viruses encoding the SHC014 spike in a wild-type backbone can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV. Additionally, in vivo experiments demonstrate replication of the chimeric virus in mouse lung with notable pathogenesis. Evaluation of available SARS-based immune-therapeutic and prophylactic modalities revealed poor efficacy; both monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches failed to neutralize and protect from infection with CoVs using the novel spike protein. On the basis of these findings, we synthetically re-derived an infectious full-length SHC014 recombinant virus and demonstrate robust viral replication both in vitro and in vivo. Our work suggests a potential risk of SARS-CoV re-emergence from viruses currently circulating in bat populations.

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