We pick up from Part 1 where the paper’s lead author Kristian Andersen changes his mind about the virus origin.
As early as January 29, 2020, Andersen pointed to two distinct aspects of the virus—the receptor binding domain (RBD) and the furin cleavage site.
He even came across a paper where North Carolina University virologist Ralph Baric was playing with spikes from other coronaviruses via batwoman Dr. Zhengli Shi who purportedly inserted furin cleavage sites into SARS.
“Fuck, this is bad,” was University of Sydney virologist Dr. Edward Holmes’ reaction to that paper, and “Oh my God what worse words than that” (Id; Racaniello, supra note 33.) before he called Dr. Jeremy Farrar, former head of the UK Wellcome Trust, on a “burner” phone. By the way, this was first recounted in an “explosive book” called The Virus Vs The People by Farrar himself.
Farrar, meanwhile, described the Baric-Batwoman paper as a “how-to-manual for building the Wuhan coronavirus in a laboratory.”
By January 31 – a week after we saw our first coronavirus lockdown in Wuhan – Andersen warned Dr. Fauci via email. It was revealed that when Andersen expressed a possible lab leak of COVID-19, Fauci stated that if he believed it came from a lab, he should write that and that it would be prudent to contact law enforcement.
“[Andersen] should do this very quickly and if everyone agrees with this concern, they should report it to the appropriate authorities,” Fauci wrote. “I would imagine that in the USA this would be the FBI and in the UK it would be MI5.”
“[Fauci] told you that if this was true, you had to contact the FBI,” Andersen was asked during the hearing.
According to Journalist Sam Husseini, who has also spent extensive time digging into Proximal’s Origin tale, Fauci’s statements were a veiled threat.
“It can be read to mean: Go ahead. Make my day. If you think it came from a lab, you should write that. See what happens to you. See what happens to your career.”
And in fact, Andersen did not contact the FBI or MI5.
“You did not do that, correct?”
What he did do was change his tune in record time. The initial hypothesis (although supposedly “agnostic” and “scientifically informed,”) went from speculation into a supposed peer-reviewed paper in only 45 days from the day of the Feb 1st confidential teleconference.
When asked about the rapidness, he responded:
“Well, we examined the genomes more closely…This (initial supposition) was based on limited data and preliminary analyses where I had observed features that appeared to be unique. [And] what’s important to understand is that the thinking evolved from initially thinking that this could have been engineered to relatively rapidly discount that idea as being inconsistent with the available evidence.”
With a “high degree of certainty,” he also added that the Wuhan Institute of Virology coming under military control, upgrading its air circulation, and deleting a coronavirus database had nothing to do with a lab accident.
The day after Andersen and Fauci exchanged emails, the teleconference unfolded. It was organized by Farrar and included 11 international scientists, including Dr. Collins, Dr. Tabak, and Dr. Fauci.
Four of the five participants on the Februrary 1 call would become authors of the Proximal paper, where they argued that SARS-CoV-2 could not have been made in a laboratory for two main reasons: 1) computer modeling does not predict how well SARS-CoV-2 interacts with human cells, and therefore its binding region could not have been designed, and 2) no published coronavirus could have been used as a backbone, therefore SARS-CoV-2 could not have been lab-made.
But from my research, WIV-1 could have been a backbone. Additionally, while the authors are correct in that COVID-19 does not derive from any published backbone, the question remains, is it possible that researchers just used an unsequenced or unpublished coronavirus as the backbone to manipulate SARS-CoV-2?
Andersen and Garry freely acknowledge that they only had the Wuhan Institute of Virology data in the public domain. And recall that a WIV database of coronaviruses went offline.
Additionally, it’s actually easier than ever for scientists to develop new reverse genetics systems thanks to recent technological innovations.
In Slack communications, the authors rebut their own argument of this being natural. For example, Andersen writes, “Just in case people think it is difficult to make a CoV reverse genetics clone from scratch – these guys did it in a week…so please keep it confidential for now.”
The paper cited was titled Rapid reconstruction of SARS-CoV-2 using a synthetic genomics platform where they show “… the full functionality of a yeast-based synthetic genomics platform to genetically reconstruct diverse RNA viruses, including members of the Coronaviridae families.”
Incredulously, one possible reason for their cover-up was to not piss off China.
On Feb 2, 2020, in a private Slack channel with the other authors of the Nature Medicine article, University of Edinburgh virologist Dr. Andrew Rambault, expressed concern about China being accused of an accidental release of COVID and suggested the group deny any evidence of a specifically engineered virus.
“…Given the shit show that would happen if anyone seriously accused the Chinese of even accidental release…” my feeling is we should say that there is no evidence of a specifically engineered virus, [and that] we cannot possibly distinguish between natural evolution and escape, so we are content with ascribing it to natural process.”
In other words, Rambault was extremely worried about the fallout both for China and for international relations if evidence were presented showing this came out of a Chinese lab. So instead they lied.
“Yup, I totally agree that that’s a very reasonable conclusion,” was Andersen’s response.
Later in the exchange, Rambaut admitted that a mutation in the Covid virus could have occurred in the laboratory through a process called passaging, where viruses evolve in laboratory animals or cell cultures over time.
“I agree it smells really fishy, but without a smoking gun it will do us no good.”
Stay tune for the conclusion in Part 3.
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Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, and founder, and editor-in-chief of the health magazine and marketplace HoneyColony. She is also a functional medicine consultant/coach, and the director of the award-winning documentary film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Elliot Page. Follow her on Twitter @maryamhenein. Email her: email@example.com.