“No monkey ever reheated a frozen burrito.”
What "The Expanse" tells us about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the long sordid history of serial passage gain-of-function research, and the decades-long effort to whitewash it all.
(This article was originally published in March 2020, and contains spoilers to The Expanse, which is where all the quotes below are from.)
From the co-author of the first peer-reviewed paper examining a laboratory origin for SARS-CoV-2, as well as its addendum, which formally linked the H1N1 Spanish Flu pandemic strain release of 1977 to gain-of-function research.
“You can tell you’ve found a really interesting question when no one wants you to answer it.”
Thousands of humans have lost their lives since COVID-19 kicked-off its killing spree in Wuhan several months ago, and barring an absolute miracle hundreds of thousands more all across the planet will join them in the months to come.
Comparisons to the pandemic caused by the Spanish Flu earlier in the twentieth century abound, however one thing is clear: Whether due to globalization or to internal differences between the viruses, while the Spanish Flu was a slow-moving miasma that took years to unfurl across the globe, the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, has blanketed the entire planet in just a few months.
Factories all across the planet have ground to a halt, stores are shuttered, tens of millions are quarantined across multiple continents, and supply chains are straining.
And oddly, even though there is nothing even beginning to approach conclusive evidence that COVID-19 was a naturally emergent strain that made its way out of an intermediate animal host and into humans, the general consensus in the media and the public seems to be that exploring its origins is something only done by people who’ve yet to buy that the Earth is in fact round and that we actually did land on the moon. And everyone seems to be okay with the fact that the scientists crowing the loudest about a natural origin, are the ones directly involved with the type of research that likely spawned this virus: Gain-of-function, or “dual-use” research that meant to push Nature past her limits, so that humans can harness her to create monsters that would never occur naturally.
Why the concentrated push to marginalize anyone asking for conclusive proof about where COVID-19 came from? Who benefits?
“We modified our science team to remove ethical restraints.”
Back in 1977 a very peculiar disease began to sweep across Russia, and once scientists had isolated it they discovered it was a rather unique strain of the H1N1 Swine Flu. In the years that followed genetic analysis looking to determine where it might’ve come from found something rather odd: It was very similar to strains of H1N1 that hadn’t been in circulation for decades, and seemed to be the product of “sequential passage in an animal reservoir” which was determined by its vast genetic distance from any other present strain of flu, just like COVID-19 which also appears so distant from any related coronavirus that it’s been placed in its own clade, an isolated branch way out on its own in the viral family tree – meaning it’s the lone example of its kind, and doesn’t clump together with all the other known coronaviruses. This finding has lead scientists to conclude that it wasn’t a natural virus, and either leaked out or was released as part of a vaccine trial gone awry.
At the time, the Soviet Union was employing tens of thousands of scientists designing every possible flavor of biological weapon, a rabidly immoral weapons program with a spotty safety record – pathogens were known to leak out of Soviet labs almost regularly. Which has happened at plenty of biological weapons labs since, but especially China’s, which have leaked the SARS virus four times just in recent years. And Soviet scientists were reported to bring dead research animals home for dinner, meat wasn’t exactly readily available in the USSR at that time, which parallels the reports of scientists in Wuhan smuggling dead lab animals out to sell for a few extra bucks on the street.
Earlier in the 70’s prior to the release of that virus, “the swine flu scare… [had] prompted the international community to reexamine their stocks of the latest previously circulating H1N1 strains to attempt to develop a vaccine,” which was seen to have increased the odds that someone, somewhere would make a mistake and leak an altered strain of the flu out of their lab. This increased pace of research mirrors recent times, when scientists have been investigating and trying to understand the supposedly impending threat posed by coronaviruses for years, capturing as many unique strains from the wild as they could, and mixing and matching their genomes in the lab.
And so increased research into the H1N1 Swine Flu back in the 70’s eventually increased the odds that a mistake would happen enough that one did, and a leak may have occurred. Just as our current pandemic was preceded not only by years of research into coronaviruses everywhere from UNC to the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Disease Engineering Technical Research Center, and have been accelerated by a massive international conference meant to study a potential pandemic caused by a hyper-virulent strain of coronavirus, Johns Hopkins’ Event 201. This was funded primarily by the World Economic Forum as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and notably occurred in October 2019, just weeks before the start of this outbreak of COVID-19.
If leading up to 1977, the fact that increased research into strains of the flu were seen to increase the odds that an accidental leak would occur, why isn’t the same logic being applied to our pandemic today? Why is almost everyone today assuming that the increased pace of research means scientists in fact anticipated this outbreak instead of causing it?
Wouldn’t an increased pace of research also increase the odds that a leak of a lab-modified coronavirus would occur just like an increased pace of research precipitated the leak of the H1N1 Swine Flu back then?
“You give a monkey a stick, inevitably he’ll beat another monkey to death with it”
Scientists have been directly altering and modifying viral genomes for at least the past twenty years, doing everything from building complete viruses from scratch, to tweaking them and then passing them through series of animal hosts to artificially speed selection and evolution along so that they’re able have as many different strains of virus with as many novel features as possible to tinker with.
However most of this work didn’t really raise too many eyebrows, until about ten years ago when scientists including some in Stony Brook, NY – not coincidentally also the first place to build a DNA-virus from scratch – took the H5N1 Bird Flu, tweaked its genome in two places, and then passed it through a series of ferret hosts in the lab until it became airborne. This sort of research, a minor alteration and then passage through ferrets, did two things: Resulted in a virus that would look natural and wouldn’t appear to have been directly genetically altered, and also created a virus that was way out on its own branch of the viral family tree since those sequential passages added generations far faster than they’d naturally occur in the wild. If that sounds familiar, maybe that’s because those traits are also exactly what’s found with COVID-19.
And as far back as 2015, Chinese labs were reported to have been involved with dual-use gain-of-function research after the Chinese military made a massive push to expand their biotechnological capabilities, swapping around viral genomes in the lab to try to create the most virulent strain possible. Additionally, studies examining COVID-19’s infectivity in ferrets found that it spreads readily among them, and also appears airborne in that animal model, lending support to the idea that ferrets were used for serial passage. Further support for possibility that serial passage through lab animals played a role in the creation of COVID-19 comes from an April 2020 pre-print, which found that coronaviruses that target the ACE2 receptor bind with ferrets cells more tightly than any other species except the tree shrew, which only scored about 2% higher. Tree shrews have also been used for serial viral passage, and were promoted in a 2018 paper out of China as a preferable host for laboratory serial passage since they’re cheaper, smaller, easier to handle, and closer to humans evolutionarily and physiologically than ferrets. Pangolins however, formed a much weaker bond than either, and were clustered way down on the list along with a handful of other much more unlikely intermediate animal hosts.
Quite curiously, one of the scientists supporting this troubling research in an article that noted the virus “could change history if it was ever set free” appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2020 a few weeks into the current pandemic, claiming that COVID-19 was definitely natural and making no mention of this animal-based dual-use gain-of-function research at all. Odd, right? It’s almost like Michael Osterholm, whose entire career rests on advancing gain-of-function of research, might want to whitewash what’s really going on? Did that sunshine tickle when it was being blown up your ass, Joe?
Osterholm failed to tell the story of this genetically modified H5N1 Bird Flu, which was turned into a virus that “could make the deadly 1918 pandemic look like a pesky cold.” This result was so troubling that the NIH, which had funded the research, tried to make sure that the it would only be published after enough details were taken out to make replication of the experiment tough to perform. However one of the virologists involved in the research thought these restrictions were a bit silly, since the gist of the experiment was enough to allow anyone with enough money to replicate them without a problem. Especially researchers who were already familiar with manipulating bat coronaviruses, two of whom learned how to do exactly that at UNC in 2015 before returning to Wuhan to continue their work.
A few years later the NIH would ban this dual-use “gain-of-function” research, a ban that would remain in place from 2014 until 2017, when it was lifted. And what was the reasoning behind lifting the ban? To allow for research on flu viruses, as well as SARS and MERS – coronaviruses just like our new friend, COVID-19. And so hundreds of millions of dollars of funding poured into research on these viruses, supposedly with oversight meant to reduce “the potential to create, transfer, or use an enhanced potential pandemic pathogen.”
Turns out, that oversight might not have worked out too well, witnessed by the thousands who have already died from COVID-19.
“But it is only a machine. It doesn’t think. It follows instructions. If we learn how to alter that programming, then we become the architects of that change.”
And so since 2017 the floodgates have been opened, and money has poured in to fund gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, and they’ve been seen as everything from a potential base to create an HIV-vaccine from, to being able to help scientists in their mission to create a universal vaccine against the flu and common cold. Unsurprisingly, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped bankroll Event 201, has also poured millions and millions of dollars into the search for a vaccine against HIV, much of which is centered around harnessing coronaviruses.
Gate’s previous forays into vaccination programs haven’t always gone so well, in 2009 a Gates-sponsored HPV vaccine from Merck caused severe side effects among hundreds of the girls it was administered to, ultimately killing seven of them. In addition to the faulty science behind this vaccine program, was evidence that the majority of patients had no idea what they were signing up for, but were pushed through into treatment anyways. More unethical behavior was reported in the Gates-funded MenAfriVac campaign in Chad, which between 50 and 500 children vaccinated for meningitis were reported to develop paralysis, leading a South African newspaper to announce that “we are guinea pigs for the drug-makers.” If you’re skeptical about those claims and the sourcing, a peer-reviewed look at the DTP and polio vaccine found that it caused much more harm than good during a huge vaccine campaign in urban Africa. And there are a scattershot of other accounts covering possible malfeasance by Gates-funded vaccination programs all across the globe. So not that Bill Gates is personally punching little kids in the face, but that his well-meaning funding may end up in a lot of the wrong places in the blind pursuit for results, providing financing for very shady and not-entirely ethical practices.
Pointing out the funding from their foundation isn’t meant to demonize the Gates family, only to begin to build the idea that accountability does’t lie with the scientists in Wuhan alone, or the Chinese Communist Party for trying to cover-up the beginning of the pandemic. And to point out that nothing about being a computer scientist or a businessman has anything to do with public health policy, or the scientific and social implications around gain-of-function research. Why the NIH allowed this really obvious Pandora’s Box to be reopened in the first place deserves to be answered, and the organizations funding this research should carry much of the blame as well – the NIH included, which has provided the Wuhan Institute of virology with a $3.7 million grant.
Bill Gates might want to be an effective philanthropist really bad, and he may have been amazing at designing computer software and undercutting his competition – however that doesn’t a philanthropist make. After all, beyond the questionable tactics practiced by many of the vaccination programs he’s funded, his very well-intentioned attempt to save lives by providing insecticidal mosquito-nets was ultimately destructive: many of the villagers provided with the mosquito-nets decided they were better used as fishing-nets, resulting in food shortages due to over-fishing from the fact the nets smaller weave caught far too many juvenile fish, undercutting population growth.
Seemed like a good idea at the time, right? Just like all those untested vaccines that were rushed into distribution?
“Distributed responsibility is the problem. One person gives the order, another carries it out. One can say they didn’t pull the trigger, the other that they were just doing what they were told, and everyone lets themselves off the hook.”
Far more sinister than the Gates Foundation funding dual-use gain-of-function research is the involvement of scientists hoping exclusively to bankroll their own companies through this kind of work.
While The Expanse had Jules-Pierre Mao, a scientist-CEO who used his private company to hybridize the protomolecule – a mysterious alien substance that seems to have a mind of its own – with humans to create unstoppable biological weapons to auction off to the highest bidder, today we have Peter Daszak. His company, EcoHealth Alliance, which is a non-profit that depends largely on multi-hundred million dollar government grants to function, has been partnering with Chinese researchers for years in an attempt to secure funding for more and more research into coronaviruses. And Daszak has been at the forefront as painting a lab escape as a dangerous conspiracy theory that was somehow impeding research into the pandemic, seemingly giving as many interviews as he can without disclosing the glaring conflict of interest that he’s been the PI on these research grants and netting himself a six-figure salary for years, and hailing virologists as the only thing between humanity and catastrophe – a job they now calculate will run humanity over $22 billion a year.
And in one of the more transparent attempts at blatant PR-spin, Daszak was featured alongside one of the researchers who learned how to create hyper-virulent bat coronaviruses at UNC back in 2015, Zhengli Shi. Their article insists we should take Zhengli at her word when she claims to have not found a match after she checked COVID-19’s genome against everything in all the various labs in Wuhan. As if someone responsible for releasing the most virulent pathogen to hit humanity in modern history, one that’s already killed thousands and is projected to kill millions more all across the globe, would simply fess-up to it, torpedoing her career and the years of research performed by her and her colleagues? And possibly opening all of them up to legal and other repercussions?
If you still aren’t sure whether the scientists involved with kind of research are being forthright, there’s Dr. Ralph Baric. It was in his lab at UNC that a hyper-virulent bat Franken-virus was created by splicing a new protein-spike on an existing coronavirus, creating a monster so vicious that a virologist with the Louis Pasteur Institute of Paris warned: “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.” It should also be noted that several years prior to tinkering directly with bat coronavirus spike-proteins, Baric orchestrated research that involved isolating a coronavirus from civets and then passing it through mammalian ACE2 receptor cells that were grown in the lab from kidney and brain samples – serial passage through host cell lines instead of entire hosts, which imparted a strong affinity for ACE2, and presumably created an airborne strain of coronavirus. And if cells derived from kidneys and brains were used for the serial passage development of COVID-19, that might help explain its affinity for attacking the kidneys and brains of its human hosts.
Previous research done in the Wuhan lab looking at inserting HIV-like segments into coronaviruses that also target the ACE2 receptor may also have played a role in the creation of COVID-19. One possible reason for these HIV-like segments is that they were meant to be epitopes, or molecular flags meant to mark intruders for a vaccine to target – meaning the Wuhan Strain was built as a monster for a specific vaccine to hunt. It is mathematically possible for this to happen in nature – but only in a ten-thousand bats chained to ten-thousand Petri dishes and given until infinity sense. Alternatively, this pattern could also be produced by infecting a room full of ferrets or tree shrews with a bespoke coronavirus and sifting through the wreckage for your genomic needle.
So if he was being honest, you might expect Baric to warn the public about the pandemic potential coronaviruses pose during our current outbreak. However, when he was asked if the public should be worried about COVID-19 he said that people should be more worried about the seasonal flu. Pretty bizarre statement from a scientist who knew full well how dangerous coronaviruses could be and would have had no way of knowing back in January how virulent COVID-19 would or wouldn’t be, especially given the fact that not only was Zhengli Shi working in his lab on that project in 2015, but Xing-Yi Ge was too. Both of whom returned to Wuhan where they’ve continued their work for years. However one possible explanation is the fact that COVID-19 does only present as a light flu in the mink farms its infested, and with minks being a subspecies of ferrets – if ferrets were used for serial passage experiments and the virologists working with them noticed the novel coronavirus only presented as a mild flu in the lab ferrets, this information could have made its way out into their community and fueled the preposterous assertions that COVID-19 is anything like a mild flu.
Xing-Yi Ge is especially notable since in 2013 he became the very first scientist to isolate a bat coronavirus from nature that uses the ACE2 receptor, which is found in human, tree shrew, and ferret lungs and allows coronaviruses to become airborne. And as you might have learned by now, that’s the exact receptor used by COVID-19 to enter human cells – if anyone would know how to finagle that part of the coronavirus genome, it’d be him. So both Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli Shi were part of the research team that created this hybridized hyper-virulent bat coronavirus under Baric, who’s actively downplayed the risk posed by COVID-19, and then returned to work in Wuhan, where funding provided in part by Daszak’s company allowed them to continue their work on coronaviruses with plenty of research to cut-and-paste into their work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Disease Engineering Technical Research Center.
And as Dr. Ian Malcolm puts it in Jurassic Park, it is never a good idea to futz around with science and research when you don’t fully understand it, nor its possible implications.
However it wasn’t just Daszak funding their work, Zhengli also secured millions of dollars in grant money from various American institutions including our Department of Defense as well as the U.S. Biological Defense Research Directorate, and millions more from other foreign governments.
So although the Chinese Communist Party deserves its share of the blame for attempting to cover the outbreak up, arresting the heroic scientists trying to warn us and issuing gag-orders and the destruction of evidence, this research likely wouldn’t have occurred at all if the NIH hadn’t lifted the ban on gain-of-function research in the first place. And it was funded directly by American tax dollars, by government officials willing to let others play god at their behest.
But now that the virus is out of the lab, are the private entities responsible for its creation going to bear any of the blame at all? Or will America and China continue to point fingers at each other until the worst happens?
“Mars will accuse Earth of using a bio-weapon. Earth will claim it was Mars. The Belt will blame the other two. It’s a good way to start a war and cover it up.”
One last spoiler warning… okay, so in The Expanse the central plot device pushing things forward is the discovery of a mysterious substance dubbed the protomolecule, which seems to have a mind of its own and seek out radiation as sustenance before then beginning “the Work,” a mysterious intergalactic goal that isn’t revealed until later seasons.
And it’s not individual nations who first attempt to harness the protomolecule, but their Peter Daszak, the aforementioned scientist and CEO named Jules-Pierre Mao, who attempts to weave it into the genomes of immuno-compromised children to create hybridized super-soldiers. Not for his own private army, but as a game-changing bio-weapon he’ll sell to whichever government is willing to pay the most for it. So in The Expanse, it takes amoral scientists as well as the collusion of officials affiliated with both governments for this research to happen and be hidden, and when these Hybrids are eventually dropped between both armies the carnage is immense.
Luckily, we haven’t gotten that far on earth yet, but the rhetoric between America and China has been heading in that direction – it’s been growing increasingly hostile as each blames the other for starting the pandemic and covering it up, with China even going so far as to threaten to cut off our supply of antibiotics and other life-saving medical goods. Meanwhile Daszak, Baric, Zhengli, and others sit back counting their lucky stars and their money, since both governments and the public at large seem to have bought their story that there’s no way this virus leaked out of one of their labs, and every government on earth now wants to harness their research to help create vaccines and treatments.
And these researchers have been assisted by scientifically spurious and journalistically vacuous articles which mindlessly regurgitate claims from the Chinese government, and its scientific propaganda arm, the WHO, about how bad the outbreak was in the past and how contained it is now. As the Chinese government arrested whistle-blowers and sent agents out into the street in bio-hazard gear while carrying automatic weapons to detain anyone suspected of breaking quarantine, while literally welding apartment buildings shut, the American media fawned over China’s “decisive and heroic” actions.
Please take a moment to consider the fact that almost everyone reading the news to you on television was selected due to their connections or how photogenic they are, not because of any actual journalistic chops or ability to think critically.
So as two superpowers are pushed closer and closer to conflict, the research that’s almost certainly the source of COVID-19 not only continues unabated, but if anything talk of more funding to stop this sort of supposedly natural pandemic from happening again is pouring into the pockets of the people who, if they weren’t directly responsible, should certainly have been at the forefront of warning the world about the risks posed by lab-altered coronaviruses, and been disclosing the existence of this sort of research in the first place.
Oddly, each and everyone one of them is pretending that viral dual-use gain-of-function research has never occurred at all. Or not so oddly, when you stop and think about how much they have to lose if their role in this pandemic is revealed.
“The hardest part of this game is figuring out who the enemy really is.”
Other than the fact it doesn’t bear the direct marks of genetic tampering, just like the engineered hyper-virulent H5N1 Bird Flu, there’s just about nothing natural about COVID-19’s behavior or clinical presentation. And hauntingly, peer-reviewed research has noted that a crucial region of its genome “may provide a gain-of-function… for efficient spreading in the human population.”
Not only is it so distant from any other coronavirus that it forms its own clade, but there isn’t even a natural path for it to have emerged through – assertions about pangolins have always been dubious at best, but were even further debunked when analysis of COVID-19’s genome at the regions that most accurately show heritage made it “very unlikely” that pangolins had ever been involved at all.
Beyond that is the fact that its affinity for the ACE2 receptor is somewhere between 10 and 20 times higher than SARS, and it also creates viral loads thousands of times higher than SARS. These two characteristics point towards COVID-19 using antibody-dependent enhancement, or ADE, to enter human cells. This is when the virus is able to hijack white blood cells or other antiviral proteins to more easily enter into the rest of our body’s cells, allowing it to seep deep into its hosts’ nervous systems, creating permanent neurological damage in the hosts it doesn’t kill outright. More supporting evidence that ADE is occurring with COVID-19 arrived in a paper from April 2020, which indicated that the novel coronavirus is targeting two different types white blood cells incredibly efficiently, especially compared to SARS which hardly binds to white blood cells at all in comparison. Since those types of cells have almost no ACE2 receptors, it appears that COVID-19 is using another method to efficiently enter those cells – with ADE at the top of the list of possibilities, although it’s not demonstrated here.
ADE could also explain why between 5% and 10% of once “recovered” patients in Wuhan have been showing up with fresh infections and nearly 100 once-cured patients in South Korea have also had their infections return, since ADE allows a virus to hijack the antibodies created by a previous infection to re-attack an old host. And curiously Zhengli Shi, of UNC and Wuhan fame, co-authored a 2019 paper which used inert viral shells to figure out exactly how SARS, with its affinity to the ACE2 receptor just like COVID-19, was able to harness ADE to hijack white blood cells for enhanced cell entry. A gain-of-function extension of this research would be exactly the kind of experiment that could’ve given birth to COVID-19, especially considering that 2019 paper managed to fine-tune the exact concentration of antibodies that would best facilitate ADE.
And alarming evidence that this phenomenon is occurring emerged from a Chinese pre-print which noted that over one-third of the roughly 200 patients studied has some neurological symptoms, with nearly half of the most severe patients exhibiting neurological issues. And further evidence for the possibility of ADE is witnessed by a study published in Lancet, which notes that the case fatality rate in Wuhan could actually be as high as 20% – the outbreak’s epicenter would be expected to have the highest rates of ADE as different variants of the Wuhan Strain infected and reinfected overlapping hosts.
Both HIV and Dengue Fever use antibody-dependent enhancement to boost their virulence, however it’s generally a phenomenon that takes a long time to occur when it happens in nature. However COVID-19 looks like it may have had its ADE jacked into hyper-drive as it was passed between a series of animal hosts, since it has the aforementioned much stronger ability to bind to host cells and creates viral loads orders of magnitude higher, and also appears to immediately be able to enter its hosts’ nervous systems, killing many of its victims by attacking the region of the brain that controls breathing, drastically lowering white blood cell counts early on in infections, and apparently re-infecting individuals who had already appeared to clear their infection.
Little about COVID-19’s clinical presentation is typical, including the fact that in many patients the first sign of infection seems to be losing your senses of smell and taste without any other symptoms, something no other virus on earth is known to do to otherwise asymptomatic patients – but which could possibly be due to artificially enhanced ADE immediately gaining entry into those nerve cells and frying them. Further increasing the possibility that COVID-19’s unique clinical presentation may be due to its ADE being juiced by laboratory engineering, are the observations from an ER doctor who’s stated that “I have seen things that I have never seen before… I have witnessed medical phenomenon that just don’t make sense in the context of treating a disease that is supposed to be viral pneumonia.” In an interview with Medscape, Dr. Cameron Kyle-Sidell went on to say that the closest thing to the symptoms he was witnessing in his emergency room were those created by altitude sickness.
This condition occurs when the organs that sense the level of oxygen concentration in the air you breathe notice that level decreasing, and begin a cascade of physiological changes that, as the COVID-19 patients horrifically showcase, can quickly turn deadly when they throw your body’s balance out of wack. And since these organs are found in your neck right next to your carotid arteries, it is well within the realm of possibility that after frying the nerve cells that control smell and taste, that if the viral load becomes large enough, that the infection may eventually move into these organs and fry them too – tricking your nervous system into miscommunicating the concentration of oxygen in the environment, and scrambling the same system that’s used when your body is subjected to the lowered oxygen levels that occur at high altitude and possibly tricking your body into reducing the number of red blood cells it produces, as well as initiating the entire suite of physiological changes that occurs at elevation - which may be one of the defining aspects of our shared humanity.
And it turns out that the receptor targeted when COVID-19 targets white blood cells, Basign or CD147, is also the same receptor targeted by the malarial parasite to bind to red blood cells. Which is especially notable since hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, both antimalarial drugs, are involved in a roiling debate about their efficacy and safety to treat COVID-19 infections. However one thing is becoming clear: this novel coronavirus is creating clotting issues in many of its patients, indicating along with the appearance of altitude sickness that COVID-19 may be able to attack our red blood cells as well as our white blood cells, since its spike-protein does bind with white blood cells through Basign, which is also found on red blood cells – opening the door for ADE to enhance this effect on both types of cell. And with COVID-19’s remarkably high affinity for white blood cells compared to other coronaviruses, if ADE is occurring its effects could be creating a devastating physiological cascade.
Additionally, an unnaturally juiced-up ability to use ADE would also explain much of what other front-line medical workers are observing in their patients: “I’m seeing people who look relatively healthy with a minimal health history, and they are completely wiped out, like they’ve been hit by a truck. This is knocking out what should be perfectly fit, healthy people. Patients will be on minimal support, on a little bit of oxygen, and then all of a sudden, they go into complete respiratory arrest, shut down and can’t breathe at all… That seems to be what happens to a lot of these patients: They suddenly become unresponsive or go into respiratory failure.” This sort of sudden precipitous decline is exactly what would be expected if COVID-19’s ability to use ADE had been accentuated in the lab, and would also explain the clinical observations that “this severity of [acute respiratory distress] is usually more typical of someone who has a near drowning experience — they have a bunch of dirty water in their lungs — or people who inhale caustic gas. Especially for it to have such an acute onset like that. I’ve never seen a microorganism or an infectious process cause such acute damage to the lungs so rapidly. That was what really shocked me.”
And also the following horrific account: “Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you’re in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don’t know when someone is trying to help you, so you’ll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning.”
Given everything else we know about COVID-19’s unusual and atypical genome, the fact that its clinical presentation sure doesn’t appear to follow the course of a natural viral infection should only raise our collective eyebrows further when “experts” insist there’s no indication that it leaked out of lab.
“I thought if you told people facts, they’d draw their own conclusions, and because the facts were true, the conclusions mostly would be too. But we don’t run on facts. We run on stories about things. About people.”
In ancient China there was a tradition of developing a special poison called Gu by throwing as many venomous creatures as you could find into a jar and sealing them in until only one was left. Also known as a “golden-silkworm,” this victorious creature was then thought to host a “demonic poison” since every other creature’s venom was thought to concentrate within it. According to Chinese folklore, this golden-silkworm could then mutate itself into any number of other animals – retaining its lethal ability no matter what form it took.
Turns out that manipulating nature in an attempt to create unpredictable and unnaturally powerful weapons is nothing new.
No one knows exactly how many people have died in Wuhan, where in January and February crematoriums were running 24/7 when they’d typically only be operational for four hours a day and five days a week, but one apparent pattern is that the longer the virus was allowed to circulate and spit off new variants, the more lethal it became as new saves used ADE to dig into their hosts’ immune systems. Further evidence that far more lives were lost in Wuhan than the Chinese government is disclosing is provided by the fact that some 21 million cell phone users have somehow fallen of the map in China, as well as the long lines witnessed to collect loved ones’ ashes in Wuhan, which alone is reported to have had some 45,000 cremations. So this high lethality may be due in part to the multiple variants that had time to circulate in Wuhan, a hallmark of ADE since each subsequent variant is able to escape detection by our immune systems while still hijacking our white blood cells to increase its virulence.
And unsurprisingly, neither ADE nor the possibility that COVID-19 could be a product of dual-use gain-of-function serial animal passage has been mentioned on television by the virologists most likely to be able to identify these phenomena, meaning our front-line medical responders are being blindsided by a virus that’s not behaving like anything natural, like anything they’ve ever seen.
Even more indicative of an unnatural origin is the fact that the process of a virus transferring from one species to another, called a zoonotic jump, follows a well-established pattern in the literature. For a virus to fully jump into a new species, several months if not years are required for the process to complete. First a variant of the virus infects one new host, an infection that will fizzle out the first time it happens since there’s no way for a virus to be immediately adapted to a novel host species. But with continued exposure, more individual infections occur, some of which produce slightly mutated variants more adapted to the biology of the new host species, until eventually a variant wins the selective virulent lottery and is able to spread easily among its new host population, killing and reproducing as it goes.
And yet research published in 2018 found that only two-point-seven percent of villagers living about a kilometer from local bat-caves carried any evidence of past bat coronavirus infections. That study happened to examine people living in Wuhan as well, and found absolutely zero evidence of previous bat coronavirus infection at all there, making it all-but-impossible that zoonotic jumping occurred since earlier less-lethal variants of the virus would have left a wide signature in its new host population. Instead, COVID-19 emerged out of nowhere, or more likely just out of a local lab, and was immediately extraordinarily well-adapted to humans – spreading through the air with ease, killing as it went. Plus there’s the fact that all the initial victims were infected with the same variant, if a natural zoonotic jump had occurred, multiple different variants would inevitably have been found at the start of an outbreak.
And so as our titular quote alludes to, although its certainly possible to train a monkey to warm up a frozen burrito in a microwave, it’s pretty damn unlikely that a wild monkey that’d never been in contact with humans before could be presented with a frozen burrito and a microwave, and figure out to heat up a snack.
In the same way, everything about the way COVID-19 interacts with its human hosts and spreads among them indicates that it’s been artificially trained to be familiar with human biology – bizarrely blocking our senses of smell and taste before doing anything else, spreading readily among asymptomatic patients and then infecting and killing us with far more efficiency than any natural emergent virus at the start of its outbreak, and first emerging without taking any of the steps necessary to naturally perform a zoonotic jump into humans.
And while the people on your television will be parroting whatever their corporate parents tell them to, and while the scientists intimately involved in this kind of research preen as “having told you so” about the threat coronaviruses pose instead of informing the public about how truly grave the threat we face is – hundreds of thousands will die, and the work that caused this pandemic will continue at an accelerating pace as funding for gain-of-function research pours in.
“Nothing ever killed more people than being afraid to look like a sissy.”
As we’re quite fond of saying, America is a free country. And without sensible federal guidance, and with our pandemic response team being undermined by economic advisers and relatives with only the vaguest grasp of how science works, let alone epidemiology, we are very quickly approaching what might be our last inflection point.
While the Olympics have been postponed for the first time in modern history and other nations from New Zealand to France lock-down entirely for at least the coming several weeks, Americans haven’t been convinced not to crowd into public places and public transportation. Supposedly, prayer, toughness, and the American Spirit are going to work as effective anti-viral treatments.
So by the time the public and our officials collectively realize that COVID-19 has no intention of behaving anything close to like the flu does, or like any natural virus ever has, and that our front-line healthcare workers have been effectively battling a biological weapon for weeks, the deaths of hundreds of thousands more Americans will already be inevitable.
The current push to get the economy back on track leads only to human carnage, rushing back into the virus’s maws can’t possibly lead anywhere good. Slowing down to get the full picture of what’s going on is apparently off the table, as is any sort of reasoned discussion about how to save the most lives while still being able to keep the economy in stasis until the pandemic is under control. And so America will be forever changed by this pandemic, as our once-trusted institutions lead us directly to slaughter.
Rushing into danger has never ended well. After all, it’s always the doors and corners where they get you.
“Sometimes it takes a few monsters to get back on track.”
Jamie Metzl on Twitter this week regarding origins of C19 makes me ill.
Thanks for the spoiler alert. I'll watch "The Expanse" first before reading your latest.