Now the tackle is thrown at the head by the coronavirus. But there was a time, not too long ago, when the United States and China collaborated in the study and prevention of pandemics. In addition, they did it precisely in the place where today many of the suspicions lie about the origin of the latter: the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Oddly enough now, American public money funded bat coronavirus genetic modifications at its maximum-security “P4 superlab” and at the Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiments.
This is revealed by 900 pages of documents from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that the US digital research medium ‘The Intercept’ has achieved thanks
a una claim in court. Although the NIH refused to release this information, which was requested in September of last year, it has finally had to do so under the Freedom of Information Act.
Risk of contagion
The most important discovery is that the National Institute of Allergies and Communicable Diseases, led by the chief US epidemiologist, Anthony Fauci, granted between 2014 and 2019 a $ 3.1 million grant (2.6 million euros) to the EcoHealth Alliance organization to investigate the risk of contagion in humans of bat coronaviruses, as had happened with SARS in 2002 and happened in 2015 with MERS. Of that money, about $ 750,000 (636,500 euros) went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, since the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, British zoologist Peter Daszak, It works regularly with the center to store the largest samples of bat coronavirus, which are abundant in southwest China and in neighboring countries such as Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam and Laos. Daszak, who from the beginning has ruled out the laboratory leak, is part of the team of experts that at the beginning of the year investigated the origin of the coronavirus in Wuhan.
According to ‘The Intercept’, another $ 300,000 (254,500 euros) went to the East China Normal University, in Shanghai, for its researchers to take samples on the ground. Under the title ‘Understanding the risk of the bat coronavirus emergency’, the project it also included analyzing people exposed to wildlife, project mathematical models and carry out laboratory experiments. Its objective: to discover new coronaviruses capable of infecting man and with the potential to trigger a pandemic.
In one of his experiments, carried out in the biosafety level 3 laboratory of Wuhan University, The researchers genetically fused the spicules of new bat coronaviruses with the body of another already known one. They thus created what in science is called a chimera virus, which reproduced faster and caused more severe disease in the lungs of mice that had also been genetically modified with human receptor cells to study their behavior.
As a consequence of this disease, mice inoculated with this chimera virus lost more weight than those who received the one that was not tampered with. An effect that some scientists consider sufficient to call this experiment a “gain of function.” This is how the controversial technique of making a virus more powerful and then looking for a vaccine is known, which many experts denounce due to the risk of a laboratory leak.
But other virologists consider that such an experiment does not exactly meet the technical criteria for a “gain of function” because said chimera virus was not shown to be more contagious than the original nor that it was dangerous to humans. Nor did the US National Institute of Health believe it, which did not stop the experiment despite the fact that, in the first days, the viral load of the new coronavirus became 10,000 times higher than the original, but in the end they ended up balancing out.
Both the NIH and Dr. Fauci insist the US did not fund “gain of function” experiments in Wuhan. But the genetic modification of these coronaviruses raises many questions again about the investigations that were carried out in the laboratories of that city. Precisely, one of the suspicions that weighs on Covid-19 is that it may have escaped by accident from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or one of the other laboratories in the city that also work with bat coronavirus. Coincidence or not, one of them, that of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), is less than 300 meters from the infamous Huanan market, which was one of the first sources of the epidemic. Although the viruses manipulated in Wuhan are genetically far from the SARS-CoV-2 that has unleashed the current pandemic, these experiments once again trigger all suspicions about what was being done in their laboratories.