Chronology of SARS-1 and SARS-2 outbreaks

2002 -2003 SARS-1 (SARS-CoV-1)

November 27, 2002 – Global Public Health Intelligence Network (Canada) reports “flu outbreak” in China, later identified as SARS-1 outbreak.

January 31, 2003 – Large SARS-1 outbreak started by a superspreader. Cases in Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital in Guangshou and related hospitals.

April 3, 2003 – Jiang Yanyong, physician and general with 301 Hospital in Beijing, reveals large number of soldiers in PLA infected with SARS-1. Also reveals cover-up of cases ordered by Chinese government.

March – April, 2004 – Outbreaks of SARS-1 reported as a result of two independent lab leaks at the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing.

2015- 2019 Gain of Function experiments using bat coronaviruses to construct viruses capable of infecting human airways at the Wuhan Institute of Virology

November 9. 2015 – Publication of paper by Drs. Baric and Zhengli-Li Shi reporting the construction of a chimeric SARS-CoV virus (SHC014) that took a bat virus and adapted it to infect human airway cells. Zhengli-Li Shi is director of the Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology.

November 12, 2015 – Publication of concerns that this chimeric virus (SHC014) could escape from the lab and cause a pandemic. [Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, points out that the researchers have created a novel virus that “grows remarkably well” in human cells. “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,”] Nature.

January 19, 2018 – the US State Department inspectors which visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology send a cable to Washington DC stating: “The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory” and “Most importantly,the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases.”

June 18, 2018 – The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the NIH Awards $581,646 to Peter Daszak, President of Ecohealth Alliance, Inc. to conduct studies assessing the risk of outbreaks due to bat coronaviruses. He subcontracted some of the work to Zhengli-Li Shi. Zheng Li-Shi used this money to again construct novel viruses built from bat coronaviruses that would be especially able to infect humans.

December 9, 2019 – In an interview, Peter Daszak says of his collaboration with Zhengli-Li Shi: “And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS,Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger….”

and

“Well I think…coronaviruses — you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happen with coronavirus, in zoonotic risk. So you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work a lot with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert into the backbone of another virus and do some work in the lab.”

2019 – ? SARS-2 (SARS-CoV-2) Pandemic

Fall 2019 – Researchers in the Wuhan Institute of Virology become sick.

Fall 2019 – Multiple studies demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 first started to circulate in this time frame.

2020 – 2021 Aided and abetted by the World Health Organization, Xi Jinping orders a massive cover up of cases of SARS-2 in China. Samples are destroyed, scientists are silenced and doctors who know the most about the epidemic die. Peter Daszak, the same scientist responsible for funneling money from the NIH/NIAID to the Wuhan Institute of Technology to create human-adapted SARS viruses is on the WHO team that is supposed to investigate the origins of SARS-2. He attests that he has no conflicts of interest. The virus spreads around the world.

At this writing, at least 3 million are dead, probably many more.

References

Mounting Lab Accidents Raise SARS Fears
Dennis Normile, Science 30 Apr 2004

SARS escaped Beijing lab twice
Robert Walgate Genome Biology, April 27, 2004

The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?
Nicholas Wade, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | May 5, 2021

A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence
November 9, 2015
Menachery, VD …Shi, Zhengli-Li and Baric RS

Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research. Lab-made coronavirus related to SARS can infect human cells.
Declan Butler, November 12, 2015

Serological Evidence of Bat SARS-Related Coronavirus Infection in Humans, China
Ning Wang…Peter Daszak and Zheng-Li Shi. Virol Sin. 2018 Feb; 33(1): 104–107.

Bat Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Like Coronavirus WIV1 Encodes an Extra Accessory Protein, ORFX, Involved in Modulation of the Host Immune Response
Lei-Ping Zeng…Peter Dasak and Zheng-Li Shi. Journal of Virology, June 24, 2016

Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
US Department of State, January 15, 2021

Novel coronavirus circulated undetected months before first COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, China
March 18, 2021. Science Daily. March 18, 2021

Gestalt#49 – SARS-2 Pandemic

Death by Political Correctness

We are in the midst of a pandemic that has killed nearly 600,000 Americans. Yet, Members of Congress appear to be more interested in establishing their credentials as the most political correct rather than quickly confirming someone who has the scientific credentials to solve at least some of the problems that represent an existential threat to the US. I’m referring to the ridiculous accusations leveled against Dr. Eric Lander in Congressional Hearings this week. He is accused of not praising two female scientists, enough, praising one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, too much, and being in the same room with a bad person before he knew that this guy was a bad person. This is, almost literally, insane. There is no one on this planet, including the Members of Congress who pilloried Dr. Lander, who could pass the kind of purity test that he is being subjected to. Why? I wonder if there is someone who is currently enjoying a lot of limelight who might feel threatened if Dr. Lander assumes his responsibilities. I wonder who might be whispering in the ears of these Members of Congress. I wonder why someone who should be vigorously defending Dr. Lander but who, despite nonstop press coverage, hasn’t managed to find time do this.

Vaccine vs. Strains

The mRNA vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna have been unqualified successes. These vaccines are saving our lives and our economy. We would be in deep trouble, right now, without them. Yet, I am reluctant to celebrate the opening up of the US without reservations. I think it is mistake to depend 100% on vaccines for our protection from SARS-2. And that is what we are currently doing. Although there are some restrictions on travel from India, they will have no effect on the importation of the strains that are breaking that country. President Biden has adopted exactly the same policies that failed President Trump – incomplete travel restrictions that are more for PR than a real attempt to protect Americans from dangerous new strains. Maybe our currently available vaccines will protect us against the new Indian strains, maybe they won’t. We don’t know. Maybe we will have new vaccines in time if the current ones fail (but probably we won’t). We should, by all means, push ahead with vaccinating everyone we can with the current vaccines and develop new ones. But I fear this will not be enough. We have to stop new strains from entering this country. The only to do this is a COMPLETE passenger travel ban on ALL countries that have circulating virus. Otherwise, we will become the world’s biggest Petri dish of SARS-2 variants. What are the odds that policy ends well?

Sharyl Attkisson’s video and story on the SARS-2 origin story

I have mixed feelings about Sharyl Attkisson. I suspect that she is at least weakly anti-vax and maybe just plain anti-science. So, as a pro-vax scientist, I have reservations about some of the content on her website. Nonetheless, I think she has done a good job in documenting important facts about the Wuhan Institute of Virology that have been strongly suppressed by prominent American scientists who have deep and undisclosed conflicts of interest. Worth watching this video and reading the transcript.

Exclusive Investigation: Separating rumor from fact on Covid-19’s origin
May 2, 2021 by Sharyl Attkisson

Gestalt#48 – SARS-2 Pandemic

India

SARS-2 is burning through India. The question is why. As usual, there are probably multiple factors. Prime Minister Modi has likely exacerbated the problem by encouraging large political and religious gatherings. However, I do not think this is the only cause. The original Wuhan strain of SARS-2 has already infected large numbers of Indians. When it first came through, relatively few Indians died. I suspect this is because the life expectancy in India is 69 and it was the elderly who were most likely to die after infection with this strain. There are new strains circulating in India which seem to be more infectious, more lethal and to target the young as well as the old. The new strains are also likely infecting and killing people who were already infected by the original Wuhan strain. This could be because infection with the original strain does not protect against the new strains or because immunity after the original infection has waned over time. We don’t have enough information to be sure. But there is definitely cause for concern.

Sequencing Politics

In the past year, the performance of the US health establishment in sequencing and analyzing SARS-CoV-2 has been awful. This, despite the fact that the US is the world-leader in sequencing and bioinformatics and despite the fact that the US spends billions of dollars every year on health-related research. I can only assume that this disaster occurred because politicians allocated money to the wrong health leaders. I’m not sure that things will improve in 2021. The Biden administration has allocated substantial sums of money for sequencing and analyzing SARS-2 sequences, most recently, over 1 billion dollars. This money will apparently be administered by the CDC. Unfortunately, the CDC has not demonstrated competence in large scale sequencing. I’m sorry to say, but just the opposite appears to be true. Further, to get maximum benefit, the sequencing data should be immediately available to all researchers without any restrictions. I’m not sure that this will happen. The CDC has apparently been uploading their sequencing data to GISAID, the opaque institution, founded by a ski instructor, which is loaded with restrictions instead of NCBI, the American-run database that has no restrictions on use. Why? All sequences generated with US taxpayer money should be submitted to NCBI, not GISAID.

Data Analysis Failure

I have been frustrated by the lack of quantitative data available regarding the pandemic. We live in a golden age of data collection, analysis and visualization. Yet, all I read about is Dr. Fauci’s scolding and Dr. Walensky’s pleading. How about this for a change – just give us some numbers. For example, what percent of the Americans who die every day of Covid were fully vaccinated? Which vaccine did they receive? What is the sequence of the SARS-2 virus which infected them? This is critical information. We have the resources to collect it. Why isn’t it available? The problem is not money, imo. The problem is the competence of the health leaders.

Gestalt#47 – SARS-2 Pandemic

Schools and the Spread of SARS-2

If you Google “schools” and “covid”, you’ll see conflicting headlines:

Schools Can Open Safely during COVID, the Latest Evidence Shows – Scientific American, April 15, 2021

Thailand to close schools, bars after surge in COVID-19 cases – Reuters, April 16, 2021

COVID cases surge again at D65 schools (Evanston, ILL) – Evanston Now, April 18, 2021

2 Northland schools added to Minnesota COVID-19 outbreak list – Pine Journal, April 15, 2021

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Springfield Public Schools (MA) – 22News, April 15, 2021

201 infected in new coronavirus outbreaks at 51 schools, says Michigan’s April 12 report – mlive.com

So what’s going on? The CDC and others appear to be making recommendations about schools based on how the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 from Wuhan behaved. Even though it is estimated that at least 530 teachers have died of COVID-19 (NY Times, January 29, 2021), that number is considered an acceptable loss when compared to the the disadvantages of closing schools. Although the original strain of SARS-2 did infect and kill teachers, it did not spread as rapidly as anticipated among small school children. That has changed due to the replacement of the original Wuhan strain with the newer UK strain. The UK strain (B.1.1.7) spreads easily and efficiently in schools even with social distancing and cloth masks. Recommendations about school openings need to catch up with the latest data. Close the schools until teachers and students can be vaccinated. That is the only sane policy.

Vaccine update – April 18, 2021

The good news on vaccines is that the two most used vaccines in the US, from Pfizer and Moderna, appear to be effective in protecting recipients from the original Wuhan strain as well as the UK strain.

The bad news is that there is recent evidence from Israel that the Pfizer vaccine does not do a good job in protecting against infection with the South African strain.

The South African variant of the coronavirus is notably more adept at “breaking through” the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than other variants are, Israeli scientists have found, in a first-of-its-kind real-world study.

The Times of Israel, April 10, 2021

Other bad news – the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has caused severe blood clots in a small percentage of individuals that have received the vaccine.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

Joint CDC and FDA Statement on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine, April 13, 2021

This is quite unfortunate. According to the CDC and FDA this severe vaccine reaction occurs in 1 in a million individuals. However, it is possible that other cases have been missed. Of course, given this information, most people would prefer to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines given that there is an apparently ample supply of these vaccines. This is a rational choice, given the available data.

More History – Interview with Peter Daszak, December 9, 2019. Check out 29:50.

Gestalt#46 – SARS-2 Pandemic

History

Back in January 2020, KimT posted a link to a press conference with Trump administration officials, including Dr. Fauci. Here it is again.

Worth watching.

Dr. Fauci – Celebrity Scientist and Political Kingmaker

I should say at the beginning that I think science popularizers do an important job – they make science understandable and interesting to the general public. So, to the extent that Dr. Fauci is using his platform to inform the general public and giving them useful information about the pandemic, he is doing a good thing. However, I think what he is doing now goes beyond that. Dr. Fauci is on the news almost every day, usually making obvious statements that people have already heard many times. Why is he doing this? To inform the American people? I don’t think so. He is the director of National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). This is a research institute. He is in charge of research being conducted by his Institute and funded through his institute. The CDC is responsible for public education. There should have been a sophisticated public education campaign to get people to wear masks and social distance. Instead, we get “Here’s what Dr. Fauci says you should never do” type headlines. This is bush league and helps no one but Dr. Fauci. There’s a saying in Washington that the most dangerous place to be is between Dr. Fauci and a TV camera. I think this has more than a little truth in it.

Dr. Fauci has a long history of direct involvement in politics. Some right-wing pundits have claimed that he is a deep-state dem who sabotaged the Trump administration. This is laughable. The truth is that Dr. Fauci has publicly used his role as Director of the NIAID to support a Republican official (Scooter Libby) who was tried and convicted of lying to the FBI and obstructing justice (ABC News, June 6, 2007; Science, June 15, 2007). I don’t know if Dr. Fauci is still a die-hard Republican supporter, but he certainly was one in the past. More recently, Dr. Fauci criticized Governor Whitmer of Michigan for opening up too soon.

“She’s a really good governor. I think she’s done some really good things. But I am telling them, just hold off for a bit.” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday night.

Click on Detroit, March 19, 2021

Does Dr. Fauci have a list of “good” governors and “bad” governors? Should a science administrator take political sides and rate the quality of politicians? Frankly, I think he has stepped over the line here.

It is sad that the pandemic has been politicized. Now the purity test for a Democrat is support for Dr. Fauci, no matter what he says and the purity test for a Republican is to criticize Dr. Fauci, no matter what he says. I think it would be best for everyone if Dr. Fauci were to stick to reporting on research progress funded by NIAID. That is his job, after all.

Still waiting for Dr. Lander

Biden formally nominated Eric Lander for OSTP director on Jan. 20. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has not yet scheduled his confirmation hearing. If Lander is confirmed, it will be the first time a presidential science advisor is in the president’s Cabinet.

Balletopedia News, April 9, 2021

Based on his experience, Dr. Lander is probably the most likely to organize a sequencing effort to trace the spread of new, dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2. Yet, the Senate seems to feel no urgency in even scheduling a confirmation hearing. Could someone inform them that we are in the midst of a lethal pandemic that may be about to spin out of control, even with our vaccines?