Even now, what the world knows about the mysterious virus 18 months after it broke out in Wuhan city in China, is that it is mysterious. Though officially called Covid-19 after its name was changed many times within three months of its detection, its name is more deceptive than indicative. Turning into a pandemic, its destructive mission continues even after almost a year-and-a-half with no end to the misery in sight. Whether the evil virus was caused by natural evolution or human effort in Wuhan was the dispute from day one of its outbreak. Finding the cause of a virus is not just curiosity. It is a must to find a cure for it and to prevent its recurrence. A WHO commission, tasked to find out its cause and source last year, ended its mission saying it could find neither. And yet the WHO gave a benign name and narrative to it, implying it was a natural evolution, which made any search for its cause irrelevant. Even now the world has not woken up to the fact that the name Covid-19 is itself deceptive. What is in a name? That is where the huge public mischief originated.

By S Gurumurthy

Covid-19 — a deceptive name

Chinese authorities first linked the Wuhan virus to the wet market — a place selling living wild animals for meat — in Wuhan where like vegetables in India, live animals are sold. This instantly recalled the SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] epidemic of 2002 caused by bats infecting civets sold in the wet market and from them to humans. In the case of SARS 2002, the animal link was established by decoding the virus genome from bats to humans. But for the new virus, there is no such proof available even after a year-and-half. And yet the Chinese and WHO linked the new virus to the old SARS.

Initially the new virus was variously called Wuhan pneumonia and Wuhan virus. WHO quickly intervened, renamed it thrice in two months, January and February, each time linking it to SARS 2002 and the wet market with no proof, calling the new virus as SARS-2 — a new avatar of SARS-1. Later, adding the word ‘coronavirus’ that implied its animal nexus, WHO improved its name as “novel coronavirus” — 2019-nCoV. Next, as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” — SARS-CoV-2 to relate it firmly again to animals. And, as Covid-19 that is CO for ‘corona’, VI for ‘virus’ and D for ‘virus’ and 19 for the year it appeared, once and for all to fix the blame on poor animals. Shockingly within months, unable to prove it, the Chinese themselves disowned the wet market link to the Wuhan virus. A year later, in March this year the WHO fact finding commission itself admitted that “the role of animal markets is still not clear”. Yet, even now animals bear the cross for the deadly pandemic!

Why does a virus, the cause of which is not known still, have a name that blames animals? Here is the answer. The WHO has a noble policy of not naming the geographic origin of a natural virus as that may blame the race of the humans living there. So let animals bear the blame. The noble WHO rule is for a naturally evolved virus. In the case of the Wuhan virus, there is dispute about whether it was natural evolution or man-made. The deceptive narrative of the pandemic, which implies it was natural evolution itself misdirected the search for the cause and the source of the virus away from truth. With the stunning and suppressed facts about the virus obfuscated by geopolitics involving China and the US slowly emerging, the truth seems to be overcoming US-China politics.

Bats did not fly 1,500 kms to Wuhan

The devastated world longing to know the truth about the cause of the virus for over a year should thank Nicholas Wade, for uncovering the truth with amazing and indisputable logic. Wade is no ordinary journalist. He is science writer, editor, and author who has worked on the staff of Nature, Science, and, for many years, the New York Times. In a devastating, yet balanced, article [titled “The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?” May 5, 2021 in Bulletin of Atomic Scientists founded by the Manhattan project scientists led by Albert Einstein] what Wade has written shatters to smithereens all fake narratives to blame the Chinese bats for causing the virus.

Wade asks a simple question: “How could the bats which live 1,500 kms away in Yunnan transmit the virus to humans in Wuhan?” Particularly when they can’t fly for more than 50 kms. Also how did the Yunnan bats manage to infect only the animals sold in Wuhan wet market, overlooking the entire 1,500 km terrain in between? Within four months of SARS 2002, the link between bats and the wet market animals infected by it was found out by scientists. But now after a year-and-a-half, no such connection has been seen, says Wade. Even the Chinese have given up the wet market claim, points out Wade. Poor Yunnan bats did not infect the people in Wuhan but they are blamed. How did the bat virus get to Wuhan then? This is at the heart of the gripping story of the virus that was scripted when the Americans were madly in love with the Chinese who pretended to reciprocate.

‘Bat Lady’ brings 100 bat viruses to Wuhan

Wade’s narration of the story of the new virus is chilling. The villain — or the heroine — in the Wuhan virus story is Shi Zhengli, China’s leading expert on bat viruses, better known as the ‘Bat Lady’. Leading the researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Wade says, Shi mounted frequent expeditions to the bat-infested caves of Yunnan in southern China and collected a hundred-plus different bat coronaviruses in November 2015. Shi teamed up with Ralph S Baric, an eminent coronavirus researcher at the university of North Carolina. They focused on enhancing the ability of the bat viruses to attack humans. In November 2015 they created a novel coronavirus. How? It is a little technical. They did it by taking the backbone of SARS-1 virus and replacing its spike protein with one from bat virus, which was able to infect the human cell airway. Wade quotes a virology expert who says “if that man-made virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory” — meaning their huge potential for infection. Why would virologists create such Frankenstein? The justification has the noble aim of preparing for mitigating the risks of future outbreaks — in the present case for preventing the re-emergence of SARS-1. This is called Gain of Function (GOF) research in virology. The norm for GOF research is that the potential to mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous viruses. Baric and Shi admitted the risks in their work but justified it on the GOF.

Baric, says Wade, had taught Shi a general method for engineering bat coronaviruses to attack other species like humanised mice — “a cheap and ethical stand-in for human subjects”. Shi returned to her lab at the WIV and resumed the work she had started on genetically engineering coronaviruses to attack human cells. How could one be sure that she did? Wade cites the public records of American connection to WIV which proves it.

Bat Lady’s virus, not bats

Wade cites two irrefutable pieces of evidence which clearly point to what the Bat Lady did or was well on the way to accomplish her mission. One, the grant proposal to fund Shi’s work from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), a public record. [According to Fox News (12.5.2021), the Obama-led US, one-sided in its love of China, started funding WIV from 2005 that went on till 2019.] This proposal said exactly what she wanted to do with the money. The NIH assigned the grants to Peter Daszak, a big name in the guild of virologists, as the contractor, and he subcontracted them to Shi. Explaining the content of the proposals, Wade says, “What that means in non-technical language is that Shi had set out to create coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells.” It cannot be said she did or did not generate SARS-2 in her labs because, Wade says, Chinese have sealed her labs. But, Wade cites an interview given by Daszak on December 9, 2019 just before the Wuhan outbreak, which proved Shi had accomplished her mission. Daszak talked in glowing terms about the researchers at the WIV and said we — meaning Daszak and Shi — have now found after 6 or 7 years, over 100 new SARS-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS.” Daszak, points out Wade, says around minute 28 of the interview, “Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanised 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…” Note the words uttered with inhuman pride, “untreatable” and “can’t vaccinate against”. Have any doubt now that the devastation that is happening to millions and millions of humans was the work of WIV — orchestrated by the Bat Lady and Daszak? What is the conclusion? Poor bats did not infect any animals with the virus, which in turn transmitted it to people in Wuhan. Bats were brought to WIV to create a new coronavirus — now devastating the world.

But, who subcontracted the coronavirus grant to Shi Zhengli? Peter Daszak. Who praised her for developing more than 100 bat viruses that could not be vaccinated against? Peter Daszak. When the virus broke out, who got the scientists to sign letters saying that it could not be a lab leak? Peter Daszak. Who was a member of the WHO commission to find out whether it was a lab escape? Peter Daszak. If Shi is the villain who created the evil, Daszak turns out to be the villain who suppressed its creation.

Well, it is just half the story. There is more. The WIV at Wuhan was not just a civilian science academy. It partners the People’s Liberation Army, which had plans from 2015 to prepare bio-weapons for the next world war. The issue is not just people’s health but global security.

This article first appeared in www.vifindia.org and it belongs to them.