A World Health Organization (WHO) collaborator, who reviewed a coronavirus research grant application unearthed last month, confirmed that the language of the documents suggests American and Chinese scientists planned to collaborate on the creation of a new coronavirus not found in nature.
The grant proposal, obtained by the analysis group DRASTIC last month, was submitted to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018 by the EcoHealth Alliance, an American research non-profit that planned to collaborate with Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to create a new virus using the funding.
“We will compile sequence/RNAseq data from a panel of closely related strains and compare full length genomes, scanning for unique SNPs representing sequencing errors,” the application states. “Consensus candidate genomes will be synthesised commercially using established techniques and genome-length RNA and electroporation to recover recombinant viruses.”
The WHO source explained the procedure and how the brand new virus could still closely resemble the natural viruses it was derived from.
“They would then synthesise the viral genome from the computer sequence, thus creating a virus genome that did not exist in nature but looks natural as it is the average of natural viruses,” the individual said. “Then they put that RNA in a cell and recover the virus from it. This creates a virus that has never existed in nature, with a new ‘backbone’ that didn’t exist in nature but is very, very similar as it’s the average of natural backbones.”
While the grant was never approved, it provides further evidence that American and Chinese scientists were exploring gain-of-function research, in which scientists manipulate existing viruses to make them more transmissible and/or dangerous. Other EcoHealth Alliance grant proposals obtained by the Intercept also suggests the group and its Chinese partners were heavily involved in gain-of-function research.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the NIH’s Institute of of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly denied in congressional testimony that any U.S. funding went to gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In an interview with the Telegraph, the anonymous WHO source suggested that artificial lab engineering could explain why a close match for Sars-CoV-2 has not yet been identified in nature despite a massive Chinese and international effort to do just that.
“This means that they would take various sequences from similar coronaviruses and create a new sequence that is essentially the average of them. It would be a new virus sequence, not a 100 per cent match to anything,” the WHO contact said.
The closest cousin to Sars-CoV-2 that’s been found in nature so far is a strain called Banal-52, which shares 96.8 per cent of the genome. However, for a virus to be the direct ancestor of another, the genome should be around a 99.98 percent match, according to the publication.
It was revealed earlier this year that the Wuhan Institute of Virology deleted its main database of samples and viral sequences months before the pandemic erupted. The Chinese government has sequenced the genomes of tens of thousands of animals living in and around Wuhan but has yet to identify the Sars-Cov-2 virus in nature, casting doubt on the natural transmission theory.
“If Sars-CoV-2 comes from an artificial consensus sequence composed of genomes with more than 95 per cent similarity to each other… I would predict that we will never find a really good match in nature and just a bunch of close matches across parts of the sequence, which so far is what we are seeing,” the WHO source said.
“The problem is that those opposed to a lab leak scenario will always just say that we need to sample more, and absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. Scientists overall are afraid of discussing the issue of the origins due to the political situation. This leaves a small and vocal minority of biased scientists free to spread misinformation,” he added.