US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — China was outraged by the publication in the American media of an “investigation” according to which the CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease covid-19, was developed in a Wuhan laboratory. The arguments of American scientists are presented in an article published in The Wall Street Journal.
The possibility that the pandemic began with a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is once again attracting attention. President Biden has asked the national intelligence community to redouble its investigation efforts.
Much of the public comment has focused on circumstantial evidence: a mysterious disease that emerged in late 2019; laboratory work to deliberately increase the lethality of the virus (known as “function enhancement” research). The Chinese Communist Party did not seek to release relevant information. Based on US data, reports suggested that the lab was collaborating with the Chinese military on its projects.
In a study to enhance functions, a microbiologist can significantly increase the lethality of coronavirus by inserting a special sequence into its genome in a suitable place. In this case, there will be no traces of manipulation, but the spike protein of the virus will change, and it will become easier for the virus to introduce genetic material into the victim cell. Since 1992, at least 11 unrelated experiments have been conducted to embed a special sequence in the same place. The end result has always been overactive viruses.
The genome is the blueprint for the production of protein in the “factory” of the cell. The diagram consists of three-letter “words”, there are 64 of them and they mean different amino acids. For example, there are six different words for the amino acid arginine, which is commonly used to enhance viruses. Each cell has its own preference as to which word to use more often.
In the case of overactivation of viruses in the course of studies to enhance functions, other sequences can be embedded in one place. Instead of the CGG-CGG sequence (known as “double CGG”), which tells the “protein factory” to produce two arginines in a row, you get the same lethality by channeling any of the remaining 35 two-word combinations to produce double arginine. If the introduction occurs naturally, such as gene recombination, then one of the 35 remaining sequences is more likely to come into play. The CGG sequence is rarely used in the class of coronaviruses that can recombine with CoV-2.
Indeed, in the entire class of coronaviruses, which includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG sequence has never been found in vivo. This means that in this case we cannot talk about recombination, that is, the usual method of acquiring new abilities by viruses. A virus cannot get this sequence from another virus if that other virus does not have it.
Although the double CGG is suppressed in nature, the opposite is true in the laboratory. Double CGG is chosen for embedding. The point is that such a sequence is easily accessible and convenient, and scientists have already accumulated a wealth of experience in its application. The double CGG also has an additional advantage over the other 35 possible sequences: the double CGG creates a convenient beacon that allows scientists to track embeddings in the laboratory.
And now the incriminating fact. CoV-2 contains just such a sequence. Proponents of the theory of zoonotic origin (zoonotic diseases – those that are transmitted from animals to humans, ed.) Should explain how the new coronavirus, if it mutated or recombined, was able to obtain the least likely CGG-CGG sequence. Why did he reproduce the sequence that scientists in the laboratory would have preferred for research to enhance function?
Yes, this could happen by chance during mutations. But do you believe this? With all the random possibilities, the coronavirus received a rare and unnatural sequence that scientists are using. This fact, at least, implies that the main theory of the origin of the coronavirus must be a leak from the laboratory.
When Shi Zhengli and her colleagues published the partial genome of the virus in February 2020, they did not mention the special sequence that overactive the virus, nor the double CGG sequence. However, this is easy to understand from the data attached to the article. Did they omit it in the hope that no one would notice the evidence of the enhancement work?
However, just a few weeks later, virologist Bruno Coutard and his colleagues reported the discovery of this sequence in CoV-2 and its new overactive zone. The virus has a double CGG, you just need to look. In their article, the scientists explained that the protein containing this sequence “can enhance” the ability of the virus to “spread effectively” among humans.
There is additional scientific evidence to support the production of CoV-2 in function enhancement research. The most compelling of these is the significant difference in the genetic diversity of CoV-2 compared to the coronaviruses that cause SARS and MERS.
The natural origin of the latter two viruses has been proven. Viruses evolved rapidly in the human population until the most infectious variants took over. This was not the case with covid-19. An already highly infectious version of the virus has begun to spread among humans. Many months later, a slightly different version of it was discovered in England, but before that there had been no major “improvements” in it.
This early optimization is unprecedented and involves a long adaptation period before a massive spread of the virus. Science knows only one way that could lead to this: the simulation of natural evolution. In other words, the virus must be grown in human cells until it reaches its optimal state. This is the essence of function improvement research. To spur the adaptation of the virus, it is repeatedly infected with “humanized mice”, that is, mice with the human coronavirus receptor.
The presence of a double CGG sequence is strong evidence of gene splicing, and the lack of diversity in the outbreak suggests work on enhancement of functions. The scientific evidence leads us to conclude that the virus was developed in a laboratory.
Stephen Quay is the founder of Atossa Therapeutics and author of Stay Safe: A Physician’s Guide to Survive Coronavirus.
Richard Mueller is professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley and a former senior research fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
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