SARS-CoV-2 ‘Never Existed in the Natural World’ — and FBI Knew of Possible Lab Leak in March 2020

trove of documents released last week by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) may “explain why no one has been able to find the SARS2 virus (aka SARS-CoV-2) infesting a colony of bats,” according to one prominent science reporter.

Writing for City Journal, Nicholas Wade, former science editor for The New York Times, said the newly revealed documents — which showed U.S. scientists were planning to work with scientists from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to develop novel coronaviruses, provide evidence that COVID-19 “has never existed in the natural world.”

The USRTK documents revealed that scientists involved with a joint U.S.-China research proposal — “Project DEFUSE” — a year before the outbreak of COVID-19, planned to engineer coronaviruses that would be rare in nature, and that had many similarities with the genome of SARS-CoV-2.

Meanwhile, an investigation by Public published Tuesday revealed the FBI received credible intelligence in March 2020 that COVID-19 had leaked from the WIV — long before the FBI or U.S. government acknowledged a possible lab leak.

And blogger Jim Haslam, who has written extensively on COVID-19’s origin, reported this week that University of North Carolina researcher Ralph Baric, Ph.D., who has worked with Peter Daszak, Ph.D., president of the EcoHealth Alliance, patented genomes “less than 2% different” than SARS-CoV-2, in 2018.

Daszak and Baric were both closely involved with Project DEFUSE.

Commenting on the new developments, Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Ebright, Ph.D., a frequent critic of gain-of-function research, told The Defender:

“Two or three dozen corrupt scientists, most in one narrow subfield of science, have damaged, possibly irreparably, public trust in the many tens of thousands of scientists across all fields of science.

“Science, as a whole, needs to excise and eliminate the tumor, expelling the two-to-three dozen who caused the pandemic and defrauded the public.”

COVID ‘had all the unique properties’ of a virus produced in a lab

According to Wade, the documents “provide a recipe for assembling SARS-type viruses from six synthetic pieces of DNA designed to be a consensus sequence — the genetically most infectious form — of viruses related to SARS1, the bat virus that caused the minor epidemic of 2002,” Wade noted.

“Prior independent evidence already pointed to SARS2 having just such a six-section structure,” he added.

According to the New York Post, EcoHealth submitted the DEFUSE proposal to the Pentagon-affiliated Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), proposing experiments to increase the transmissibility of bat coronaviruses to humans. The application included a request for a $14 million grant to conduct this research.

“The grant proposed to ‘introduce appropriate human-specific cleavage sites’ into SARS-related viruses, a procedure that could have led to the creation of SARS2, with its distinctive furin cleavage site, depending on the starting virus used for the manipulation,” Wade wrote.

However, the DEFUSE proposal concealed plans to conduct this research at the WIV, the USRTK documents revealed, and also left out the name of a Chinese researcher — Shi Zhengli, sometimes referred to as the “Bat Lady” — who was involved with this research.

“The new drafts show the authors planned to synthesize eight to 16 strains of SARS-type bat viruses, selected for their likely ability to infect human cells,” Wade said, “to make a vaccine to immunize bats in regions that military troops might have to enter.”

Haslam noted that while “FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] vaccine approval for humans takes 15-20 years,” for research conducted on animals, the approval period is “just 2-5 years.” He described this as a “bureaucratic loophole” that “created a huge incentive for live bat research.”

There were close similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and the DEFUSE proposal and contradict virologists who claim COVID-19 developed naturally, Wade said.

“The genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, matches the viruses described in the research proposal,” USRTK wrote, while according to Wade, “When SARS2 first appeared in the world, it had all the unique properties that would be expected of a virus made according to the DEFUSE recipe.”

“Instead of slowly evolving the ability to attack human cells, as natural viruses must do when they jump from animals to humans, SARS2 was immediately infectious to people, possibly because it had already been adapted in humanized laboratory mice to the human cell receptor,” Wade added.

Baric patented genome less than 2% different from SARS-CoV-2 in 2018

The USRTK revelations also appear to confirm recent observations made by Haslam.

In a Substack post this week, Haslam wrote that, in 2018, Baric had developed — and patented —“SARS-like chimeras” known as 293 and HK3, which are 20% different from epidemic strains, and only 2% different from SARS-CoV-2.

“This was a Baric patent for the individual genome now called SARS-CoV-2,” he wrote.

Haslam noted that Daszak confirmed, via a post on X Jan. 20, that this occurred.

“In 2015, Baric was looking for coronaviruses that were less than 25% different than epidemic strains. In November 2019, Daszak said Baric was still ‘identifying’ these types of strains … SARS2 was 22% different than epidemic strains,” he wrote.

According to USRTK, “The genome of SARS-CoV-2 falls within the range of a 25 percent genetic difference from SARS.”

‘Nothing to do with the wet market or the bat soup story’

Public investigative reporters Michael Shellenberger and Alex Gutentag on Tuesday said the FBI received credible intelligence in March 2020 that SARS-CoV-2 had leaked from the WIV.

According to Public, information from “multiple sources” revealed that a “Chinese national from Wuhan, working as a confidential human source for the FBI, told their handler at the FBI’s Chinese Intelligence Squad.”

“[COVID-19] didn’t have anything to do with the wet market or the bat soup story they were going with,” the sources told the FBI.

The FBI’s sources contacted Public after reading a recent story Public published about scientists funded by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), previously headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who “sought to insert a furin cleavage site right where it exists on SARS-CoV-2.”

Public’s sources asked to remain anonymous to “protect their identities and those of their colleagues.”

USRTK also noted that drafts of the DEFUSE proposal indicated “the scientists’ particular interest in furin cleavage sites” — characteristics of the virus which helped contribute to the high transmissibility of COVID-19.

According to Public, the sources said the FBI trusted the individual who provided the intelligence “because the person’s information had been corroborated at least three times previously,” adding that the FBI considered the Wuhan revelations “good intel.”

“The fact that the FBI knew COVID came from a lab at least as far back as March 2020 raises questions about why other U.S. government officials, including Anthony Fauci and researchers he had funded, continued to insist that a lab leak was implausible for several more years,” Public wrote.

‘Of course the FBI would cover this up’

Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., professor of international law at the University of Illinois, bioweapons expert and author of the book “Resisting Medical Tyranny: Why the COVID-19 Mandates Are Criminal,” told The Defender he would not be surprised by an FBI cover-up regarding when it received intelligence about a lab leak at the WIV.

“Of course the FBI would cover this up,” he said, noting similarities with the 2001 anthrax lab leak.

“As I established in my book, Resisting Medical Tyranny, the FBI covered up the fact that anthrax had leaked out of a U.S. biological warfare weapons program and lab. Indeed, I had told the FBI that in the last week of October 2001,” he said.

He said that despite speaking to a “high-level official” at the FBI, no investigation followed. Instead, the “FBI went out to the U.S. government’s lab in Ames, Iowa, where they keep all the anthrax strains, and authorized the destruction of all of them.”

Boyle called this “destruction of evidence … a federal crime,” and said the FBI sought “to prevent a genetic reconstruction of anthrax” that would reveal details about its development.

Boyle, a critic of gain-of-function research, said such experiments could lead to a “Disease X,” which the World Health Organization warns may lead to a new pandemic.

“This is why we really have to get on top of this and stop these people,” Boyle said. “They first go out and develop the weapon, and then they develop an alleged vaccine to deal with blowback.”

Scientists engineered viruses despite ‘clear-and-present danger’ of pandemic

The DEFUSE proposal was led by Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance, who have been implicated in controversial gain-of-function research at the WIV and who worked closely with Baric.

Baric “was set to engineer twenty or more ‘chimeric’ SARS-related viral spike proteins per year of the proposal, and two to five full-length engineered SARS-related viruses,” USRTK wrote.

“The documents describe the SARS-related viruses to be studied in the grant as posing ‘a clear-and-present danger of a new SARS-like pandemic,’” USRTK noted, adding that the scientists involved with this research “planned to use new reverse genetics systems and test viruses in vivo … to engineer live viruses with novel backbones.”

The documents also showed that “the researchers planned to test engineered spike proteins in these familiar backbones as an initial test that would help them prioritize genomes for the next step: the generation of synthetic viruses in six pieces,” USRTK wrote.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) claimed the DEFUSE research involved the engineering of viruses with viral backbones already in the public domain. The NIH is the parent agency of NIAID.

“The spike proteins identified by the group this way to have ‘pre-epidemic potential’ would be employed in the next step, the generation of ‘full genome length viable viruses,’” USRTK added.

According to USRTK, these documents contradict prior statements by scientists who have promoted the zoonotic — animal to human — theory of COVID-19’s origin, including by Kristian Andersen, Ph.D. — an advocate for the natural origin theory and one of the authors of the now-infamous “Proximal Origin” paper published in Nature Medicine.

“Some scientists who favor the natural origin theory have argued that the Wuhan lab would have only employed familiar backbones in the published literature and swapped out spike proteins. Because these backbones in the published literature are too genetically dissimilar to have generated SARS-CoV-2, they have argued the DEFUSE proposal is irrelevant to the pandemic,” USRTK added.

But according to USRTK, the “language in the newly revealed documents echoes a 2022 analysis that uncovered a pattern of two restriction enzymes, BsmBI and BasI, that segmented the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome into six even pieces.”

“The scientists estimated the likelihood of observing this pattern of evenly spaced segments in nature to be highly improbable,” USRTK noted. The analysis in question, a preprint hosted on the BioRxiv database, “predicted the SARS2 virus had been generated in exactly this way,” according to Wade.

In a post on X — formerly Twitter — Valentin Bruttel, Ph.D., one of the authors of the preprint, acknowledged the similarity between the publication he co-authored and the revelations in the documents released by USRTK.

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