Was the Pandemic Caused by a Leaked Bioweapon or a Mishap in the Vaccine Race?
The devastation wreaked by the Covid-19 virus on human life and the world economy – especially the way it made doomsday scenarios of contagion all too real – has made ordinary people anxious to know its origin. Shockingly, there is enough evidence and reason to suspect that the pandemic might have been the result of a vaccine arms race that skirted dangerously close to bioweapons development. And that a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China – inadvertent or, well, by design – may have been responsible for the pandemic. The behind-the-scenes players were the U.S. government, Big Pharma, and China – which in essence means the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This is no fuzzy conspiracy theory. But it's a complex story and calls for careful unraveling. Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck does that in a stunning “chalkboard exposé” – his signature methodology for connecting the dots on important issues of the day. Crimes or Cover-Up? Exposing the World’s Most Dangerous Lie, a two-hour production, has Beck unfolding the map and the timeline in three parts: 1) The Vaccine Arms Race, 2) The Pandemic Begins, and 3) Censorship and Cover-Up. (Supporting documents are available here.)
There are four key dramatis personae: Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the U.S. President; Dr. Ralph Baric, epidemiologist and expert on coronaviruses at the University of North Carolina; Dr. Peter Daszak, a zoologist whose EcoHealth Alliance channeled over $3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the epicenter of the outbreak; and Dr. Zhengli Shi, a Chinese virologist at the Wuhan institute who was collaborating with Dr. Daszak.
Over 83,000 pages of emails from Dr. Baric, obtained by the U.S. Right to Know Organization, and over 3,000 pages of Dr. Fauci’s emails (including those to and from Dr. Daszak), accessed by media under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), provide evidence to suspect risky, unethical behavior, if not outright wrongdoing, and a hasty, hermetic cover-up. To this hefty sheaf, Beck adds more documents and federal contracts that fill out the picture.
This article, “Part 1” of the story, focuses on the first section of Beck’s chalkboard exposé.
The Vaccine Arms Race
According to Beck, the story begins in 2002, with a SARS outbreak in China that became a worldwide health threat. The death toll was over 8,000 people in 26 countries. To the CCP it represented the most severe sociopolitical crisis since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. China suffered great damage to its international image, so the CCP withheld information from the public and the rest of the world. It took little action to check this epidemic of a serious respiratory illness caused by one of a subfamily of RNA viruses known as coronaviruses. At the time, scientists first pondered the ominous possibility that coronaviruses may cause widespread health crises in the future.
Beck’s anodyne perspective, giving the benefit of a wide berth of doubt to most researchers and others, is that, at least at the time of incipient developments, they believed they were making a principled effort to understand coronaviruses and develop vaccines against them.
In 2005, three years after the SARS outbreak, Dr. Baric published a paper at the NIH website on his research on SARS coronavirus causes and mortality in laboratory-bred mice. With funds from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NIH, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), he was searching for bats with coronavirus to determine if mice could be infected with bat fecal matter. He was able to produce a lethal mouse-adapted coronavirus named MA15. The paper says this was achieved by a process called serial passage. At this stage, there was no genetic engineering involved. Remember, the motive was to ultimately get a coronavirus that could target humans and then develop a vaccine.
In the same year, at the Wuhan institute, Dr. Shi began collaborating with Dr. Daszak, a zoologist and president of the EcoHealth Alliance, an NGO that supports programs on global health and pandemic prevention. She was helping Dr. Daszak find coronavirus-infected bat droppings.
In 2006, an intriguing development took place. The U.S. government passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act of 2006. An unusual combination of subjects, to say the least. Suspiciously hidden in the Act was the Rule of Construction Concerning National Vaccine Injury and Compensation Program, granting liability waivers to vaccine companies working on Emergency Use Authorized (EUA) inoculations. As Beck explains, the government pushed through this protection for Big Pharma under the cover of hurricane appropriations legislation.
Did this event – happening when the vaccine arms race was just beginning – mark the beginning of a public-private partnership with Big Pharma? That’s a question directly linked to the billions of dollars in profit that Big Pharma has earned during the pandemic, drawing much on public-funded research carried out in federal institutions by scientists paid from the exchequer. The public-private partnership that emerged during the pandemic comprised the NIH, Moderna, Pfizer, Dr. Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance, and the Wellcome Trust, headed by Sir Jeremy Farrar, a medical researcher.
To return to the hunt for the virus, in 2013, Dr. Shi had located a remote cave in Yunnan, China, with samples of SARS-like coronaviruses, two previously unknown – WIV1 and SHCO14. The exact location of the cave is not mentioned. She said she was able to culture WIV1 but not SHCO14 with the technology she had available in her lab. So Baric requested that she send him the genetic material. At his lab, Baric was able to take the spike protein from SHCO14 and move it into the SARS virus he had already produced to see if it could be passed from bats or mice to humans. Since SARS-like viruses were perceived as a huge future threat, the idea was to engineer them to infect humans and then develop a broad-spectrum vaccine.
This time, Dr. Baric used humanized mice to see if he could achieve success with what’s known as “gain of function,” or GoF, methodology. Different from serial passage, it involves altering viruses to infect species they wouldn’t normally infect so that the virus and its effects could be studied under lab conditions or to develop vaccines. While it’s a standard methodology, there are risks: a) of the virus inadvertently escaping from the lab; and b) the use of the virus for developing bioweapons. So, such experiments are supposed to be done under high biosafety levels (BSL-3, at least).
In 2014, determining that the research was too risky, the U.S. government halted selected funding of GoF research for SARS viruses. But it gave Dr. Baric a waiver. Funding continued to Dr. Daszak at the EcoHealth Alliance, who diverted the money to Dr. Shi in Wuhan.
In 2015, Dr. Baric, who was able to produce transgenic or humanized mice, published A SARS-like cluster of circulating coronaviruses show potential for human emergence in Nature, announcing the transmissibility of a coronavirus that can be spread to humans and efficiently infect human airway cells. Dr. Shi was listed as a co-author. (In March 2020, Nature added an editorial note to the paper, saying the paper was being used in support of unverified theories that the pandemic was caused by an engineered virus and that there was no evidence this was true. But in the nearly two years since then, much has changed.)
Even in 2015, many virologists, who were unaware that the work was being done in concert with Communist China, responded with alarm, and Nature published their fears too. A virus that grows remarkably well in human cells is extremely dangerous, after all. “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” warned Dr. Simon Wain-Hobson of the Pasteur Institute, Paris. And Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist and biodefense expert at Rutgers University, cautioned, “The only impact of this work is the creation, in a lab, of a new, non-natural risk.”
Dr. Baric responded that further studies with the virus would be on non-human primates, to extrapolate data relevant to humans. And Dr. Daszak argued that the research would help identify which “pathogens should be prioritized for further research attention.” It was only the next year that Dr. Baric issued a correction to the paper saying part of his funding came from the U.S. government via Dr. Daszak’s outfit and went to Dr. Shi at the Wuhan lab.
In 2017, Dr. Shi published a paper, with Dr. Baric as co-author, on the evolutionary origin of SARS-CoV and the risk of future emergence of SARS-like diseases. Essentially, it speaks of a rich pool of SARS-CoV viruses transmissible to humans – all found from multiple species of bats from a cave in Yunnan province over a period of five years. In retrospect, the fulsome tone in which Nature described the cave hunt and the almost miraculous solving of the mystery gives weight to the suspicion of this being a red herring – despite the questions the reputed journal did raise.
2017 was also the year in which Dr. Fauci removed the funding pause on GoF research.
According to Beck’s copious research, in 2018, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an elite defense research group, rejected an EcoHealth Alliance proposal, named Project DEFUSE, seeking funds for collaborative studies with the CCP to inject bat coronavirus into humanized mice for developing vaccines. This GoF research was deemed too risky.
On January 11, Project Veritas, a non-profit that exposes corruption, obtained and released a leaked memorandum confirming the Project DEFUSE rejection. The memo was written by U.S. Marine Major Joseph Murphy, who was working at DARPA at the time. What had happened was that research deemed a security and biohazard risk by the Department of Defense had been cleared for funding by Dr. Fauci.
Major Murphy concludes that Covid-19 is an “American-created recombinant bat vaccine or its precursor virus,” presumably released in a lab in August 2019. It circulated and mutated in the Chinese population and reached epidemic status in November or December. Later, it spread across the world.
So, what we are left pondering at the end of Part 1 of Beck’s coronavirus story is whether it was the pursuit of a profitable vaccine or the witting or unwitting development of a bioweapon.
Independent of Beck’s work, too, one thing is clear, as a post-pandemic paper by Rosanna Segreta and Yuri Deigin says: the artificial origin of the Covid virus is no baseless conspiracy theory, and the pandemic can plausibly be linked to a lab leak.