As the theory Covid-19 was leaked from a Chinese lab picks up steam, two scientists have dropped some explosive new claims.
An explosive new study claims Covid-19 was created by Wuhan scientists who then covered their tracks by “retro-engineering” versions of the virus to make it appear it evolved organically from animals.
The study’s authors, British oncology expert Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen, further claim evidence of the cover-up have been ignored by academics for a year.
The soon-to-be released journal article, which has been obtained by the, challenges the prevailing “natural origin” theory of Covid-19, that the virus jumped naturally from bats to humans at a wet market in Wuhan.
It comes as US President Joe Biden orders the intelligence community to “redouble” efforts to determine the cause of Covid-19, including the theory it escaped from a Wuhan lab, which China denies.
Prof Dalgleish is a professor of oncology at St George’s University in London who worked on the breakthrough “HIV vaccine” and Dr Sørensen is a virologist and chairman of the pharmaceutical company Immunor that has developed a Covid-19 vaccine candidate called Biovacc-19, the Daily Mail reports.
They claimed that when analysing Covid-19 samples to develop a vaccine last year, they noticed “unique fingerprints” that could only be attributed to laboratory manipulation — but their attempts to publish their findings at the time were rejected by major scientific journals.
After further study, Prof Dalgleish and Dr Sørensen released a new 22-page report, which will be published in the Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery in days, and concludes “SARS-Coronavirus-2 has no credible natural ancestor” and that the virus was created in a lab “beyond reasonable doubt”.
They said after pouring through experiments conducted at the Wuhan lab between 2002 and 2019, they found evidence Wuhan scientists took a natural coronavirus “backbone” found in cave bats and spliced onto it a new “spike”, which became Covid-19.
A key clue was a row of four positively-charged amino acids on the SARS-Cov-2 spike. The scientists said even a row of three amino acids was rare to find in nature — as they tended to repel each other, like magnets — so it was “extremely unlikely” to find a row of four in a naturally occurring organism.
“The laws of physics mean that you cannot have four positively charged amino acids in a row. The only way you can get this is if you artificially manufacture it,” Prof Dalgleish told the Daily Mail.
The finding caused the pair to conclude “the likelihood of (Covid-19) being the result of natural processes is very small”.
“A natural virus pandemic would be expected to mutate gradually and become more infectious but less pathogenic which is what many expected with the COVID-19 pandemic but which does not appear to have happened,” they wrote in their study.
They also took aim at gain of function experiments, which involve manipulating, splicing and recombining viruses.
“The implication of our historical reconstruction, we posit now beyond reasonable doubt, of the purposively manipulated chimeric virus SARS-CoV-2 makes it imperative to reconsider what types of Gain of Function experiments it is morally acceptable to undertake,” the study said.
“Because of wide social impact, these decisions cannot be left to research scientists alone.”
The study claims after the pandemic began, the Wuhan scientists tried to cover their tracks by “retro-engineering” the virus to make it appear it had evolved naturally.
“They’ve changed the virus, then tried to make out it was in a sequence years ago,” Prof Dalgleish said.
They also claimed there had been “deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data” in Chinese labs and claimed “Chinese scientists who wished to share their knowledge have not been able to do so or have disappeared”.
Dr Sørensen said he believed the virus escaped from lower security areas of the institute where gain of function research was being carried out.
“We have seen lab leaks and we know it’s happening. We also know from the reports we’ve seen, that coronavirus is worked on in Biosafety Level 2 or 3 labs. If they do Gain of Function in such labs, what do you expect?” he said.
The lab-escape theory of the origin of Covid-19 began as a fringe theory but has increasingly built momentum.
This week, Dr Anthony Fauci, who is the top adviser on the Covid-19 pandemic to the United States government,at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Speaking at the United Facts of America festival earlier this month, Dr Fauci said he was “not convinced” the virus developed naturally.
“No actually. I am not convinced about that,” the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases said.
“I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.”
He added: “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out.
“So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favour of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.”
Dr Fauci told a Senate hearing on May 11 that a “full investigation” was needed.
This week also saw the surfacing of a previously undisclosed intelligence report that claimed several researchers at the Wuhan institute fell ill and had to be hospitalised in November 2019.
US President Joe Biden has tasked intelligence agencies with intensifying efforts to “collect and analyse information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” on the origin of the virus.
Mr Biden said the majority of the intelligence community had “coalesced” around the two possibilities — that the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab, and that it leapt to humans from an infected animal — but “do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other”.
The president said the US would “keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation”.
China has staunchly rejected the lab-leak theory and maintained its position in a statement this week from its embassy in the US.
“Smear campaigns and blame shifting are making a comeback, and the conspiracy theory of ‘lab leak’ is resurfacing,” the statement on Thursday said.