ER Editor: As the introduction to the Unz piece below illustrates, the following person calling himself Oldmicrobiologist blogged a response at The Saker site to an article, someone who claims to have 40 years of experience in conducting biodefense research. Basically, he is arguing in defence of COVID-19 as a bioweapon against China for purposes of economic sabotage, and offers a curious insight into certain US participants of the world military games in Wuhan (he was also a participant in these games back in the day), who some believe may have introduced the weaponized virus into the Wuhan area. He also offers an interesting insight into weaponized viruses in general, that the most lethal ones – i.e. they’re not all lethal – for ‘ruining an economy’ aren’t actually the ones that kill. He also adds that the Chinese response was one appropriate for combatting a bioweapon – among other interesting tidbits.
Was Coronavirus a Biowarfare Attack Against China?
[The following is the republication of several long and very detailed comments by an unidentified purported expert on biowarfare that originally appeared on a recent thread of the Saker blogsite.]
I’ll throw my 2 cents in here. I have zero proof other than my gut feeling that this is a bioweapon.
I do have 40 years of biodefense research experience behind me and worked at Fort Detrich on bacterial vaccines, where I developed my own aerosol infection routes and developed multi-species models of pathogenesis to establish correlates of immunity. Because I was a one-stop shop doing everything including animal care, aerosol exposures, sample analysis, necropsy, and histopathology, etc., plus I had research programs in endemic areas studying the immunopathological response in human populations to establish immune correlates of protection for candidate vaccines all for the Biological Defense Research Program (BDRP).
I recall the early years when the Department of Homeland Security was stood up (ER: established?) and they got the lion’s share of poorly performing civil servants, un-fireable under the then OPMA policies. I was brought in as a technical expert as we were in dire straits for funding so I (and others) was lent out as a research prostitute. This is a little known problem with civil service employees. They are impossible to eliminate and generally rise to levels where they can cause the most damage. However, an opportunity arose whereby agencies in the Federal government had to contribute bodies to the new Department of Homeland Security (as no new vacancies were created when the agency was stood up (sic), meaning everyone had to sacrifice personnel) so most, if not all, employees sent to DHS were the worst of the worst. However, the DHS labs (specifically NBACC) also tied into some nefarious microbiologists working at the CIA (ostensibly part of DHS), and it is an understatement to say that what I saw being proposed horrified me. That work, I am certain, was performed at Battle Memorial Institute in West Jefferson, Ohio under a DHS contract doing the work for the CIA under the auspices of NBACC. As I was very vocally opposed to this stuff, I was removed from the secure access at DHS but not DoD to the offensive work which I had pointed out was not only illegal but unethical. I have since retired now more than 10 years and am far away from all of that. I won’t say more as they will reach out and seek retribution. But, if you look hard enough, you can find still on the internet some references. There are some pissed off people out there should anyone care to actually do some leg work and try and figure this out. But, our news people no longer do this work so there is very little possibility of ever learning the truth.
However, that said, I notice some interesting things with COVID-19, that perked my ears up a bit. Yes, it could be a natural infection jumping species from bats to humans with a probable intermediate host, under conditions of human encroachment into world habitats. It is actually most likely to have been that, except for the strain differences being observed. That leads one to believe, if it is in fact true, and I have no reason to doubt the Chinese on this, that it originated outside of China and it seems likely to have originated in the US. If, in fact, the US has 5 strains currently and China only one, then it must have been percolating in the US for some time before it arose in China. Likely, deaths in the US were attributed to other diseases such as influenza and only retrospective sampling will determine this. It would be interesting to do a combination GPS-Molecular biology tracking of strains over time and distance. Also, a definite genetic analysis of strains over time would also be beneficial and can be done easily on every isolated strain. This would have value in attributing the course of the disease over time as part of a natural history study of the virus. We would need access to all samples of every lung disease-related death for the past 12 months to be certain to track all potential deaths. NBACC is the key to figuring out what nefarious stuff was being funded.
It is possible that this virus has mutated over time to become more virulent. In particular, engineered strains are generally unstable over multiple passages through multiple hosts. In my experience when testing strains for pathogenesis and lethality, it is wise to first passage [sic] a frozen isolate several times through a susceptible animal host to regain full strength. If you test a lab isolate (usually frozen or lyophilized), generally it is wimpy unless you passage it at least 3 passages through an animal model. The worst strains are always those recovered from humans who died from the disease and not field-collected strains. If this was perceived to be a useful agent from the likes of Bolton or Pompeo, who are terrible and evil people, then it is conceivable this was thought to teach the Chinese a lesson in economics. You have to be a complete idiot to release a virus for which you have no effective countermeasures, but this administration seems to be filled with complete idiots. So, expecting normal behavior from these people is futile.
It could have been released during the 7th CISM military games held in Wuhan October 18-27, 2019 and that fits perfectly into the time scale for the actual infections. Now interestingly enough, I was a participant in several CISM competitions in Europe for skiing (I was on active duty for 26 years), so I am very well versed in who these athletes are. In general, the best are Olympic competitors who are ostensibly part of the National Guard of their states who pay for their training by extended military active duty periods where their sole job is sports training. I used to lose every year to one of these guys, and generally I placed a distant second place in cross country skiing. I also participated in the biathlon competitions, and our soldiers were the very top level because they were in fact Olympic athletes. Rumor is that the US participants at CISM were atrocious, which is very atypical, so one wonders who these “athletes” were. I am reminded of the US military mission in Brazil to help flood victims which, coincidentally, was the exact same time that all the power transmission stations in Venezuela were destroyed. So, again, a hackle or 2 rise when I heard about that. However, it is the perfect opportunity to release a virus on a target population.
I will also like to add that not all biological warfare agents are lethal. In fact, the worst are non-lethal as it consumes vast amounts of resources in treatment and lost productivity. Deaths are actually cheaper. So, a high communicability, low lethality disease is perfect for ruining an economy. As Trump’s administration claims, they are waging war against economic enemies (currently China heads the list) using all possible actions. This fits perfectly into that; however, it may end up destroying the American economy, which would be ironic.
I believe the Chinese response was exactly what a country would do if they were attacked with a bioweapon, which explains a lot of their actions. I do not believe it was an accidental release from the BSL-4 labs in Wuhan. In fact, this may have been an irresistible opportunity similar to the alleged Novichok release just 8 km away from Porton Down laboratories (the UK Fort Detrich). Interestingly, the potential release from PDL was never put forward as a logical explanation. Anyway, it sticks me that the CIA seems to have developed a pattern over time. As long as I am pushing my gut feelings, I will throw out there the potential for a bioengineered adenovirus with c-fos and c-jun over expression which would cause sarcomas. That work was all published at the National Cancer Institute located where? Fort Detrich. I am certain it is just a coincidence. I can imagine the cackling going on at the CIA when planning this operation and again the coronavirus operation(s). I believe there were at least two attacks, with Iran being the second and perhaps North Korea as well. However, evidence against it being a bioweapon is that Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba are minimally affected. This could mean effective countermeasures or botched attacks. It is inconsistent, though, with the way the CIA operates.
Adenovirus is another virus similar to coronavirus in usage and easily aerosolized. I have made my own for over expression of medical treatments for wound infections. Has anyone other than myself noted that so many enemies of the US have died from sarcomas, particularly in South America? My point is perhaps this stuff has been ongoing for quite some time and with some fairly good results. So, familiarity breeds contempt so as they gin more experience and begin to think this is good stuff; it is not out of the realm of possibility that this is in fact a bioweapon. That Iran was hit so hard is another hackle rising. It is just simply too good (for the idiots in the US government) to be a coincidence.
So, we are left with some interesting problems about this virus.
- Where was patient zero in China?
- What will be the results if a natural history study is conducted correlating geolocation, strain identity, severity of disease over time?
- Will that work be prevented? If so, that is yet another reason to be suspicious.
- Will it continue to mutate, and what will be the outcome of that?
Lots of good stuff to examine here and it will keep a lot of people busy for years.
Maybe you can explain this:
“Coronavirus have not previously been known to cause severe disease in humans”.
This is excerpt from the patent issued to CDC, US government. Link:
So the question for me is, why should a harmless virus be patented by the US government and used for research in labs like US army research at Ft. Derick? That makes it military. Why is there then the SARS-CoV, and the latest COVID-19, which is SARS-CoV-2? The swineflu was likewise proven to be lab made at least in sources other than mainstream and WHO, the same was the case with Ebola, and even HIV.
It immediately raises the question of ban of biological weapons labs in my mind, by international treaties, just like a ban on the use of napalm, landmines and so on, since a harmless virus is researched in army labs and suddenly appears as aggressive viruses.
It is an interesting question. Under the bioweapons conference treaty, no offensive work can legally be done, and any signatory can demand an onsite inspection of facilities for verification at any time. To my knowledge that has never been demanded of the US. It has been done to Russia, and China is not a signatory, nor is Israel or North Korea. We have been caught doing inappropriate biodefense research several times now but only because it became known and there were no consequences.
The slippery slope within DoD is to make a counter measure – you have to try and look forwards and using intelligence-based informatics to design offensive agents. In my opinion this is fallacious as we can’t make countermeasures against the normal 10 agents on the high threat list (since the program’s inception in 1942) other than anthrax and smallpox for which we have had effective vaccines for decades. Since 9/11, no new effective and/or safe vaccines have been been made for any of the rest of the agents on the list. This includes several far more likely biothreats like the plague, tularemia, glanders, brucella, Ebola, Marburg, etc. This was despite pouring billions into biodefense research most of which went to universities. When things cooled down, the funding dried up as always. USAMRIID is currently shut down and may never re-open. But contracted services still go on and are funded using black money so not under the purview of Congress. So trying to make vaccines against biothreat agents that don’t exist seems ridiculous when the real threats, some of which the US has used in warfare, are still out there without effective preventatives. What happens is when you pour money into an area, as happened after 9/11, all kinds of ridiculous stuff gets funded with very little oversight. The goal is to spend the money and no one really cares if any actual product is created. In fact, success means the demise of your program, so the incentive is to drag it out for as long as funding is available. I had programs managed under DTRA funding that because I got new program managers as often as every 3 months had no clue or even any expertise in the matter and had zero idea of what we were doing. I got tired of doing a new dog and pony show each time I was assigned a new manager who usually was some very young recent PhD graduate with no experience at all. Often they were nebutistic appointments and daddy was a Congressman or Under Secretary.
The intelligence based decisions are as usual idiotic as is most intelligence coming out of the CIA and its affiliates. You get better intelligence reading PUBMED than you get out of any intelligence agencies. The microbiologists who work at the CIA and its contract companies were all military microbiologists who, because they were essentially incompetent, drifted over to the CIA. Then you have some IMHO ridiculous events. I recall when Ken Alibekov “defected” he spoonfed a bunch of made up BS which the CIA bought lock stock and barrel. I had working for me at the same time several former Soviet microbiologists (one of who was a senior researcher at Biopreparat) who were in fact the real deal and all told me he was a bullshit artist. One thing he peddled was a chimeric smallpox-Ebola and another a Ebola-anthrax. So the CIA immediately funded an effort to create chimeric viruses. To my knowledge, these were unsuccessful; however, the COVID-19 may be being caused by a chimeric virus. The only good reason to make a chimeric virus is to develop an attenuated strain for use as a vaccine. But, as often happens, some attenuated mutants become more lethal as an unintended consequence. Another event was trying to force photo data from Iraq to prove they had an offensive bioweapons program. These guys had no clue what laboratory equipment was in actuality and had offered up a cooking truck with pots and pans etc. as proof. They were, and I assume still are, idiots.
DoD programs are actually transparent and managed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Less transparent are the foreign stuff being funded under the Nunn-Lugar Act, which includes the debacle of the “white elephant” lab and its satellite labs in the Republic of Georgia. No one will ever look into any of this but likely will end up blaming Russia or China.
They tend to underestimate their adversaries. China has an offensive program, and if they get convinced they were attacked, then I believe something nasty will be coming soon to the US. But, China is not stupid and won’t release a biothreat agent they have no preventative or treatment for. I also had several Chinese scientists working for me, and I respect them immensely.
That should be PROMED for current infectious disease reporting around the world. It is exceptionally good and not funded or controlled by governments. PUBMED is for online publications which is also good but controlled by the government. I am fully aware of censorship of research papers by the US. I recall I wrote a letter to the editor of Science back in 1999 when the government decided to stockpile billions of doses of Ciprofloxacin. I did a quick BLAST search and found that only a single base pair mutation in anthrax made it completely resistant to Cipro. That letter was published, and after 9/11 never seen again. There are other examples such as the Canadian paper maybe also in 1999 showing that anthrax delivered in envelopes was not very effective. That one disappeared as well, and the same as the Canadian paper where they were aerosolizing B. cereus spores out the back of a moving truck and, using aerial infrared cameras, demonstrated that these streams of aerosolized spores agglomerated into cloudlets which moved along in the wind and would usually avoid detector arrays which sampled airflow for aerosol particles. That is still the current state of the art for battlefield detection, and that paper showed it to be ineffective at best. I can think of dozens of papers that were removed. After 9/11 any research paper that could be used by a foreign actor to develop better biothreat agents was rejected for publication outright. Almost none of my work was published after that, except in classified reports which I believe were never read by anyone. I recall part of the madness in setting up NBACC was to generate very lengthy “white papers” that scrubbed through all published articles to assemble the complete picture for the then 10 threat agents. I wrote or edited two of those and they were immediately buried in some deep classified archive to the researchers who might benefit from this work could never actually use it. A complete waste of months and a ton of money. If you are perceiving that the US government biothreat programs are a complete shambles, then you are not wrong.
I’ll go into that a bit more as well. It used to be in the military programs we were “command directed”. This means the military made a decision to make a vaccine against a perceived threat agent. They would assemble a research group, assign them the mission and give 5 years funding to be continued if milestones (reasonable given the pittance of funding given). If you made progress then you got another 5 years of funding. That funding agency located at MRMC Fort Detrick was a Research area managed usually by a Major and a Captain, both microbiologists and experienced. Two people. There were 5 research area Directorates so a total of 10 program managers and a couple of administrative colonels. This managed the entire DoD biothreat research programs and did it well. However, someone decided we needed an Agency to manage this stuff and DTRA which was funded by the Nunn-Lugar Act was already involved in the disassembly of Soviet nuclear capabilities so they wanted a bigger piece of the pie so absorbed the Research Directorates. The BDRP program at DTRA (basically identical as before) was now managed by over 400 contractors. The money came out of the research money we were supposed to be allocated.
After DTRA took over, the funding was no longer Command Directed and we were all required to go out and fu-ind whatever funding we could, hence why we made “deals” with DHS and the CIA. We went to an annual funding cycle instead of 5 years and never ending Gantt charts and reports. This was the age of 6 Sigma and the end of Management by Objective. We were also charged rent and had to pay for every service at our Institute including the security and even the library. Even our higher command MRMC stole 6% off the top to pay for pet projects unfunded by anyone with a brain. So, this became the age of entrepreneurial research and the end of productive research. Our commander, as an example, had no idea what we were doing at all and was shocked at all the “cool” stuff we were doing. This is the new breed of commander who manages by committee and never goes out walking the floors to visit labs. What the old school commanders call management by walking around and poking your nose into everything. But now these guys sit in their office and are fed whatever the REMFs decide they should hear. This is management in the US government as a whole, and there are so many hidden agendas and internal conflicts between programs it is difficult to describe just how awful it is to try and do research in that environment. A lot of the worst of those commanders or research Division Directors went on to be current heads of HHS, CDC, and their undersecretaries, etc. which explains why those agencies are so screwed up and why there is such a horrible response to this virus.
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