The Wuhan Institute of Virology in China is under worldwide scrutiny after a highly infectious strain of coronavirus began rapidly infecting Wuhan citizens late in 2019, before rapidly infecting people throughout the world.
Now a new Australian study finds that the precise RNA sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus contains man-made manipulations that could have only been created in a laboratory. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is home to questionable virus experiments that push the boundaries of scientific ethics. For years, Chinese researchers have been conducting gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses to manipulate the properties of viruses and to enhance their virulence and infectivity.
Five Australian scientists concur that the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic contains unique, lab-invented properties that allow it to readily infect humans. The research, currently in the peer-review process, used computer modeling to understand how the virus infects various animals, including humans.
Lead researcher Nikolai Petroysky found evidence to suggest that the coronavirus had been manipulated by the lab in Wuhan because it contains an unusual protruding spike that allows it to readily infect human cells. When in contact with human cells, the manipulated coronavirus strain contains binding strength that “far exceeds” attachment capabilities observed in other animal cells.
“This, plus the fact that no corresponding virus has been found to exist in nature, leads to the possibility that COVID-19 is a human-created virus,” said Mr. Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.
“It is therefore entirely plausible that the virus was created in the biosecurity facility in Wuhan by selection on cells expressing human ACE2, a laboratory that was known to be cultivating exotic bat coronaviruses at the time,” he announced.
Cell surfaces contain angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The highly infectious SARS-CoV-2 exploits this enzyme to gain easy access to the human cell. Once it gains easy entry, the virus can rapidly multiply in the cells. If the immune system of the individual does not properly respond, the viral load can become too much to bear, causing respiratory distress, low blood oxygen levels, systemic inflammation, and organ failure. Other equally-important innate immune defenses, such as the mannose binding lectins, could be compromised by external influences or genetic deficiencies, causing further complications to respiratory infection.
Human lung cells are specifically equipped with ACE2 receptors that detect viruses quickly so the immune system can respond. The SARS-CoV-2 strain targets the ACE2 receptors of human lung cells, breaching the first line of defense with ease. The study analyzed the binding capability of the spike protein on various animals, including mice, hamsters, pangolins, civets, cats, dogs, snakes, horses, tigers and cows.
“Overall, the data indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is uniquely adapted to infect humans, raising important questions as to whether it arose in nature by a rare chance event or whether its origins might lie elsewhere,” the report said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who approved 7.3 million in funding to the Wuhan lab since 2015, has continuously denied that SARS-CoV-2 could ever have be artificially or deliberately manipulated.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” Fauci told National Geographic earlier this month. “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” he affirmed.
But Dr. Fauci is not the end-all when it comes to investigating the origins of this highly infectious virus, which contains an abnormal spike protein and possesses unique gain-of-function properties. This new Australian study shines a light on the laboratory-made SARS-CoV-2 virus which has taken advantage of immune-compromised populations around the world.