Editor: Brandon Michales Dylan King
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The “Bat Woman,” Shi Zhengli, called for an apology from Trump. She was China’s top virologist on the coronavirus. On July 24, she responded to mounting skepticism through the Science magazine. Meanwhile, the Global Times reaffirmed the dedication of the public relations team from China’s Academy of Science. “Shi’s response would not be possible without months of help from this team” (Wu). Chinese state media blasted the news across various platforms, including Sputniknews.
The exiled Chinese virologist Dr. Yan (MD & PhD.) challenged the credibility of Shi Zhengli. Yan cited the lack of independent academic reviews and consistency in Shi’s research. Moreover, Yan alleged the theory from Shi was a calculated diversion. They opened up endless possibilities for the existence of an intermediate host. There would be an upcoming report that built the COVID-19 virus through artificial modifications. Yan believes samples from the PLA lab were the backbone of the virus. On July 30, the exiled tycoon Miles Guo alleged that more P3 laboratories were on the way across authoritarian regimes. It included Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, North Korea, and one unspecified Middle Eastern nation. They all received critical support from the Chinese Communist Party.
Dr. Shi reiterated her position on bats to be the origin of the COVID-19 virus. She elaborated on the RaTG13 sequence to support the natural origin theory. Her initial discovery of that sequence was seven years ago. For unspecified reasons, Shi did not sufficiently isolate the genes until January 2020. The fallacy in her responses further fueled skepticism.
The Host Theory
In Dr. Shi Zhengli’s answers to Science magazine, she defended her position that she had identified the RaTG13 gene sequence in a sample of bat excrement collected in 2013. She received a SARS-CoV-2 sample on December 30, 2019 and this was shown to have a 96.2% shared identity with RaTG13. Therefore, this proves that Covid-19 has originated from bats, evolved in one or more intermediate hosts and eventually spread among humans.
Shi confirmed to Science that they benched RaTG13 from 2013 to 2018 after it was first found in 2013. She did not make a scientific publication on it. Moreover, the genome sequence is everything she had. There were no viral samples of RaTG13 available for peer review. The entire scientific community used her data as a basis for their research. Science continued to point out the obvious discrepancies on her natural origin theories through molecular clocks. “It’s clear that this is a distant ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 that differs by 1100 nucleotides. Using molecular clocks, other researchers have estimated that RaTG13 receptor-binding was a common ancestor at least 20 years ago.” Shi did not directly address this concern citing she was no expert in bioinformatics.
Prof. Edward Holmes was an expert in virus evolution at the University of Sydney. “The level of genome sequence divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 is equivalent to an average of 50 years (and at least 20 years) of evolutionary change,” said Professor Holmes. “The probability is exceptionally tiny that the mutations occurred exactly in these 1,100-plus positions to be identical to SARS-CoV-2,” Dr.Shi commented. However, she believed Dr. Holmes’s opinion further supported her natural origin hypothesis. However, no intermediate host for RaTG13 could be found to date. Shi said: “Eight months later, there was no viable candidate for intermediate hosts.”
Shi’s laboratory served as an early warning mechanism to deter SARS-like public health risks. They specialized in researching coronavirus from bats. Her team stayed quiet after obtaining the full genome sequence in 2018. Instead, they published viruses of less academic significance than RaTG13: Rs3367, SHC014. Her publication in January first disclosed the completion of RaTG13 sequencing was in 2013. Seven months later, She contradicted her narratives by moving the timeline of completion to 2018.
Additionally, Shi’s article in 2020 left out the RaTG13’s homology with a previously published bat virus, BtCoV/4991. She admitted BtCoV/4991 was indeed RaTG13. However, her motives for the name change remained unclear. The BLAST analysis on GenBank showed the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of BtCoV/4991 and RaTG13 were completely homologous (Cohen).
Stories about BtCoV/4991 first surfaced on July 4 through the Times (Calvert). In 2012, six mineworkers in Mojiang, Yunnan had contracted viruses through bats, and three died. Shi’s team traveled to this location and collected samples. Out of over 150 viruses located, they found BtCov/4991. There was no reflection of inter-human transmissibility or public health risks through Shi’s publications.
Mysteriously, BtCoV/4991 or RaTG13 was the ONLY SARS-like sample out of over 150 collections (Latham). It was found on the fecal matter from one bat out of more than 16,000 bats surveyed (Calvert). Shi mentioned, “RaTG13 has never been isolated or cultured”, and “there was no sample of RaTG13 left after we finished genome sequencing”.
The Culpability of the Wuhan Lab &Their Gain of Function Experiments
On April 28, The NIH terminated funding for the Wuhan P4 lab. It feared that gain-of-function experiments would lead to biological weapons. Shi claimed the decision was “absurd.” She reiterated her project provided early warnings and predictions of infectious diseases. Facing questioning from Science, Shi acknowledged her Wuhan Institute of Virology(WIV) conducted coronavirus experiments on substandard biol-safety conditions. Shi confirmed the presence of live coronavirus in the WIV for over fifteen years. These bat viruses shared a 79.8% sequence similarity to SARS-CoV-2. In 2020, the Chinese Communist Government gave special authorization to the WIV. The WIV delivered the rhesus monkey animal model on COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Shi denied personal involvement in any secret gain-of-function experiments with coronaviruses. In her publication from 2018, Shi tested S proteins from different parts of the SARS virus to see if any could effectively infect human cells. In 2015, her work in Medicine also described a dangerous S protein from a coronavirus skeleton and its application on mice. Critics suspected more gain-of-function experiments that were not published (HHS’ Video Translation Team).
Ground Zero: Huanan Seafood Market
Dr.Shi confirmed that:
- Although many samples were taken at the Huanan seafood market,they only detected SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids in the environmental samples such as roller shutter door handles, the ground, and sewage, but not in the animals.
The Chinese Communist Party continued to victimize the seafood market throughout the pandemic (Eisen). Officials used environmental samples to establish associations between seafood markets and the COVID-19 outbreak. Coherently, Beijing blamed the Xinfadi market for its new clustering of infections. Its suspicions in Norwegian salmon came back unfounded. Xinhua News made a big case about six positive detections on the packing materials of Ecuadorian shrimp. The other 227,928 samples collected all returned negative results (Liu). The 0.0026% confirmation rate is statistically irrelevant. The lack of detections in animal products contradicted the natural origin theory. It suggested more significant cover-ups after the CCP denied inter-human transmissibility until January 20.
Calvert, Jonathan, and Philip Sherwell. “Revealed: Seven Year Coronavirus Trail from Mine Deaths to a Wuhan Lab.” News | The Sunday Times, The Sunday Times, 4 July 2020, www.thetimes.co.uk/article/seven-year-covid-trail-revealed-l5vxt7jqp.
Cohen, Jon. “Trump ‘Owes Us an Apology.‘ Chinese Scientist at the Center of COVID-19 Origin Theories Speaks Out.” Science, 27 July 2020, www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/trump-owes-us-apology-chinese-scientist-center-covid-19-origin-theories-speaks-out.
Eisen. “高福：武汉华南海鲜市场或为受害单位，动物样本中未提取到病毒！.” 中国水产流通与加工协会, The Phoenix , 26 May 2020, www.cappma.org/view.php?id=5131.
HHS’ Video Translation Team. “The Truth of CCP Virus – From Our Heroic Scientist.” Gnews, 2 Aug. 2020, gnews.org/283248/.
Liu, Xiaodong. “厄瓜多尔进口冻虾外包装检出新冠病毒.” Xinhua, 11 July 2020, www.xinhuanet.com/world/2020-07/11/c_1126223812.htm.
Wu, Yuanchun. “石正丽接受《科学》杂志专访：‘特朗普欠我们一个道歉.’” The Global Times, 25 July 2020, world.huanqiu.com/article/3zCIlYUnKpj.
Latham, Jonathan. “A Proposed Origin for SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 Pandemic – Independent Science News: Food, Health and Agriculture Bioscience News.” Independent Science News | Food, Health and Agriculture Bioscience News, 17 July 2020, www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/a-proposed-origin-for-sars-cov-2-and-the-covid-19-pandemic/.
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