[Opinion] PLA’s Biowarfare Textbook Explained – Chapter 7

Author: Billwilliam Reviewer: Irene

This is a summary of chapter 7 of the PLA’s biowarfare textbook “The Unnatural Origin of SARS-1 and the Man-made Human Virus as a Genetic Bioweapon“. This chapter offers more evidence that SARS-1 is an unnatural virus because it underwent reversion evolution. In addition, the chapter summarizes various abnormalities found in this virus.

Chapter 7 The Reversion Evolution of SARS-1 and Its Unnatural Origin

The genomic structure of SARS-1 is abnormal

According to the textbook, the SARS-1 is composed of gene fragments from different species of coronaviruses. An excerpt on page 169 stated, “By comparing the evolution of its genome with the genome systems of other coronaviruses, the SARS-1 genome is found to have the features of combined evolution. Its polymerase gene sequence is highly homologous to that of mammalian coronaviruses, and therefore it’s very transmissible. The sequences of its matrix protein and nucleocapsid protein are highly homologous to bird or avian coronaviruses. Yet the sequence of its spike protein gene may be a combination of bird and mammalian virus components: part of its gene sequence is highly homologous to that of the virulent feline infectious peritonitis virus; another fragment of 200 base pairs is remarkably similar to a gene in avian virus; the sequence of its S1 fragment is highly homologous to that of the virus in rats (coronavirus Group II). Another study found the sequence of its RDRP gene also contains the characteristics of combined evolution.” The original Chinese text is included below.    

Another quote from page 170 is also interesting. It said, “The SARS-1 coronavirus is neither the mutant nor the recombinant form of any known coronavirus. It is an unknown coronavirus, maybe from non-human hosts, and may have acquired the ability to infect humans by some means.” The original Chinese text is shown below.

**Comments**

The two quotes above are somewhat ironic if analyzed together. SARS-1 is like a chimera composed of gene fragments from different species of coronaviruses in different animal hosts, and it’s not the product of recombination from known coronaviruses. Then who assembled the virus together? Of course, the People’s Liberation Army blamed this artificial bioweapon on “terrorists”, even though the PLA has engaged in secret bioweapon development, as shown on a fact sheet published by the US State Department.

This question can also be extended to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Envelope protein of COVID-19 is 100% identical to that of the Zhoushan bat coronavirus in amino acid sequence. Yet COVID-19’s receptor-binding domain (the part responsible for binding with and infecting human cells) on the spike protein is similar to that of the SARS-1 virus—most of the key amino acid residues for binding are substituted by amino acids of similar chemical properties. Who assembled COVID-19 together?

SARS-1 virus evolved at an unnatural speed

The SARS-1 virus had a high mutation rate and evolved much faster than natural evolution. Its rate of evolution (or rate of mutation) is 8.0E-6 nucleotides/day, which is 3-4 times faster than that of other coronaviruses. SARS-1 evolves too fast probably because it is unnatural in origin. (page 171)

The reversion evolution of SARS-1

As it spread through the human population, the SARS-1 virus underwent mutations that decreased its virulence.

The S1 fragment of viral spike protein is responsible for binding with the ACE2 receptors on human cells. This fragment of virus strains isolated during the late-phase Guangzhou outbreak (December 2003) had mutations on residues 479 and 487 that weakened virus binding with human cells. (page 178)

A 29-nucleotide segment is also missing on the ORF8 gene of virus strains isolated during the late-phase Guangzhou outbreak. This gene regulates the replication of SARS-1 and may be related to its virulence. The deletion of the 29-nucleotide segment also weakened the virus. (page 178)

The SARS-1 virus probably underwent reversion evolution because it is an unnatural virus and is not adapted to infect humans. The virus reverted to its ancestral state because it had few viable mutation choices in the new environment, which is the human body. (page 180)

The unnatural characteristics of SARS-1

The authors summarized several unnatural features of SARS-1 (pages 181-182):

  1. The SARS-like bat virus (Bt-SL CoV) is probably related to SARS-1. Their time to the most recent common ancestor (tMRCA) is only 4.5 years. Evolution in such a short period is unnatural.
  2. The direct ancestor or reservoir host of SARS-1 has never been found.
  3. Other than the Guangzhou outbreak and lab leaks, the entire SARS epidemic only lasted 8-9 months and suddenly disappeared. The fast disappearance of an infectious disease is unprecedented.
  4. SARS-1 is different from other coronaviruses in terms of epidemiological and clinical patterns.
  5. SARS-1 is abnormal in its evolutionary patterns if compared with other emerging diseases.
  6. SARS-1 underwent reversion evolution, which is unprecedented in human viruses.
  7. The SARS-1 epidemic swept through the world in eight months and then completely disappeared for more than a decade. This is different from all other human viruses.

PLA blamed SARS-1 on terrorists

The PLA authors proposed a hypothesis that terrorists created SARS-1 as a bioweapon. A paragraph on page 182 asserted, “As for this diagram, in addition to annotations, we should discuss another point of concern, which is the methods of gene editing coupled with adaptive trials. Many parts of this book have mentioned the same topic. Chapter 4 of this book made detailed explanations. Of note, according to many media coverage or other channels in the recent one or two decades, humans have long mastered this technique or similar techniques. Therefore, undoubtedly, around the year 2000, some terrorists have had a preliminary understanding or even mastered the technique to convert bat virus Bt SL-CoV Rp3 or similar viruses into SARS-1 by unnatural means.” The original Chinese text is shown below.

A list of the textbook’s authors

Many authors or editors of this book are either PLA officers or faculty in a military medical university. They are:

**Chief editors**

Xu Dezhong: Professor, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University; INCLEN, CEU, director

Li Feng: deputy director of the Epidemic Prevention Bureau, Health Department, PLA General Logistics Department; vice president of China Health Promotion and Education Foundation.

**Deputy Editors**

Wang Anhui: Associate Professor, deputy director of the Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Li Guanglin: Associate Professor, the Life Science College, the Shaanxi Normal University

Zhang Lei: Associate Professor, the Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Wu Xiuhua: chief physician, director, Gastroenterology Department, the Shaanxi Province Armed Police Hospital

**Editors Committee**

Duan Guangcai: Professor, Epidemics Instruction Team, Public Hygiene College, Zhengzhou University

Yang Ruifu: Scientist, director of the Analytical Microbiology Team, Microbiology and Epidemic Institute, Academy of Military Medical Science

Song Yajun: Scientist, deputy director of the Analytical Microbiology Team, Microbiology and Epidemic Institute, Academy of Military Medical Science

Zhang Jingxia: Senior technician, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Tang Xiaofeng: Deputy director technician, the Outpatient Department of the Fourth Military Medical University

Wang Bo: Associate Professor, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Sun Huimin: postdoc, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Li Duan: Instructor, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

**Authors**

Su Haixia: Associate Professor, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Wang Yingfang: Instructor, Public Hygiene Instruction Team, Henan University of Science and Technology

Xu Rui: PhD., Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

Zhao Ningning: Assistant lab technician, Military Epidemics Instruction Team, the Fourth Military Medical University

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