I rarely believe in coincidences. They are excuses to shoo unwanted, unanswered questions away. The theory that the pandemic began when the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is just that, a series of coincidences experts told us to dismiss.
Thus far, the evidence that supports a lab leak is mainly circumstantial: three WIV researchers fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in late 2019 and that the lab conducted “gain of function” research, which involves supercharging viruses to increase lethality. Such evidence is telling, no doubt, but far from enough to truly force the Chinese Communist Party into transparency.
Dr. Steven Quay, founder of Atossa Therapeutics, and Richard Muller, professor emeritus of physics and senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, furthered the leak theory Sunday in a co-authored Wall Street Journal column.
Quay and Muller conclude that the science, not just circumstantial evidence, suggests a Wuhan lab leak.
In the case of the gain-of-function supercharge, other sequences could have been spliced into this same site. Instead of a CGG-CGG (known as “double CGG”) that tells the protein factory to make two arginine amino acids in a row, you’ll obtain equal lethality by splicing any one of 35 of the other two-word combinations for double arginine. If the insertion takes place naturally, say through recombination, then one of those 35 other sequences is far more likely to appear; CGG is rarely used in the class of coronaviruses that can recombine with CoV-2.
In fact, in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally. That means the common method of viruses picking up new skills, called recombination, cannot operate here. A virus simply cannot pick up a sequence from another virus if that sequence isn’t present in any other virus.
Although the double CGG is suppressed naturally, the opposite is true in laboratory work. The insertion sequence of choice is the double CGG. That’s because it is readily available and convenient, and scientists have a great deal of experience inserting it. An additional advantage of the double CGG sequence compared with the other 35 possible choices: It creates a useful beacon that permits the scientists to track the insertion in the laboratory.
What likely sticks out is the line that reads, “in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally.”
Here’s why that’s damning: this exact sequence appears in CoV-2, the story explains.
Proponents of zoonotic origin must explain why the novel coronavirus, when it mutated or recombined, happened to pick its least favorite combination, the double CGG. Why did it replicate the choice the lab’s gain-of-function researchers would have made?
We were not allowed to ask these questions 13 months ago. Remember that.
Quay and Richard Muller — who should be interviewed on cable news tonight — go on to cite the dramatic differences in the genetic diversity of CoV-2 and the coronaviruses responsible for SARS and MERS.
Both [SARS and MERS] were confirmed to have a natural origin; the viruses evolved rapidly as they spread through the human population, until the most contagious forms dominated. Covid-19 didn’t work that way. It appeared in humans already adapted into an extremely contagious version. No serious viral ‘improvement’ took place until a minor variation occurred many months later in England.
This early optimization was deemed unprecedented and suggests a long period of adaptation that predated the public spread of COVID.
The story concludes as follows:
The presence of the double CGG sequence is strong evidence of gene splicing, and the absence of diversity in the public outbreak suggests gain-of-function acceleration. The scientific evidence points to the conclusion that the virus was developed in a laboratory.
That is perhaps the strongest evidence yet that gain of function research, funded by the NIH, is the most likely explanation for a virus that damaged lives across the world. Oh, and China likely covered it up, delaying the rollout of the vaccine.
COVID-19 changed your life. It changed the trajectory of our country. If a lab leak is responsible — as mounting evidence suggests — few stories in American history would match its significance.