EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the eleventh article in our ‘Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame’ series profiling key players in gain-of-function research.
There is “ample proof that the virus could have been genetically manipulated.”
That was the conclusion of an August 2021 report, “The Origins of COVID-19: An Investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” authored by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority Staff under the leadership of Congressman Michael McCaul.
Evidence of genetic engineering is written all over the SARS-CoV-2’s genome.
Still, that doesn’t tell us whodunnit.
While Americans have pointed to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese have leveled accusations against Ft. Detrick. Neither country seems interested in identifying Patient Zero to figure out how that person was infected and, consequently, how the virus was released.
Is this a joint “Chimerica” plot to cover-up the origins of a chimeric virus?
Eric Lander’s participation, through his Broad Institute, in the U.S. government’s COVID origins cover-up, and his business relationships, including with Chinese gene giant BGI, are clues that can help explain why we’re seeing this collusion.
In January 2020, when scientists examined the genome of SARS-CoV-2 it was immediately clear that the unique feature that made it “100 to 1,000 times” more infectious than the first SARS was something that couldn’t have been achieved through natural recombination. In fact, the virus’s genetic code bore a tell-tale sign that it had been engineered in the lab. This was obvious to every scientist who looked at the virus, even those who later published articles claiming the virus wasn’t engineered.
The U.S. government engaged in a coordinated cover-up that has been revealed in emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, but one aspect of the cover-up hasn’t been explored before now: A January 2020 analysis conducted by Eric Lander’s Broad Institute for the Director of National Intelligence that falsely claimed that the virus wasn’t genetically engineered.
This article begins with Eric Lander’s background, including his role in a scientific movement promoting a new, market-based eugenics, and his related business interests. Then, it explores the role of his Broad Institute in the U.S. government’s COVID origins cover-up, and why, as Biden’s Science Secretary, Lander is unlikely to take action to ban gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens. Finally, it connects Eric Lander to fellow Hall of Shamer Eric Schmidt, who had a role in the origin of COVID-19 and who, as Lander’s funder, business partner and colleague, is using his relationship with Lander to push an agenda that independent journalist Whitney Webb calls a digital dictatorship.
This article touches on the role of Alina Chan, a postdoc at Eric Lander’s Broad Institute, in what appears to be a “controlled opposition” that advocates for the “lab leak hypothesis,” but works against a ban on gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens. She is a scientist whose Broad Institute work involves Pentagon-funded human genetic engineering. She is one of a surprising number of advocates for human genetic engineering, eugenics and transhumanism involved in investigating the origins of COVID-19.
This controlled opposition consistently points to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the source of the virus, an idea first floated by U.S. propaganda outlet Radio Free Asia, but never considers the possibility, first raised by independent journalist Sam Husseini, that the WIV is being framed. The U.S. is one of the few nations whose biological weapons laboratories have been implicated in an intentional release of a lab-created pathogen. The U.S. used false claims about the origins of the 2001 anthrax attacks as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Something similar may be happening here, or it may be that the U.S. is colluding with China to promote a shared agenda.
One shared agenda, evidenced by Eric Lander’s advisory role at BGI, is market-based eugenics. As more and more genetic data is collected from people around the world, genomics researchers are attempting to link traits, outcomes and ethnicity to genetics. BGI, along with its U.S. subsidiary Complete Genomics, is the world leader in human genome sequencing, doing it cheaper and faster than anyone in the world.
China has already been accused of using these technologies to target Uighurs. Advances in genomics has led to the genetic screening of embryos, something already available for in vitro fertilization, and could soon be used in the genetic engineering of human embryos. Adult cells can also be engineered using vectors like mRNA, raising biological weapons concerns.
The following profile of Eric Lander owes credit to and piggie-backs on Whitney Webb’s must-read exposé, “Biden’s Nominee for New Cabinet-Level Science Position Is Epstein-Linked Geneticist.”
Eric Lander and “market-based eugenics”
Eric Lander is a scientist and biotech entrepreneur who currently serves in President Biden’s Cabinet as his Science Advisor and the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute, a genetic engineering and synthetic biology outfit launched by the late Eli Broad, a billionaire philanthrocapitalist who seeded a modern-day eugenics movement based on genetic distinctions and determinism. (Marcy Darnovsky, director of the Center for Genetics and Society, calls this new movement “market-based eugenics.”)
Eli Broad’s desire to sort people by their DNA was made even more ominous by his interest in depopulation.
The Broad Institute’s genomics work has been hugely controversial, especially its efforts to discover genetic causes of same-sex attraction, mental illness and depression (the focus of the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research), and even post-traumatic stress disorder and the psychological resilience of U.S. Army soldiers (research funded by the Pentagon).
One of Eric Lander’s many business interests, in addition to leading the Broad Institute, is advising its Chinese counterpart BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute), a company that has been accused of aiding China’s “abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” including its Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang.
BGI feeds genetic data from millions into supercomputers. Using artificial intelligence, the machines will eventually be able to learn everything about a person, including what they look like, from a sample of their DNA.
BGI is also interested in creating artificial life, from transgenics and gene editing to industrial scale gene synthesis.
BGI has been working on these things with the full cooperation of the US government. BGI is a US government partner on the 1000 Genomes Project, the Global Virome Project (partners include the Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance) and the Earth BioGenome Project (partners include the Global Virome Project). The Earth BioGenome Project is billed as “a moonshot for biology” ”to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth in 10 years.”
In 2012, BGI bought the US company Complete Genomics. BGI is a partner of Eric Lander’s Broad Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Intel, Amazon and Google.
BGI, which has labs in Wuhan, also conducts gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. BGI partnered with the WIV’s Shi Zhengli, as well as U.S. military scientists from the Naval Medical Research Center and Henry M. Jackson Foundation at Fort Detrick, on a 2013 paper, “Comparative Analysis of Bat Genomes Provides Insight into the Evolution of Flight and Immunity,” funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
As Jennifer Zeng reported in “Bio War? Gene War? Speeches by CCP Figures & Mass Data Harvesting Say It All,” BGI’s CEO Wang Jian gave a chilling speech in 2017 where he stated that his company had synthesized yeast and in 5 to 10 years would be able to synthesize any life form. He said progress in creating artificial life would move even faster than progress in creating artificial intelligence.
“We can make a brand-new bacteria in two days,” Wang said. “We can make beneficial bacteria and we also can make terrible bacteria.”
He warned that this would usher in a new era of biological war.
Eric Lander, pandemic profiteer
Eric Lander’s Broad Institute has received $2 billion from the federal government since 2009.
Personally, Lander is one of the richest members of Biden’s cabinet, worth at least $45.5 million.
He took the top science post in Biden’s administration in the midst of a pandemic vaccination campaign, but he’s been unable to weigh in on COVID-19 because of conflicts of interest, namely investments in―and even ownership of―companies manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.
Lander owns stock in BioNTech worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
Fellow Hall-of-Shamer Bill Gates is also invested in BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer on the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that has since been linked to heart attacks.
Lander founded Codiak Biosciences and disclosed equity in the company worth between $5 million and $25 million. Codiak has also sought to develop a COVID vaccine. A major Codiak investor, venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering, is run by the founder and chairman of Moderna, Noubar Afeyan.
Conflicted out of work on the COVID-19 pandemic because of his vaccine and pharmaceutical company investments, Eric Lander took up an even more important Biden Administration priority, a project journalist Whitney Webb dubbed a “Digital Dictatorship.”
Lander is lobbying Congress for $6.5 billion to fund an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, variously known as HARPA, ARPA-H and #ARPAH.
The House of Representatives has already appropriated $3 billion. We have to stop this in the Senate! Take action now! For more details, read Stop ARPA-H! Don’t Let Congress Fund Digital Surveillance & Human Gene Hacking!
Eric Lander’s role in the COVID origins cover-up
In January 2020, the Eric Lander’s Broad Institute was asked by the Director of National Intelligence’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to counter rumors that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of genetic engineering. The Broad Institute scientists worked under an IARPA project known as Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators or FELIX.
Who started these rumors?
The U.S. government.
Specifically, Radio Free Asia.
As Whitney Webb reported January 30, 2020, in her must-read hot-take, “Bats, Gene Editing and Bioweapons: Recent DARPA Experiments Raise Concerns Amid Coronavirus Outbreak,” Radio Free Asia is a “U.S.-government funded media outlet targeting Asian audiences that used to be run covertly by the CIA and [was] named by the New York Times as a key part in the agency’s 'worldwide propaganda network.'"
Radio Free Asia’s January 9, 2020, report, “Experts Cast Doubts on Chinese Official Claims Around 'New' Wuhan Coronavirus,” quoted Ren Ruihong, former head of the medical assistance department at the Chinese Red Cross:
"It's a new type of mutant coronavirus," Ren said. "They haven't made public the genetic sequence, because it is highly contagious. From what I can tell, the patients caught it from other people. I have thought that all along.”
She said the lack of fatalities didn't indicate that the virus was less deadly than SARS, just that antiviral medications have improved in the past 10 years or so.
Ren said she also regarded the relatively high number of infections in Hong Kong with suspicion, given that there had been no reports of cases anywhere in between the two cities, in the southern province of Guangdong, for example.
"Genetic engineering technology has gotten to such a point now, and Wuhan is home to a viral research center that is under the aegis of the China Academy of Sciences, which is the highest level of research facility in China," she said.
Repeated calls to various numbers listed for the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences rang unanswered.
However, an employee who identified herself as a senior engineer said she knew nothing about the virus.
"Sorry, I ... I don't know about this," the employee said.
The first U.S. news article to cover the possibility of a lab origin of SARS-CoV-2, “Virus-hit Wuhan has two laboratories linked to Chinese bio-warfare program,” was published January 24, 2020 in the Washington Times by Bill Gertz and then amplified by Steve Bannon the next day in a special episode of his War Room podcast.
As Whitney Webb reported, Gertz’s source was former Israeli military intelligence biowarfare specialist Dany Shoham who played a key role in:
promoting false claims that the 2001 Anthrax attacks was the work of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Shoham’s assertions about Iraq’s government and weaponized Anthrax, which were used to bolster the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, have since been proven completely false, as Iraq was found to have neither the chemical or biological “weapons of mass destruction” that “experts” like Shoham had claimed.
The Washington Times’ source may have been a known liar, but one thing Bill Gertz wrote on January 24, 2020, rang true:
After researchers sequence the genome of the new coronavirus it might be possible to determine or suggest its origin or source.
Indeed, most scientists who looked at SARS-CoV-2 genome in January 2020 thought it engineered, especially its furin cleavage site.
“When I first saw the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, I said to my wife it was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus.” That’s what David Baltimore, a virologist and former president of CalTech, told Nicholas Wade who later reported these first-impressions in his May 2021 article, “The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?
Similarly, Kristian G. Andersen told Anthony Fauci in a January 31, 2020, email:
On a phylogenic tree the virus looks totally normal and the close clustering with bats suggest that bats serve as the reservoir. The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.
Neither Baltimore nor Andersen said these things publicly in January 2020. While Baltimore maintained his skepticism and later shared his thoughts publicly, Fauci managed to convince Andersen to change his mind (more on that below).
U.S. Right to Know has released a trove of emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests where scientists who were publicly dispelling “rumors” that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered, privately said what they really thought.
In "Scientists who authored article denying lab engineering of SARS-CoV-2 privately acknowledged possible lab origin, emails show," Shannon Murray reported that Susan Weiss and Shan-Lu Liu, authors of “No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering of SARS-CoV-2,” (published February 26, 2020), shared the following (excerpted) exchange via email beginning February 16:
Weiss wrote to Liu: “I find it hard to imagine how that sequence got into the spike of a lineage b betacoronavirus- not seen in SARS or any of the bat viruses.”
Liu wrote back: “I completely agree with you, but rumor says that furin site may be engineered…”
Weiss wrote in her reply: “...frightening to think it may have been engineered.”
In January 2020, as details of the novel coronavirus’s genome were published on preprint servers, scientists discussed these concerns publicly over social media. This Twitter conversation on a thread begun January 27, 2020, by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding is one example. Dr. Feigl-Ding posted figures from “Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding,” writing:
For the most part, the new #coronavirus shares 87-88% overlap with bat coronavirus. But there are parts of it like the “S” gene region where I drops to ~70%, and even 68% in lowest point. But other gene regions share consensus as high as 95%.
“Is this proof of unnatural genetic manipulation?” asked anonymous Twitter user @Damian8310. Dr. Feigl-Ding said he didn’t think so.
“In the US they have the 'FELIX program' from IARPA, they could know in a snap of a finger if this virus is engineered. #wuhan #coronavirus #ncov. My guess is that they already know,” replied @Damian8310.
Dr. Feigl-Ding also reacted to the findings of “Full-genome evolutionary analysis of the novel corona virus (2019-nCoV) rejects the hypothesis of emergence as a result of a recent recombination event,” a January 27, 2020, preprint where Greek scientists reported that:
A BLAST search of 2019-nCoV middle fragment revealed no considerable similarity with any of the previously characterized corona viruses. Our study suggests that the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is not a mosaic and it is most closely related with the BatCoV RaTG13 detected in bats from Yunnan Province. … Notably, the new coronavirus provides a new lineage for almost half of its genome, with no close genetic relationships to other viruses within the subgenus of sarbecovirus. This genomic part comprises also half of the spike region encoding a multifunctional protein responsible also for virus entry into host cells. Our study rejects the hypothesis of emergence as a result of a recent recombination event.
“Seafood market not the source,” concluded Dr. Feigl-Ding, hastily adding, “I am absolutely not saying it’s bioengineering.”
On January 31, 2020, a paper was published that offered an explanation for that mysterious “spike region encoding a multifunctional protein responsible also for virus entry into host cells": Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag."
The authors of “Uncanny similarity” noticed an HIV gag protein motif in the 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein at its binding domain and they described how it may have ended up there:
Gag protein of HIV is involved in host membrane binding, packaging of the virus and for the formation of virus-like particles. Gp120 plays a crucial role in recognizing the host cell by binding to the primary receptor CD4.
* * *
Our results highlight an astonishing relation between the gp120 and Gag protein of HIV, with 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein. These proteins are critical for the viruses to identify and latch on to their host cells and for viral assembly. Since surface proteins are responsible for host tropism, changes in these proteins imply a change in host specificity of the virus. According to reports from China, there has been a gain of host specificity in case 2019-nCoV as the virus was originally known to infect animals and not humans but after the mutations, it has gained tropism to humans as well.
* * *
Due to the presence of gp120 motifs in 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein at its binding domain, we propose that these motif insertions could have provided an enhanced affinity towards host cell receptors. Further, this structural change might have also increased the range of host cells that 2019-nCoV can infect.
The authors of “Uncanny similarity” withdrew their paper just two days later. However, their finding, that fragments of HIV were in SARS-CoV-2, was later confirmed by one of the scientists who discovered HIV, Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier, as well as other scientists around the world, including French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, who published “The spike glycoprotein of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade,” February 10, 2020, and Ruan Jishou of Nankai University who published “The S protein of Wuhan 2019 coronavirus may have a Furin protease cleavage site,” February 14, 2020.
Stephen Chen described Jishou’s findings for the South China Morning Post in, “Coronavirus far more likely than Sars to bond to human cells due to HIV-like mutation, scientists say”:
The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe.
The discovery could help to explain not only how the infection has spread but also where it came from and how best to fight it.
* * *
Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions.
When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in Sars, but were similar to those found in HIV and Ebola.
“This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway,” the scientists said in a paper published this month on Chinaxiv.org, a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to release scientific research papers before they have been peer-reviewed.
“This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.”
According to the study, the mutation can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein.
The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to trick the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes.
Compared to the Sars’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study.
* * *
The mutation, which Ruan’s team described as an “unexpected insertion”, could come from many possible sources such as a coronavirus found in rats or even a species of avian flu.
In their Wall Street Journal op-ed, “The Science Suggests a Wuhan Lab Leak: The Covid-19 pathogen has a genetic footprint that has never been observed in a natural coronavirus,” June 6, 2021, Drs. Steven Quay and Richard Muller point out that every analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, including Shi Zhengli’s, identified a unique genetic sequence in spike protein known as “double CGG.” They note that, “in the entire class of coronaviruses that includes CoV-2, the CGG-CGG combination has never been found naturally,” but it is the preferred sequence of genetic engineers splicing together viruses in the laboratory.
It is the controversy around the genetic sequence of the unique furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 that the Broad Institute scientists covered up with their finding that the novel coronavirus had not been genetically engineered.
They claim to have compared SARS-CoV-2 to 58 million virus sequences and, after only 10 minutes of analysis, determined that "all regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome match naturally-occurring coronaviruses better than they match any other organisms, including any other viruses. This analysis indicates that no sequences from foreign species have been engineered into SARS-CoV-2."
This statement is demonstrably false.
Their analysis is presumably the basis for the April 2020 Intelligence Community Statement on the Origins of COVID-19 that it had not yet determined “whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” but it “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.”
That brings us back to Kristian Andersen, the scientist who initially told Anthony Fauci that the novel coronavirus looked engineered. He ended up being listed as the corresponding author on “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” (March 17, 2020), which claimed that “SARS-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus.” “Proximal origin” didn’t mention the IARPA analysis.
What changed Andersen’s mind?
It wasn't science, but a quid pro quo. Fauci gave him a lavish gift, a new Center for Research in Emerging Infectious Disease (CREID) funded by Fauci’s National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
When this “CREID pro quo,” as Richard Ebright called it, came to light in May 2021, Andersen needed a reason besides the money to explain his attitude adjustment.
In a public statement dated June 3, 2021, Andersen still didn’t mention the IARPA analysis. Instead, he pointed to “related viruses from pangolins carrying a near-identical receptor binding domain." He claimed this was proof that “all the features of SARS-CoV-2 exist in nature.” He didn’t mention that a U.S. Right to Know Freedom of Information Act inquiry, published November 9, 2020, had revealed Nature’s editor had “concerns” about the pangolin data and that, even before that, the scientific consensus was that it was time to exonerate the pangolin.
Why didn’t “Proximal origin,” or any other published study on the origins of COVID-19 for that matter, mention the IARPA analysis?
It was shabby and presented without evidence, but there is an even more disturbing conclusion to be drawn, given much of what IARPA does is classified and funded from a classified budget.
The ostensible goal of FELIX was to be able to tell the difference between a naturally occurring pathogen and one that was engineered in a lab.
It could also be used to help scientists get better at what Ralph Baric calls the “no-see-um” technique that keeps detectable fingerprints off lab creations.
“If you know how to detect bioengineering, you theoretically understand how to hide your own,” observed one commentator.
Was the true purpose of Eric Landers’ Broad Institute’s FELIX work to hide bioengineering rather than reveal it?
If so, the shabbiness would be a feature not a bug.
It’s difficult to check the Broad Institute’s work, as they posted only one short paragraph about their SARS-CoV-2 FELIX analysis online:
IARPA’s FELIX Program Investigates Rumors that COVID-19 Pandemic is the Result of Genetic Engineering
January 2020: The MIT-Broad Foundry, a performer team on the FELIX program, analyzed the publicly available SARS-CoV-2 genome using their FELIX bioinformatics pipeline in order to test the veracity of online stories claiming that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a laboratory. They compared the SARS-CoV-2 genome against 58 million sequences, including genomes from closely and distantly related viruses. After only 10 minutes of analysis, the FELIX tool determined that all regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome match naturally-occurring coronaviruses better than they match any other organisms, including any other viruses. This analysis indicates that no sequences from foreign species have been engineered into SARS-CoV-2.
Accompanying the statement was a graphic image captioned, “Figure 1: Comparison of the SARS-CoV-2 genome to a comprehensive sequence database shows that the closest genetic matches are to other coronaviruses. Image used with permission of Broad."
The graphic listed human immunodeficiency viruses 1-3 and marked those with a red X, indicating that they had no genomic similarity to SARS-CoV-2. Then, it listed three bat betacoronaviruses and linked those with an arrow to the graphic of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, indicating that they were a short genomic distance from it.
The three bat coronaviruses appear to have been chosen by the FELIX team at random.
BtRs-BetaCoV/YN2018C and BtRl-BetaCoV/SC2018 were published in the 2019 paper “Identification of Diverse Bat Alphacoronaviruses and Betacoronaviruses in China Provides New Insights Into the Evolution and Origin of Coronavirus-Related Diseases” by scientists with the Chinese government and EcoHealth Alliance. They were among the viruses found in a survey that involved 831 bats of 15 species collected from Yunnan, Guangxi, and Sichuan between August 2016 and May 2017. SARSr-Rf-BatCoV YNLF_31C was identified from R. ferrumequinum collected in Yunnan, China, in 2013, and published in the 2015 paper “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus ORF8 Protein Is Acquired from SARS-Related Coronavirus from Greater Horseshoe Bats through Recombination.”
The FELIX scientists did not include RaTG13, the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2, even though the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Shi Zhengli had posted "Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin,” online on January 23, and the “Full-genome evolutionary analysis” scientists had confirmed RaTG13’s relationship to SARS-CoV-2 on January 27.
The FELIX scientists couldn’t have “missed” RaTG13. In January 2020, no scientist in the world would have been unaware of Shi Zhengli’s discovery. Even if they had done their analysis prior to RaTG13’s publication, they should have been able to find it. Part of its sequence was available, having been published as RaBtCoV/4991 in 2016’s “Coexistence of multiple coronaviruses in several bat colonies in an abandoned mineshaft.”
Neither did the FELIX scientists turn up the same bat viruses as Edward C. Holmes and George F. Gao who published their analysis, “Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding,” on January 29, 2020. (Interestingly, Holmes and Gao also skipped RaTG13. When asked why on Twitter, Holmes said, “One of the tricky - but understandable - things is that papers are being published or preprinted so quickly that what is written is often rapidly out-of-date. Technically, as it was discovered second, the question should be whether RatG13 is the same species as 2019-nCoV.”)
Later, FELIX was portrayed as having a “junk-in, junk-out” problem in a January 2021 article in Forbes, “IARPA’s Bioweapon Detection Tools Have Difficulty Finding What They’re Not Looking For.”
But, it couldn't have been a failure. It was falsified.
Ignoring RaTG13 and missing bat viruses identified by others is one clue, but the most revealing aspect of the FELIX analysis is its ham-handed dismissal of the “Uncanny similarity” and “The S protein” finding that SARS-CoV-2 contained HIV motifs.
The HIV motifs in the receptor binding domain of the spike protein with its unique furin cleavage site are the equivalent of Ralph Baric’s fingerprints on SARS-CoV-2.
In Baric’s infamous gain-of-function paper, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” he describes his methods for genetically engineering and synthesizing novel viruses, including his use of HIV:
Pseudotyping experiments were similar to those using an HIV-based pseudovirus, prepared as previously described, and examined on HeLa cells that expressed ACE2 orthologs.
What is pseudotyping and how would Ralph Baric use it to engineer a coronavirus?
According to Kathryn Nixdorff, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Genetics at Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, “pseudotyping … involves exchanging the surface proteins of particular strains of viruses during packaging of the virus's genetic material into its outer covering (a final step in the synthesis of the virus) before it is released from the invaded cell.”
This is exactly the process described in “Uncanny similarity” and “The S protein of Wuhan 2019 coronavirus,” mentioned above.
HIV or none, no one doubts that Ralph Baric could have created SARS-CoV-2 in the lab.
What would have been truly damning is if the virus he had engineered for “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” had been the virus most similar to SARS-CoV-2.
We have to take his word for it that it isn’t, because he didn’t deposit the sequence of his SHC015-MA15 virus in GenBank until May 22, 2020!
Eric Lander and gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens
Eric Lander doesn’t seem to have much to do with gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens or any connection to the controversies involving it. Nothing that I’m aware of links him to the origins of COVID-19. It seems he has never even weighed in on the ethics of gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens.
In fact, beyond being clean of any gain-of-function controversy, Eric Lander is actually associated with critics of gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens. Marc Lipsitch gave a 2014 talk at the Broad Institute on its risks.
As the director of the Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, Eric Lander has been asked by House Republicans to answer several questions about gain-of-function research and the origins of COVID-19.
Will he answer these questions honestly and guide policy changes necessary to prevent the next pandemic?
Early in 2021, it looked like Lander to might take a stand for the truth about COVID-19 and support a ban on gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens—or at least be convinced to do so—because of the inspiring work of a young Broad Institute postdoc Alina Chan who was investigating the origins of the pandemic.
This hope evaporated rapidly when Alina Chan joined the “weigh the risks and benefits” and “do it responsibly” camps and came out against banning gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens.
The failure of the “weigh the risks and benefits” and “do it responsibly” approach is what got us into this mess. Anthony Fauci funded Ralph Baric’s infamous gain-of-function experiments on SARS-like bat coronaviruses during an Obama-era moratorium and he continued to do so after the moratorium was lifted without checking with the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight Committee that had been established to weigh risks and benefits and make sure scientists were doing gain-of-function research responsibly.
A ban is necessary because more measured approaches have failed, but you won’t hear that from Lander’s young protegé Alina Chan.
Why won’t scientists like Alina Chan consider a ban?
They fear that, if the public can come together to ban one unnecessarily dangerous practice of scientists, they might ban any number of unnecessarily dangerous or destructive things that scientists do.
Alina Chan lives in a particularly fragile glass house. She hacks human cells for a project that could result in the wholesale genetic engineering of human beings.
Her work at Eric Lander’s Broad Institute involves creating human artificial chromosomes for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency (DARPA) under a $32 million grant. Human artificial chromosomes or HACs are the first step in creating a genetically engineered synthetic human genome.
Chan’s research was conducted for GP-write (originally called "Human Genome Project-write"). By Chan's own account, she was interested in human artificial chromosomes for "genome writing" and "mammalian cell engineering" and wanted to create synthetic DNA and "deliver them into human cells." She developed a method for fusing yeast to human cells to create "Frankenstein cells." With this technique, she successfully inserted ebola into human cells in order to make human cells produce the infectious virus.
Chan currently works at the Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, which focuses on finding genetic markers for mental illness.
We know all of this thanks to the detective work of anonymous Twitter user @gumby4christ. While researching the origins of COVID-19, “Gumby” looked into Alina Chan’s research and found some very disturbing things, which he laid out in two must-read Twitter threads May 28-June and June 1.
Alina Chan will soon publish “Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19” with journalist Matt Ridley. Ridley is the author of several books on genetics. He believes, as he wrote in, “The New Eugenics: Better than the Old”:
The history of eugenics teaches us that nobody should be forced to engineer her children’s genes, but, by implication, neither should anyone be forced not to.
Eric Schmidt & Eric Lander
Upon Eli Broad’s passing, Eric Lander found himself a new billionaire patron, Eric Schmidt, the subject of our last entry in the Gain of Function Hall of Shame series, “Google's Eric Schmidt: Funding the Wuhan Lab & the COVID Origins Cover-Up.”
Schmidt is Eric Lander’s board chair at the Broad Institute, funder of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center at the Broad Institute, and business partner in Terra, a joint project of the Broad Institute, Microsoft and Google (Alphabet)’s Verily. The two share a transhumanist life-extension project in Google (Alphabet)’s Calico partnership with the Broad Institute.
Lander and Schmidt go way back. They served together on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Advisory Board (a tech-focused spin-off of the Defense Business Board), which spawned the Defense Innovation Unit to help tech enterprises like Google get defense contracts. Currently, they’re on the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Innovation and National Security, formed in 2019.
While serving together on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Eric Schmidt and Eric Lander crafted a pandemic planning document for the 2009 H1N1 epidemic that now reads like a blueprint for the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complete with “several forms of social distancing such as school closures, cancellation of sporting events, etc.”
Together on the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Advisory Board, Schmidt and Lander made recommendations on government spending to prepare for biological threats and the utility of artificial intelligence to the U.S. military, including using AI to manage the Pentagon’s disease collection (the world’s largest).
Eric Schmidt shaped the pandemic industrial complex by launching Predict and Prevent at Google.org in 2008 and finding a home—and hundreds of millions of dollars—for it at USAID in 2009. Natalie Winters of the National Post was the first journalist to break the story in “REVEALED: Google & USAID Funded Wuhan Collaborator Peter Daszak’s Virus Experiments For Over A Decade.”
Eric Schmidt is connected to the origins of COVID-19 through Google’s investments in and business relationships with Metabiota, which was at the scene of the crime in 2012, in Yunnan, China, hunting for bat viruses with its fellow USAID PREDICT Consortium members, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and EcoHealth Alliance, when six men exposed to bat guano ended up in a Kunming hospital with a SARS-like illness that killed three of them.
All of the most famous bat viruses, including the viruses used in Ralph Baric’s infamous gain-of-function experiments, the first bat virus known to target the human ACE2 receptor, and the bat virus that is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2, were found during the 2012 USAID PREDICT expeditions.
But, none of the USAID Predict scientists mentioned the 2012 Kunming outbreak when they published their discoveries of these extraordinary viruses, even though documenting this type of “spillover” event was the main justification for their research. They didn’t even report the cases to the World Health Organization.
Did the scientists have something to hide? Were those bat viruses collected from a hospital rather than a bat cave? Were the six men who got sick cleaning bat guano from an abandoned mine working for the USAID PREDICT virus hunters?
What is the significance of the 2012 Kunming SARS-like outbreak and its relationship to the origins of SARS-CoV-2?
Is it a comedy of errors where scientists, who tell funders they're predicting the next pandemic, are so inept that they accidentally cause it, making prophets of all the lab safety advocates who warned about the dangers of gain-of-function research?
Or, has the origin of COVID-19 been grafted on to this spillover event to give an intentionally released genetically engineered virus the semblance of a natural origin?
After all, Anthony Fauci said, if scientists found the virus outside the lab, brought it back, and then it escaped, “that means it was in the wild to begin with.”
To answer these questions, we need an impartial investigation, but Eric Schmidt’s foundation is funding a COVID-origins cover-up and Google is censoring evidence of a lab release of SARS-CoV-2.
Rockefeller Foundation director Rajiv Shah is helping Eric Schmidt fund the COVID origins cover-up. Shah also helped him fund the Wuhan lab. Fresh from the Gates Foundation, Shah was USAID director during the PREDICT virus hunts, the 2012 Kunming SARS-like outbreak and the discovery of RaTG13.
To stop the next pandemic, we need a ban on virus hunting and gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens, but Eric Schmidt and Eric Lander are trying to make sure even more government money is spent on even more frightening technologies and experiments.
Eric Schmidt and Eric Lander have big plans for digital surveillance and human genetic engineering, projects that have been central to Google’s business model and investments and the Broad Institute’s research.
(If you’re not familiar with Google’s history of surveillance, read Yasha Levine’s Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet. And, if you don’t know about its investments in human genetic engineering, check out Google’s transhumanist life-extension company Calico.)
Now that Eric Lander is Biden’s science advisor, cabinet secretary, and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Schmidt-Lander duo has never been more powerful.
Read more & take action: Stop ARPA-H! Don’t Let Congress Fund Digital Surveillance & Human Gene Hacking!
Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.
Read more from our Gain of Function Hall of Shame.