In this interview, Dr. Steven Quay — one of the most-cited scientists in the world1 — discusses his Bayesian analysis,2 published January 29, 2021, which concludes beyond a doubt that SARS-CoV-2 is laboratory derived. Quay is an M.D. with a Ph.D. in chemistry. You can learn more about Dr. Quay on his website.
He did his medical residency at Mass General at Harvard Hospital and his postdoctoral work at MIT with a Noble laureate. He holds 87 patents in 22 fields of medicine, including the gadolinium used with MRI imaging.
During his career, Quay published 360 papers, which have been cited over 10,000 times. His COVID origin paper, however, has already been downloaded 170,000 times. Bayesian analysis,3or Bayesian inference, is a statistical tool used to answer questions about unknown parameters by using probability distributions for observable data.
Quay's highly conservatively-skewed analysis shows there's only a 0.2% likelihood that this virus came from nature, and a 99.8% probability that it came from a lab. His 140-page paper can be downloaded from zenodo.org4 for those who want to dive into the nitty gritty of this statistical analysis. He presented these data to House Representatives during a June 26, 2021, subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis meeting.5
Instead of using the observed statistics of the data he gathered, he radically reduced the probability to 1 in 20. When one combines all the statistical anomalies from the 26 different data points he collected, the real likelihood of the virus coming from nature is less than 1 in all the atoms of the universe — 1080 — which is a very, very large number, making it virtually impossible.
SARS-CoV-2 Has a Protein Sequence Found in Bee Venom Toxin
As early as January 2020, Quay knew SARS-CoV-2 could be problematic.
"Nobody was paying any attention because there was no need to at that point," he says. "I saw this virus coming out of China. I looked at the sequence of it and I remember telling my wife, 'I know what this thing is going to do in cells,' because for five years at Stanford, I was studying and was the world expert on the toxin melittin, which is a bee venom toxin, the thing that hurts when you get a bee venom …
This melittin, this toxin in bee venom, has the same sequence that SARS-CoV-2 had … I run a public company, so I went to the board a couple weeks later and said, 'Look, I think we can come up with some therapeutics and some ideas around this.' We actually are in clinical trials with some products for therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.
Then I started hearing some really crazy public health advisories around masks, social distancing and things, so I ended up writing a little book that was a No. 1 best seller for a few weeks called 'Stay Safe: [A Physician's Guide to Survive Coronavirus,]' on Amazon. That took me through the summer. Then I started going back to something. I was very concerned about what I saw as properties of this virus that had never been seen before.
It's now public knowledge that the government identified one of my papers, so I was contacted by the State Department in the fall and basically was an adviser to their programs there, including a three-hour deep dive from all of the different committees or agencies there …
I continue to push this because … if it came from nature, there are certain things we should do differently to not have this happen again. If it came from a laboratory, there's a completely different set of things you need to do. It's not a blame game."
There Are Several Ways to Make a Virus More Dangerous
Quay recently published another paper in which he reveals that the Wuhan Institute of Virology(WIV) is also working on another virus, the Nipah virus, which has a 90% lethality rate. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what might happen if a virus with that lethality got out. Quay explains:
"[The WIV] published an early paper on samples from COVID patients in the hospital … It's the most-read paper from the beginning of the pandemic. I did a deep dive into their raw data. The sequence is 30,000 nucleotides — the raw data's 55 million nucleotides. What you can see in there is a fingerprint of everything they've been doing for the last two years. They're doing a lot of crazy research."
As explained by Quay, the WIV has been around for about 40 years. In 2003, after SARS-Cov-1 emerged, the U.S. and France helped China refurbish the WIV into a more secure BSL 4 biolab, the only one in China. Since then, the WIV has become a primary laboratory for zoonotic viruses. It's also one of the top three laboratories for gain-of-function synthetic biology, which can be accomplished in several ways.
If you know what you want to alter, you can insert a new synthetic amino acid into the pathogen. If you don't have a precise idea of the change you want to achieve, but you want the pathogen to adapt from an animal to a human, you can do what is called serial passage, where the virus is passed through a series of animal and human tissues.
For example, you could start by infecting 20 humanized mice with a virus, then isolate the virus from the sickest mouse and give it to another 20. Humanized mice are genetically modified mice to have human lung tissue. After four or five passages like that, the virus will have mutated to attack and kill human hosts.
"The third way is to drop big chunks of material in there. For example, the part of the virus of SARS-CoV-2 that interacts with the cell is about 200 amino acids, so times three for nucleic acid, so that's 600. You can just drop a big piece of 600 in and instantly go from an animal to humans, or whatever direction you want.
So, those are the three [primary strategies]: Knowing what to do with single spots, randomly letting nature do it in serial passage, and then dropping big chunks in."