Home / Health / ‘Real scandal’: Report details how Wuhan Lab and EcoHealth Alliance teamed up with engineers coronavirus in unsafe conditions?

‘Real scandal’: Report details how Wuhan Lab and EcoHealth Alliance teamed up with engineers coronavirus in unsafe conditions?

A new report details how Chinese scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology copied techniques developed by high-profile US researchers. How to create bat coronavirus under substandard laboratory safety conditions? Funded by the National Institutes of Health through the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, the report contains statements from several scientists. including American researchers who developed these techniques. He condemned the funding for the Wuhan laboratory as a mistake.

The MIT Technology Review report, “Inside the Vulnerable Bat Virus Engineering Linking America to Wuhan,”

; explains that Dr. Ralph Baric, a world-renowned coronavirus expert and professor at the University of North Carolina, has developed techniques for creating the virus. chimera in a lab in North Carolina to develop vaccines and treatments for potentially deadly SARS-like diseases. “Reverse Genetics” in Coronavirus This allows him to mix and match parts of several viruses by studying the genetic code of the virus sample. Create a new artificial virus that can infect humans.

Baric’s goal is to develop a universal vaccine that will protect against all viruses associated with SARS. By creating a virus similar to SARS, Baric’s work was able to show that coronavirus In the wild, it may have evolved to attack human cells, and possibly evolved weaker versions of these viruses that could be used in vaccines to teach human immune cells to protect against SARS-like diseases.

In 2013, Baric contacted Zhengli Shi, a researcher at the Wuhan Laboratory who led the discovery team. coronavirus New in the Bat Cave, Baric asks Shi to share a sample of the virus she discovered, named SHC014, which she agrees to do. He took the sample back to his lab and began to perform enhancement experiments with it.

While Baric was conducting his research High-profile laboratory accidents involving anthrax and smallpox And the media attention surrounding the Ebola outbreak prompted the Obama administration’s NIH to postpone federal funding for research on SARS, MERS and the influenza virus in 2009. Performance-enhancing experiments were considered risky because of the possibility that a laboratory accident could result in a fatal, artificial pathogen escaping into the forest and causing a pandemic, but Baric. Successfully argued with the NIH that his research was conducted under His “highest measure” of safety in his lab, which “clearly sets his job apart from the high-risk flu job the NIH has been aiming for.”

The NIH moratorium on work capacity research has an exception. “If the head of the funding agency determines that research is urgently needed to protect public health or national security,” Baric’s study was excluded. and according to the technology review report “So are all studies used for exemption.” In 2017, the moratorium was lifted and the Department of Health and Human Services was mandated to create a framework to review research received. from the proposed work prior to approval of funding for these projects.

Baric’s study was published in 2015 and shows that bats coronavirus MIT Technology Review noted that Baric emphasized the safety precautions he outlined in his paper. “The potential to prepare and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens,” Baric wrote. A circulating species that is too vulnerable to be tracked.”

The problem is that these safety precautions are not necessarily shared in other laboratories around the world, especially the Wuhan laboratory.

According to the MIT Technology Review, after initially working together, Baric’s lab at UNC and Zhengli Shi’s at WIV have become “more like competitors”, with the pair “in the race to identify “more like competitors”. coronavirus dangerous Assess potential threats and developing countermeasures such as vaccines.”

Shi’s work sampling of coronavirus bats in southern China was sponsored by the EcoHealth Alliance, a global nonprofit led by Peter Daszak, which reported earning more than 90% of $16 million in annual revenue. As a result of government grants, between 2014 and 2019, the EcoHealth Alliance sent the Wuhan Institute about $600,000 in NIH funding to study the coronavirus bat.

Research funded by the EcoHealth Alliance includes work similar to the Baric study but conducted in a laboratory where safety precautions are not disclosed:

In 2014, the NIH awarded a five-year $3.75 million grant to the EcoHealth Alliance to study the risk that bat-borne coronavirus will increase in China. using the same techniques that Baric pioneered. Some of the work will be subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Two years later, Daszak and Shi published an article reporting that Chinese laboratories had designed different versions of WIV1. and how to test the ability to infect human cells This article announces that WIV has developed a reverse genetic system led by Americans. It also included a troubling detail: the work, partially funded by NIH grants, was done in the BSL-2 lab, meaning the same virus Daszak could be considered a blatant global threat. informed and is currently being studied under the conditions that follow [Rutgers University professor] Richard Ebright meets “United States Dentist’s Office Biosafety Level”

Baric’s lab is recognized by the CDC as a Level 3 biosafety laboratory where studies are conducted. “Gastrointestinal pathogens that can cause serious diseases through respiratory transmission, such as influenza and SARS,” and related protocols include several obstacles to their escape. Such protocols include a lab with two self-closing and locking doors; an air filter; And lab staff wear full PPE and N95 masks under medical supervision. Baric also takes additional precautions such as Tyvek suits, double gloves. and an air ventilator for all employees.

The Wuhan lab at Shi simulated Baric’s experiments conducted at Level 2 biosecurity, reserved for “Moderately dangerous pathogens that are already resident in the area and have relatively little intervention: Close the doors, wear eye protection. dispose of waste in Autoclave”

Richard Ebright, a microbiologist at Rutgers University. A long-time critic of utility research told the MIT Technology Review that the high quarantine conditions Baric used in his lab imposed costs and inconveniences that the Chinese would have avoided by working under conditions. less limited He explained that the Wuhan Laboratory’s decision to work on the BSL-2 would “increase the efficiency of[ed] progression rate Everything else is equal, with a factor of 10 to 20” giving Chinese researchers an edge over the American competition.

But that competitive advantage drives the cost of increasing the risk that lab accidents could leak potentially deadly pathogens into the unsuspecting world.

The MIT Technology Review report has released no new evidence suggesting the COVID-19 pandemic took place in a Wuhan lab and leaked. As some observers hypothesized, Shi claimed that her researchers had never found the SARS-CoV-2 virus before the Wuhan outbreak. And an Australian scientist who worked at the Wuhan lab in 2019 recently defended the lab’s security measures and said she had never heard of anyone at the lab falling ill with COVID-like symptoms in late 2019.

Stanford University bioengineer Michael Lin said the American government funded experiments of the type of exposure to work in a relatively lax safe environment at the Wuhan lab.

Ian Lipkin, Columbia University virologist. Co-author of an influential article arguing that SARS-CoV-2 of natural origin Told journalist Donald McNeil, Jr. that the Wuhan lab operating in BSL-2 conditions was “drunk.” He explained that when he wrote an article criticizing the lab’s leak hypothesis, He felt that the Wuhan Laboratory was conducting research under BSL-4 conditions, the highest level of safety.

“It shouldn’t happen. People shouldn’t look at the bat virus in the BSL-2 lab, my perspective has changed,” he said, reevaluating the leaked lab hypothesis.

Importantly, biosecurity expert Filippa Lentzos noted that WIV does not violate any laws. It operates under BSL-2 terms. “There are no enforceable standards for what you should and shouldn’t do. It depends on each country, institute and scientist,” she told MIT Technology Review.

But Baric, inventor of Shi’s research team who modeled it, claims it should have. “I’ve never argued that WIV1 or SHC014 should be studied at BSL-2 because they can grow in human primary cells,” he said. We don’t know if these viruses can actually cause serious disease in humans. But you want to be careful … If you study hundreds of bat viruses, your luck may run out.”

The MIT Technology Review reported that the NIH did not answer questions about its decision to approve research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. and did not disclose details about considerations under the framework to review research requests received from work.

Under the direction of President Donald Trump, the NIH ended funding for the EcoHealth Alliance for bat coronavirus research in April 2020, citing concerns about the safety of laboratories at the Virus Institute. Wuhan science Months later, the NIH reversed the decision after ranting against what it called “a slaughterhouse.” “Political interference” by Trump allegedly promoting “Conspiracy theory” that SARS-CoV-2 virus leaked from Wuhan lab

Source link