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Is Covid -19 man made for Bio-warfare or naturally Occurring as Claimed?

Mathew Thomas, PhD

Introduction


Viruses are ultramicroscopic with about 20-300 nanometers in diameter and needs a living host cell to multiply. They are the smallest microbes and most exemplify them as a simple piece of information. But when viruses are weaponized they become lethal, killing millions, if they are not stopped in time by vaccines. Modern bio-warfare is deadly and it can weaponize not only viruses, but also bacteria and toxins. There were two international treaties, earlier which had put a ban on biological weapons that is 1925 and 1972.

However, these treaties have not stopped countries from pursuing research and clandestine production of bio-weapons. Tweaking with viruses or bacteria can produce organisms that are dangerous to mankind, yet the research carries on. For example, anthrax(Bacillus Antracis) was used during World War I, Marburg virus was used by Soviets and other biological weapons were used by a host of other countries too. Iraq and Syria had used Mustard gas and agent Orange as chemical weapons during the war. There are other categories of viruses which are modified through genetic engineering to make it more virulent, like for example Nipah virus, Hantavirus, Yellow Fever virus, etc. The question is whether Covid -19 is one such. We do not know at this juncture if it was a bio-weapon. But a diligent search will show that it could or maybe a bio-weapon that was weaponized, however details are extremely hard to come by. China had pulled all research papers concerning the Corona virus and also imprisoned a few scientists to keep it under wraps. So why this secrecy by China? To understand how genetic engineering changes the characteristics of a viruses/ bacteria please read through the boxed item, (extract of an article published by the author in 2010).


Creation of Life in a Lab


The first synthetic life was created in a laboratory in 2010. What Dr. Craig Venter did and achieved, is a stupendous achievement; which has not been publicized much in the newspapers. To many the news that life was created in a laboratory is not known. Dolly the sheep was created by splitting the nuclei in the cell. The euphoria died down. Dr. Craig Venter, the maverick scientist along with Hamilton Smith created a living creature from almost nothing. It is something akin to the invention of the chip, a giant step for mankind. They created a piece of DNA that carries about thousand genes from off-the-shelf laboratory chemicals. So, what is unique about it? This creature has no parent or ancestor – that is its uniqueness. The way it reacts stimuli, to other organisms or even how it lives depends on the design put together by the creators. The marvel of this creation is that it can reproduce on its own, despite it being synthetic. It all began for the maverick scientist 15 years ago. What the organism consists of is a synthetic DNA, created in the laboratory. Now the question is whether they are playing God? The human sequencing of the human genome in 2000, with 3 billion genetic letters is no mean achievement and one of the scientists to achieve this remarkable feat was none other than Dr. Craig Venter. The race, so to say has just begun. Dr. Craig Venter started this dream project by using mycoplasma genitilium, a bacterium that lives in the genital tract, but found that it grew very slowly. The initial problem was to prepare a shell or a cadaver for insertion of genes. But there was a problem, that the bacteria would reject any foreign material if inserted into the body, especially of viruses. They would do it by restriction enzymes and these enzymes would cut to pieces, the foreign DNA. Now the trick was to ensure that these bacterial strains should not have any restriction enzymes. They then, at last switched to Mycoplasma mycoides. They deleted 14 genes from its DNA and added a few other genes to differentiate it from others for watermarking. The genes were synthesized in the lab. This watermark includes a cipher containing the URL of the website and three quotations. The reason for introducing the watermark is to make sure that it cannot be stolen and to top it all Dr. Venter has offered it to be patented.


Implications for Mankind


What are the implications for this gigantic step for mankind in general? If accidentally released this could probably mutate to form a Frankenstein monster, that science may not be able to control. Stability of the organism would be an issue. In a few years, probably some countries with permit creation of life and patent synthetic life forms or even synthetic human life forms. If organisms are permitted to be created, not far into the future would synthetic human beings be created as clones? What then? Who would its parents or would law permit them to be labelled as separate beings? Any nation that is the first mover would be a big gainer. What are the spin-offs? Maybe the creature would be used for organ harvesting or maybe the creature would become a slave to work in industries, farms, hospitals, laboratories for experiments or for recreation as playthings of the rich. The list is endless. Would the creature have feelings or even reason like human beings? Who would then believe in God? Do we then need God?


What if the modified virus is released accidentally from the laboratory or surreptiously into the environment. Was this what happened with the Corona virus in Wuhan? Before we go further we need to understand the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, 1972 briefly. It entered into force on 26 March 1975 and 183 countries have become a party to the Treaty as on date. The problem with this Convention is that there weren’t sufficient monitoring mechanisms before countries accession and ratification to the Convention. So, one does not know if the countries ratifying the convention are holding stockpiles in secret. One must understand the difference between ratification and accession of a Treaty. Ratification means that the state indicates its intention to be bound by a treaty, where as accession indicates that the state becomes a party to the treaty after the negotiations and after it has beensigned by other states. Accession has the same force as ratification, but it occurs after the treaty has entered into force.


Bio-Weapons and Genetic Engineering


Small pox was at one time used as a bio-weapon, amongst a few others, however modern technology has made it possible to overcome restrictions through genetic engineering. Small pox is eradicated, but stored in only two laboratories, one in the US and the other in Russia, however one cannot rule out that there aren’t other countries which are holding some samples clandestinely. A research team from the State University of New York had synthesized the DNA segment of the polio virus by buying small genetic components online and then chemically synthesized artificial polio virus. As with this it is not difficult for a biologist or a virologist to synthesize viruses or bacteria.


Advantages of Bioweapons


It requires very small quantity to grow inside a host and can be delivered by any means available. It does not need sophisticated delivery systems such as for nuclear bombs. This can be termed as a poor man’s dirty bomb. It cannot be easily detected, as it is in most cases colourless, odorless and tasteless. It does not need large dispensers and carriers. A small quantity is sufficient. An additional requirement is favourable weather conditions for it to be dispersed. So, one would have to wait for favourable weather conditions. All it requires is one carrier who can disperse the stock. Unless the viruses need to be modified through gene technology, there already exists sufficient stock in nature and does not need very high technology to produce.


Wuhan Institute of Virology

The Wuhan Institute of Virology was built with the help of France in 2017. It is a top end virology laboratory. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is of BSL -4 which has the highest level of containment and biosafety. Now to understand various safety levels, BSL-1 is lowest with BSL -4 having the highest safety rating. When a lab is declared as a BSL-4 lab, personnel are required to change clothing before entering and shower upon exit, decontaminate all materials, must have full body air supplied positive pressurized suit and a class III biological safety laboratory. They must have a chemical shower out and personal shower out, and must be equipped with supply and exhaust HEPA filter for air. The laboratories are always isolated and must have and pass through autoclave with bio-seal in the laboratory. In a BSL-4 laboratory the containment is maximum, since it stores very high-risk agents that causes life threatening diseases. India has three such BSL-4 laboratories and the fourth one is coming up.


Why Choose Bioweapons


Bioweapons are the easiest to produce and available in nature, unless they are genetically modified, which requires a well-established virology laboratory or research centre. They are invisible, like the deadly Covid-19. It causes delayed effects and is long lasting if not neutralized or treated early. It causes deep fear and panic amongst the public and the government, with large populations being affected and brings economic activity to a halt. This is what India is witnessing. An environment of uncertainty is created. It causes a heavy strain on health services, as is presently being seen. It can cause social upheaval, distrust in the government, law and order problems and lastly impair military functioning. We are witnessing a huge amount of distrust in the present government by the public and the present state of WhatsApp messages and disinformation is a striking example of this. Military functioning at top efficiency is a requirement to neutralize threats from enemies. What is being seen in India is the classic case of bio-warfare, but yet we are not sure. The reason being that this how a pandemic situation unfolds and therefore one can’t be sure.


The question one may ask is whether China has the capability? China having landed a Mars ZhurongRover on Mars from the Tianmen-1 spacecraft, being the second nation in the world to achieve this spectacular capability. China does have the capability to launch a bio-war against a country of its choosing. Most nations with bio-war capability usually follow the no first use principle, wherein the country will not launch a first strike, but may use it in retaliation. In 2015, US had obtained documents that spoke of Chinese military scientists and public health officials about the virus, which China has denied.


The aim was to impair military functioning, with biowarfare, but China has barely succeeded. Today as it stands the Indian Army is still on the icy heights of Galwan, though there were partial withdrawals from these heights, with heightened state of alert. China has not moved back much to pre-2020 status fully, and is still holding areas, from where they can threaten both the North and North East. India is ready too.


The leak at Wuhan also killed over 42,000 people in Wuhan in the first wave. The second wave also killed a large number of people, however strict lockdown controlled the number of deaths. One may ask as to why should there be deaths in China if it was aninitiator? These deaths were an accident and an aberration.


India is going through the classic stages of bio-warfare, with distrust in the government, fear and panic amongst the public, law and order problems and impairing military functioning. Luckily, for India, the military has had very few cases of Covid-19 infections as compared to the general public, primarily due to the military discipline and training. The first case in the military was reported in Leh, at the Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre. When the first case was reported they put in place strict monitoring, with all movement being restricted especially of civilian porters into the centre. Meal timings were staggered. Doubtful cases were isolated in separate barracks. Compared to the large number of deaths in India only 119 soldiers, died of Covid throughout India, despite being face to face with the Chinese on the Northern front. But here, all indications point to classic case of bio-warfare, as there are definite imprints and most of it is only deduction and some conjecture.


Conclusion


The WHO group that was sent to Wuhan had seen months of diplomatic delays and parleys. The team underwent two weeks quarantine and then visited the Wuhan lab but were unable to come any conclusive evidence of its origin. There weren’t any significant findings since evidence was likely to have been wiped out.


India is now facing and fighting a two-front war, one with Covid, a public health issue and the other on the Northern frontiers, of which many are not aware. We as Indians need to appreciate this. We need to join hands with the government and fight this deadly disease by doing what we can.


So, what we are seeing maybe an accidental leak from a BSL-4 lab in Wuhan or is it biowarfare? We still do not know for sure.


Note: The article has extracts from one of the articles published for a newspaper in July 2010, by this author titled ‘Creating Life and Playing God’ while he was working with an IIM. Extracts are in the paragraphs; Creation of life in the Lab and Implications for Mankind.


References

WHO.int

National Library of Medicine.

Scholar google.com; J Cello, AV Paul, E Wimmer, Chemical synthesis of Polio virus cDNA, generation of synthetic virus in the absence of natural template.

News.Stanford.edu

www.cdc.gov


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