Bioscience Resource Project News and Views
Published on Tuesday, October 25th, 2022 by Independent Science News: “Did West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak of 2014 Have a Lab Origin?” written by Sam Husseini and Jonathan Latham, PhD
Synopsis: The Ebola outbreak of 2014 was a disaster for West Africa. Over 11,000 lives were lost amidst intense negative social and economic consequences. The 2014 outbreak of Zaire Ebola (as the species is known) is today commonly cited as a bona fide example of a natural zoonosis that began in the country of Guinea. However, the 2014 outbreak was puzzling on multiple levels. The greatest of these puzzles is that all previous Zaire Ebola virus outbreaks occurred in the Congo basin, which is thousands of miles away. Additionally, to this day and despite extensive sampling, no animal source of Zaire Ebola virus in West Africa has ever been identified. At the same time, in Sierra-Leone, not far from the border with Guinea, is the town of Kenema which hosts a US-funded virus research facility. The research focus of this lab, which is run by the US-based Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Consortium, are the viral haemorrhagic fevers of which Ebola is one.
We now disclose the results of our scientific investigation into the origin of that outbreak. What we have uncovered are fundamental logical and scientific weaknesses in the orthodox outbreak story and, as well, strong evidence that supports an origin in Sierra Leone. First, we show that the orthodox story of patient zero–the Guinean child who played with bats is simply speculation and unsupported by clinical or documentary evidence. Second, the epidemiological links from this child to the first confirmed cases, which were months later, are also highly speculative. Thirdly, we have reanalysed the phylogeny of the Ebola genomes published during the outbreak and find no support for an origin in Guinea. Rather, phylogenetics strongly supports assertions made at the time by MSF (Doctors without Borders) that, though identified first, the Guinea outbreak actually spread from Sierra-Leone. In line with this supposition, we lay out the compelling phylogenetic evidence that the Sierra Leone outbreak began well before its official date of first detection. Lastly, our investigation revealed a cover-up. Although there are clear and obvious inconsistencies between the phylogenetic evidence and the orthodox narrative of a Guinean origin, western researchers, many of them from the lab in Kenema, or closely connected to it, chose to overlook these weaknesses to promote a false and misleading Guinean origin story.
The authors are Sam Husseini – an independent journalist and Jonathan Latham – a virologist.
Read the full article at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/did-west-africas-ebola-outbreak-of-2014-have-a-lab-origin/
Published Monday, May 23rd, 2022 by Independent Science News: Fauci’s COVID Origin SWAT Team Versus the Mojiang Miner Passage Theory, written by Jonathan Latham, PhD.
Delete, Deny, and Destroy: Chinese and Western Strategies To Erase COVID’s Origin Are Being Exposed By Independent Research
Published Thursday, April 21st, 2022 in Independent Science News: Delete, Deny, and Destroy: Chinese and Western Strategies To Erase COVID’s Origin Are Being Exposed By Independent Research by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD.
Synopsis: On Feb 25th this year, George Gao, head of China’s CDC, published a scientific preprint co-authored with 38 other Chinese virologists (Gao et al., 2022). Using previously unpublished evidence, this preprint concluded that the Huanan market in Wuhan played no role at all in the appearance of SARS-CoV-2 in late 2019. These authors then implied that the origin of SARS-CoV-2 was not even in China. Within hours, two other preprints appeared. The authors of these included many prominent Western virologists but none from China (Worobey et al., 2022 and Pekar et al., 2022). The two ‘Western’ preprints assessed the Huanan market evidence (though without including the new Gao et al. data) and concluded the exact opposite–that the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019 with multiple zoonotic spillovers at the market in Wuhan. This latter interpretation was widely covered by the Western media as discrediting the lab leak possibility.
Neither of these viewpoints is an objective scientific analysis of the relevant data, however. Rather, they reflect an emerging scientific struggle. It is between Western-affiliated scientists on one side and their Chinese counterparts on the other. Each side is trying to twist the COVID-19 origin story to fit their local political needs, which are really those of their respective government funders and other backers. What the combatant camps did not anticipate, however, was the appearance of an innovative and much superior methodology for the genetic dissection of COVID-19 origins, along with researchers willing to use it. Consequently, the data manipulations and stratagems of both sides–the Gao establishment in China and the Western virologists ginning up a market zoonosis–are being revealed for what they are.
Phylogeographic Mapping of Newly Discovered Coronaviruses Pinpoints the Direct Progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 as Originating from Mojiang, China
Published on Monday 2nd August 2021 in Independent Science News: “Phylogeographic Mapping of Newly Discovered Coronaviruses Pinpoints the Direct Progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 as Originating from Mojiang, China“, by Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD.
Synopsis: Many scientists are now openly considering whether a lab leak best explains the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Yet it is frequently also suggested in the media that the data ‘hasn’t changed’, only people’s opinions. This is far from the truth. One data set that has grown substantively since the pandemic broke out is the number of wild virus relatives of SARS-CoV-2 that have been identified and sequenced. In all, twelve isolates have now been described, ten obtained from bats and two from pangolins. All 12 isolates were found in Asia. These viruses constitute what we know of the SARS-CoV-2 reservoir population in its bat hosts. For most of these viruses, both their sampling location and their genetic similarity to SARS-CoV-2 are known. We therefore conducted a phylogeographic analysis of these viruses. It revealed that the SARS-CoV-2-related viruses form a coherent group, with a geographically ordered genetic structure. Because of this geographic ordering, the location from which human SARS-CoV-2 originated, i.e. the locality where its direct ancestor jumped from the bat reservoir, could be identified with high confidence. Using two different approaches, which gave the same result, this location was determined to be a comparatively small region of south-central Yunnan, China.
Positively locating the jump from bats represents an advance with major implications for understanding the origin of SARS-CoV-2. While a south-central Yunnan source does not rule out either a lab or a zoonotic origin in principle, the result compels all candidate hypotheses to incorporate a plausible link with that locality. Indeed, some well-known origin theories are clearly not compatible with this finding. They therefore appear to be non-viable. Perhaps even more importantly, a south-central Yunnan origin is a highly suggestive finding because at the centre of that region is the Mojiang mine. This mine has been the focus of most lab origin theories, in particular, the Mojiang Miners Passage theory, which posits that SARS-CoV-2 derives from tissue samples taken from miners who were infected in a novel coronavirus outbreak in 2012. This theory specifically predicts that Mojiang in south-central Yunnan was the site where the jump from bats occurred. For these reasons, this new analysis should transform the origins debate about COVID-19.
Read the full article at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/phylogeographic-mapping-of-newly-discovered-coronaviruses-pinpoints-direct-progenitor-of-sars-cov-2-as-originating-from-mojiang/