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If you read my last article at BizCatalyst – you might be forgiven for thinking that I am on a bit of a roll. This is yet another article to ask – nay, plead with everyone to stop, think, smell the roses, wait … anything before pushing out stuff into the ether that really makes no sense.

Forty minutes ago I received an email from a group I belong to. It’s a prestigious group, and some members have names that you would recognize if I shared them. They are not stupid people.

Within thirty minutes, I had clicked through the links, speed read the material, had completed my research and sent an email back into the group. By the time BizCatalyst receives this article. less than an hour will have passed since receipt. So it doesn’t take a lot of time.

The message I received contained this extract from someone called ‘Dr, Breggin’. I confess I had never heard of him – so part of that 30 minutes was looking into him.

In 2015, American researchers and Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers collaborated to transform an animal coronavirus into one that can attack humans. Scientists from prestigious American universities and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked directly with the two coauthor researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli-Li Shi. The team succeeded in modifying a bat coronavirus to make it capable of attacking human hosts.

The claim amplifies the ongoing rumor that COVID-19 is a virus created by humans and maybe even as a weapon of war. The writer of the email then added that they had just seen PBS Newshour and they were talking about this very topic.

My Response

PBS  should know better – I will try to catch it later … but like CBS – they do seem to lack simple fact-checking – and do devote a little too much to me towards what I call ‘biased balance’ …  (My piece on CBS fact checking)

Meanwhile – if he (Breggin) is anything – he is (from his site)

… a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former Consultant at NIMH who has been called “The Conscience of Psychiatry” for his many decades of successful efforts to reform the mental health field.

I am not sure of the overlap between that background and unearthing this story.

Also on his own site, his latest media interview listed is from 2016 – maybe he needed to kick start his career?

Meanwhile, I notice that Quackwatch (Your Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions) has this to say about the Good Doctor.

Now, I’m not saying he’s wrong – after-all – as I reported in my newsletter this weekNearly a third of Americans believe a coronavirus conspiracy theory – and fully 23% believe that it was made by humans – so who am I to disagree?

BUT – putting PBS, CBS et al aside – I am reading nothing about this in places like Vox, The Intercept, The Guardian  AlJazeera, Mother Jones .. to name a few .. places where rigor is employed along with great reporting and not worrying too much about calling out people and going against the grain of ’the message’.

If I am wrong can you please share those links.

BTW – in conclusion, if you look at the research paper that Breggin himself references here, you can scroll to the bottom there is a ‘change history’ paragraph.

30 March 2020 Editors’ note, March 2020

We are aware that this article is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.

I am not a scientist or a researcher or a medical person … just a guy who looks at stuff and when it doesn’t seem right – sometimes looks a little deeper.

____________________

Bottom line – just a plea and to highlight that fakes news, of any kind, wins when we don’t pay attention.

And again, this is not a statement that the claim is absolutely false. BUT – nothing I have seen from any reputable source anywhere in the world supports the claim. As I said in the original email – if I am wrong – please send me some links and references.

John Philpin
John Philpinhttps://www.people-first.net/
JOHN'S career spans 30 years, 2 continents, and organizations as diverse as Oracle, Citibank and GE. A Mathematics graduate, John moved to California in 1990. He helps technology companies create, develop and deliver their story for fund raising, market development and influencer programs. He also works with businesses to ensure they understand, and are ready, for the ever accelerating changes that technology is bringing to their industry. John is a co-founder of Expert Alumni and gleXnet and long before futurists and industry watchers were writing about the impending challenges that industries were going to be facing, they predicted a perfect storm of issues like skills gap, declining work forces, the gig economy, people trained to do work no longer needed, demographic shifts, economic and social change, market upheaval and rapidly changing ways of doing work. From the beginning they have promoted the idea that massive change was coming to how organizations should think about their workforce, with a singular focus on simplifying the interface between people and their work. Understanding the challenges ahead of the curve, the solution was built to arrive at a better understanding of the greatest restraint to business operations - competence, not capital. gleXnet provides unparalleled insights into an organizations people and operations by flipping the problem from the perspective of people, not the business.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Dear John, once again, I have more information for your reference:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985#author-information

    • Published: 09 November 2015
    A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence
    • Vineet D Menachery,
    • Boyd L Yount Jr,
    • Kari Debbink,
    • Sudhakar Agnihothram,
    • Lisa E Gralinski,
    • Jessica A Plante,
    • Rachel L Graham,
    • Trevor Scobey,
    • Xing-Yi Ge,
    • Eric F Donaldson,
    • Scott H Randell,
    • Antonio Lanzavecchia,
    • Wayne A Marasco,
    • Zhengli-Li Shi &
    • Ralph S Baric

    Abstract

    The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV underscores the threat of cross-species transmission events leading to outbreaks in humans. Here we examine the disease potential of a SARS-like virus, SHC014-CoV, which is currently circulating in Chinese horseshoe bat populations1. Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system2, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. The results indicate that group 2b viruses encoding the SHC014 spike in a wild-type backbone can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV. Additionally, in vivo experiments demonstrate replication of the chimeric virus in mouse lung with notable pathogenesis. Evaluation of available SARS-based immune-therapeutic and prophylactic modalities revealed poor efficacy; both monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches failed to neutralize and protect from infection with CoVs using the novel spike protein. On the basis of these findings, we synthetically re-derived an infectious full-length SHC014 recombinant virus and demonstrate robust viral replication both in vitro and in vivo. Our work suggests a potential risk of SARS-CoV re-emergence from viruses currently circulating in bat populations.

    Main

    The emergence of SARS-CoV heralded a new era in the cross-species transmission of severe respiratory illness with globalization leading to rapid spread around the world and massive economic impact3,4. Since then, several strains—including influenza A strains H5N1, H1N1 and H7N9 and MERS-CoV—have emerged from animal populations, causing considerable disease, mortality and economic hardship for the afflicted regions5. Although public health measures were able to stop the SARS-CoV outbreak4, recent metagenomics studies have identified sequences of closely related SARS-like viruses circulating in Chinese bat populations that may pose a future threat1,6.

    • Bharat – that very article that you highlight is the one I called out mine. When you find that list of authors just scroll up a little and you will find :

      30 March 2020 Editors’ note, March 2020: We are aware that this article is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.

      • Dear John, while I genuinely appreciate your keenness to research everything yourself, please allow me to present the following statement from Josh Rogin, a Columnist at Washington Post:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/14/state-department-cables-warned-safety-issues-wuhan-lab-studying-bat-coronaviruses/

        “What the U.S. officials learned during their visits concerned them so much that they dispatched two diplomatic cables categorized as Sensitive But Unclassified back to Washington. The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help. The first cable, which I obtained, also warns that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.”

        Although the above does not endorse Dr. Braggin’s statement, it is also not far from the possibility of a pandemic originating from that same lab.

        On a side-note, please let me clarify I am not on a wild-goose chase. I have always held you in high esteem and shall continue to do so in the long term as well.

        Thanks once again, With Warm Regards, and A Prayer for All!

        • thankyou great stuff, from that article

          As many have pointed out, there is no evidence that the virus now plaguing the world was engineered; scientists largely agree it came from animals. But that is not the same as saying it didn’t come from the lab, which spent years testing bat coronaviruses in animals, said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

          and that is exactly my point.

  2. Dear John, I read with interest your above article, and could also see the basis of the same resting entirely on the shoulders of one individual, apparently a quack. Now that you have invited participation, please allow me to share some information, along with links:

    #1. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/u-s-canada-have-funded-chinese-lab

    Both the United States and Canada have sent money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab that multiple sources tell Fox News is suspected of being the likely source of the coronavirus pandemic — with the Canadian funding coming as recently as last month.

    Fox News reported Wednesday that, according to sources, there is increasing confidence the novel coronavirus likely escaped from the Wuhan laboratory, where it was being studied, with a worker spreading it to the larger population.

    According to public documents compiled by the White Coat Waste Project and shared with Fox News, The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been involved with research funded by $7.1 million worth of US government grants from the National Institutes of Health as it has participated in projects in collaboration with US institutions. One grant for research on bat coronaviruses has received $3.7 million, and another grant involving injecting viruses into mice’s brains got $3.4 million.

    The Chinese government must be held accountable for this crisis.”

    STATE DEPARTMENT LEAKED CABLES RENEW THEORIES ON ORIGIN OF CORONAVIRUS

    The cable argued that the United States should give Chinese researchers at the Wuhan lab more support because its research on bat coronaviruses was important and dangerous. The lab had already been receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

    Fox News reported Wednesday night that the virus research was part of China’s efforts to show that it could identify and combat coronaviruses as well as or better than the US.
    China then undertook an extensive cover-up of information about the virus in an attempt to shield its origins from public scrutiny. Doctors and journalists were “disappeared” warning of the spread of the virus and its contagious nature.

    #2. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/coronavirus-wuhan-lab-china-compete-us-sources:

    Documents detail early efforts by doctors at the lab and early efforts at containment. The Wuhan wet market initially identified as a possible point of origin never sold bats, and the sources tell Fox News that blaming the wet market was an effort by China to deflect blame from the laboratory, along with the country’s propaganda efforts targeting the US and Italy.
    US Embassy officials warned in January 2018 about inadequate safety at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab and passed on information about scientists conducting risky research on coronavirus from bats, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

    # 3. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52318539

    US State Department cables show that embassy officials were worried about biosecurity at a virus lab in Wuhan, China. The lab is in the same city where the coronavirus outbreak first came to the world’s attention.

    The Washington Post newspaper has reported information obtained from diplomatic cables. They show that, in 2018, US science diplomats were sent on repeated visits to a Chinese research facility. Officials sent two warnings to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab.

    The column says the officials were worried about safety and management weaknesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and called for more help.
    It also claims diplomats were concerned the lab’s research on bat coronaviruses could risk a new Sars-like pandemic. The newspaper says the cables fuelled more recent discussions in the US government about whether the WIV or another lab in Wuhan could have been the source of the virus behind the current pandemic.

    In case you need further information to help ascertain the origin of COVID-19, and its active participants, lack of safety concerns, and the inexcusable discharge among the innocent public, I shall be more than happy to oblige.

    Thank You, With Warm Regards, and A Prayer for All!

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