Chinese researchers isolated deadly bat coronaviruses near Wuhan animal market

Police stand guard outside Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where a number of people related to the market fell ill with a virus in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

Police stand guard outside Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where a number of people related to the market fell ill with a virus in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday … more >

By Bill Gertz – March 31,2020

Chinese government researchers isolated more than 2,000 animal viruses, including deadly bat coronaviruses, and carried out scientific work on them just three miles from a wild animal market identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several Chinese state media outlets in recent months touted the virus research and lionized in particular a key researcher in WuhanTian Junhua, as a leader in bat virus work.

The coronavirus strain now infecting hundreds of thousands of people globally mutated from bats believed to have infected animals and people at a wild animal market in Wuhan. The exact origin of the virus, however, remains a mystery.


SEE ALSO: Chinese markets again selling bats — likely source of deadly pandemic — reporters say


Reports of the extensive Chinese research on bat viruses likely will fuel more calls for Beijing to make public what it knows about such work.

“This is one of the worst cover-ups in human history, and now the world is facing a global pandemic,” Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week. Mr. McCaul has said China should be held accountable for the pandemic.

A video posted online in December and funded by the Chinese government shows Mr. Tian inside caves in Hubei province taking samples from captured bats and storing them in vials.

“I am not a doctor, but I work to cure and save people,” Mr. Tian says in the video. “I am not a soldier, but I work to safeguard an invisible national defense line.”

Chinese officials have said the virus likely spread from wild animals to people at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, not far from the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national center for China’s bat virus research.

Wuhan is finally stirring back to life after a harsh crackdown on travel and street activity was imposed in late January. The city’s bus, subway and train systems started to run again over the weekend. Shops downtown were operating with some restrictions Monday, although customers were scarce.

But British news accounts also reported over the weekend that some of the stalls at China’s so-called “wet” wild animal markets, as they reopen, have begun once again selling bats and scorpions and resumed questionable practices such as slaughtering small animals right at the site.

Chinese officials refused to provide samples of its coronavirus strains to U.S. researchers shortly after the outbreak became public and did not allow international disease specialists to visit Wuhan for weeks.

Handling bats

The Chinese video “Youth in the Wild — Invisible Defender” records researchers engaged in casual handling of bats containing deadly viruses.

The seven-minute film boasts that China has “taken the lead” in global virus research and uncovered over 2,000 viruses in the past 12 years, the time since the outbreak of the bat-origin virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

The deadly virus behind the current pandemic is called SARS Coronavirus-2 and also has been traced to bats.

Prior to China’s discoveries, an estimated 2,284 types of viruses had been found in the previous 200 years, the video says.

Chinese state media outlets revealed that Mr. Tian once failed to wear protective gear in a cave and as a result came into contact with bat urine. To avoid contracting a disease, he self-quarantined for 14 days — the same recommended period for people exposed to the new COVID-19 strain.

Mr. Tian works for the office of decontamination and biological disease vector prevention and control within the Wuhan CDC. According to a May 2017 report by the Wuhan Evening News, Mr. Tian has gathered thousands of bats for research work on bat viruses since 2012.

“Bats have a large number of unknown viruses on their bodies,” he said. “The more thorough our research on bats is, the better it will be for human health.”

The researcher also has gathered viruses from ticks, mice and wasps.

After the incident exposing him to bat urine, Mr. Tian said, he kept a safe distance from his wife. “As long as I am not getting sick during the incubation period of 14 days, I can be lucky to get away with it,” he said.

The Wuhan report said the collection of research samples was difficult, dangerous and hard to fund.

Shenzhen News, a publication of the Guangdong Communist Youth League, described in December how Mr. Tian shuttled through caves and jungles looking for viruses in bats and ticks, called “vector organisms,” in the quest to develop vaccines. The report said the nearly 2,000 viruses discovered in China over the past 12 years nearly doubled the total number of known viruses.

A search of the Wuhan CDC website since the novel coronavirus outbreak contains no reference to Mr. Tian or his work. He has co-authored at least two scientific studies on the Wuhan virus and its impact.

Efforts to reach Mr. Tian were not successful.

A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not return an email seeking comment.

U.S. concerns

A State Department official said the reports about Mr. Tian and his role in working with bat viruses are concerning.

“He lives and works at Wuhan’s CDC, a few hundred yards away from the Huanan wet market,” the official said. “He is among the small team in Wuhan that has contributed to China’s obsession in recent years with virus hunting and research.”

Some U.S. and international scientists have dismissed reports linking the new virus to one of China’s research labs. They insist the virus jumped naturally to humans and then began spreading from person to person.

But others say a growing body of evidence indicates the virus may have been under study in a Chinese laboratory and escaped, either through an infection of a worker or through an infected lab animal.

Biosecurity researcher Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University professor at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, said the coronavirus behind the pandemic is 96.2% similar to a bat virus discovered by the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2013 and studied at the Wuhan CDC. The virus could have jumped naturally from animal to human but also could have escaped from the lab, he said.

“Bat coronaviruses are collected and studied by laboratories in multiple parts of China — including Wuhan Municipal CDC and Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he told The Washington Times. “Therefore, the first human infection also could have occurred as a laboratory accident.”

Until the recent outbreak, all but two coronaviruses in China were studied at biosafety level-2 (BSL-2) facilities — not the high-security BSL-4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — “which provides only minimal protections against infection of lab workers,” he said.

“Virus collection, culture, isolation or animal infection at BSL-2 with a virus having the transmission characteristics of the outbreak virus would pose high risk of accidental infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker, the public,” he said.

Mr. Ebright said the Chinese video shows Wuhan CDC workers under Mr. Tian’s direction with inadequate personal protective equipment and unsafe practices, including exposed faces and wrists and a lack of goggles or face shields.

Such practices “would pose substantial risk of infection with a virus having transmission properties similar to those of the outbreak virus,” he said.

Mr. Ebright said the 2017 news report and 2019 video suggest several possibilities of accidental infection. They include accidental exposure in caves or field laboratories by those without proper protection, accidental infection during transit from caves or field laboratories, accidental infection inside the Wuhan CDC lab because of poor security, and accidental infection during shared work between the Wuhan CDC and the Wuhan Institute of Virology because of inadequate security at the CDC.

Kenneth Plante, associate director at the World Reference Center for Emerging Viruses and Arboviruses at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said he doubted the new virus came from a laboratory.

“There’s a lot of conspiracy theories that this came out of a biocontainment facility and things of that sort,” he said last week. “But these viruses are closely related to bats. The actual mechanism of the reemergence of this virus was actually hypothesized back during the original SARS coronavirus,” he said.

But Steven W. Mosher, a China specialist with the Population Research Institute, said China for years has been doing research, detailed in scientific journals, on horseshoe bat coronaviruses that could be harmful to humans.

“They write about collecting SARS-like coronaviruses from horseshoe bats and proving that, like the SARS virus itself, some of these other naturally occurring coronaviruses could infect human beings directly,” Mr. Mosher said. “They write about genetically engineering new and deadly viruses capable of infecting human lung tissue — just like the Wuhan flu does.”

Mr. Mosher called the Chinese government to disclose the research to help health officials cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

China claims that the deadly virus did not escape from its biolab,” Mr. Mosher said. “Fine. Prove it by releasing the research records of the Wuhan lab.”

RETAILERS PREPARE FOR CIVIL UNREST; BOARDED-UP STORES SEEN FROM SOHO TO BEVERLY HILLS

Retailers Prepare For Civil Unrest; Boarded-Up Stores Seen From SoHo To Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows

By Tyler Durden – 03/31/2020

High-end stores across the country have been boarding up their stores in anticipation of civil unrest due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows according to TMZ.

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Meanwhile, stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver and elsewhere were similarly boarded up.

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Thanks, China. 

People who brand China a ‘dictatorship’ are jealous that Beijing beat the pandemic, embassy claims

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Commentators refusing to give China credit for containing the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan and citing ‘Asian democracies’ as better examples simply envy Beijing’s efficiency, the Chinese embassy in France has said.

China, from which the coronavirus spread throughout the world, has largely succeeded in containing the disease, according to official updates. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has recorded no new cases in a week and has been lifting the restrictions that helped quash the pandemic.

Beijing sees the outcome as a success story and finds it irritating when commentators in countries currently overwhelmed by the virus insist they have nothing to learn from the Chinese experience. At least that’s what’s suggested in an article published this week by the Chinese embassy in France, where the Covid-19 death toll may soon exceed China’s.

Negative commenters “envy the efficiency of our political system and hate the inability of their own nations to perform as well. So they try to stick the ‘dictatorship’ label on China,” the embassy said.

Instead, detractors praise ‘Asian democracies’ like South Korea, Japan and Singapore, which have been more successful than Western nations in containing the pandemic. However, China, which resorted to more drastic quarantine measures than those countries, has a much bigger population. So its task in fighting the disease was far more difficult, the article argued. Ultimately, the virus doesn’t care whether it is ravaging a ‘democracy’ or an ‘autocracy.’

With the threat of coronavirus diminishing at home, Beijing has been busy building goodwill and sharing expertise with other nations affected by the pandemic, sending doctors and aid supplies to those in need.

Serbian PM: ‘Fake news’ that we don’t appreciate EU help, but Covid-19 aid came from China

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This ‘mask diplomacy,’ as some commentators call it, has drawn quite a lot of negative feedback on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Critics say the help comes with political strings attached, undermines European solidarity, and damages targeted nations’ relations with the United States.

There is also a popular narrative claiming that China has massively misreported the human cost of containing the pandemic. The latest item to fuel it is the reported delivery of about 2,500 urns to a funeral home in Wuhan.

Links to the urns story inevitably popped up in comments to the Chinese embassy’s Twitter feed, after it published excerpts from the article.

 

Leftist Journo Takes Pleasure In US Becoming Worst Hit Coronavirus Nation: ‘Who’s The S***hole Country Now?’

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“If you needed anymore evidence these people hate America.”

By Steve Watson

A leftist columnist seemingly took pleasure in the fact that the US has become the country with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus by mocking President Trump and proclaiming “Who’s the shithole country now?”

Julia Ioffe, who writes for GQ, tweeted out the inane comment along with a link to a New York Times story on the development.

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Of course, Ioffe provided no salient facts or useful information, such as President Trump’s assertion that the spike in confirmed cases is down to more robust testing being rolled out.

Nor did Ioffe indicate that in comparison with other hard hit countries, the mortality rate in the US stands at 1.5%, which equates to much fewer deaths per confirmed cases than Italy (10%), Spain (8%), Iran (7.6%) and France (6%).

No, Ioffe simply wanted to vent her pent up Trump derangement syndrome.

Americans are not amused:

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Liberal ideology & virtue signaling put before people’s HEALTH, as Macron, Merkel defend open borders amid Covid-19 spread

CAP

By Neil Clark

Dealing with Covid-19, Emmanuel Macron seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet as Angela Merkel, who is also against closing borders, but is this not a case of Western liberal ideology overriding necessity and common sense?

Compare and contrast. In his speech to the nation last night, Macron declared: “This virus has no passport.” He added: “We will undoubtedly take measures to close borders, but only when it is relevant… It is at the European level that we have built our freedoms.”

‘Coronavirus has no passport!’ Macron insists no need to close French borders unless EU agrees, as he orders school & uni shutdown

CAP

Macron is closing all schools, nurseries, universities and day care centres from next week and has called on the vulnerable to isolate themselves. But if anyone can still come into France unchecked from countries where coronavirus is even more of a problem, won’t those measures be undermined?

Ditto Germany. Angela Merkel said this week that “we in Germany, in any case, are of the opinion that border closures are not an appropriate response to the challenge.”

Contrast this ‘open borders,’ ‘we must protect Schengen’ approach with that of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary who are all EU member states. Declaring a 30-day ‘state of emergency,’ the Czech government has closed its borders to people from 15 countries hit by coronavirus and banned its citizens from visiting these countries too. From Monday next week, all international travel to and from Czechia will be essentially prohibited.

Slovakia is closing its borders today to all foreigners except those who have a residency permit, while announcing that all Slovaks who have been abroad will have to face two weeks of quarantine. Austria has barred all people entering the country from Italy, unless they have a medical certificate. Hungary has banned arrivals from Italy, China and Iran.

But in Western Europe, it seems a commitment to maintaining ‘open borders,’ even at a time of a potentially very extreme health crisis, trumps other concerns.

An example of this fundamentalist and very dogmatic approach can be seen in the tweet from Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt who declared: “Nationalism isn’t the answer to COV19, because viruses don’t care about borders or nationalities.”

CAP

International travel may broaden the mind, but unfortunately, it also helps Covid-19 to spread.

You really don’t have to be Albert Einstein to understand that the more open the borders, the greater chance of a country seeing its coronavirus cases rise. Yet the most powerful countries in the EU – unlike the more pragmatic ones in central and eastern Europe – seem to be putting virtue signaling and liberal ideology first. Of course, there’s a moral case that can be made for ‘free movement,’ but in a time of crisis, governments have to forget all that and put protecting their own citizens first. Nationalism? No, it’s just doing what governments are elected to do.

If we can criticize Macron and Merkel on these grounds, we can criticize Boris Johnson too. Plane loads of people arriving from the worst affected areas of Italy have been arriving in Britain without any proper checks. On last night’s BBC Question Time, Professor John Ashton, a former director of public health, noted how around 3,000 supporters of the Spanish football team Atletico Madrid were in Liverpool this week for a Champions League tie. Spain’s Corona cases, as of Wednesday, had surpassed 1,600 with about half of them in the Madrid region.

Two-thirds of Spain’s deaths from the virus have occurred in the Madrid region. Yet, as Professor Ashton pointed out, the Madrilenos would have been out and about in Liverpool on Tuesday and Wednesday, drinking in bars, staying in hotels, traveling on public transport. How can governments say they are doing everything they can to stop the spread of coronavirus when unrestricted travel from Covid-19 ‘hotspots’ is still taking place?

It may be true, as Macron says, that “It is at the European level that we have built our freedoms,” but what price ‘freedom’ if it means the ‘freedom’ to die from coronavirus because the most logical, common sense step of all is not taken?

Islamic Convert Kills Four Colleagues in Rampage at Paris Police HQ – Report

CAP

By Dan Lyman – Oct 4, 2019

At least four people were killed and more wounded at a Paris police headquarters when a colleague who had recently converted to Islam embarked on a brutal knife rampage, according to reports.

Three officers and an administrative employee were slain by a 45-year-old IT worker on Thursday, French officials say.

A police union spokesman claims the suspect had suffered “a moment of madness,” and other authorities have blamed a possible “grievance with his managers.”

However, BFMTV cites sources alleging the man had converted to Islam roughly 18 months ago.

“Aged 45, the alleged perpetrator of the knife attack that killed four people at the Paris Police Prefecture had converted to Islam 18 months ago, according to our information,” BFMTV reports. “The reasons for his murderous act are not known for the moment.”

The suspect was shot dead during the attack by a rookie officer who had only been stationed for four months.

“For a young colleague, not very experienced, fresh out of school who must make use of his weapon over a colleague, the psychological impact must be immense,” said Nicolas Pucheu, a police union spokesman. “I think it will take a lot, a lot of time to recover from his emotions.”

The alleged perpetrator’s wife has been taken into custody.

Prominent political leader and anti-Islamization figurehead Marine Le Pen has called on prosecutors to disclose the suspect’s possible motives quickly and clearly to the public.

CAP

“In order to avoid inevitable rumors, the government and the prosecutor’s office must promptly inform the French about the elements available to them regarding the profile and motivations of the murderer who killed three police officers and an administrative officer at the police station,” Le Pen wrote on social media.

The attack comes just a day after a Paris police “anger march” in protest of poor pay, long hours, and conditions that have led to a rash of officer suicides.

Stabbing attack at Paris police HQ: What is known

CAP

A knife-wielding assailant killed four French officers inside police headquarters in Paris before being shot dead by a first responder. Here is what is known about the attack that put France’s capital on high alert.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The perpetrator entered the Paris police headquarters shortly before 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT). He carried a ceramic knife with him, which wasn’t picked up by the metal detectors.The man swiftly made his way into one of the offices where he engaged in an argument with a policeman. At some point during the quarrel, he got his long-blade knife out and stabbed his interlocutor and others around him. Four officers, three men and a woman, suffered mortal wounds in the attack, authorities announced.

The suspect was only stopped when another policeman shot him dead with an automatic rifle.

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WHO WAS THE ATTACKER?

The attacker was described as a staffer at the police headquarters, who had worked there for around 20 years and had never caused any problems. The man was said to be an administrator in the intelligence unit. He had all the security clearances, which allowed him to enter the police HQ without causing any suspicions and roam freely around the building.

The person reportedly converted to Islam months before the incident, but this is yet officially to be confirmed.

THE MOTIVE BEHIND THE STABBING

The motive for the attack isn’t yet clear, but police union leader Jean-Marc Bailleul said that it was likely a criminal rather than a terrorist incident. “It was a moment of madness,” Bailleul told BFM TV. Another police official told Franceinfo radio that there were “tensions” between the attacker and his direct supervisor, who may have been among the victims.

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WHERE DID IT HAPPEN?

The Paris police headquarters occupy a historic building on Ile de la Cite, a natural island in the Seine River in the very heart of the French capital. The HQ is located just a few buildings away from the iconic Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and other well-known historical landmarks.

Knife attack at Paris police HQ: At least four officers dead, suspect fatally shot, reports say

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HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT REACT?

The high-profile attack saw top officials rushing to the scene shortly after it happened. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the HQ as soon as a secure perimeter was established. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner, who postponed his visit to Turkey, were also there.

TRUMP ENRAGES LEFT BY SKIPPING G7 CLIMATE MEETING

Trump Enrages Left by Skipping G7 Climate Meeting

Climate change action meant to consolidate globalist control

AUGUST 27, 2019

While President Trump rubbed elbows with globalists at G7 in Biarritz, France, he did not attend the assembly’s climate talks.

In one of the conference’s last meetings, various heads of state held discussions addressing the issue of manmade global warming.

Photos circulating show world leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and others sitting around a table while a chair in the middle was left noticeably vacant.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president was busy with other meetings when the climate conference took place, but noted a staffer sat in his stead.

“The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead,” Grisham said in a statement.

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While a national security staffer sat in for Trump, CNN’s Jim Acosta criticized the president saying the empty seat was symbolic of the administration’s position on climate change in the past few years.

“We should note to our viewers Prime Minister Modi of India and Chancellor Merkel were at that climate session here at the G7 summit,” Acosta stated. “So we’re not getting a lot of straight answers. Perhaps we’ll get some, perhaps we won’t, at this joint press conference when the president and Emmanuel Macron come out here in just a short while.”

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CNN’s editor-in-chief Chris Cillizza was also miffed, but unsurprised by the president’s absence: Donald Trump didn’t accidentally forget the climate change meeting. He didn’t decide he wanted to meet with staff from the governments of India and Germany. He just didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to sit around and be, in his mind, lectured by foreign leaders about how he needs to think and feel about the issue.

Trump has referred the idea of manmade global warming a hoax, and made removing the US from the Paris Climate Accord one of his first acts as president.

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