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.”

Hosptital Exec Fired After Discussing Ways Of Ensuring Trump Supporters Get Coronavirus

“Trump supporters need to pledge to give up their ventilators for someone else … and not go to the hospital.”

By Steve Watson – 31 March, 2020

A New York hospital executive has been fired after she posted public comments on social media fantasising about how supporters of President Trump would get the coronavirus and not be allowed to get treatment.

The executive also happens to be, unsurprisingly, a former Hillary Clinton advisor.

Laura Krolczyk, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s vice president for external affairs, made the incendiary posts on Facebook, first sharing an article about The White House being reluctant to foot the $1 billion cost associated with producing ventilators.

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Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute Director of Development Lisa LaTrovato responded to Krolczyk’s post, writing “But will waste more than that on a wall and space force.”

Krolczyk, who worked as Western New York Regional Director for Hillary Clinton’s Senate office for 7 years, wrote back that “Trump supporters need to pledge to give up their ventilators for someone else … and not go to the hospital.”

“Also don’t cash your stimulus check,” she later added, writing “It’s all a hoax. Chew some ibuprofen and be on with your day.”

LaTrovato further responded “I think they should be the only ones in packed churches on Sunday,” to which Krolczyk replied, “They should barricade themselves in there and ride this out.”

Another Facebook user saw the exchange, wrote “Wow, just wow, so your saying we decide who lives and dies based on political views? Great plan (thumbs up emoji).”

Krolczyk then responded “That’s literally what he’s saying. Take your ‘wow’ and comprehend what your hero is saying. Your hero is saying YOU don’t need a ventilator. So don’t take one.”

The whole sorry conversation was then picked up by Republican strategist Michael Caputo, and the hospital was alerted.

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While LaTrovato is still on administrative leave from Hauptman Woodward pending further action, Krolczyk has been terminated by Roswell Park.

In a statement to Buffalo News, spokeswoman Annie Deck-Miller confirmed Krolczyk had been fired.

CEO Candace S. Johnson added that “This behavior is not tolerated at Roswell Park. If any team members act in a way that does not accord with that commitment, we will take swift and appropriate action, just as we did in this instance.”

Someone ought to tell Ms. Krolczyk that when engaging in her daily two minutes of Trump derangement hate, try to do it in private, rather than on her publicly available Facebook page.

Meanwhile, she should definitely make sure she does cash her stimulus check, as it’ll be her only income for a while.

This isn’t a one off. These people are everywhere, and need to be publicly shamed.

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.

 

Abbott Laboratories Launches 5-Minute Wuhan Virus Test for Use in Nearly All Locations

By Jose Nino – Mar 30, 2020

According to Reuters, Abbott Laboratories recently unveiled a Wuhan virus test that can detect if someone is infected in as few as five minutes.

Additionally, it is small and portable enough to be used in practically all health-care settings.

The medical device manufacturer plans to bring 50,000 test kits to the market starting on April 1, 2020 according to a statement from John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Abbott emergency use authorization “for use by authorized laboratories and patient care settings,” according to a company announcement on March 27, 2020.

The U.S. has had problems to supply sufficient amounts of tests to detect the virus, even as the outbreak is straining hospital resources in California, New York, Washington, and other regions.

“This is really going to provide a tremendous opportunity for front-line caregivers, those having to diagnose a lot of infections, to close the gap with our testing,” Frels stated. “A clinic will be able to turn that result around quickly, while the patient is waiting.”

The technology expands upon Illinois-based Abbott’s ID Now platform, the most common point-of-care test currently available in America. The platform has more than 18,000 units spread across the country. It is generally used to detect influenza, strep throat, and respiratory syncytial virus, a common ailment that generally causes cold-like symptoms.

The equipment can generally be used anywhere, but the company is working with its customers and the Trump administration to guarantee that the first cartridges used to carry out the tests are sent to locations where they are most needed. The prime spots include hospital emergency rooms, urgent-care clinics, and doctors’ offices.

 

 

In Late February, Nancy Pelosi Encouraged Large Groups to Congregate in Chinatown

Yet blamed Trump’s early “denial” for spread of coronavirus.

By Paul Joseph Watson -30 March, 2020

A video clip from late February shows Nancy Pelosi encouraging large groups of people to congregate in San Francisco’s Chinatown before she would later go on to blame President Trump’s early “denial” for the spread of coronavirus.

The footage, which was taken on February 24th, is introduced by a reporter noting how Pelosi wanted residents to understand how it’s “perfectly safe to be here” in Chinatown.

“We do want to say to people, come to Chinatown, here we are…come join us,” said Pelosi.

The reporter then explains how the stunt was a response to San Francisco’s Chinatown experiencing a drop in business since the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

San Francisco has since recorded 340 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5 people have died.

The video is particularly eye opening since yesterday on CNN, Pelosi blamed President Trump’s “denial at the beginning” for the spread of coronavirus throughout the United States.

The video underscores how many officials flouted the very social distancing measures they now amplify because at the time stopping bigotry towards Chinese people was seen as being of greater importance than preventing the spread of coronavirus.

As we previously highlighted, health officials in New York gave identical advice, urging residents to gather in crowds to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year.

“Today our city is celebrating the #LunarNewYear parade in Chinatown, a beautiful cultural tradition with a rich history in our city,” wrote New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot. “I want to remind everyone to enjoy the parade and not change any plans due to misinformation spreading about #coronavirus.”

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Her message was echoed by Mark D. Levine, Chair of New York City Council health committee, who lauded how “huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown” was a “powerful show of defiance of #coronavirus scare,” tweeting four images of large groups of people gathered to celebrate the occasion.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio also urged New Yorkers to “get out on the town despite coronavirus” and visit the cinema as late as March 2nd.

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As we highlight in the video below, back in February, leftist officials in Italy were also urging citizens to go outside and hug Chinese people in order to fight racism.

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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Italian Mayor Threatens to Send “Police With Flamethrowers” to Break Up Graduation Parties

Some continue to ignore social distancing rules.

By Paul Joseph Watson – 26 March, 2020

An Italian mayor has threatened to send police armed with flamethrowers to break up graduation parties as some people continue to ignore social distancing rules despite a nationwide lockdown.

“I’m getting news that some [people] would like to throw graduation parties,” said Vincenzo De Luca, mayor of the Italian town of Campania. “We will send police. With flamethrowers.”

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Presciutti, the mayor of Reggio Calabria, accused some Italians of behaving as if they were in the dystopian sci-fi movie I Am Legend by walking their dogs too much.

“Where the f*** are you all going? You and your dogs… which must have an inflamed prostate?” asked Presciutti.

The mayor said he had personally confronted one such individual.

“I stopped him and said, ‘Look, this isn’t a movie. You are not Will Smith in I Am Legend. Go home.”

Antonio Tutolo, the mayor of Lucera, also slammed people for arranging for mobile hairdressers to visit their homes.

“Getting in mobile hairdressers? What the f*** is that for? Who the f*** is supposed to even see you with your hair all done in a casket? Do you understand the casket will be closed?” he said.

At least 40,000 people were fined for being outside without good reason during the first week of the lockdown in Italy, with some facing 21 years in prison.

“Even gatherings like funerals have also been banned,” reports Zero Hedge. “At least 50 people in Sicily are facing serious criminal charges after breaking the quarantine order after having a funeral for a loved one.”

Meanwhile, across Europe, one particular demographic appears to be paying no attention to lockdown laws whatsoever – migrants.

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