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.”

‘There’s a lot we don’t know’: UW researchers look at how coronavirus turns body against itself and kills

By Mike Carter

CAP

SEATTLE — Last Tuesday, a scientist working in a secure upper-floor laboratory in the University of Washington Medical Center’s South Lake Union campus cracked open a vial containing one of the first samples of live SARS-CoV-2 virus, with a goal of better understanding how and why it kills.

The disease caused by the virus, COVID-19, has proved particularly lethal to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, and the scientists at the school’s Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease have been tasked with trying to understand why in these cases the new virus overwhelms the body’s natural defenses, while in most people it causes only moderate or even mild illness.

The new virus has some unusual characteristics that haven’t been seen in other SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks, both in the way it attacks the lungs and how it can infect people quietly, where they will have few or no symptoms for days or weeks but still spread the disease, said Dr. Michael Gale, a professor of immunology at the UW and the center’s director.

Beijing Airport During Coronavirus Outbreak : Stock Photo

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” Gale said. “We don’t know how it interacts with the cell. We don’t know how it invades it. We don’t know how it overcomes the cell’s innate immune system.”

These are all questions that Gale and his team of scientists, working with others around the world, hope to answer as they begin to understand the pathology of the novel coronavirus. That information, in turn, will inform both treatment and prevention of the disease, he said.

“What we do know is that this SARS is very successful in taking over the cell,” he said. So successful, in fact, that the body’s reaction to that takeover can be so violent and overwhelming that, in essence, it ends up killing itself.

Earlier this month, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office released a list of the first 22 people in King County to die from COVID-19 before announcing that it was no longer taking jurisdiction over SARS deaths. The list identified patients, their age and their gender, and listed the cause of death and contributing factors. Gale and another noted immunologist and pathologist, Dr. Julian Leibowitz at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, reviewed the list and remarked on how the information fits with what is known and being learned about COVID-19 and how it attacks the body.

Both were cautious to point out that the information was extremely limited and did not contain autopsy reports, tissue-sample slides or other detailed information they would need to provide anything more than general observations.

Leibowitz, however, said he has reviewed detailed results of a COVID-19 autopsy performed in China and published online. What he was able to glean from the medical examiner’s list led him to conclude the pathology was similar.

“This follows the pattern of SARS in general,” he said. “This virus clearly causes a viral pneumonia” similar to the SARS outbreak in 2003 that infected 8,089 people around the world. Like that outbreak, he said, the chance of serious illness or death is significantly higher in older populations, he said. The average age of the individuals on the medical examiner’s list was 66, with the oldest being 98 and the youngest 44.

But this new coronavirus is likely more infectious, certainly more insidious, and more lethal that the ‘03 SARS virus. That outbreak killed 774 people before being contained in about nine months. COVID-19 has infected more than 208,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 8,700 of them, and has spread into a pandemic.

Leibowitz said one thing really jumped out at him from the King County list: the number of cases of cardiomyopathy, a hardening of the heart muscle that can be caused by a drastic immune response. Four of the 22 King County fatalities had cardiomyopathy listed as the primary cause of death.

Similarly, an article published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association detailing a review of the outcomes of 21 COVID-19 patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Kirkland’s EvergreenHealth Medical Center made a similar observation, finding cardiomyopathy developed in seven of the 21 patients. At the time of publication, 14 of the 21 had died.

“It is unclear whether the high rate of cardiomyopathy in this case series reflects a direct cardiac complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection or resulted from overwhelming critical illness,” the article stated, calling for additional research.

Leibowitz believes it is likely a result of the body’s immune system trying desperately to stop the virus, causing massive inflammation throughout the heart and lungs and, in some cases, damaging other organs as well.

The workings of the immune system is what Gale’s UW scientists are focused on, specifically the “innate” portion of the body’s defenses — mechanisms genetically coded into every cell to protect it from infections and damage. They activate almost immediately when the body detects an invader.

Gale said his researchers are working to understand how SARS-CoV-2 manages to defeat these mechanisms to invade a cell and take it over, forcing it to replicate copies of the virus even as it is destroyed. Those virus copies then go on to infect other cells and the process repeats in a cascading infection.

“Right now, its replication strategy is unknown,” Gale said during a recent interview outside the Bio-Safety Level III laboratory in South Lake Union where his scientist opened the vial of SARS-CoV-2 this past week. Gale asked that the exact location of the laboratory be withheld for security reasons.

“What we know is that the virus physically destroys the lung tissue as it replicates in the cells,” he said. Gale said the tissue damage he’s seen bears similarities to the damaged lungs of victims of the 1918 influenza-A pandemic, which infected one of every three people and killed 50 million people — roughly 3% of the world’s population.

Gale has worked with and studied the 1918 H1N1 flu virus as well after a live specimen was recovered in 2007 from the remains of an Inuit woman who was buried in the Alaskan permafrost after dying during the pandemic.

“That virus physically destroyed the cells, as well,” he said.

30 Provinces Launch The First Level Response To Major Public Health Emergencies In China : News Photo

A Morbidity and Mortality Report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that preliminary data from the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, shows the majority of COVID-19 deaths in those 60 and older.

Leibowitz said the vulnerability of older patients is likely explained at least in part because, as people age, their cells lose their ability to grow, divide and protect themselves through a process called “senescence,” a word derived from the Latin “senex,” which means “old.”

“The immune system becomes sluggish, sleepy,” he said.

Add to that another health issue — diabetes or kidney problems — and the tired immune system can be even further taxed.

“When a person has an underlying health issue, it engages an immune response at some level,” Gale explained. This can result in inflammation as the body attempts to grapple with the issue. “Your body is distracted, and it can’t deal with other insults.”

“It becomes a race,” said Leibowitz, who has studied coronavirus. “The virus tries to spread and make more virus in order for it to be successful in nature.

“In the meantime, your immune system tries to kill the cells that are infected,” he explained. If you are young and healthy with a robust immune system, then not as many cells will be affected.

“But if your innate immune system isn’t strong, then the virus is more successful and your body’s response will be prolonged. That means more cells will be damaged by the immune system as it tries to keep up with the virus.

“And that,” he said, “is not good for your lungs.”

The other “striking” issue with SARS-CoV-2 has been its apparently easy transmission and contagion, Leibowitz said.

“What is scary to me about this SARS compared to the outbreak in 2003 is that back then, asymptomatic patients did not transmit the disease. You had to have a fever to be contagious,” he said. “This disease can be transmitted silently by people who don’t know they are sick and show few or no symptoms of being infected.”

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

That surreptitious transmission strikes Gale, as well, who noted that of the first 22 people who died in King County from COVID-19 — the individuals listed on the medical examiner’s document — most had been patients at Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term nursing facility that became ground zero for the pandemic in the U.S. At last count, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the chief public health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, said 23 care facilities had reported patients or staff with confirmed COVID-19 infections.

“The 2003 SARS outbreak was more acute,” Gale said. “Here, we have up to two weeks with people asymptomatic and, in some cases, kids don’t get sick at all. They’re little vectors.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘Why do you think all the nursing homes and care centers get hit?’ ” he asked. “I can tell you: It’s because grandparents got visits from grandkids.”

Cuomo Orders “100%” Of New Yorkers To Stay Home, Italy Confirms Another 600 Deaths As ‘Martial Law’ Declared: Live Updates

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • Hong Kong reports largest daily jump in cases on record as travelers revive outbreak

  • NY rolls out restrictive new measures

  • NY case total tops 7k

  • Italy says Army will help enforce lockdown, effectively declaring martial law; might extend lockdown through early May

  • Spain death toll cracks 1,000

  • Italy reports another 627 deaths

  • Confirmed cases in US pass 14k

  • Drive thru testing site in NJ’s Bergen County has a line that’s over 1,000+ cars long

  • Switzerland bars all gatherings of more than 5 people

  • Trump says no plans for national lockdown

  • Germany to pass ‘shadow’ budget on Monday

  • EU suspends budget rules

  • Bavaria becomes first German state to impose ‘lockdown’

  • Johnson says UK can defeat virus in 12 weeks if ‘we work together’

  • Treasury now moving back both filing & payment deadlines for 2019

  • Novartis will donate up to 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to support global response

  • NBC News employee succumbs to virus

  • Dr. Fauci says social distancing should continue for several weeks

  • MTA confirms it has 23 sick workers

  • US, Mexico agree to shut southern border

  • China makes first purchase under ‘Phase 1’ trade deal

  • Altria chairman & CEO tests positive

  • Military confirms 35 American troops infected in Europe

Update (1320ET): As Italy’s worst outbreak spirals further and further out of control, Italy is reporting 5,986 new cases of coronavirus and 627 new deaths on Friday, raising the countrywide total to 47,021 cases and 4,032 dead, as the total number of cases in Europe surpasses the total ‘officially’ confirmed in China.

If you’re curious about how things are looking on the ground in Italy, this Channel 4 report is chilling.

*  *  *

Update (1240ET): In an alarming video that shows just how huge demand is for COVID-19 tests, a drive-thru testing site in Bergen County has a line that’s “several thousand cars long”.

*  *  *

Update (1220ET): As President Trump and the White House task force (with Dr. Fauci making an appearance today) update the country on the federal government’s efforts, Sec. of State Pompeo said that the US and Mexico had agreed to shut the southern border with Mexico..

In other news, drug company Novartis will donate up to 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to support the global virus response, according to a statement.

Trump also said that he probably won’t ever institute a national lockdown, feeling that decisions like that are better left up to the states. Across the Atlantic, the EU on Friday confirmed that it would expand its budget rules to open the floodgates to fiscal stimulus, as expected.

*  *  *

Update (1120ET): The morning after California laid out the most restrictive measures to combat the virus in the US, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday laid out new measures for New York State to combat the coronavirus outbreak, imposing new restrictions like ordering “100% of the workforce” to stay home.

During this time, Cuomo is order all businesses in the state that aren’t deemed “essential” to close, and added that though public transit will remain open for people who need it to travel to their ‘essential’ jobs, and to get to places like hospitals and doctors offices and grocery stores and pharmacies, he urged New Yorkers to only take the trains if absolutely necessary. Cuomo also clarified that bank ATMs are an ‘essential’ service.

All non-essential businesses must close, Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio have said that the state will find better ways to accommodate essential employees who need childcare or other things. But Cuomo threatened to fine businesses and individuals caught breaking the rules.

“These are not helpful hints…they will be enforced. There will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance. Again, your actions can affect my health, that’s where we are. There is a social compact that we have…we must make society safe for everyone,” Cuomo said about the executive action that he’s preparing to sign.

New York reported 2,950 new cases on Friday, bringing the state-wide total to 7,102 cases, with 4,408 cases in NYC.

As he chided the public for not taking the outbreak seriously enough, Cuomo declared that young people saying they can’t get the virus is “simply wrong,” claiming that 25% of cases are people ages 20-44.

When it comes to exercise, though gyms will be closed, Cuomo said New Yorkers can engage in ‘solitary’ activities like jogging, but said games of pickup basketball and team sports like that won’t be permitted.

During the press conference, Cuomo confirmed that the state had reached the capacity to test 10,000 New Yorkers a day, becoming perhaps the only state in the country to overshoot on its daily testing target of 6k tests. Along with these new ‘dramatic actions’, Cuomo announced more confirmed cases and deaths.

Cuomo told a story about how the city governments of St. Louis and Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu epidemic dramatically impacted the outcomes for their local populations, and that Cuomo was trying to follow the better example, before bringing up the issue of mental health and the fact that his daughter was forced to isolate for 2 weeks.

At any rate, looking at the case curve, the number of cases expected could triple the state’s capacity of beds and ventilators needed to save the lives of the sickest of patients.

The governor, who urged New Yorkers to “blame me” if things go badly with these measures, claiming that this decision was his after careful consideration and consultation with experts. “I did everything we could do…this is about saving lives…if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy,” Cuomo said.

Moving on, Cuomo declared that he was banning evictions during the crisis, building on measures prohibiting banks from engaging in foreclosure, another unprecedented step.

In keeping with Cuomo’s coordination with the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut, Cuomo said he would be speaking with Phil Murphy and Ned Lamont, the governors of NJ & CT, later in the day to discuss his measures and whatever can be done to continue coordinating their states’ responses. Rumors have circulated in recent days that a similar lockdown might be declared in CT.

Asked by reporters how long to expect these circumstances to remain in place, Cuomo declared that “this could go on for months”, one day after saying researchers projected that the outbreak would peak in 45 days.

Watch the rest of the press conference here:

CAP

From the sound of it, Cuomo’s actions are still being well-received by New Yorkers and the country.

CAP

Elsewhere, in Switzerland, public health officials barred all gatherings of more than 5, possibly the most strict gathering ban instituted anywhere around the world.

*  *  *

Update (1055ET): Meanwhile, in London…

CAP

Boris Johnson‘s government has continued to deny reports about an impending ‘lockdown’ of London. But with 10k troops on standby, we suspect that Italy might soon have some company in the ‘martial law’ department.

*  *  *

Update (1015ET): The Treasury has officially moved back ‘Tax Day’, by postponing both the payment deadline (which it announced earlier) and the filing deadline (which it just announced Friday morning).

In other news, an NBC News employee has died from COVID-19.

As an update: Confirmed cases in the US passed 14,000 Friday morning, while the number of confirmed deaths hit 160.

*  *  *

Update (0950ET): The market didn’t seem to care all that much, but Handelsblatt reported Friday that the German government is planning to pass a planned €200 billion budget to combat the crisis, as Berlin continues to facilitate mass testing and triaging that has kept its mortality rate among the lowest in Europe.

This comes after Germany car companies said they would close more factories.

Barely a day has gone by over the past two new weeks that there hasn’t been some report about Germany suspending its ‘debt brake’ due to the crisis and boost fiscal spending, as Christine Lagarde and the ECB have called on them to do. Even before the outbreak, reports about Germany passing a ‘shadow budget’ to boost tepid economic growth date back to at least the fall.

Germany’s outbreak began in the state of Bavaria, still its worst-hit region. And as governments around the world tighten restrictions on movement, Bavaria on Friday imposed new “fundamental restrictions” on public life to aid the fight against COVID-19, DW reports. The move, of course, comes less than 12 hours after the governor of California imposed similar measures.

“We’re shutting down public life almost completely,” Bavarian Minister President Markus Söder said.

People will only be allowed to leave their homes for necessary purposes, such as going to work or the doctor and buying groceries or medicine.

“It’s not easy to take these decisions,” Söder said. “We take these decisions according to the best of our knowledge and conscience. There will be a Bavaria after corona, but it will be a stronger one if we don’t look away.”

The measures will go into effect for two weeks starting Friday evening.

In other news, the German state of Saarland wants to shut down restaurants and restrict people from going out in public, moves that are similar, though somewhat less restrictive, than Bavaria. Saarland State Premier Tobias Hans will recommend the move to his cabinet this afternoon, the state chancellery confirmed.

*  *  *

Update (0945ET): Six weeks ago, many branded us ‘alarmists’ for publishing warnings by credible epidemiologists and virologists about the infectious potential of the novel coronavirus.

CAP

If you still believe those warnings were ‘alarmist’, we wish you the best of luck during the coming weeks. You’re going to need it.

*  *  *

Update (0928ET): The US military just confirmed that 35 American troops in Europe have tested positive.

Meanwhile, the FCA in the UK warned banks to ease up on repossessions and the like, issuing a statement claiming that “no responsible lender should be considering repossession as an ‘appropriate measure’ at this time. This comes after BoE Governor Bailey warned that banks should suspend foreclosures and repossessions.

Though it’s faded into the background, tensions over whether China would be able to keep up with its ‘Phase 1’ trade deal commitments have slackened somewhat now that Beijing has made its first expected purchase of US agricultural goods.

  • CHINA BUYS 756,000 METRIC TONS OF U.S. CORN, FIRST MAJOR PURCHASE UNDER PHASE ONE TRADE DEAL

*  *  *

Update (0850ET): Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte blamed the Italian people earlier this week when he said he would extend Italy’s nationwide lockdown until April 3, claiming that too many were still violating the lockdown despite stiff penalties.

As the country’s death toll passes the death toll from mainland China (or the ‘official’ death toll at least), whispers about even restrictive measures appear to have just been validated: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday effectively declared martial law Friday morning in Italy’s worst-hit region of Lombardy, claiming that he will now be bringing in the Army to enforce the lockdown, something that the region’s governor swiftly confirmed.

As many members of the Italian public continue to act with no respect for protecting the public health and the massive effort underway to contain the outbreak, for the first time, many are about to learn the meaning of discipline.

According to media reports, Conte is considering extending the lockdown until at least early May.

  • ITALY’S LOMBARDY REGIONAL HEAD SAYS GOVERNMENT HAS AGREED TO USE ARMY TO IMPOSE LOCKDOWN IN HIS REGION

Ultimately, whether the government decides to extend the lockdown will depend on factors like the continuing spread of the virus, as well as the public’s response, and whether Italians finally start taking this seriously.

At this point, many expect that schools will not reopen before the summer break, the that the further tightening may not only include a ban on outdoor, but might also prohibit Italians from the cherished “passeggiate,” leisurely strolls around town that allow one time to think and digest.

While the Italian outbreak still has no end in sight, over in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday morning that social distancing in the US should continue for ‘several’ more weeks, as officials scramble to try and discern exactly how far the virus has penetrated, as hundreds of thousands of tests arrive at labs. Last night, during an appearance on Facebook live, Dr. Fauci confirmed that more tests are being shipped as private partnerships with firms like Thermo Fisher.

Reports claimed Friday that the Italian Treasury now expects the country’s economy to contract by 3% this year, largely because of the lockdown.

Soldiers have already been deployed in some places to help enforce the lockdown and help with the crisis response.

New York’s MTA on Thursday announced that 23 workers have tested positive for the virus, this is up from just 1 worker as of early Thursday. The workers didn’t display symptoms at work and were described as being of low risk to riders.

In other central bank news, the SNB has announced more measures, while Sweden has expanded a loan guarantee program.

Meanwhile, as Boris Johnson’s government facilitates a policy u-turn to fight the virus, his former Chancellor is chiding the public on twitter.

CAP

At this point, it’s almost like the more you yell at them to stop, the more panicked they become.

*  *  *

When historians look back at this time, we suspect that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s landmark decision to order more than 40 million Californians to remain at home on Thursday night will be remembered as an important demarcation point – the beginning of a more heavy handed response as it becomes increasingly clear that too many Americans are simply ignoring the government.

So far, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Trump have insisted that they have no plans to issue lockdown orders. But with the number of confirmed cases expected to soar in the coming days and over the weekend, the situation is certainly evolving rapidly, and rumors about other states considering preemptive lockdowns (remember, the whole point is to stay “ahead of the curve”) continue to circulate.

Over the past week, central bankers around the world have slashed rates, stepped up bond buying programs, promised to expand their back-stopping of credit markets and – most importantly – urged the politicians in charge to do their part and pass massive fiscal stimulus. Late last night, the Senate unveiled a $1 trillion package that will feature direct transfers to many Americans.

In the US, futures are pointing higher amid mounting hopes for a second straight close in the green. The improved sentiment is ostensibly due to the latest wave of central bank interventions. But that didn’t stop a team of economists at Bank of America from releasing a new note calling for a global recession, with GDP growth dropping to 0% for the year in 2020. Explaining the shift in their thinking, the team wrote: “Our first piece on the virus shock was titled ‘Bad or worse’; now we amend that to ‘Really bad or much worse.'”

The World breathed a sigh of relief Thursday night when China reported no new domestically-transmitted cases of the coronavirus for a second straight day. Meanwhile, Reuters just reported that the foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan have held a video conference on Friday to discuss cooperation on the coronavirus pandemic as concerns grow about the number of infected people arriving in their countries from overseas, threatening to set off a second wave of infection. The State Department is doing its part: It issued a ‘Level 4’ travel warning last night advising Americans not to travel abroad, and for any Americans still outside of the country to either come home, or ‘shelter in place’.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last night that the UK could quash the virus in 12 weeks if Britons simply cooperate with the government’s new efforts.

Unfortunately, it appears the dreaded ‘second wave’ of infections is already looming over Hong Kong.

After reporting 14 new cases in a single day earlier this week, a surprisingly large jump for a city that was widely praised for its swift and heavy handed response to the outbreak (proving that the city had retained the hard-learned lessons of SARS), Hong Kong on Friday reported a record jump in new cases as the city-state braces for a wave of new illnesses, many involving travelers from abroad and the HK residents they’ve infected.

Friday’s surge of 48 cases is the largest daily jump since the outbreak began; it’s equivalent to roughly a quarter of all cases confirmed in the city previously, according to the SCMP.

Even as the virus swept through parts of China and elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong managed to largely control its outbreak. Now, as life in the financial center had begun to return somewhat to normal, the wave of new cases is worrying experts who say it could lead to widespread community transmission. The city now has more than 250 confirmed infections.

The new confirmed cases take the city’s total number to 256, and a top microbiologist said Hong Kong might be on the edge of an all-out “war” against an explosion in infections.

The Centre for Health Protection said 36 of the latest round of infected people, aged between four and 69, had a travel history. One of the local cases is a taxi driver who had picked up passengers from the airport.

When asked whether the government should ban non-locals from entering the city, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the centre’s communicable disease branch, said all the fresh infections were residents, except one – an Australian who had been to the United States and Portugal. He was transiting at the airport and sent to hospital after feeling unwell.

As SCMP explained, 1,000s of people returned to the city this week, with new asymptomatic spreaders evading checks and spreading the virus inside the city. The spike in new cases prompted the city’s government to announce new quarantine measures requiring anyone arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days, measures that have also been implemented by China. Also in China, the People’s Daily reports that catering halls and shopping malls are reopening in Beijing.

Whether you trust the Chinese numbers or not, there’s no question that the CCP leadership has reason to be cautious, now that it appears President Xi has evaded a historic embarrassment. According to Johns Hopkins, the number of confirmed cases ROW is now 2x the number from mainland China. Mandatory quarantines and outright bans for foreigners probably aren’t bad ideas.

Meanwhile, Spanish authorities announced Friday morning that the death toll in the country has broken above 1,000 as citizens near the end of their first full week under an enforced lockdown.

The country reported 1,903 new cases, and 169 new deaths, raising its total to 19,980 cases and 1,002 dead.

Meanwhile, on social media, snippets of video have circulated offering glimpses into the life on lockdown in Madrid and elsewhere around Spain.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the US, there has been no shortage of bitterly ironic headlines during this outbreak (remember when Rudy Gobert licked all those microphones?). But overnight, Altria Group – one of the largest tobacco companies in the world (it was better known as Phillip Morris before it rebranded a few years back) – said Howard A. Willard III, its Chairman and CEO, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Let’s hope he’s not a smoker.

Dr. Fauci Warns “Worst Is Yet To Come”: Coronavirus Is “10x More Lethal Than The Flu,” Could Infect “Millions” Of Americans

See the source image

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

Summary:

  • First death in Indonesia

  • Washington State to ban events over 200

  • ‘Waffle House’ employee in Atlanta confirmed

  • Chicago cancels St. Paddy’s Day parade

  • NY sends in National Guard

  • IADB cancels meeting in Colombia as virus spreads across Latin America

  • Mnuchin says first part of virus stimulus plan will be ready in 2 days

  • Dr. Fauci warns virus 10x more deadly than flu and could infect millions if not handled early

  • FEMA evacuates Atlanta office over coronavirus scare

  • 3 Boeing workers test positie

  • Washington DC advises cancellation or postponement of all gatherings with more than 1,000 people

  • Harvard to prorate room and board for students

  • US cases surpass 1,000

  • UK Health Minister catches virus

  • Ireland, Bulgaria, Sweden report first deaths

  • UK total hits 456 following largest daily jump on record (83 new cases)

  • Global cases pass 120,000

  • South Korea reports new outbreak in call center

  • Japan reportedly planning to declare state of emergency

*  *  *

Update (1220ET): Three Boeing workers have tested positive for the virus, the company said. Though Boeing offered few details, we suspect the employees are probably based in Washington State, where Boeing builds its planes.

In Washington DC, authorities are recommending the cancellation or postponement of all “non-essential” gatherings over 1,000.

As students leave campuses around the country either heading back home or hunkering down finish their classes on line, Harvard just announced that it would “pro-rate” students’ room and board.

*  *  *

Update (1220ET): With the committee in charge of the Tokyo Olympic Games reportedly planning to suggest that the games be delayed, more images of the coronavirus fears’ impact on international travel are circulating online. Check out this.

*  *  *

Update (1200ET): The CDC has released its latest batch of “confirmed” US figures: 29 deaths, 987 cases and cases confirmed in 39 states as of 10 pm last night.

  • U.S. CDC – 39 STATES HAVE REPORTED CASES AS OF MARCH 10 AT 4 PM ET VS PREVIOUS REPORT OF 36 STATES

  • U.S. CDC – 29 TOTAL DEATHS DUE TO NEW CORONAVIRUS AS OF MARCH 10 AT 4 PM ET VS 25 DEATHS AS OF PREVIOUS REPORT

  • U.S. CDC REPORTS ITS COUNT OF 987 CASES OF NEW CORONAVIRUS AS OF MARCH 10 AT 4 PM ET, VS PREVIOUS REPORT OF 696 CASES

Around the world, the virus has produced many “isn’t it ironic?” moments, and we just got another in the US when FEMA announced that it would close its Atlanta office after an employee was exposed to the virus.

  • FEMA ATLANTA OFFICE CLOSED AFTER EMPLOYEE EXPOSED TO VIRUS

Over in the UK, a total of 456 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, up from 373 at the same point on Tuesday, the Department of Health said. The jump of 83 new cases is the largest daily jump yet, following the previous ‘largest daily increase’ by only a few days.

Six have died in the UK and tested positive for the virus. Over in Ireland, authorities reported their first death on Wednesday. A 66-year-old Bulgarian woman also succumbed to the virus in the Balkan state, marking the first death there as well.

After the UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for the virus, and started showing symptoms on Thursday, the same day she attended an event with the prime minister. Though the UK has elected to keep parliament open, Dorries and a Labour lawmaker who may have been exposed via a meeting with Dorries have decided to self-quarantine.

UK Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood stressed that “we are still in the containment phase” despite an increased number of Covid-19 cases.

She said: “We have identified the first case of community transmission in Scotland which is unrelated to contact or travel. This was identified through our enhanced surveillance scheme.

Sweden has reported its first death from the coronavirus today, with a hospital in Stockholm saying an elderly patient had died in intensive care. Belgium has reported its first three deaths, with 314 cases of coronavirus. Ivory Coast has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a 45-year-old Ivorian man who had recently travelled to Italy, the health ministry said in a statement. Denmark confirmed a batch of new cases, raising its total to 442.

While Washington State is apparently planning to ban all events with over 250 people, Washington DC has advised citizens to avoid such gatherings.

While

*  *  *

Update (1150ET): Rencap’s Charlie Robertson points out that it took 5 days since the first indication of human-to-human transmission happening at a wide scale in the US, and if our numbers track Germany’s, we should have 3,000 cases confirmed by Friday, and 6,000 by Monday.

Though that rate could double if many new clusters are discovered.

CAP

*  *  *

Update (1100ET): With another day of non-stop breaking news headlines about the outbreak as it spreads across the US, Europe and Latin America, we’ve been having troubled keeping up.

Switzerland reported 148 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with 645 cases in total, 58 cases in Zürich and 78 cases in Geneva.

Indonesia, an Asian nation that didn’t report its first case until more than a month after the global outbreak began reported its first death linked to the virus on Wednesday as well.

National Guard troops have been deployed to a Health Department command post in New Rochelle. Chicago has followed San Francisco and cancelled its St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In NYC, schools will not close, but parent-teacher conferences will be held via phone.

An employee at a ‘Waffle House’ in Metro Atlanta (Cherokee County) has tested positive for the virus, raising fears about a mass outbreak in Georgia. The store has been closed and 12 employees are quarantining and will continue for a few more days.

CAP

The Inter-American Development Bank postponed its annual meeting in Colombia, which had been scheduled for next week, over coronavirus fears as the virus spreads across Latin America. The Washington-based bank, the top development institution dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean, announced the decision with Colombian President Ivan Duque on Tuesday evening.

With transports and financials leading equities lower on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who testified to Congress on Wednesday tried to offer some reassuring details about the White House plan, which remains very much in the ‘brainstorm’ phase. Still, Mnuchin insisted that Trump is standing by the payroll tax holiday to put more money in the hands of workers. The Treasury is also hoping to delay tax payments and leave $200 billion of “temporary liquidity” in the hands of Americans.

Mnuchin said the White House hopes to strike a deal on the first part of the virus stimulus plan within the next 48 hours. His testimony follows rumors about the administration offering a potential ‘bailout’ to the American shale energy industry. Other stimulus actions will take “a week or two” he added.

Importantly, the Treasury Secretary also insisted that no market interventions are being planned (so no PPT?).

In remarks on Tuesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that America had lost valuable time tracking the virus; some regions now can merely try to cope with its spread rather than stop it. And during testimony on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci said that when it comes to the outbreak in the US, “the worst is yet to come” because the virus is “10x more lethal than the seasonal flu”.

If the US doesn’t handle the virus outbreak correctly, “many, many millions of people” will get the virus, he said.

The global coronavirus outbreak has hit a new milestone: It surpassed 120,000 cases overnight. For anybody who’s still bothering to keep track, that’s 15x the number of cases from the SARS outbreak, which continued for nearly a year before it finally petered out.

In the US, the coronavirus outbreak has reached a grim new milestone. Thanks to the administration’s scramble to bring dozens of private and public labs on-line for testing across the country, the CDC has managed to confirm more than 1,000 cases of the virus. In the Westchester County town of New Rochelle, the epicenter of the outbreak in New York State, and the largest on the east coast, woke up to a 1-mile exclusion zone and national guard soldiers in the streets.

The town now looks like a “ghost town” according to several reports.

As the number of cases topped 1,000, the number of deaths has also climbed: Officially, there are 31 deaths and 1,039 confirmed cases, according to the Washington Post, which is significantly more than the number confirmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci during last night’s press conference.

Across the US, Washington State’s King County remains the epicenter of America’s worst outbreak, with 273 cases . New York is No. 2 with 176 (13 additional cases have just been announced). After hinting about ‘mandatory measures’ last night that set tongues wagging about the possibility of Italy-style travel restrictions, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is reportedly planning to announce a plan to…ban all events with more than 250 people, according to MyNorthwest.

At a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., it is expected that Gov. Jay Inslee along with regional leaders and city mayors could announce a ban on large gatherings and events of 250 people or more in at least three counties. Any ban would affect upcoming sporting events in the area, including a home game for the XFL’s Seattle Dragons on Sunday.

Inslee has been hinting at this for the past week as a possible preemptive move to curb the spread of coronavirus. Over the weekend, he stated that his office was considering enacting “mandatory measures” in the days ahead.

Monday night on MSBNC, the Washington governor spoke to Rachel Maddow, admitting that soon, the state was “going to have to make some hard decisions.”

He further elaborated on that point during a Tuesday press conference, when he cited the need to “look forward ahead of the curve in Washington state.”

“We need to look at what is coming, not just what is here today,” he detailed, estimating that given limits on testing capacity, experts have told him there could be at least 1,000 untested coronavirus cases across the state.

So much for ‘hard decisions’….

This immense build up, only to announce restrictions that are only ‘slightly’ more comprehensive than the milquetoast event bans embraced by Germany, France, Switzerland and others, brings to mind a tweet we noticed earlier highlighting the sometimes unintended consequences that half-measures can create.

CAP

On the east coast, the State of New York is asking businesses to voluntarily consider having employees work two shifts as well as allowing telework, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with CNN, the network that employs his brother, where he has been making near-daily appearances in addition to his daily press conferences.

Gov. Inslee

“This is about reducing the density,” Cuomo said. “The spread is not going to stop on its own.”

He also announced 20 new cases of virus, bringing total in state to about 193, with most of the new cases diagnosed in New Rochelle, where the virus has clearly been circulating for weeks.

There have been reports that Democrats are pushing for a national emergency declaration which would trigger  tens of billions of dollars in funding from FEMA to help with the containment effort, and possibly to help grappled with the economic fallout from the outbreak.

Despite a few notable screwups lately (including a collapsed ad hoc quarantine that left roughly one dozen dead and many trapped in the rubble for days, Beijing continues to insist that it is winning the war against the virus, and while the true scope of China’s outbreak might never be known for sure (some have estimated 1 million cases throughout China), officials did report a slight rise in cases on Wednesday which they blamed on ‘imports from abroad.’

Officials reported 24 additional cases of coronavirus and 22 additional deaths on March 10, compared with 19 additional cases and 17 additional deaths on March 9, bringing the total number of cases in mainland China to 80,778 and death toll at 3,158. China’s Hubei province said it will mandate a return to work according to different levels of risk in an orderly manner, adding that key areas of the Wuhan economy will be allowed to return.

After 11 days of falling case numbers, South Korea reported 242 additional coronavirus cases early Wednesday, bringing its total to 7,555, and 6 additional deaths, increasing the death toll to 60, reversing a streak of declines that had convinced many that Korea’s outbreak had ended.

The South has made remarkable progress in fighting the outbreak, however, a new mass infection incident has popped up that is jeopardizing the government’s widely praised response. Earlier, South Korean authorities told Reuters that they had tested hundreds of staff at a Seoul call center where the disease broke out this week. 13 of the infected workers at the Seoul call center used public transportation to commute, leading to at least 90 other people who had close contact with them being infected. Of the 90 cases mentioned earlier, 62 were in Seoul, and all were located near a public transportation hub connecting Seoul with Incheon and other major cities, via which the virus spread.

The spread has even made it into the armed forces, raising new fears about an outbreak in tightly packed barracks

CAP

Elsewhere, Japan is reportedly planning to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak after the number of domestic cases rose by the largest daily number yet, with 59 new cases bringing the total to 1,278, while the total death toll has climbed to 19 and there were 427 discharged from hospital on Tuesday.

Italy’s total coronavirus cases rose to 10,149, from 9172, and the death toll increased to 631 yesterday from 463 in its largest daily jump yet.

Man’s sick friend: First reported case of human-to-animal transmission suggests people may infect dogs with Covid-19

CAP

By Peter Andrews – 3/4/2020

You’ve heard of animal-to-human coronavirus transmission, but how about the other way around? In a world first, a case has been reported of a dog possibly infected with coronavirus – who seems to have contracted it from its owner.

Initial reports of a possible canine case of coronavirus began to emerge from Hong Kong last week, and at that point it was announced that the dog in question would be quarantined for a fortnight. Swab tests from the pet’s oral and nasal cavities were tested and turned up a “weak positive” for coronavirus. Thankfully, almost a week after first testing positive, the dog is reported as not yet having any symptoms.

Why the pooch was tested in the first place was not clear, although it was doubtful part of a routine medical check-up. It could be that some clinics are making sure to test all household pets of infected people so as to ensure the virus has as little mechanism to move about as possible. Alternatively, it could be that this dog is the first pet to be tested, and were others to be subjected to the same scrutiny it could transpire that more pets of infected people are also carriers of the disease.

Animal madness

Much of the early reportage on the outbreak focused on the seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, which Chinese officials had declared was the likeliest source of the outbreak. That seemed to imply that the virus had an animal origin, as live poultry, fish and other critters were reportedly present at the market.

As such, the initial panicked response to the outbreak was to obsess over the potential source of the virus. Exactly what kind of animals were at this market, and were they alive and kicking, or dead to be sold as meat?

Animals as a source seemed, and still seems, a plausible view. Sars is one other virus, and closely related to 2019-nCoV, to have previously resided in beasts before making the leap to humans, and it was eventually traced back to a horseshoe bat colony in China.

And bats, of course, became the most inculpated source for the new disease. Who could forget those now-viral images and videos from Wuhan of people tucking into soup that looked like something from an HP Lovecraft novel? While it later emerged that the images were a few years old, it set people’s minds to feverishly imagining what lethal zoological combo could have spawned the plague that has now infected tens of thousands of people worldwide.

Quite early on, Chinese scientists published a genetic study claiming that snakes were the most likely animal ‘reservoir’ for Covid-19. Pangolins were also mentioned, although traditional Chinese medicine’s unique relationship with wildlife meant that, for some, practically everything was on the table.

An innocent victim

It is important to remember that the dog in the case mentioned received the virus from its owner, and not the other way around. Commenting on the case, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) pointed out that it does not currently have conclusive evidence that pets can be infected “or can be a source of infection to people.”

‘Didn’t know it’s virus reservoir’: Chinese travel blogger forced to apologize for eating BAT on camera (VIDEO)

CAP

Therefore, animal health experts say that there is absolutely no reason to hide from your pet, or to keep it indoors. You’re probably much more likely to contract the virus from another person – no matter where in the world you are.

While the dog remains under investigation, and it is not definite whether or not it has the coronavirus, it – like its owner – has been quarantined. Hopefully the dog, and its owner, make a full recovery, and the virus does not spread to more animals. But the prospect of the virus crossing the species barrier does not bode well for anyone.

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER HIV-LIKE “MUTATION” WHICH MAKES CORONAVIRUS EXTREMELY INFECTIOUS

Scientists Discover HIV-Like "Mutation" Which Makes Coronavirus Extremely Infectious

“This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV.”

Zero Hedge – FEBRUARY 27, 2020

While mainstream scientists continue to perform mental gymnastics to insist that the new coronavirus wasn’t man-made, new research from scientists in China and Europe reveal that the disease happens to have an ‘HIV-like mutation’.

This allows it to bind with human cells up to 1,000 times stronger than the Sars virus, according to SCMP.

Recall that at the end of January, a team of Indian scientists wrote in a now-retracted, scandalous paper claiming that the coronavirus may have been genetically engineered to incorporate parts of the HIV genome.

They wrote “This uncanny similarity of novel inserts in the 2019- nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature,” meaning – it was unlikely to have occurred naturally.

Scientists Discover HIV-Like “Mutation” Which Makes Coronavirus Extremely Infectious

https://banned.video/watch?id=5e571291e53f4d001c3ce08f

https://infowarsmedia.com/js/player.js

Dr. Francis Boyle joins Mike Adams on The Alex Jones Show to break down the toll has taken for standing up for the truth in the wake of bioweapon development.

Fast forward to new research by a team from Nankai University, which writes that COV-19 has an ‘HIV-like mutation’ that  allows it to quickly enter the human body by binding with a receptor called ACE2 on a cell membrane.

Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions.

When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in Sars, but were similar to those found in HIV and Ebola.SCMP

“This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway,” reads the paper published this month on Chinaxiv.org – a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences which releases research papers prior to peer-review.

“This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV,” they added.

For those confused, what the latest scientific paper claims is that whereas the Coronavirus may indeed contain a specific HIV-like feature that makes it extremely infectious, that was the result of a rather bizarre “mutation.” However, since the scientists did not make the scandalous claim that Chinese scientists had created an airborne version of HIV, but instead blamed a mutation, they will likely not be forced to retract it, even if it the odds of such a “random” mutation taking place naturally are extremely small.

As a reminder, the running narrative is that the new coronavirus lie dormant in bats somewhere between 20 and 70 years, then ‘crossed over’ to humans through and unknown species – possibly a Pangolin – before it emerged at a Wuhan, China meat market roughly 900 feet from a level-4 bioweapons lab.

And what were they researching at said lab? Among other things – why Ebola and HIV can lie dormant in bats without causing diseases.

According to the new study, the ‘mutation’ can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein, SCMP reports. “Compared to the Sars’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study.”

The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to cheat the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes. SCMP

(a recent paper published by Dr. Zhou Peng of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, meanwhile, is “Immunogenicity of the spike glycoprotein  of Bat SARS-like coronavirus.“)

According to the report, a follow-up study from a Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhn confirmed Nankai University’s findings.

The mutation could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes, it said.

This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses”, Li wrote in a paper released on Chinarxiv on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a study by French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, which was published in the scientific journal Antiviral Research on February 10, also found a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses.

Chinese scientists speculate that drugs targeting the fuirn enzyme could potentially hinder the virus’ replication inside the human body. Drugs up for consideration include “a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir, Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir,” according to Li’s study.

The conclusion is in line with several reports from doctors who self-administered HIV drugs after testing positive for coronavirus, however there have been no clinical tests to confirm the theory.

All perfectly “natural.”

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑