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Leaked Grant Proposal Details High-Risk Coronavirus Research
by Sharon Lerner and Maia Hibbett
Posted September 27, 2021
A grant proposal written by the U.S.-based nonprofit the EcoHealth Alliance and submitted in 2018 to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, provides evidence that the group was working — or at least planning to work — on several risky areas of research. Among the scientific tasks the group described in its proposal, which was rejected by DARPA, was the creation of full-length infectious clones of bat SARS-related coronaviruses and the insertion of a tiny part of the virus known as a “proteolytic cleavage site” into bat coronaviruses. Of particular interest was a type of cleavage site able to interact with furin, an enzyme expressed in human cells.
Since the genetic code of the coronavirus that caused the pandemic was first sequenced, scientists have puzzled over the “furin cleavage site.” This strange feature on the spike protein of the virus had never been seen in SARS-related betacoronaviruses, the class to which SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness Covid-19, belongs. The furin cleavage site enables the virus to more efficiently bind to and release its genetic material into a human cell and is one of the reasons that the virus is so easily transmissible and harmful.
While the grant proposal does not provide the smoking gun that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab, for some scientists it adds to the evidence that it might have. “Whether that particular study did or didn’t [lead to the pandemic], it certainly could have,” said Nunberg, of Montana Biotechnology Center. “Once you make an unnatural virus, you’re basically setting it up in an unstable evolutionary place. The virus is going to undergo a whole bunch of changes to try and cope with its imperfections. So who knows what will come of it.” The risks of such research are profound and irreversible, he said. “You can’t call back the virus once you release it into the environment.” More…
The EcoHealth Alliance funded China’s Wuhan Lab to conduct “gain of function” research in direct defiance of US prohibitions against such research.
Why is this not at the top of the headlines in the main stream media? Why is the Biden administration’s Department of Justice refusing to investigate this? So, who benefits from all this?