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Origin of Covid: ‘If nothing went wrong in the Wuhan lab, why the obfuscation?’ | India News

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Under the cover of a Chhau mask, an interview with the anonymous faceless’ The Seeker‘who has been searching for the true origins of Covid-19 starts almost like a blind date. Like everyone else, the 29-year-old’s days of confinement consisted of ‘watching movies, reading books, and surfing the internet’ until web browsing took on a whole new meaning when he found himself at the center of DRASTIC, short for Decentralized Radical. Autonomous Search. Covid-19 investigation team. During an interaction with Mohua das, reveals how he probed the depths of the internet to find evidence that forced the world to re-examine whether the virus had truly leaked Wuhan Laboratory of the Institute of Virology (WIV)
You don’t want to reveal your name, but tell us a little about yourself.
I am a 29 year old Bengali boy from Bhubaneswar with a mix of architectural, business, film and teaching experience. I was in Delhi working on an exciting project, audiobooks, but then Covid changed our plans, our project was shelved, and I went back to my family’s house in Bhubaneswar.
What made you believe that the laboratory leak theory was it plausible?
Like most people, my initial impression was that it was a natural zoonosis, that the virus passed from bats to humans through a pangolin, in the Huanan wet market. For me, it was stumbling across a 2013 master’s thesis, which I think, along with the RaTG13 link (a SARS like betacoronavirus that infects the horseshoe bat) that really blew this thing up.
It was the Twitter thread of Luigi Warren (scientist who was a pioneer in mRNA technology and a prominent member of DRASTIC) where it all began. Luigi made a brilliant distillation of what was known and unknown about miners. That sparked my curiosity and I started researching Chinese academic journals.
How did you come across the 2013 master’s and 2016 doctoral theses in Chinese, which led you into the bat-filled mine shaft in Mojiang county, southern Yunnan, where some miners had contracted a disease mysterious in 2012?
The first time I heard about sick miners, I had a flash of understanding: ‘Wait, everyone is typing queries on Google … Let me explore Chinese academic publications and see if there are skeletons in your closet.’ I started searching Chinese databases extensively for keywords, and one day, bang! I was guided by an insatiable curiosity, patience, will and determination. And my knowledge of advanced search tricks was very helpful.
How do you feel about people rejecting DRASTIC investigations as a conspiracy theory?
No conspiracies are needed to explain a lab leak. The problem is that there was and still is a total lack of transparency.
WIV has yet to share the raw data, lab records, samples, and specimens from its extensive bat coronavirus collection. They had one of the largest bat coronavirus databases in the world, but the databases went offline. If you have nothing to hide, and if nothing has gone wrong, why not show it? What we suspect is clumsy handling and an accident, and laboratory accidents are a well-known phenomenon. I think the facts speak for themselves. Active research was being conducted on the same lineage of SARS-like coronaviruses in the vicinity of ground zero of the outbreak, and one of their main research directions was to investigate how SARS-like coronaviruses infect humans. There is evidence of confusions, omissions and inconsistencies in the data provided by the WIV. Significantly, security concerns were documented at its facility, and Chinese authorities have done everything possible to deny access to evidence.
I am not saying that the laboratory leak theory is a true holy theory, but rather that it is very clearly a plausible theory worth investigating.
What do you think, a case of bioerror or bioterror?
My general impression is that they found a variant of the coronavirus that infected the Mojiang miners, or at least led them to the progenitor of SARS-CoV-2. With six human cases, the mine was its best bet to find a coronavirus whose spike protein was effective in binding to receptors on human lung cells – that is, a coronavirus that could potentially jump to humans. Not surprisingly, they took samples from the mine for at least four years (they didn’t reveal it until November last year). They got projects to test them in animal models, cell lines, and to create chimeras, combining different bat coronavirus backbones and spike proteins, to gain insight into their inter-species transmission mechanism, with the ultimate goal of creating a vaccine. SARS-CoV-2 could have been generated by such an experiment and then, due to a lapse in security protocols, escaped from that lab. Or it could be something more mundane like a sample of mine, sequenced, isolated, and somehow spilled from the lab.
Why is the Wuhan Laboratory Leak Theory Important?
In view of a global pandemic with four million deaths, hundreds of millions out of work, and trillions of dollars in economic damage, I believe that knowing the truth about its origins should be an end in itself. As for me, I seek the truth.



Times of India

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