Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
As speculation mounts about exactly what Chinese virologists were doing in that sinister Wuhan laboratory, it might be a good time to ask, what is the difference between legitimate virology research and nasty secret military projects? The answer is less than you might think.
Australians Create a Deadly Mouse Virus
By William J. Broad
Jan. 23, 2001
Australian scientists have accidentally created a virus that kills mice by crippling their immune systems, and warn that the technique may threaten to produce deadlier forms of human viruses and new kinds of biological weapons.
The Australian scientists inserted into the mousepox virus a mouse gene that controls the making of interleukin-4, chemical that plays a starring role in the immune system’s responses to foreign invaders. The aim was to enhance the making of interleukin-4 and thus the immune response so that even mice eggs would be rejected as foreign, blocking mouse reproduction.
But the female mice instead died, as did many of those vaccinated to resist mousepox. The scientists say the designer virus unexpectedly crippled the immune system to such an extent that the microbe reproduced wildly, killing most of the mice and making the rest permanently disabled.
The mousepox virus, they added, was used simply because it was well studied and convenient. If successful, the experiment would have progressed to inserting the interleukin-4 gene into a benign microbe of rodents, the murine cytomegalo virus.
The bodies of people, like those of mice, use interleukin-4 to control immune responses. Its signals are one of the main ways biological reactions to infection are orchestrated. That similarity is one reason the new finding worries experts.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/23/world/australians-create-a-deadly-mouse-virus.html
It is possible Wuhan scientists were doing something naughty. Ill advised Chinese resistance to open investigation is fanning the flames of suspicion.
But the theory that Covid-19 is a biological warfare virus is weak. A serious attempt to create a biological warfare virus should have included public knowledge enhancements like the lethal interleukin-4 hack, and who knows what other less well known immune system hacks. A real biological warfare virus, with minimal effort, would have been far worse than Covid-19.
One thing we do know is there was a Chinese study which claimed that isolation procedures at the Wuhan laboratory were deficient. That alone is justification for further investigation – likely some careless worker walked out of the lab one night, carrying a bat virus which had somehow managed to infect a human.
We have all see examples of what appeared at first to be malice, which on investigation turned out to be mindless incompetence.
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