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Feb 23 54 tweets 21 min read
🦠 Global Virome Project MegaThread

Before starting, let one thing be clear: none of the following is enough to say SARS2 emerged from a lab, andno second-guessing their motives please.

But it is important to lay the facts as it is, so follow me here – and stay until the end.
A little history: GVP was born in Aug 2016, in Bellagio, Italy, as an international effort to identify all zoonotic viruses with pandemic potential. It was spearheaded by EcoHealth Alliance.

They called it: "The Beginning of the End of the Pandemic Era”
globalviromeproject.org/our-history
USAID PREDICT can be considered the precursor of the Global Virome Project (GVP), and many of the researchers who worked on it were part of the GVP.

With the reduction of laboratory costs, it became possible to scale it up, and push virome research to a whole new level.
What follows is a timeline of this project's progress — which was underway in China.

We will navigate beyond the headlines, and dive into quotes, reports, articles, embassy cables, FOIA’d emails, and research grants.

What we know — still don't know — and what we need to know.
● Dec 2016: @HelenBranswell reporting on GVP

“Work like this inevitably raises concerns about who owns what is found and who should share the benefits if a drug or vaccine is made to protect against a virus uncovered in this search.” More on that later. statnews.com/2016/12/13/wor…
● Jan 2017: Cable from Ping Chen

“Our dear friend George Gao is China POC for this project..Daszak from EcoHealth Alliance is one of the leaders for the GVP project and he has NIAID grant..This grant has direct connection with the purpose of the GVP.” judicialwatch.org/documents/jw-v… Image
● Feb 2017: PREDICT 2017 Report

“Inaugural GVP Steering Committee and Working Group Meeting” held in Beijing.

To advance GVP from “concept to action”, the “CAS continued the discussions after the meeting with their own 'China National Virome Project' session.” ImageImage
● June 2017: GVP call minutes

“Peter Daszak will go to China in September. George Gao recently received funding.”
usrtk.org/wp-content/upl… Image
● Aug 2017: GVP call minutes

“Budget/lab related..: First step is to train people from China, Thailand or both, when they have samples. End of 2019-Early 2018?” (I think they meant End of 2017. Probably a typo.)

“No funding required until next fiscal year.” Image
● Aug 2017: Eddy Rubin

“The project appears to be moving faster than expected with a China component already funded and poised to generate data”

“Since the visit in January the project has progressed with several national virome projects linked to GVP already funded (China)..” ImageImage
Eddy further wrote: “..several countries have decided that they want to participate and are poised to begin national virome projects and China has already funded and is soon to be generating data for a Chinese Virome Project.” Image
● Sept 2017: From US State Dept cable

A section titled “Like all risky endeavors failure is a possibility” asks: “Who will own the samples that are collected from many countries? Where will they be analyzed? Will all the GVP data be freely available to the public?” Image
A section titled “GVP Enjoys Strong Chinese Government Support in Principle and in Kind” quoted Gao Fu as saying, “the Global Virome Project is a priority project that China CDC must push hard on to get stakeholders involved and organize funding.” Image
A section titled “Both the U.S. and China Strongly Support GVP-related Collaborative Research” quotes Shi Zhengli as saying “CAS has already allocated funding for GVP-related research.”

“Significant USG support for GVP-related research already exists.” Image
● Oct 2017: Eddy Rubin expresses scepticism about access to data

“Do not want China to take a leadership role in isolation as fear of their reluctance to share data”

“There is a concern about data sharing if only China takes the lead” ImageImage
● Oct 2017: Criticising the Global Virome Project, Geoghegan and Holmes wrote, “we contend that they are unlikely to be informative in predicting the next pandemic.”
royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rs…
@K_G_Andersen: “What you’re trying to predict is likely something that happens maybe once out of tens of billions of encounters, with one virus out of millions of potential viruses. You will lose your fight against the numbers.”
● Oct 2017: Eddy Rubin

“General view is that we do not want China to take a leadership role in isolation in fear of their reluctance to share data.”
 
“Need to get interagency engagement in GVP in addition to USAID (NIH, USDA, Commerce..)” Image
● Dec 2017: The NIH gain-of-function research funding pause was lifted, and was replaced by a review system called the HHS P3CO framework.
washingtonpost.com/nation/interac…
● Jan 2018: Shi receives two research grants

》Study on the evolutionary mechanism of bat SARS-like coronavirus adapted to host receptor molecules and the risk of cross-species infection (NSFC)

》Genetic evolution and transmission mechanism of important bat-borne viruses (CAS) Image
● Feb 2018: GVP officially launched with an article in Science - jointly written by Carroll, Daszak, Gao, Mazet et al.

“Leaders in China and Thailand have begun developing national virome projects as part of the GVP, leveraging current research funding to include GVP sites.” ImageImageImage
● Since Feb 2018, WHO has been listing a “Disease X” – a mysterious pathogen in its catalogue that could cause the next pandemic, and the Global Virome Project has been working on finding it.
● March 2018: “EcoHealth Alliance is committed to the GVP..The hope is that we can learn everything to know about Disease X before it strikes..It’s our mission to put a name to Disease X, to help the world prepare, and..prevent it from emerging in humans”
ecohealthalliance.org/2018/03/diseas…
● March 2018: EcoHealth submits a funding proposal to DARPA, but it was rejected not least due to some experiments were considered to “potentially involve GOF/DURC research.”

Note: The financial plan for WIV is in a separate doc. It's worth the read.
● April 2018: US state dept cable

“Chinese funding for the project would likely come from CAS.. Chinese govt funds projects similar to GVP to investigate the background of viruses and bacteria. This essentially constituted China’s own Virome Project.”
foia.state.gov/Search/Results… Image
The cable continues

“The Wuhan Institute of Virology..is the forerunner to the Global Virome Project”

“China has expressed interest in building the GVP database.. Other countries..are skeptical on whether China could remain transparent as a "gatekeeper" for this information.” ImageImage
● Sometime in 2018: A chart shows USAID provided $270,969 to Global Virome Project (GVP) Image
● May 2018: Gao Fu highlights the leading role of China in GVP

“China will help lead a project to identify unknown viruses from wildlife .. The project is to be launched this year, according to one of the country's top health officials.”
chinadaily.com.cn/a/201805/22/WS…
● June 2018: Andersen et al. again criticize GVP

“The public has increasingly questioned the scientific credibility of researchers working on outbreaks.. Making promises about disease prevention..that cannot be kept will only further undermine trust.”
nature.com/articles/d4158…
● Sept 2018: CAS initiates a ‘Special Project’ titled, “Pathogen Host Adaptation & Immune Intervention”.

Shi Zhengli is the co-PI for Project 1: Research on virus traceability, cross-species transmission & pathogenic mechanism. archive.is/spmNg Image
● Nov 2018: A highly redacted email from Chen with 2 attachments

1. Thailand GVP _China Project_ October 2018_Final.pdf
2. Proposed cost share NIH China position and QVR data.19 Nov 2018.xls

It includes a slide by Hongying Li on China Virome Project, with 3 of 4 pages redacted ImageImageImage
● Dec 2018: PREDICT M&A team publishes a map for China Virome Project in their annual report. It says, “these analyses will form the basis for the design of specific workplans..during the rollout of their virome projects in 2019-20.” Image
● March 2019: Gao Fu, head publishes an article on biosafety.

“genetic modification of pathogens, which may expand host range as well as increase transmission and virulence, may result in new risks for epidemics.”
sciencedirect.com/science/articl…
● May 2019: Shi Weifeng Group posts a recruitment notice for the “China Virome Project (CVP) and novel pathogen discovery.” The same group would later publish two close relatives of SARS-COV-2 ; RmYN02 and RpYN06. archive.is/mEFc0
● June 2019: Eddy Rubin

“Problem in that China is probably going to do their own thing with regard to what data they collect and how they provide access to no matter what we put together.”

“..China is going forward and is building a data platform for themselves..” Image
● July 2019: A fully redacted email from Ping Chen with the subject line: “Meeting with GVP/EcoHealth” Image
● Aug 2019: Gao on ASM podcast: “..you find a lot of coronaviruses in bats..so as yet we don’t know what’s the potential for all those viruses to infect human beings so in this case GVP plan to do the sequencing and virology on as many as possible” ~10min
asm.org/Podcasts/MTM/E…
Gao: “[In] GVP you might isolate some virus, you look at it and there is nothing to do with humans, however through adaptation., evolution, you might have some virus adapt to human beings, so as basic scientists you will do all these either in a lab or do the surveillance” ~30min
● Sept 2019: CAS Special Project summary meeting after one year of project implementation: “55 scientists have undertaken special tasks..based on virus source tracing, cross-species transmission and pathogenic mechanisms, pathogenicity..and immune escape” archive.is/m5ail
● Sep 2019: WIV virus database goes offline ().

Incidentally, WIV was building an unprecedented database of viral pathogens. It got help from EcoHealth Alliance, which collaborated on the project. Why is no one talking about this? web.archive.org/web/2020110207… Image
● Feb 2020: EcoHealth publishes an article on joint China-US partnerships, noting the USAID EPT program “..has collaborated with China CDC and Wuhan Institute of Virology and..the China National Global Virome Initiative..” (Article received: August 2019) link.springer.com/article/10.100… Image
● Feb 2020: Email exchange between Handley and Chen, with subject labeled “POCs for NSFC and CAS” - almost fully redacted. 

“We need POCs of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and The Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) ASAP.” ImageImage
● May 2020: Daszak gives a very strange comment. I'll leave to you to figure out what’s strange. archive.is/2Xu2d Image
● Since then, there has been a palpable silence on the China part of this project. Even the PREDICT reports have gone quiet. Unusually quiet.

It’s almost as if the China Virome Project never existed. 
<End of Timeline> 

PS: Essentially, they were bringing possible candidates for pandemic viruses from the wild to Wuhan, under the pretext that they had to be examined in advance, in order to develop vaccines and react better to a pandemic, should it ever occur. And then it did.
Considering the timeline, the subject of the research and the project activities in combination, one could be speculative and tempted to ask: By trying to be one step ahead of a pandemic, did they inadvertently cause one?
But of course, that’s speculation.

We don’t know the answer yet, but one thing that seems certain is: the CVP was in progress. Novel SARS-related viruses were swarming in the Wuhan lab, and transparent access to data was a concern.

And we are just scratching the surface here.
So the question remains. To answer the question: we need detailed data, documents and communications about that project. 

We also have to ask: whether the US institutions knew what it partly financed? Did they factor they cost of accidently setting of a pandemic?
To reiterate, none of this is proof that the virus originated in a lab.

But let me leave with you with this: Wuhan was the perfect place to unleash a global pandemic - this I consider to be given and undisputed. The odds are bad. /End
<Addendum>

● Jan 2018: From George Gao:

"I believe that our Chinese side can make our great contributions for the development of GVP database system and data portal by the supports from China CDC and CAS."
usrtk.org/wp-content/upl… Image
The research continued in subsequent months, and I believe this is the database that the Chinese side removed access to.

This database might help resolve the origins debate.
<Addendum 2>

● Oct 2018: a slide from an internal GVP presentation by Hongying Li, the coordinator for the China Virome Project

"GVP Viral Database Model"
usrtk.org/wp-content/upl… Image
<Addemdum 3>

● March 2019: Dennis Carroll

A draft of letter sent to GVP BoD

"..an initial two year "incubation period" to "validate the operational and scientific scalability" of GVP

"..the first steps have been taken to launch the "validation" phase in Thailand and China." Image
● March 2019: Response from Jonna Mazet

"..we are excited to be in the very productive incubation period with China and Thailand initializing their national virome projects." Image

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More from @TheSeeker268

Apr 17
One of the deeply under appreciated aspects of #OriginofCovid is that, according to EcoHealth docs, in 2018, WIV had over 180 viral strains that could bridge the gap between SARS2 and RaTG13/BANAL. Over 125 viral strains in the spike range of SARS2 (and could evade mAb/vaccines). ImageImage
And thousands of samples from where the nearest relatives were found.

Add to this, the extensive US and Chinese state-funded projects in the 2018-19 timeframe, with the same kind of work (with live viruses in BSL-2 & -3) that could’ve led to SARS2.
ImageImageImageImage
Having some elementary knowledge of statistical probability, I would go so far as to say that while not impossible that some wild host brought it to Wuhan, the odds are like hitting a cosmic lottery.
Read 5 tweets
Apr 9
So a number of other people have been saying the same thing—that they learnt of the Wuhan outbreak in early/mid-December 2019. See some examples below.
JP Prasad, who runs Alberta's supply procurement system "heard disturbing news about a 'strange flu' in Wuhan, in early December", and began stocking up on masks and equipments.
edmontonjournal.com/opinion/column…
“Around December 20, 2019, I learned about the emergence of the coronavirus,” says a frontline doctor from a hospital in Xiaogan City, 66 kilometers away from Wuhan.
archive.ph/MnZrn
Read 8 tweets
Mar 18
#OriginOfCovid: Summary of what is known thus far..

- The precursor of SARS2 likely originated in bats in Yunnan/SE Asia.
- There is a direct and documented pathway from the regions where bats harbour these viruses to Wuhan, via WIV. Other ways of getting to Wuhan are possible.
- Wuhan Institute of Virology was the closest place where closely related viruses existed.
- We don’t know where the first cases occurred but it was first identified at the Huanan market after it came to the attention of the doctors in Wuhan in late December 2019.
- We don’t know when the outbreak really started but most studies indicate it was sometime between September and November 2019.
- Susceptible species were being sold at the Huanan market where some of the first (known) cases were identified.
Read 16 tweets
Mar 11
Daszak examines his own coronavirus research in Wuhan, and issues a clean bill of health for himself. You’ll just have to read it…
theintercept.com/2022/03/11/cov…
Daszak: humanized mice experiments weren't conducted by us.

So EcoHealth helped WIV import ans successfully breed humanized mice in 2018 and we are supposed to believe that they didn’t do that work although it was already funded by NIH? ImageImage
Read 9 tweets
Mar 10
A key question about COVID's origin has been: how it got to Wuhan? At this stage, nobody knows for sure, but let's explore the two competing scenarios:

1) SARS2 was brought to the Wuhan market.
2) SARS2 was brought to the Wuhan lab.

This is important, so follow me... /🧵
Scenario #1: SARS2 was brought to the Wuhan market

Assuming this to be true, then there were two separate spillovers. First, it spilled over from bats to an intermediate host. Next, it spilled over from the intermediate host to humans.
What we know for sure is that all genetically close relatives of SARS2 were found in bats in Yunnan or Southeast Asia – far from Wuhan. So, one would expect that the first spillover (bat to intermediate host) took place in this region, where bats harbour these viruses.
Read 36 tweets
Feb 27
Building on their previous papers, authors here present a new statistical analysis — as bulletproof science.

The data is good and layered, but the conclusions are based on indirect and questionable arguments. It is unpersuasive to me. Let me explain the reasons I say this. 🧵
The authors’ basic argument is: most of the (known) cases from Dec clustered around the market. There were raccoon dogs at the market (western section). There were +ve environment samples in that section. Therefore the virus jumped at the market. I don’t fundamentally buy that.
I will admit that the supporting data is rigorous and many points are valid, but the line of reasoning doesn’t make sense to me. So I’m absolutely not convinced by it from a logical point of view (also due to the inadequacy of the data and cherry picking facts). Follow me
Read 20 tweets

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