Dr. Shi Zhengli is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. Shi directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan.
The WIV is the largest Virology Lab in all of Asia. In 2017, Shi and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of bats in a remote region of the Yunnan.
The WIV is partially funded by grants from the U.S. Government (National Institutes of Health) $3.8 million dollars and the Gates Foundation (Bill and Melinda Gates) $500,000 dollars.
When Dr. Shi Zhengli began experimenting with the SARS-CoV-1 virus she had found in Horseshoe bats living in a cave in Southern China, little did she know that she would develop a form of SARS that would be an effective form of attacking a specific group of the population.
Her testing included infecting various kinds of animals with the SARS-CoV-1 virus in order to see the effect on various immune systems. Only one group of test subjects stood out. The Pangolin. In the Pangolins, she found that the virus had modified itself. Not by much, only 3% of the virus read differently than the original virus. That meant the original virus remained 97% intact even though passing it through various lab animals.
The Pangolins had been brought in from southern china area not far from where Shi found the Bat Caves of the Horseshoe bats from which she extracted samples of the original SARS-CoV-1 virus. Preliminary tests proved out that the Panolins had already carried a form of a coronavirus. Shi found that when she infected the Pangolins with the SARS-CoV-1 virus from the Bats, it resulted in a modification of 3% of the original SARS-CoV-1 virus. She assumed that the variance was caused by the genomic combination of the two covid viruses. This new strain would come to be called SARS-CoV-2.
But what was the variant difference. How would this simple 3% change on the genome affect the any person infected by the variant 2 of the virus?
Lab tests of the new virus was called for. Testing on various lab animals proved no different that the original strain only that the incubation period was longer.
Dr. Zhengli consulted with her head of virology Dr. Gengfu XIAO. He in turn called a meeting of the directors to discus Dr. Zhengli’s results.
It was decided that the an instance of the virus should be turned over to the Pathogenic Organism and Infectious Diseases Research Centre, School of Basic Medical Sciences, at Wuhan University. Pathogenic Organism and Infectious Diseases Research Center (POIDRC) was developed on the using assets of the Department of Pathogen Biology, School of Basic Medical Sciences of Wuhan University. The center was located next to the Universities Zhongnan Hospital, where testing would be accomplished.
The center has always followed the needs of prevention and control of the national infectious diseases. Using focused human testing on the important pathogens, which cause serious damage to human health, such as HIV, Hantavirus, SARS, HBV/HCV, HPV, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Schistosoma, and etc., he center was committed to conduct comprehensive research and testing on molecular epidemiology, the mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunoregulation of the emerging pathogens, and on the diagnosis and developing therapeutic strategies on viral diseases. This required human testing.
With the majority of the directors of the Virology institute with ties to the University of Wuhan and U.S. Universities, it was decided to pass the virus to POIDRC for to determine what differing effect, if any, the new virus presented in humans.
In August 2019, Dr. Zhengli prepared 10 vials of the virus for further testing. Two would be sent to the University research center. The remainder would be held for further testing. Several ended up being sent to various other testing facilities. However while she was away at a conference three vials would be missing from the vaults.
The Directors of the Wuhan Institute of Virology include
Director General Yanyi WANG
Yanyi Wang, PhD (Beijing University), PI, Antiviral Innate Immunity and Inflammation Group. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Peking University, University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Wuhan University, respectively. Before joining the Institute of Virology, she was employed as an instructor and later on promoted to associate professor at Wuhan University. She received the Young Scholar Award from the Chinese Society for Immunology. She has been the co-chairman of the Young Immunologists Committee of the Chinese Society for Immunology since 2013. She received the Young Scholar Award from the Chinese Society for Immunology in 2013. In 2014, she was awarded as one of the Distinguished Young Scholars, which was funded by National Nature Science Foundation of China.
Deputy Director General Gengfu XIAO
Gengfu Xiao, Ph.D., Professor. Dr Xiao obtained his BSc and MSc in Medicine from Tongji Medical University in 1989 and 1992. And he obtained his Ph.D. degree in virology from Wuhan University in 1999. From 1992 to 2008, he worked at the college of Life Science in Wuhan University as a Teaching Assistant, Lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor. Dr Xiao was one of the awardees of the “Outstanding Youth Fund” in Hubei province in 2003; he then obtained the support of the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University in 2006. Now Dr Xiao is the Deputy Director General and Professor at Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS, and is the head of the research group of viral biochemistry, furthermore Dr Xiao is deputy director of the State key laboratory of virology. Dr Xiao has worked on the study of medical molecular virology for many years. In recent years, his research focuses on biochemistry of viral proteins. Dr Xiao is supported by National Basic Research Program of China and the CAS pilot project of Knowledge Innovation Programs. Dr Xiao participated in editing three monographs, “genetic engineering”, “Modern Molecular Biology of the Cell”, and “Human flu and Bird flu”.
Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee Changcai HE
Changcai HE, Bsc & MSc, worked in the Research Group of Ichthyology of Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) from Jul. 1985 to Jun. 1996. Then, he worked in the Division of Graduates in the Institute of Hydrobiology, CAS from Jul. 1996 to Feb. 2000. During the following seven years (from Mar. 2000 to Dec. 2007), working in Wuhan Education Center, he was the deputy head of the General Office of Education Center, Executive Vice President of the School for Advanced Study in Wuhan Branch, CAS, and then head of the General Office of Education Center, among which, he was also the deputy head of Admission Office of Graduate University of CAS from Oct. 2001 to Oct. 2003, and the deputy head of Office of Organization and Human Resource from Mar. 2002 to Mar. 2004. Within the following five years, namely from Jan. 2008 to Aug. 2013, he acted as the head of the General Office, Office of Infrastructure, and assistant of the President of Wuhan Branch, CAS. In addition, he was the chairman of the corporate trade union of Wuhan Branch from Jan. 2004 to Sep. 2013, and the Corporate Secretary of the Party at Wuhan Branch from Oct. 2005 to Jul. 2013. Since the Aug. of 2013, he has been the deputy director general of Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS.
Deputy Director General Peng Gong
Peng Gong, PhD (University of Massachusetts Amherst), PI, Structural Biology of Viral Genome Replication Group. Dr. Peng Gong received his BSc (1998) and MSc (2001) in Chemistry from Tsinghua University. He received his PhD (2006) from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, studying the mechanism of transcription by T7 RNA polymerase with Dr. Craig T Martin. He worked on the structure and function of bacterial transcription repair coupling factor with Dr. Karsten Theis at University of Massachusetts at Amherst during 2006-2007. From 2007 to 2011, he focused on crystallographic studies of polymerases from family Picornaviridae in the laboratory of Dr. Olve B Peersen at Colorado State University. He joined WIV, CAS in Nov 2011 and has set up a unit of protein crystallography de novo. He has published research papers in PNAS, PLoS Pathog, Nucleic Acids Res, J Biol Chem, and Biochemistry.
Deputy Director General Wuxiang Guan
Wuxiang Guan, MD and PhD (Chinese CDC), PI, Viral Replication and Posttranscriptional Regulation Group. Dr. Guan obtained his BSc in Clinical Medicine (2000) and MSc in Virology (2003) from Tongji Medical University. His PhD was awarded by Institute of Viral Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese CDC (2006). Dr. Guan did research in University of Kansas Medical Center (2007-2009), in Stowers Institute of Medical Research (2010-2012) before joining WIV in 2012. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism of DNA replication of virus, alternative polyadenylation regulation of viral mRNA and 3’ end biogenesis of noncoding RNA. Dr. Guan has been supported by NSFC (2013-2016). He has published peer reviewed papers in JVI, Blood, J Biol Chem.
Ignoring the dangers of human testing of unknown viral genomes, these top Chinese Scientists, let curiosity get the best of them and set a dangerous precedence. Or was it curosity?
At the inset of the testing five healthy human subjects were chosen and three were infected with the virus in the University of Wuhan’s Zhongnan Hospital. Two additional subjects were not infected but were place in the containment unit with the infected patients. The three subjects ranged from 20 years of age to 70 years of age.
In the 2003 outbreak, the death rate from SARS was 9% to 12% of those diagnosed. In people over age 65, the death rate was higher than 50%. The illness was milder in younger people.
They monitored symptoms comparing the subjects with th 2003 outbreak. Those symptoms included
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher
- Other breathing symptoms
The most common symptoms are:
- Chills and shaking
- Cough, usually starts 2 to 7 days after other symptoms
- Muscle aches
Less common symptoms include:
- Cough that produces phlegm (sputum)
- Nausea and vomiting
In some people, the lung symptoms get worse during the second week of illness, even after the fever has stopped.
Complications may include:
- Respiratory failure
- Liver failure
- Heart failure
- Kidney problems
- Cerebral Hemorrhage
The symptoms in the two younger test subjects were mild resulting in minimum health issues. The 70 year old woman however experienced Acute Respiratory disease and expired 9 days after being infected.
The two uninfected patients were tested daily to ascertain if this virus could be transmitted from human to human. After 15 days all tests were negative and they were released from the program to return to their homes.
Within three days both uninfected patients had returned to the research facility with symptoms of the virus.
The finding of the program were quite surprising.
The incubation period from time of infection to the first symptoms varied up to 10 days in the infected patients. But were seemingly infectious leaving the scientists to assume that contact with any infected person would cause infection. This was highly unusual as the virus seemed to incubate for a long period causing contact infections to be passed to large numbers.
Additional test groups were taken from family members and friends with whom the initial two subjects released had contact. Further testing revealed that without underling illnesses, the viruses were recoverable and in most instances no worse than the common cold.
However the elderly and frail were subject to much harsher symptoms resulting in a surprisingly high mortality rate of 90%.
But already the research facility was being overrun with family members, friends, co-workers, and the health workers involved with the first study group.
Dr. Zhanqiu Yang, Director of virology and the lead doctor on the experiment, knew that it was urgent that he contact Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee Changcai HE, the party representative for virology, and report the recent events.
As goes the chain of command, Dr. He reported to Beijing that the study was complete and that the virus is spreading at a rapid rate in Wuhan. He also explained the results of the virology experiment stating that this was deadly only to their elderly population and immune compromised.
Beijing took immediate steps to secure the capitol from infection but allowed the virus to spread in Wuhan. Only after a local doctor contacted the media to explode the cover up was the virus known to the world.
Due to Beijing cover up of the existence and spread of this virus, International flights, Maritime Ships, Commercial transports, and private autos all carried the virus across borders and continents.
Infections of the newly created virus began spreading across the world. Governments began sequestering their citizens calling it Shelter in Place. Businesses were closed by mandate across their countries. Curfews were put in place enforced in many countries by the military. Economies began crashing around the world.
After two months of being locked down in their homes with no income, citizens around the world are protesting, demanding their politicians open the doors to commerce again. Riots are breaking out in the streets and in prisons demanding action.
Authorities have acquiesced and began reopening their respective states. The effects of the virus on 95% of the population is minimal. Once the countries reopen commerce and allow normal activities, the viral infections will soar, however the effects for the majority will be that of bad colds or the flu among those under 65 years of age.
Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
- People 65 years and older
- People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:
- People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised
- Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
- People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
- People with diabetes
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- People with liver disease
Once infected 90% of this group will experience fatal symptoms.
Governments could rack down and extend the sequestration of their respective citizens to avoid the loss of lives. The loss of a loved one is always difficult.
But economically speaking. the reopening before the virus is quelled, can create less burden on the treasuries of governments. The disappearance of the elderly and frail from government rolls could save countries billions of dollars in social payments and care.
So there is our dilemma. Keep us locked down and completely destroy the economies of the world, or, open the doors creating a viral genocide of the frail and elderly.
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