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Critical thinking: is COVID-19 a laboratory virus? What is the bigger picture?

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Every human being must learn and use critical thinking to survive and thrive!

The COVID-19 pandemic is a paradigm shift, an incredible opportunity for personal and community growth! It is also a time of massive abuses of human rights by authoritarian governments including by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who as a virus created and spread this coronavirus worldwide.

Human's are not animals to be farmed by authoritarian rulers and elites! Humans and animals have rights to their own lives, families, environment, health care, etc. Spaceship Earth must be respected. All governments must respect the rights of Earth, animals and humans.

Is COVID-19 a coronavirus that was created in a laboratory? There is no doubt it is part of someone's plan, but who's plan? Newsweek is considered a mainstream credible media outlet in USA and their article (see below) of 28 April 2020 raises some very serious questions which must be answered by USA and China. Professor Yan Meng-li, a Chinese virologist who worked in Wuhan during this pandemic, has stated her views below.

The world needs an independent inquiry!

Self-exiled Chinese virologist publishes report claiming COVID-19 was made in a lab!

[Update]: Apple Daily 16 September 2020.

The coronavirus that has caused the global COVID-19 pandemic was made in a laboratory and could be created in six months, according to a journal article published by Yan Meng-li, a virologist who escaped from China.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus “shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus,” according to the report titled “Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probably Synthetic Route.”

“The genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 has likely undergone genetic engineering, through which the virus has gained the ability to target humans with enhanced virulence and infectivity,” Yan wrote in the paper uploaded to open-access repository Zenodo. It is unlikely to have been peer-reviewed.

Yan said similar findings that the virus was created in a laboratory had been heavily censored in peer-reviewed journals. She called for an independent investigation into relevant laboratories and a critical review of evidence of the virus' origin.

Yan, currently residing in the United States, earlier told Fox News that her findings were ignored by her colleagues at the University of Hong Kong, where she used to work as a virologist. She decided to flee Hong Kong for Los Angeles after she felt that her findings would put her at risk.

Speaking on a British talk show aired on ITV last week, Yan claimed that the virus was from a government-controlled laboratory in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have originated.

Click here for Chinese version

"Dr. Fauci Backed Controversial Wuhan Lab with U.S. Dollars for Risky Coronavirus Research"

Newsweek 28 April 2020. Fred Guterl. (Bold format added)

Dr. Anthony Fauci is an adviser to President Donald Trump and something of an American folk hero for his steady, calm leadership during the pandemic crisis. At least one poll shows that Americans trust Fauci more than Trump on the coronavirus pandemic—and few scientists are portrayed on TV by Brad Pitt.

But just last year, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the organization led by Dr. Fauci, funded scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutions for work on gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses.

In 2019, with the backing of NIAID, the National Institutes of Health committed $3.7 million over six years for research that included some gain-of-function work. The program followed another $3.7 million, 5-year project for collecting and studying bat coronaviruses, which ended in 2019, bringing the total to $7.4 million.

Many scientists have criticized gain of function research, which involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, because it creates a risk of starting a pandemic from accidental release.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus now causing a global pandemic, is believed to have originated in bats. U.S. intelligence, after originally asserting that the coronavirus had occurred naturally, conceded last month that the pandemic may have originated in a leak from the Wuhan lab. (At this point most scientists say it's possible—but not likely—that the pandemic virus was engineered or manipulated.)

Dr. Fauci did not respond to Newsweek's requests for comment. NIH responded with a statement that said in part: "Most emerging human viruses come from wildlife, and these represent a significant threat to public health and biosecurity in the US and globally, as demonstrated by the SARS epidemic of 2002-03, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.... scientific research indicates that there is no evidence that suggests the virus was created in a laboratory."

The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.

The project proposal states: "We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential."

In layman's terms, "spillover potential" refers to the ability of a virus to jump from animals to humans, which requires that the virus be able to attach to receptors in the cells of humans. SARS-CoV-2, for instance, is adept at binding to the ACE2 receptor in human lungs and other organs.

According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.

Dr. Fauci is renowned for his work on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, he graduated first in his class from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. As head of NIAID since 1984, he has served as an adviser to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan.

A decade ago, during a controversy over gain-of-function research on bird-flu viruses, Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. He argued that the research was worth the risk it entailed because it enables scientists to make preparations, such as investigating possible anti-viral medications, that could be useful if and when a pandemic occurred.

The work in question was a type of gain-of-function research that involved taking wild viruses and passing them through live animals until they mutate into a form that could pose a pandemic threat. Scientists used it to take a virus that was poorly transmitted among humans and make it into one that was highly transmissible—a hallmark of a pandemic virus. This work was done by infecting a series of ferrets, allowing the virus to mutate until a ferret that hadn't been deliberately infected contracted the disease.

The work entailed risks that worried even seasoned researchers. More than 200 scientists called for the work to be halted. The problem, they said, is that it increased the likelihood that a pandemic would occur through a laboratory accident.

Dr. Fauci defended the work. "[D]etermining the molecular Achilles' heel of these viruses can allow scientists to identify novel antiviral drug targets that could be used to prevent infection in those at risk or to better treat those who become infected," wrote Fauci and two co-authors in the Washington Post on December 30, 2011. "Decades of experience tells us that disseminating information gained through biomedical research to legitimate scientists and health officials provides a critical foundation for generating appropriate countermeasures and, ultimately, protecting the public health."

Nevertheless, in 2014, under pressure from the Obama administration, the National of Institutes of Health instituted a moratorium on the work, suspending 21 studies.

Three years later, though—in December 2017—the NIH ended the moratorium and the second phase of the NIAID project, which included the gain-of-function research, began. The NIH established a framework for determining how the research would go forward: scientists have to get approval from a panel of experts, who would decide whether the risks were justified.

The reviews were indeed conducted—but in secret, for which the NIH has drawn criticism. In early 2019, after a reporter for Science magazine discovered that the NIH had approved two influenza research projects that used gain of function methods, scientists who oppose this kind of research excoriated the NIH in an editorial in the Washington Post.

"We have serious doubts about whether these experiments should be conducted at all," wrote Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins University and Marc Lipsitch of Harvard. "[W]ith deliberations kept behind closed doors, none of us will have the opportunity to understand how the government arrived at these decisions or to judge the rigor and integrity of that process."

Correction 5/5, 6:20 p.m.: The headline of this story has been corrected to reflect that the Wuhan lab received only a part of the millions of U.S. dollars allocated for virus research.

Dr. Chris Martenson 4 May 2020: [USA and China needs to] answer only one question "How did that polybasic furin cleavage site PRRA get into COVID-19?"

"Coronavirus: Are Our Scientists Lying To Us?" Dr. Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity YouTube channel. 4 May 2020.

What is the bigger picture or plan?

NGOs, such as Amnesty International (see video above), have expressed their concerns that during the COVID-19 pandemic human rights are being even more abused by authoritarian regimes including the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the US Government under US President Donald Trump.

Why - except for the rich to get richer - in USA are trillions of US dollars being used by the Republican Trump administration to prop up Wall Street whilst Main Street across the country gets little to no support when the UN supreme human right is the right to life?

CCP has a plan for global domination by 2049 which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Does the COVID-19 pandemic fit into this plan? if so how?

After the COVID-19 paradigm shift is CCP's plans and nationalism meeting the humanitarian needs of the mainland Chinese people AND the needs of people everywhere? or are they only self-serving for Han Chinese CCP leaders?

A pandemic of power grabs: Autocrats see opportunity in disaster

The world is distracted and the public need saving. It is a strongman’s dream

Economist 23 April 2020

ALL THE world’s attention is on covid-19. Perhaps it was a coincidence that China chose this moment to tighten its control around disputed reefs in the South China Sea, arrest the most prominent democrats in Hong Kong and tear a hole in Hong Kong’s Basic Law (see article). But perhaps not. Rulers everywhere have realised that now is the perfect time to do outrageous things, safe in the knowledge that the rest of the world will barely notice. Many are taking advantage of the pandemic to grab more power for themselves (see article).

China’s actions in Hong Kong are especially troubling. Since Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed under the formula of “one country, two systems”. By and large, its people enjoy the benefits of free speech, free assembly and the rule of law. Foreign firms have always felt safe there, which is why Hong Kong is such an important financial hub. But China’s ruling Communist Party has long yearned to crush Hong Kong’s culture of protest. Article 22 of the Basic Law (a kind of mini-constitution) bans Chinese government offices from interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. That was always understood to include its Liaison Office in Hong Kong. But on April 17th the office, China’s main representative body in the territory, said it was not bound by Article 22. This suggests that it plans to step up its campaign to curtail Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Xi Jinping’s incremental power grab in Hong Kong is one of many. All around the world, autocrats and would-be autocrats spy an unprecedented opportunity. Covid-19 is an emergency like no other. Governments need extra tools to cope with it. No fewer than 84 have enacted emergency laws vesting extra powers in the executive. In some cases these powers are necessary to fight the pandemic and will be relinquished when it is over. But in many cases they are not, and won’t be. The places most at risk are those where democracy’s roots are shallow and institutional checks are weak.

Take Hungary, where the prime minister, Viktor Orban, has been eroding checks and balances for a decade. Under a new coronavirus law, he can now rule by decree. He has become, in effect, a dictator, and will remain so until parliament revokes his new powers. Since it is controlled by his party, that may not be for a while. Hungary is a member of the European Union, a club of rich democracies, yet it is acting like Togo or Serbia, whose leaders have just assumed similar powers on the same pretext.

Everywhere people are scared. Many wish to be led to safety. Wannabe strongmen are grabbing coercive tools they have always craved—in order, they say, to protect public health. Large gatherings can be sources of infection; even the most liberal governments are restricting them. Autocrats are delighted to have such a respectable excuse for banning mass protests, which over the past year have rocked India, Russia and whole swathes of Africa and Latin America. The pandemic gives a reason to postpone elections, as in Bolivia, or to press ahead with a vote while the opposition cannot campaign, as in Guinea. Lockdown rules can be selectively enforced. Azerbaijan’s president openly threatens to use them to “isolate” the opposition. Relief cash can be selectively distributed. In Togo you need a voter ID, which opposition supporters who boycotted a recent election tend to lack. Minorities can be scapegoated. India’s ruling party is firing up Hindu support by portraying Muslims as covid-19 vectors.

Fighting the virus requires finding out who is infected, tracing their contacts and quarantining them. That means more invasions of privacy than people would accept in normal times. Democracies with proper safeguards, like South Korea or Norway, will probably not abuse this power much. Regimes like China’s and Russia’s are eagerly deploying high-tech kit to snoop on practically everyone, and they are not alone. Cambodia’s new emergency law places no limits on such surveillance.

False information about the disease can be dangerous. Many regimes are using this truism as an excuse to ban “fake news”, by which they often mean honest criticism. Peddlers of “falsehood” in Zimbabwe now face 20 years in prison. The head of a covid-19 committee under Khalifa Haftar, a Libyan warlord, says: “We consider anyone who criticises to be a traitor.” Jordan, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates have banned print newspapers, claiming that they might transmit the virus.

Judging by what has already been reported, power grabbers on every continent are exploiting covid-19 to entrench themselves. But with journalists and human-rights activists unable to venture out, nobody knows whether the unreported abuses are worse. How many dissidents have been jailed for “violating quarantine rules”? Of the vast sums being mobilised to tackle the pandemic, how much has been stolen by strongmen and their flunkeys? A recent World Bank study found that big inflows of aid to poor countries coincided with big outflows to offshore havens with secretive shell companies and banks—and that was before autocrats started grabbing covid-related emergency powers. Better checks are needed.

“Right now it is health over liberty,” says Thailand’s autocratic prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha. Yet many of the liberty-constricting actions taken by regimes like his are bad for public health. Censorship blocks the flow of information, frustrating an evidence-based response to the virus. It also lets corruption thrive. Partisan enforcement of social distancing destroys the trust in government needed if people are to follow the rules.

Cruel, but inept

Where does this lead? Covid-19 will make people poorer, sicker and angrier. The coronavirus is impervious to propaganda and the secret police. Even as some leaders exploit the pandemic, their inability to deal with popular suffering will act against the myth that they and their regimes are impregnable. In countries where families are hungry, where baton-happy police enforce lockdowns and where cronies’ pickings from the abuse of office dwindle along with the economy, that may eventually cause some regimes to lose control.

For the time being, though, the traffic is in the other direction. Unscrupulous autocrats are exploiting the pandemic to do what they always do: grab power at the expense of the people they govern.

China's blueprint for global dominance

Axios 8 April 2019. David Lawler

By the time China's ambitions of displacing the U.S. as the dominant global power were widely understood, Beijing's success had already begun to feel inevitable.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party [CCP] has exploited America's desire to "sleep through difficulties," writes Jonathan Ward in the new book, "China's Vision of Victory." He contends that the outcome of the battle for global supremacy remains to be determined, but that the U.S. must quickly and dramatically change course in order to prevail.

  • The longstanding U.S. strategy of engaging economically while hedging against China's rise militarily was a mistake of historic proportions, essentially "putting wind at the back" of a burgeoning rival, Ward told me in an interview.

  • In his book, Ward traces China's vision of global pre-eminence back decades. He says President Xi Jinping merely "took the mask off" in recent years.

  • Ward, whose research included poring over since-closed Communist Party archives, adds that "the greatest thing China’s given us is a very clear image of what they’re going to do.”

The big picture: “The objective is dominance in global affairs on a longer-term time frame," Ward told me. "So, ideologically the idea is to restore their position — restore because they say they used to be the world’s supreme power and now they’re going to return to that — by the year 2049, which is the centennial of the founding of the People’s Republic of China."

  • To that end, China is endeavoring to "produce national champions in every sector" and dominate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G networks.

  • The Belt and Road network of ports, roads and railways, meanwhile, is intended to impose the "coercive force of the Chinese economy... to build strategic beachheads" around the world. "In the 19th century we'd understand that as empire building," Ward says.

  • Ward says China's government is mobilizing its economy, its military and its citizens toward the mission of "national rejuvenation." He describes it as "the most comprehensive effort assembled in human history towards a very singular goal.”

The bottom line: “Essentially it's full steam ahead on pretty much every human activity, from space to seabed, with the objective of becoming the world’s leader in all of these things. And with that, you build a foundation of power that is absolutely beyond what can be achieved by any other nation."

  • “I think it’s easy to understand their strategy. What’s hard is that it’s a good strategy.”

But, but, but: Ward emphasizes in his book that the U.S. "retains enormous advantages in terms of economic and military power, a global alliance system, and leadership in the innumerable institutions built under the Pax Americana."

  • He says the consensus that China will replace the U.S. as the world's largest economy is premised on the continuation of the status quo. Ward argues that "we have to start thinking the unthinkable" now, in terms of unwinding economic ties to China and shifting supply chains to politically friendly countries.

  • “These are tough things but this is where great minds should be applied," Ward told me. "How do we retain these economic advantages, the technological advantages, the military advantages. Let’s face it, we’re the ones who’ve already won. We’re just giving it away."

  • Ward argues that the contests that will define China's success or failure are underway now, and will be decided over the next ten years.

Zoom out: “A contest between the United States and China will be a close-run thing," Ward writes. "However, a contest between China and the democratic world will be impossible for China.”

  • “In many ways Chinese global strategy is actually focused on Europe," he told me. China knew the U.S. would eventually wake up to its "problem in the Pacific," but "Europe is a world away from the security questions in Asia.”

  • “If you’re going to have problems with the U.S., where do you go next? To Europe. That’s where they can harvest technology, it’s where they can harvest education, it’s where they can build their technological advantages. You have to do that by engaging with somebody who’s higher up the value chain, so if they’re going to see that erode in the United States they have to double down on it in Europe."

  • "That’s the Chinese approach. And they have to convince the Europeans they’re benign. ... What you have to think about in Europe is, what would it mean for your superpower partner to be defeated by authoritarian China?"

Ward says the solution is "the democratic world consolidating, integrating, pushing back, cutting China off from the things that will enable the continued rise toward their vision of power."

What to watch: "What will it mean for the prevailing norms in international relations to be decided by an authoritarian state where freedoms of speech, press, and assembly are extinguished for its citizens and those under its power?” Ward writes that if we lose the next decade, we'll soon find out.

  • I asked him where the U.S. will find the political will needed to truly embrace this challenge. He said to watch out for "Sputnik moments."

We the People of HK suggest for everyone to please learn and apply critical thinking to survive and thrive! There are BIG issues raised in these published articles and videos.....what do they mean for you, your friends and family, and for Hong Kong?

We the People of HK are not in any way endorsing these videos or their content - we offer these videos as a means to learn and hone critical thinking!

Live and let live - love and light!

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) originally said that nobody was killed in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.

Further reading to contemplate in a critical manner:

The origin of covid-19: The pieces of the puzzle of Covid-19’s origin are coming to light [The Economist, 2 May 2020]

[Update]: 13 May 2020, after two local cases of Covid-19 infection in Tsuen Wan, health experts are again calling for more widespread testing in HK.

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