Origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the controversy surrounding the Proximal Origin article of March 2020This page contains, amongst other things, in the 2023-07-23
section below, versions of the PDFs of emails and Slack messages
released on 2023-07-21 at:
which have been OCRed, so there is a searchable text layer. This
text can be selected, copied to the clipboard and so pasted into other
This page is organised chronologically. The section from 2023-07-15/16
is of little significance now that the just-mentioned PDFs have been
released. However, my analysis might be of interest.
Please see this 2023-07-31 companion article on my Nutrition Matters
Substack concerning the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the debate over the
authorship and veracity of the Proximal Origins article of March 2020. Comments are enabled:
Please also see Alex Washburne's 2023-07-28 article:
A short history of SARS-CoV-2
Robin Whittle email@example.com 2023-07-15 Last update 2023-08-04.
To the main page of this site: ../
The Proximal Origin article of March 2020
This is the article which has had such
an influence on the whole debate about the origins of SARS-CoV2, the
virus which causes COVID-19:
2023-07-15 stats: 5.84 million accesses 2860 citations.
I think the most striking weakness of
their argument against lab release is that they only consider serial
passage of a virus through cell culture or non-human animals as a way
of encouraging a naturally occurring virus to mutate into something
more likely to infect humans. They ignore the other possibility:
chimeric engineering in which two or more viral genomes are split and
then recombined in various ways, including with directly synthesised
genetic patterns of up to 100 or 200 base pairs (above that, it gets
tricky to sort the correct DNA/RNA from those with errors). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_gene_synthesis Sigma Aldrich DNA Oligos
Peer review is worth nothing if it allows an article to pretend to have
such a strong case without even mentioning all the practical ways the
virus could be engineered.
There is very strong - I think conclusive - evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 genome is the product of such chimeric engineering:
and other articles at Alex Washburne's Substack for further
observations and arguments. For instance, the original SARS
(SARS-CoV) was shown by multiple lines of evidence to have arisen by
zoonotic transfer, as was MERS. That could not have been expected for
SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020, but now, over three and a half years later,
the complete lack of direct evidence for zoonotic transfer, and huge body of
evidence for lab release (April 2023 report, below) should make it untenable
for anyone to seriously argue that the virus arose from zoonotic
transfer. However, it seems that most virologists and those who trust their judgment do exactly this.
For a detailed treatise on the molecular and mechanical functions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein:
Here is a 300 page, April 2023, report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2:
This is the work of a team of Republicans, who formed the minority of a
subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor,
and Pensions https://www.help.senate.gov
. The subcommittee (link
to description page) was the "Subcommittee on Primary Health &
Retirement". At the time (and still in July 2023) the ranking
member was Senator Roger Marshall M.D. The ranking member is the
leader of the minority group on the subcommittee. Senator
Marshall led the Republican minority on this subcommittee, and their
staff, to produce this extraordinarily detailed and extensive report,
which shows beyond reasonable doubt that SARS-CoV-2 resulted from work
in a laboratory, and not from a natural process of zoonotic transfer,
in which a virus which replicates in a non-human animal changes in ways
which enables it, once it infects a human, to be transmitted from one
human to another.
US Right to Know
, who has done a tremendous amount of work, including
with The Intercept, on COVID-19, has a timeline of the creation of the
Proximal Origin article, and with further items going into 2023:
2023-07-11 The United States Congressional
Inquiry into the veracity and the background to the Proximal Origin
article, July 2023
There was a highly significant report
from the Republican majority of a subcommittee of the powerful and
extraordinarily busy United States House Committee on Oversight and
Accountability (the House Oversight Committee https://oversight.house.gov
) The name of the sub-committee is the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic
The Republicans have the majority in the House Oversight committee and
in this subcommittee, with the chairman being Brad Wenstrup M.D. and
the ranking member, who leads the Democrat minority, Paul Ruiz M.D.
11 July 2023 the Republican majority of this subcommittee and their
staff released an important interim report on the background and
failings of the Proximal Origin article:
Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Chairman Bard Wenstrup
The Proximal Origin of a Cover-Up: Did the “Bethesda Boys” Downplay a Lab Leak:
Interim Majority Staff Report July 11, 2023
The original version of this PDF file was at:
This was replaced by:
after events described in the following box.
The press release for the above report is:
2023-07-15/16 emails and Slack messages hidden in the original PDF
The information in this section
is primarily of historical interest . The emails and Slack messages
which were found in the original PDF were all freely available in the
files mentioned below which were released by Public.substack.com on
The original PDF file was replaced following a a Daily Mail article, linked to by an Epoch
Times article, which quoted messages other than those which were
visible in the original PDF of the report, but were nonetheless present
in the PDF file.
When I read that some of the text frames in the original
PDF showed only a subset of full page images, which were actually
contained in the PDF file, I figured out a way of extracting those
images, and made a PDF which contained instructions on how to do this,
and the images themselves, all OCRed (optical character recognition) so
that my PDF contained an invisible, searchable, select-copy-paste-able,
text layer derived from the characters in the underlying page images:
I also made this page with the images themselves: images/ - 31.5 megabytes.
Here is my analysis of of the emails and Slack
messages contained in these previously only partly visible images, with direct quotes of the parts
which I think are of most interest. These further show that at
least two of the authors believed, at the time, that the lab release
hypothesis (with the virus arising from serial passaging and/or direct
engineering) could not be ruled out. These beliefs are at
odds with the final article's statement "we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible".
I later found out who, in DRASTIC https://drasticresearch.org figured out there were full page images in the PDF. Please email me if you want to know the details.
A press release, from the Republican
majority, with highlights of the subcommittee's hearing on
2023-07-11 in which they examining Robert F. Gerry and Kristian G.
Here is the C-SPAN video of that hearing:
This report and hearing are extraordinarily significant in the
investigation of the Proximal Origin article. The Oversight
Committee has a page
for the hearing, with witness statements and a link to a YouTube video.
Another item of interest is that the Democratic side of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic published a minority report on 2023-07-11,
which defends US government scientist-administrators Tony Fauci (NIAID)
and Francis Collins (NIH) against allegations that they partly wrote or
had any other role in the creation of the Proximal Origins article:
Here is their PDF with hyphens instead of spaces in its file name:
However, they thoroughly implicate Jeremy Farrar in the UK - who was
then the head of the Wellcome Trust, which doles out billions of
dollars in research funding - as being involved in the editing of the
Proximal Origin article. The Republican members of this
subcommittee agree on this. Jeremy Farrar
is now WHO Chief Scientist
Theres lots of details here which show that Jeremy Farrar was in all
important respects one of the authors. Not only did he initiate
the conference call (not Zoom) in which he, with Tony Fauci and Francis
Collins tried to organise the others to write the Proximal Origin
article, he also chose the participants, including Fauci and Collins,
and read drafts of the article, provided feedback and made one know
change to it. On 2020-02-16, Robert Garry wrote: "Jeremy has been
amazing leader - should be author".
This does not preclude the possibility that Farrar's reviewing also
involved Fauci and Collins. There are multiple references to the
"higher ups" - plural - and one to the Bethesda boys (Fauci and
Collins) which the acknowledge authors were working under the guidance
So the article is fraudulent in that the acknowledge authors conspired
to hide the real details of who wrote the article, and so the power
relationships between them, with Farrar - and his compatriots Fauci and
Collins - all managing organisations which hand out the billions of
dollars a year in funding which all research depends.
There's an article which links to a tweet from a DRASTIC member, from
which I was able to figure out who first found that the original PDF
had embedded images which were only partly visible: https://theintercept.com/2023/07/12/covid-documents-house-republicans/
The images (as far as I know, the same as what I extracted) were made available here: https://www.documentcloud.org/app?q=%2Bproject%3Asubcommittee-on-coronavir-213954
2023-07-19 - Three Substack articles based on a fuller body of emails and Slack messages - which were then made public
Until this date, public discussion on the Proximal Origin article relied largely upon:
- The excerpts of interviews and some emails and Slack messages which were contained in the Proximal Origin of a Cover-Up: Did the “Bethesda Boys” Downplay a Lab Leak report.
- The extra email and Slack message material contained in page
images embedded in the first version of the report, as extracted and
partly quoted as described above. As far as I know, no-one had
taken an interest in the Slack messages which showed the the authors
wrote a rebuttal letter to Nature, rejecting the feedback of reviewer
#2, around 22 February - yet within a week or so they had abided by
that feedback and revised the article into the form which would be
accepted by Nature Medicine, with the complete denial of the
possibility of a lab release.
- The contents of the hearing, as shown in the CSPAN video.
On 20th July 2023, there were three related articles, all based on a
body of email and Slack messages (which were made public by way of
links in the second article) which somehow became available to
the people who write the Public substack, and the Racket News substack,
though this has its own domain name. Matt Taibbi and Michael
Shellenberger work together on both these sites, and do great
I assume that these people approached the Republican majority of the
Select Subcommittee on the COVID-19 Pandemic, and were given the
subcommittee's full body of email and Slack message material.
This material had already been through an FOI process and so had
various redactions, implemented as black rectangles.
I have numbered the articles to aid discussion below:
(1) Top Scientists Misled Congress About Covid Origins, Newly Released Emails And Messages Show
Top advisor to Anthony Fauci still
thought a lab leak was possible in April 2020, one month after claiming
publicly that it wasn’t
, Leighton Woodhouse, Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi
(2) "So Friggin' Likely": New Covid Documents Reveal Unparalleled Media Deception
chats and emails between the authors of a crucial scientific paper
leave no doubt: an unprecedented official disinformation campaign
accompanied the arrival of Covid-19
, Leighton Woodhouse, Alex Gutentag and Michael Shellenberger
Racket News 2023-07-19
(3) "In Their Labs": Fifteen Illuminating Passages in The Proximal Origin Chats and Emails
Communications between officials
and scientists who wrote the key paper promoting a natural origin for
Covid-19 show doubts, interference, politicized science, and more
Racket News 2023-07-19
Article 1 is the longest. It refers to "recently released" emails
and chat messages, but gives no source. It links to a spreadsheet
containing some of the quotes the article refers to, and others.
For ease of reading, perhaps, here is an A3 PDF of that spreadsheet: Covid-Files-Scientists-Quotes-Public-vs-Private-quotes.pdf
Article 2 gives some information about the source of this "recently
released" information. This was "released" to Public.substack.com and
Racket News, not to the public. More on this in the 2023-07-21
Article 3 mentions some of the quotes. The 12th quote cites Follis et al. 2006, above.
I read these articles carefully. There was no mention of the rebuttal letter to Nature
, protesting the rejection of their article, which was un entirely
unscientific grounds. The rejection, from the editor, was on the
basis that their first draft (the preprint mentioned above) did not
completely reject the possibility of a lab release, and “whether such a piece would feed or quash the conspiracy theories”
(being, I think, accidental or perhaps deliberate lab release or the
virus being made as a bioweapon). This is item 5 in article 3:
Article 2 mentions the source of the newly released material:
This describes the larger images of
which only part of each image was visible in the PDF.
Please see the 2023-07-23 section below for the links to the big email and Slack message PDFs.
2023-07-20 - Preprint vs. final versions of the Proximal Origin article
I made a PDF:
showing how the original 2020--02-17 preprint, at virological.org:
Ref 10 in the preprint and 14 in the final version is to:
In which researchers performed Gain of
Function (GoF) genetic engineering on a SARS virus, adding a furin
cleavage site which causes the S1 and S2 sections of the spike protein
to be broken in a particular stage of the virus entering the
cell. (See Jackson et al. 2021 above for all the fascinating
mechanical details of the spike protein.) This did not seem to
affect infectivity, but it increased the rate at which the infected
cells fused together, which increases disease severity. (I recall
the the Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 were less likely to fuse the
infected cells together.)
This was a deliberate, engineering
approach to making a virus with new properties. The five recognised
authors of the Proximal Origin article (or at least the three or four
who were communicating via Slack) were fully
aware of such approaches, which are a widely used approach to
researching viruses, along with chimeric approaches in which the
genomes of two or closely related viruses are are broken into pieces and
the pieces reassembled to make
a complete, novel, virus genome. However, these authors do not
consider this method by which SARS-CoV-2 could have been made, except
by inference, in their faulty logic to the effect
that the SARS-CoV-2 genome could not have been created in such a way,
from a previously existing viral "backbone" (most of the genome, apart
from what they wanted to change) because no such genome had been
published. This is a blatantly false argument, since everyone
knows that not every genome which is researched or manipulated in some
way is published.
They strengthen there conclusion against laboratory manipulation, though their arguments are obviously inadequate, from shows
to irrefutably show
2023-07-21 - Public.substack.com releases, to the public, the two big PDFs of emails and Slack messages
Covid Origins Scientist Denounces Reporting On His Messages As A “Conspiracy Theory”
We release full cache of messages :: Plus, why Public and Racket keep scooping the mainstream media
, Leighton Woodhouse and Michael Shellenberger
contains further reporting and analysis, and the links to the two big
PDF files. These URLs may not work from this page - they may
require special keys which only work from the Substack article itself:
Please see the next section for versions of these which have bee OCRed so they are searchable.
2023-07-23 - OCRed versions of the email and Slack messages PDFs
Here is my current understanding of all
the publicly available material pertinent to investigating how the
Proximal Origins article came to be written.
As noted above, the Republican majority on the subcommittee's report
and the video of their hearings, plus the Democrat minority report,
which tried to absolve Tony Fauci and Francis Collins from any
responsibility for writing, or contributing to the writing of, the
Proximal Origin article, but which fully concurs with the Republican
position that Jeremy Farrar was indeed an (unacknowledged) author.
I found links to these PDFs from the subcommittee of the transcripts of interviews, via this tweet from the subcommittee:
In chronological order:
Also, I found these two statements for the hearing:
I have copies of these. If they are not available from the above URLs please let me know and I will put my copies here.
The previous section has the big PDFs of emails and Slack
messages. Both these files are made of single page images.
These files do not have a searchable text layer, which also enables
selecting text so it can be copied to the clipboard.
Here is a version of the Slack messages PDF, after I used OCR
in PDF XChange Editor Plus to add a text layer
. Before I did so, I made three improvements:
- I replaced the larger black rectangles which were used for
redactions with light grey, to save printer ink or toner. I
printed this out on A3 paper, since the text would be difficult to read
- On page 113 (2020-03-31) I added a clearer version of an image containing a Reddit comment, with source URLs.
- On page 44 I added President Trump's analysis in larger text, since the original image is too blurred to read.
Likewise, here is a version of the emails PDF with a searchable text layer:
I just found this 2022-07-21 article by Ryan Grim:
in which he cites the Slack messages of 2020-02-02 and some other
documents to argue that Kristian Andersen was awaiting Tony Fauci's
approval for a big research grant at the time he was writing the
Proximal Origin article. The research grant was only formally announced on 26 or 27th August 2021:
Alex Washburne is a co-author of the
preprint (now being peer reviewed for publication) on the patterns of
restriction sites found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome which show that it is
the product of chimeric viral engineering:
Please see his 2023-07-28 roundup of the major events regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2:
U.S. Right to Know has about 83 articles and pages of documents
obtained by FOI (Freedom of Information) on the origins of COVID-19 and
These include a 2023-06-21 article by Emily Kopp on heavily redacted U.S. State Department cables (defined at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplomatic_cable
as diplomatic dispatches from or between embassies) which show that as
early as 2020-08-04 the department was investigating and had
information on Chinese military (PLA = People's Liberation Army) links
to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The first of these cables,
which are actually emails, is titled: "Probe PLA Links to Biotech Labs
and Companies in Wuhan".
The FOIed documents are listed and linked to at:
The research grant (mentioned in the previous section, discussed in Ryan Grim's Intercept article https://theintercept.com/2023/07/21/covid-origin-nih-lab-leak/
) was only formally announced on 26 or 27th August 2020:
A State Department cable of 2020-08-26: https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/State-Dept-batch-8.pdf
the day before the official announcement of 11 grants:
of which Kristian Anderson is the principal investigator of the second
grant 1 U01 AI151812-01 in this series, and Peter Daszak, of the
EcoHealth Alliance is principal investigator of the third: 1 U01
In the absence of arguments to the contrary, I think it is reasonable
to assume that, as Ryan Grim points out, the USD$8.9M grant was
formally decided by the NIAID well after the review board
recommendation which Kristian Anderson says took place in late 2019
and, most likely after the February to early March 2020 period on which
the Proximal Origin article was written:
“The main NIAID advisory Council must recommend an application for
funding before we can award a grant, although the Institute makes the
final funding decision,” the agency goes on
So we can reasonably assume that Tony Fauci and Francis Collins did, at
the time of writing the article, hold significant power over Kristian
Anderson and his laboratory https://andersen-lab.com
A 2013-07-12 article in Nature reported on the Congressional hearing the day before:
There are many avoidant aspects to this article, as if to distract
readers' attention from all the evidence for the lab origins of the
virus. The research community supposedly "isn't much closer" to
understanding its origins. A Stanford microbiologist bemoans the
Chinese government's "stonewalling" efforts by investigators to collect
crucial data, but pays no regard to Kristian Andersen and Robert Garry
providing no help in understanding any legitimate reasons they might
have had for concluding that the virus could not have escaped from a
I listened to the whole hearing. None of the Democrat members nor
their staff lawyer who spoke and questioned Kristian Andersen and
Robert Garry took any interest in the origin of SARS-CoV-2. They
were criticizing the Republican members for their criticism of Tony
Fauci's and Francis Collins' role in overseeing the Proximal Origin
article, while agreeing that Jeremy Farrar, in the UK, did indeed do
this. All three "higher ups" did this.
Here is an article whose authors include four of the five acknowledged
authors of the Proximal Origin article. The exception is Ian
Lipkin. We can reasonably treat Jeremy Farrar as an
unacknowledged author - probably the or a primary author - since he
initiated the teleconference call, chose its participants, reviewed
drafts of the article, made at least one change to it, as well as being
one of the "higher ups" several of the acknowledged authors referred to.
The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2
Jonathan E. Pekar
Magee, Edyth Parker, Niema Moshiri, Katherine Izhikevich, Jennifer L.
Havens, Karthik Gangavarapu, Lorena Mariana Malpica Serrano, Alexander
Crits-Christoph, Nathaniel L. Matteson, Mark Zeller, Joshua I. Levy,
Jade C. Wang,
Scott Hughes, Jungmin Lee1, Heedo Park, Man-Seong Park, Katherine Ching
Zi Yan1, Raymond Tzer Pin Lin1, Mohd Noor Mat Isa1, Yusuf Muhammad
Noor1, Tetyana I. Vasylyeva1, Robert F. Garry, Edward C. Holmes, Andrew
Rambaut, Marc A. Suchard
, Kristian G. Andersen
, Michael Worobey
an Joel O. Wertheim
(Corresponding authors' names in bold.)
Science 377, 960–966 2022
I will read this as part of reading all the material listed
above. This seems to be the fullest statement of the arguments
for zoonotic transfer. This 2023-07-12 preprint by some of the
same people concerns bat viruses which are genetically close to
SARS-CoV-2, as a starting point for what they believe was a zoonotic
transfer, via an intermediate species, to humans:
The recency and geographical origins of the bat viruses ancestral to SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2
Jonathan E. Pekar
Lytras, Mahan Ghafari, Andrew F. Magee, Edyth Parker, Jennifer L.
Havens, Aris Katzourakis, Tetyana I. Vasylyeva, Marc A. Suchard, Alice
C. Hughes, Joseph Hughes, David L. Robertson, Simon Dellicour, Michael
Worobey, Joel O. Wertheim and Philippe Lemey
bioRxiv preprint 2023
Matt Ridley (Twitter
) and Alina Chan (Twitter
) have a 2023-07-26 opinion / comment piece in the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-covid-lab-leak-deception-andersen-nih-research-paper-private-message-52fc0c16
It is behind a paywall but the first part of the article, which is
critical of the Proximal Origin article, can be heard via a robotic
There is a Twitter hashtag #RetractProximalOrigins: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23RetractProximalOrigins
There is a Change.org petition to retract the Proximal Origin article:
This was launched by New Jersey based biosafetynow.org: https://biosafetynow.org
. They also have a 2023-07-26 open letter to the editor of Nature Medicine
calling for the retraction or withdrawal of the Proximal Origin article:
singed by 36 academics. BiosafetyNow's 27 member team in includes
Richard H Ebright, Professor of Chemistry at Rutger's University, New
The open letter focuses on the numerous reasons we now have (thanks to
the FOIed email and Slack messages becoming public) to conclude that
the acknowledged authors of the Proximal Origin article did not believe
its hardline conclusion, which rules out any possibility of laboratory
origins of SARS-CoV-2.
I think it is also important to focus on the fraudulent, corrupt, nature of the authorship of the article:
- The instigating and contributing author Jeremy Farrar is not acknowledged as an author.
- On his own, he has immense influence on the acknowledged authors
because they are researchers who depend on funding and he was head of
the Wellcome Trust from 2013, which spent £771M (USD$964) on medical
and biological scientific research in the 2019-2020 financial year. Andrew Rambaut's funding by the Wellcome Trust is acknowledged at the end of the Proximal Origins article.
- By involving Tony Fauci and Francis Collins in substantial, if
informal, overview of the article, the acknowledged authors needed
their article to meet the general approval of the administrators of
current or potential funding from the three individuals who directly
manage two of the three largest medical research funding bodies in the
world. Tony Fauci administer part - and Francis Collins all of
- NIH's 2020
USD$4.17B research funding program, most of which is directed to
organizations outside the NIH itself, many of whom are outside the
This would have been a fundamental and pervasive problem for the
acknowledged authors no matter how the two Bethesda boys (Fauci and
Collins) and the UK-based Farrar conducted themselves. It is a
massive problem because all three were very strongly opposed to the lab
leak theory. None of them made any attempt to support the
acknowledged authors write their article according to scientific
observations and arguments.
- As noted above, the fact that Kristian Anderson had a large NIH research grant in question at the time of writing the article.
Jeremy Farrar is arguable the most culpable person in this entire
affair, since he orchestrated and lead the writing of the article, and
he completely failed in his responsibility to acknowledge himself as an
author and to support all the authors in working according to
scientific principles, despite all the political pressure to deny the
possibility of a lab leak.
Tony Fauci and Francis Collins, with even more experience than Jeremy
Farrar, and who control four times the funding, are hardly any better.
The acknowledged authors themselves are fully responsible for caving in
to this pressure and more broadly to the hopes and expectations of many
other people, especially most virologists, that the virus originated
from zoonotic transfer. There has never been any evidence beyond
circumstantial correlations for zoonotic transfer. The same is
true now, nearly 4 years after SARS-CoV-2 started infecting humans.
The first known case of SARS was found on 16 November 2002. 11 months later, 2003-10-31, a peer-reviewed article
was published identifying nearly identical strains of viruses in Himalayan palm civets.
The first known cases of MERS were identified in June 2012. A peer-reviewed article
was published just over a year later, on 2013-09-05 identifying
dromedary camels as the intermediate animal in a chain of transmission
from bats, though the details of which bats were probably the source of
this virus took several more years to elucidate.
There are many aspects of the harm caused by the faulty conclusions of
the Proximal Origin article - and these faulty conclusions arose
directly because of the corrupt and fraudulent authorship of the
article. Those with most power, who were not acknowledged as
authors did the opposite of what they should have done to support
robust, purely scientific, work by the acknowledged
authors. There is a very long list of harms, but these
- Misinforming the intelligence agencies of the USA and other countries about the origins of SARS-CoV-2.
- Likewise, misinforming all governments and the people of all countries.
- The public, media, other researchers, clinicians and governments
being encouraged to trust the opinions of experts, while the conclusion
of the article was not really what the acknowledged authors believed
and was completely unsupported by the evidence available at the time -
as remains the case today.
- Deflecting and denying the validity of perfectly sound, well
reasoned, efforts to prevent the occurrence of further pandemics by
banning or very tightly regulating all kinds of gain of function
research which could give rise to novel pathogens with enhanced
transmission and/or virulence in humans (or, more generally, in any
This, in combination with the greater impetus and funding for research
on potentially harmful viruses due to the COVID-19 pandemic - which is
largely justified by the false notion that COVID-19 resulted from
zoonotic transfer - resulted in a growth in and likely continuance of
this perilous form of research. A correct response would have
been to shut down all such research and improve the robustness of
humans with nutrition and better early treatments, especially vitamin D.
So I think that a much stronger case can and should be made for the Proximal Origins article to be withdrawn / retracted.
Unherd has a 2023-07-28 article by Ian Birrell on the cover-up of the lab origins of SARS-CoV-2:
Twitter personage https://twitter.com/RAEMKA1
has a graphic timeline of the Proximal Origin article. The tweet is: https://twitter.com/RAEMKA1/status/1683968370482241538
A 2023-07-22 UK Telegraph (Murdoch press) article:
is paywalled, but here is a PDF:
It seems that The Telegraph
approached the editor of Nature Medicine
regarding whether the Proximal Origin article would be retracted:
Nature Medicine said it would not be retracting the article, which is
a Correspondence, an article type in which authors present a point of
view on the issue rather than being a research study.
Montenegro, chief editor of Nature Medicine, said: "Concerns raised about
any type of article in our journal are always considered carefully.
when it comes to expressing opinions, it is our position that it is the
authors' prerogative to balance their views in a way that reflects the
body of robust scientific knowledge available at the time of
publication, as well as the impact of their findings.
previous out-of-context remarks by the authors nor disagreements with
the authors’ stated views, are, on their own, grounds for retraction. We
have therefore concluded that retraction is not warranted at this
Rand Paul and Tony Fauci
United States Senator Rand Paul en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rand_Paul
Republican, Kentucky, has written an "official criminal referral" to
the U.S. Department of Justice. Summit News has the details
and a video:
Senator Rand Paul has filed a criminal referral to the Department of
Justice, asserting that Anthony Fauci lied while under oath concerning
gain of function research in Wuhan being funded by Fauci’s NIH.
The Australian - Murdoch Press national newspaper - reports Proximal Origin article controversy
has always been
a Murdoch Press national newspaper. It continues to employ real
journalists to write lots of material, which is printed and available
all over Australia Monday to Friday, with a weekend edition with colour
magazine on Saturday. It has been a broadsheet since its
inception in 1964: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Australian
has run articles (search
) supporting the lab origin hypothesis since as early as April 2021
However, it has also printed extremely biased articles berating large
numbers of people protesting the Victorian lockdowns, such as on
2021-09-23. (Click the image for a full size version.)
For a proper account of the people who attended this protest (a few
were probably nutters, but the great majority were earnest people with
very serious concerns) please see this video by highly regarded
video journalist Rukshan Fernando realrukshan.com
So it was remarkable and welcome that on 2023-07-28 the front page of The Weekend Australian
was lead by an story on the Proximal Origin
This surely brought the matter to the attention of many Australians,
since nothing was written about it, as far as I know, on mainstream
media sites such as: www.abc.net.au/news
These articles were written by award-winning Sydney Journalist Sharri Markson: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharri_Markson
who has been reporting on the lab origins of SARS-CoV-2 since at least 2020-05-04. This Sydney Daily Telegraph
article has a video of he reporting, as part of her Sharri
Sky News news program, on 15 page dossier concerning Chinese government
suppression of information about the outbreak of the pandemic:
The Sydney Morning Herald
reported on this article, on 2023-05-09, is highly critical of this reporting and of the lab leak hypothesis:
She wrote a book:
which The Guardian reviewed
rather dimly, without ever specifying faults in her argument, while
quoting various experts who believed in the zoonotic transfer
Rebekah Barnett reports on this Weekend Australian
lead article and others at:
The lead article is behind a paywall, but I found an archive of it:
Covid cover-up: how science was silenced
The Weekend Australian 2023-07-28
This is more than rehashing information mentioned above. It contains quotes from a significant new interview The Australian
conducted with Robert Kadlec M.D.
who served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services
for Preparedness and Response from 2017-09-18 to 2021-01-20, during
which he was responsible for establishing the USD$18B
Project Warp Speed to create COVID-19 vaccines. Here are some quotes from this article:
think Tony Fauci was trying to protect his institution and his own
reputation from the possibility that his agency was funding the Wuhan
Institute of Virology researchers who, beyond the scope of the grants
received from the National Institutes of Health, may have been working
with People’s Liberation Army researchers on defensive coronavirus
vaccines," Dr Kadlec said.
"I think it’s evident from his
later released emails (obtained via Freedom of Information requests)
that he had more sense of what his institute had funded at that moment.
This was a reputational risk to him and his institute . . . "
Dr Kadlec, in his first ever media interview, added: "We think vaccine research resulted in the pandemic - that vaccine research was the proximate cause."
In an extraordinary admission, Dr Kadlec said they decided to try to encourage a group of leading international scientists to calm down speculation on the origins of the virus.
Dr Kadlec said Dr Fauci kept these
suspicions, privately expressed by leading virologists that the virus
had been engineered in a laboratory, mostly to himself.
Dr Kadlec chaired a committee to authorise whether gain-of-function could proceed.
Gain-of-function research was banned by the Obama administration but
lifted during the Trump era. Dr Kadlec says this was at the best of the
NIH. "Francis Collins and Fauci both had a similar world view which was
scientists know best and there should be few restrictions on research,"
Dr Fauci has denied his agency funded gain-of-function research, but Dr
Kadlec said this wasn’t true. "It’s evident NIH supported research that
has the potential for, and it at least one case resulted in gain of
function," he said.
Robert Malone has some background on Robert Kadlec:
There is a second article which starts on the front page of the Weekend Australian
Who made virus? FBI has a name (Short heading on front page.)
Covid-19 origins may be traced to Chinese military scientist Zhou Yusen
US intelligence agencies are understood to be examining the possibility
that Chinese military scientist Zhou Yusen’s research to develop a
coronavirus vaccine led to the creation of Covid-19, and the first
cluster of the pandemic.
The decorated Chinese scientist died
about May 2020 in circumstances that Five Eyes intelligence agencies
have long suspected was at the hands of the People’s Liberation Army.
The Weekend Australian can reveal that the FBI has, on at least two
occasions since mid-last year, spoken with a close relative of Zhou who
is now residing in the US. The individual is understood to be a crucial
For the individual's safety and protection, The Weekend Australian has
chosen not to name the relative, who is understood to be "nervous".
The family member did not respond to requests for comment in the weeks leading up to publication of this article.
The FBI declined to comment.
FBI director Christopher Wray has said publicly that a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology led to the pandemic.
"The FBI has assessed for quite some time that the origins . . . are a
potential lab incident in Wuhan," Mr Wray told Fox News in April.
"You're talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans."
In June 2021, The Australian revealed that Zhou was listed as the lead
inventor on Chinese patent documents, translated by The Australian,
for a Covid-19 vaccine. The patent was dated February 24, 2020.
Zhou died about three months later. Despite his illustrious career,
there were no published mentions of this celebrated military scientists
in the Chinese press.
Five Eyes intelligence agencies suspected he had been killed.
This links to a much earlier article, which links to other such articles:
The article in the magazine which accompanies the Saturday newspaper is:
Matters discussed include:
- Sharri Markson's interview with Bob Kadlec.
- The WiV workers who were, according to some report (I am not sure
exactly which) sickened in early November, perhaps with SARS-CoV-2: Ben
Hu, Yu Ping and Yan Zhu.
- The hushed-up death of Zhou Yusen, who filed a patent application for a COVID-19 vaccine on 2020-02-20.
- Emails and Slack messages from the acknowledged authors of the Proximal Origin article.
2023-05-16 report "Critical analysis of Andersen et al. The proximal
origin of SARS-CoV-2" by Commander Jean-Paul Chretien, who led the
Pandemic Warning Team at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Center for
Medical Intelligence, and Dr Greg Cutlip, a senior DIA research
scientist. See the next subsection for a link to this.
Regarding the abovementioned DIA report, Sharri Markson's article states that this report stated:
the Proximal Origins paper “does not prove that the virus arose
naturally. In fact, the features of SARS-CoV-2 noted by Andersen et al.
are consistent with another scenario: that SARS-CoV-2 was developed in a
laboratory, by methods that leading coronavirus researchers commonly
use to investigate how the viruses infect cells and cause disease,
assess the potential for animal coronaviruses to jump to humans, and
develop drugs and vaccines.”
paper concludes that the Proximal Origin authors’ arguments “are based
not on scientific analysis, but on unwarranted assumptions”.
Rebekah Barnett pointed to a 2023-08-01 article:
This quotes from a September 2022 online interview with Edward Holmes,
in which he states that his bad memory was to blame for him not
mentioning, in the Proximal Origin
article, that he had previously worked with the Wuhan Institute of
Virology. His name was listed in a 2018 draft article, which was
never published - which probably means it was a preprint - which
contained a partial sequence of RaTG13, the virus with the closest
public sequence to SARS-CoV-2. (To do: find this preprint.)
The 2023-05-16 Defense Intelligence Agency report
This report with the above PDF file creation date was made public the next day as a PDF:
. I was unable to find where DRASTIC announced or discussed this, but it is reported at: www.theepochtimes.com/opinion/exclusive-leaked-pentagon-report-forensically-dismantled-fauci-led-natural-origin-study-5269475
The same file (with slightly different headers, but the same images of
text) appears with a different file name at the page announcing the
sub-committee on the COVID-19 pandemic's 2023-07-11 hearing: https://www.congress.gov/event/118th-congress/house-event/116185
There its name is: HHRG-118-VC00-20230711-SD005.pdf. Both these
files have images of pages of text, but no searchable and copy and
pasteable text layer. Here is a version of the DRASTIC file,
OCRed to have such a layer:
Zoonotic transfer hypothesis virologist now heads the NIAID
Tony Fauci's replacement as Director of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Disease is virologist Dr Jeanne Marazzo:
Here is a 2020-04-20 video of her explaining to children that pangolins were the intermediate non-human animal: twitter.com/justin_hart/status/1686824137166356480
Li et al. 2020
This article has been cited 466 times
Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 through
recombination and strong purifying selection
Xiaojun Li et al.
Science Advances 2020-07-01
It argues for a natural source of SARS-CoV-2, by way of various viruses
including some found in pangolins. (This is my rough
understanding, I haven't read it yet.) It is complex article and
I find it striking that it first appeared so early, 22 March 2020, as a
In a detailed comment to my
Substack article: nutritionmatters.substack.com/p/the-origins-of-sars-cov-2/comment/21611110
James Kringlee wrote that Li et al. 2020
describe possible natural pathways by which SARS-CoV-2 might, in
principle, have evolved - but that they don't mention that such
steps could also have been done in the lab.
James Kringlee regards this article as part of the coverup. I have only read
the abstract so far, and I think it is too, simply because it tries
to discount the lab leak hypothesis without proper consideration of
all the arguments. However, I think that James Kringlee is
suggesting that it is a well-planned, deliberate, attempt to cover
up the actual chimeric manipulation and other engineering which took
place by mounting an elaborate account of how, in theory at least,
evolution might have lead to SARS-CoV-2.
He mentions a supplemental spreadsheet concerning pangolins for the
first preprint, which apparently disappeared. I don't know if a
copy exists, but that might be consistent with the idea that the
article exists to distract from the actual engineering which took
place and that this spreadsheet might have given some clue as to
their efforts to create such a cover-up.
DRASTIC's list of scientific articles
At this page: drasticscience.com/work
DRASTIC list a number of web pages, preprints and peer-reviewed journal
articles. For future reference, here is a snapshot of that page,
made on 2022-06-16, which looks the same as the page as at 2023-08-04: archive.md/lub7v
At least some of these articles concern the real nature of the viral
strain most widely know as RaTG13, widely thought to be the closest
natural relative to SARS-CoV2. Please see the next
Various articles challenging the assumptions made in the Le et al. 2020 account of SARS-CoV-2 arising from zoonotic transfer
I am skimming thinly over this stuff, but here goes. As best I
can tell, articles linked to by DRASTIC above and some or all of those
listed next challenge the account of zoonotic transfer promoted by Lie
et al. 2020, and I guess other subsequent articles.
According to the conventional, zoonotic, Li et a. 2020, account, as
best I can tell, the genome of RaTG13 was derived from a virus found in
bat feces. However, RaTG13 is, according to some people, a
deliberately chosen new name for such a strain of bat virus, given a
new name to disguise something about its true origins.
Also, there is a challenge to the idea that this sequence came from a
virus found in feces - indicating that it came from sequencing a live
virus. This would indicate that the WiV was working with this
strain, experimentally, prior to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.
So I think that full due diligence on all this would involve looking
closely at Li et al. 2020, whatever articles are critical of it, those
which cite it supportively, the articles linked to by DRASTIC as just
mentioned, and probably some or all of these articles which I have only
The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin
SARS-COV-2 chimeric structure and furin cleavage site might be the result of genetic manipulation
Most Americans accept the lab leak theory - Economist-YouGov survey
and Yuri Deigin
BioEssays Problems and Paradigms 2020
closest relative, RaTG13, was generated from a bat transcriptome not a
fecal swab: implications for the origin of COVID-19
Steven E Massey
arxiv.org preprint v2 2021
Exploring the Natural Origins of SARS-CoV-2 in the Light of Recombination
, Joseph Hughes,
Darren Martin, Phillip Swanepoel, Arné de Klerk, Rentia Lourens, Sergei
L Kosakovsky Pond, Wei Xia, Xiaowei Jiang and David L Robertson
Genome Biology and Evolution 2022
Analysis of pangolin metagenomic datasets reveals significant contamination, raising concerns for pangolin CoV host attribution
, Daoyu Zhang, Yuri Deigin and Steven C. Quay
arxiv.org preprint v3 2022
If you look in this page:
for an item named "Economist Tables July 24 2023" you will find a link to this PDF:
On page 94 is a table of results arising from a question 54, asked of 1500 U.S. adult citizens between 22 and 25 July 2023:
Regardless of whether or not the
virus responsible for COVID-19 was created or naturally mutated, do you
believe it is true or false that a laboratory in China was the origin
of the virus?
The lab leak hypothesis is usually thought to equate to the virus
havnig been engineered either in that lab or perhaps in another one
from the one it escaped.
This analysis is really interesting - and encouraging: 32% of
respondents believe the statement is definitely true and another 29%
believe it is probably true. This is 61% of the respondents
believing in the laboratory origin, with only 15% believing in the
zoonotic transfer hypothesis.
As far as I can tell, the majority
of virologists support the zoonotic transfer hypothesis. If this
were not the case, then the majority would support the lab release
hypothesis and would now be strongly protesting the Proximal Origin
article, the promotion of Jeremy Farrar to W.H.O. Chief Scientist and of Jeanne Marazzo to NIAID Director.
I have highlighted the figures in pink which show a low rate of
agreement with the statement that the origin of SARS-CoV-2 was a
The under 30s, the Democrats, the Liberals and those who voted for Joe
Biden in 2020 are the groups with the faultiest understanding of the
origins of SARS-CoV-2.
2023-07-15: Initial version of this
page. Added links to Alex Washburne's work and the Jackson article.
2023-07-16: Added analysis page, after posting, as comments, the quotes
of interest to a Peter McCullough Substack article which discusses this
Select Committee's 2023-07-11 report:
2023-07-20: New section above.
2023-07-23: I completely reorginised the page, putting the hidden
images material in a box so it can more easily be ignored. The
sections above are by date, and so don't require update details here.
2023-07-31: Added links at the start to https://nutritionmatters.substack.com/p/the-origins-of-sars-cov-2