Bengaluru: Multiple variants of the SARS CoV-2 virus have caused 368 million recorded Covid-19 cases and 5.66 million deaths worldwide over two years of repeated lockdowns, quarantines, travel and various other restrictions, with massive economic losses. There is still no assurance that the origin of the virus will be identified and recurrence prevented. Suddenly the existence of a far more deadly “NeoCov” virus has been announced by the most infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). We need to understand the nature of the potential threat, the possible risk to humanity and also possible reason for WIV to inform us about it in a hurry without a proper review.
VIRUS: Virus means venom or poisonous fluid in Latin. Viruses, unlike other living organisms, are just a piece of genetic code, either DNA or RNA with a protective cover with an inert crystalline structure and are technically dead until they enter a host cell. They have to reach a victim, find a target entry site to enter the host cell and then hijack its protein production mechanisms to mass produce the virus. DNA viruses are relatively stable, unlike RNA viruses which have high mutation rates.
VIRUS IDENTITY MUTATIONS: Antigen proteins on the surface of a pathogen or an infected cell or a cancer cell help our immune system to identify it and target it with antibodies and T cells. Vaccines help our immune system to identify the pathogen early and respond effectively. Mutations in its antigens enable a virus to evade identification and destruction by our immune system. Among the highly infectious airborne and contact spread human viruses, the smallpox virus with a stable DNA has been eliminated by vaccination. The measles virus, an RNA virus with high mutation rate is effectively controlled by vaccination as its antigen proteins are not vulnerable to mutations. The RNA of influenza and corona viruses have frequent mutations to their antigens, enabling these viruses to escape our immune response. Vaccines and tests need to be frequently updated to keep up with these mutating viruses.
VIRUS INFECTIVITY MUTATIONS: Animal cells have many types of surface receptors which act like gateways. Each type of virus uses a specific type of receptor to enter the cell. Mutations affecting the virus ability to attach to receptors can significantly alter its infectivity and transmissibility. The corona viruses use their unique spike protein to enter via the ACE-2 receptor site. Some variants also use the DPP-4 (CD26) receptor for entry and that seems to contribute to serious complications. The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus uses the same DPP-4 (CD26) receptor for entry and has a higher mortality rate. The influenza virus uses Sialic acids of cell surface glycoproteins for entry. HIV binds to a CD4 receptor and a co-receptor, either CCR5 or CXCR4. Ebola virus has glycoprotein spikes in its lipid envelope, which helps it enter the cell. All these RNA viruses have been favoured for bioweapon research.
THE IDEAL BIOWEAPON: A killer virus that spreads easily is the ideal bioweapon. Bioweapon researchers have been trying to combine the infectivity and transmissibility of influenza and SARS viruses with the higher mortality of MERS, HIV-AIDS, Ebola and Marburg viruses. The last two have a fatality rate between 25% and 90%. The new strain of coronavirus in bats of South Africa, named NeoCov by Chinese researchers, is related to the MERS-coronavirus. NeoCoV potentially combines a higher one-in-three mortality rate of MERS virus with the high transmission rate of Covid-19 virus and current vaccines will be ineffective against it. For NeoCoV to infect humans the spike protein will have to mutate to suit human ACE2 receptors.
THE IDEAL SOURCE OF KILLER VIRUSES: Among mammals, bats have a unique immune system that allows them to stay healthy while harbouring a vast variety of viruses that kill other animals. Viruses are completely dependent on the host for survival. Hence by natural selection the virus strain safest to the host and most transmittable prevails in nature. Bioweapon researchers on the other hand select viruses most dangerous to humans and what better place to look for them than in bats and then enable these wild viruses to infect humans by genetic engineering.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF SEARCH FOR DEADLY VIRUSES: From prehistoric times bats and deadly viruses have existed and humans have hunted wild animals, consumed bush meat, poached and sold exotic wild animals in wet markets and used their parts in tribal and Chinese medicine. Still zoonotic virus pandemics have not happened. Then suddenly pandemics occurred due to a newly discovered HIV virus in 1981, Ebola virus in 2004 and SARS, MERS and Covid-19 Coronaviruses. These followed years of search for deadly viruses by military researchers in the wild, especially from bats all over China, Laos, Africa and elsewhere in the world. As mentioned in an earlier article on 28.11.21, WIV and other researchers sponsored by the Department of the Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, USA, reported the presence of deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses in Indian bats but these diseases have not occurred in Indians. The simultaneous development of genetic engineering technology, search for and collection of deadly wild viruses by military researchers and repeated pandemics cannot be a coincidence.
WHY PUBLISH ABOUT NeoCoV NOW: The WIV has an enormous collection of viruses from all over the world and they have deleted all data about it from international data sources and suppressed or eliminated all whistleblowers and evidence. They have known about wild MERS-like viruses for many years, so why publish about possible mutation and transmission to humans now and cause a panic? They have denied international access to the WIV and investigation of origins of the Covid-19 as they have continued with their bioweapon projects. It is quite possible that, like the enhancements to the spike protein of Covid-19 virus, they have succeeded in doing the same with the MERS coronavirus to create a new virus. A new leak from any of the many military virology laboratories of China may explain the massive lockdown and quarantine efforts in China which seem totally out of proportion to the Covid cases being reported by China or the efforts to conduct a safe Winter Olympics. The Chinese disinfection of all letters and consignments from abroad and highlighting the existence of a new virus in wild bats in South Africa with potential to jump species to humans may be their attempt at preparing a suitable scapegoat and alibi.
Dr P.S. Venkatesh Rao is Consultant Endocrine, Breast and Laparoscopic Surgeon.