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HomeCOVID-19The US biowarfare project which caused the Covid-19 debacle – Part 7

The US biowarfare project which caused the Covid-19 debacle – Part 7


We repeated Parts 1 to 6 of this important series in August, and this is the first of two updates. Click on the numbers to read the previous instalments: 12345, 6. 

THE aim of America’s biodefence ‘Manhattan Project’ is to assure the world they can make us safe against what we are repeatedly told are deadly ‘microbes’ – a limitless catalogue of viruses, old, new, imaginary or yet to be invented; contagions that their Dr Strangeloves can find ways to defend the world against. The panacea for their doomsday project is magicked-up vaccines, touted as miracles by Bill Gates, the world’s best-known vaccine salesman and public face of this project. Possessed with the faux sincerity of the most money-grubbing of America’s TV evangelists, Gates insists that they’re ‘the most effective and cost-effective health tool ever invented. I like to say vaccines are a miracle’.

While Gates spent muchof the decade leading up to the release of SARS-CoV-2 spreading fear and warning the world about a repeat of the 1918 influenza pandemic, American-funded biodefence researchers were busy tinkering with viruses in the laboratory trying to genetically engineer the next pathogenic threat, predict its evolution and pre-emptively develop a vaccine against it. The ambition was for industry partners, underwritten by the US government, to develop the new vaccine technologies and prototypes which could then berapidly redesigned, quickly tested, manufactured and deployed ready to meet any such putative menace.  

Concerns about such research are longstanding. The 1975 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) prohibits the development of pathogenic biological agents for any use, including vaccines. Under the BWC what separates vaccines, which are meant to train the immune system to respond to a biological pathogen, from bioweapons, which are intended to kill or cause disease, are properly conducted pre-clinical and clinical trials, and good manufacturing and distribution processes. 

Before and after 9/11 and the ‘Amerithrax’ anthrax attacks, US officials scaremongered and exaggerated the threat of biological agents to justify the continuation of what they called science-based threat assessment programmes and to secure additional government funding for them. In 2004 Ambassador Jason Leonard, who had been the head of the US delegation at the BWC negotiations in 1972, and two other experts raised specific concerns about this predictive research.  They were especially concerned about research being conducted by the Biothreat Characterization Centre at the US Army Medical Research Institute (USAMRID) which they believed went beyond biodefence research. But the George W Bush administration argued it was necessary and swept aside concerns that it violated the BWC. The Homeland Security Department Director of Biodefense Policy responsible for the expansion of these programmes was Dr Robert Kadlec, architect of the current Manhattan Project. 

By any standard this ‘predict and protect’ approach was paranoid and inherently risky. This was borne out during the summer of 2014 when the public learned about several biosecurity breaches in the US by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) research labs involving anthrax, smallpox and avian influenza samples. (The recent US Senate Muddy Waters report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 accuses the Wuhan Institute of Virology of having poor safety standards, yet in 2019 the US Army’s Fort Detrick research centre had its licence to do research on pathogens removed by the CDC due to leaks of unsterilised waste water from the facility.) Concern in the scientific community over research into ‘pandemic potential pathogens’ reached alarm levels. On October 17, 2014, the US government took action, ordered a review and grounded its biodefence programme by imposing a moratorium on research which ‘could be reasonably anticipated to confer attributes to influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses such that the resulting virus has enhanced pathogenicity and/or transmissibility (via the respiratory route) in mammals’. 

This had immediate impacton the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) where, under the supervision of Dr Ralph Baric, most of the SARS and MERS gain-of-function research was conducted. The paper published under his and other names in 2015 arguing that‘a SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence’ was presumably based on research conducted before the moratorium. Its funding had come from the USAID PREDICT programme via the EcoHealth Alliance whose website home page promotes pandemic fear porn: ‘Who stands between you and the next pandemic?’ The 2015 paper compared the potential of SARS, MERS and a bat coronavirus sample held by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) called WIV1 to cause an epidemic disease in humans and evaluated the potential of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies as countermeasures. Shi Zhengli, the WIV researcher who is known as the ‘bat lady’, provided the UNC-CH researchers with the genetic sequence for WIV1 and is a co-author on the paper. Baric was later to write the gain-of-function section of the notorious EcoHealth Alliance 2018 funding proposal DEFUSE to make an aerosolised coronavirus vaccine for bats, which was rejected by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA.  

DARPA officer Major Joseph Murphy, who reviewed the files on the DEFUSE proposal,  concluded in an August 2021 memo that ‘SARS-CoV-2 is an American-created recombinant bat vaccine or its precursor virus’ (my italics). He wrote ‘Americans are creative, if imprudent, and technologically confident enough to try it,’ and blamed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Dr Anthony Fauci directly. Murphy said the mRNA vaccines ‘work poorly because they are synthetic replications of the already-synthetic SARS-CoV-WIV spike proteins’. His concluding paragraph reads: ‘The massive, “Manhattan Project”-level suppression of information by the government and the Trusted News Initiative indicates that it would be covered up if something bad happened.’ The Trusted News Initiative was founded by the UK’s very own Ministry of Truth, the BBC. DARPA has confirmed to Trialsite News that Murphy’s memo was genuine (personal communication).

The intent of the moratorium was to pause ‘research that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease’; pathogenicity and transmissibility studies of both SARS and MERS coronaviruses, of which MERS was considered to be the more dangerous, were grounded. Clinical trials in humans of coronavirus vaccines which had previously been found to cause pathological changes in the lungs and enhance respiratory disease were also paused. A throwaway sentence in a report published by CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, ‘Since concerns over SARS-related pathology led to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clinical hold on [coronavirus] vaccine studies [in people], investigation of MERS-CoV vaccine candidates to induce virus-enhancing antibodies and harmful immune response in [pre-clinical] animal models could be informative before human clinical trials are initiated’, reveals a determination to carry on with MERS animal studies in anticipation of clinical trials being permitted in future. MERS was on the DARPA priority list for vaccine development but SARS wasn’t. 

The biodefence renegades soldiered on undercover with their mission to develop coronavirus vaccines. This explains the secrecy associated with Moderna’s mRNA-MERS coronavirus vaccine project. (As of June 2023, there have been only 2,605 PCR test-confirmed MERS cases). It made little commercial sense for the fledgling company with no licensed products to be developing a vaccine with a limited commercial market while there was a moratorium on trials. However Moderna’s August 2022 patent infringement lawsuit against Pfizer reveals that Moderna’s infectious disease division began developing a MERS vaccine in 2015 for Merck (the company is known as MSD outside North America) which had entered into a joint venture with Moderna to develop mRNA vaccines against infectious diseases. Moderna was leveraging Merck’s reputation and credibility as a long-established vaccine developer and manufacturer in bringing Moderna’s mRNA vaccines to market under this joint venture. The original intention was for Merck exclusively to commercialise them for Moderna. 

In January 2016, during the FDA’s moratorium on clinical trials, Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, sought an amendment to the Merck Master Collaboration Agreement (MCA). Merck agreed to substitute VZV (varicella zoster virus which causes shingles) for a substance which is redacted in the paperwork. Whether this was related to the unexpected resignation of Moderna’s Chief Scientific Officer, Joseph Bolen, in charge of the product development pipeline, for undisclosed reasons a few months before, we don’t know. Six months later Merck sought and obtained another amendment allowing it to do due diligence on Moderna’s mRNA vaccines by nominating new candidates and running the trials themselves, instead of paying Moderna to do it for them. 

In October 2016, Moderna started building a 200,000 sq ft factory in Norwood, Massachusetts. 

At its stock market debut in December 2018 Moderna said it was developing two vaccine candidates for Merck, mRNA-1278 (which it claims was a shingles vaccine) and mRNA-1777, a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). (The first attempt to develop RSV vaccines in the 1960s had been disastrous and none was ever successfully licensed. The children vaccinated in the clinical trials suffered from enhanced respiratory disease and many died. The same problem of vaccine-enhanced disease was later found in animal trials of SARS and MERS vaccines.)  

The RSV vaccine developed by Moderna for Merck used a stabilised protein design developed by Dr Barney Graham of the US NIAID Vaccine Research Centre. Graham believed it solved the vaccine-enhanced disease problem, and the same design approach was used in all the Operation Warp Speed financed Covid-19 vaccines. The RSV vaccine mRNA-1777 went into clinical trials in Australia at the start of 2018. In effect it was a forerunner of the MERS candidate (and ultimately the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine) enabling Moderna to test the design and dosing in humans. Moderna’s December 2018 prospectus for its stock market launch stated: ‘Merck has initiated plans for a Phase 2a trial, for which Merck will be the sponsor. In addition, we are working with Merck to identify and advance improvements to the RSV vaccine.’ Evidently, Merck began its due diligence on the Moderna mRNA platform early.

On May 3, 2019, via a further amendment, Merck released Moderna from an exclusivity provision in their 2015 collaboration agreement with respect to ‘a specific set of respiratory infections’. VZV is a latent infection arising from a previous chickenpox infection, but MERS is a respiratory infection. Moderna documents refer to an mRNA-MERS vaccine but its alpha-numeric designator is never given. Every product in development must be assigned a unique alpha-numeric designator. Moderna’s SARS-CoV-2 vaccine designator is mRNA-1273. The Covid booster vaccine it began developing in March 2021 is mRNA-1283. The ‘substitute VZV’ vaccine’s designator, mRNA-1278, falls between the two acknowledged coronavirus vaccines.

When Merck returned the rights to mRNA-1278, the alleged VZV vaccine, in May 2019, it nominated a new Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine candidate mRNA-1172 which used its own lipid nanoparticle in place of Moderna’s. Moderna paid Merck to run the trial on mRNA-1172 and added a children’s RSV vaccine mRNA-1345 to its development pipeline, hoping thereby to imply a desire to develop its products for the children’s vaccine market was the reason for Merck agreeing to end the exclusivity arrangement. In October 2020, Merck returned the rights to mRNA-1172 to Moderna. It publicly announced that it had divested from Moderna on the very day that the UK regulator MHRA gave the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA Covid-19 vaccine a temporary use authorisation.

Sixty-nine people participated in the phase 1 clinical trial for Moderna’s RSV vaccine mRNA-1777. Fifteen serious adverse events (SAEs) in nine people were reported.  However, as they didn’t occur in the 30 days following vaccination Moderna dismissed them as being unrelated to the vaccine. Moderna’s initial public offer prospectus says: ‘These SAEs occurred approximately one to ten months from receipt of study product and included aortic aneurysm repair, paralytic ileus, spinal decompression, death from pre-existing cardiomyopathy, hernia, transient ischemic attack, peripheral vascular disorder, vasovagal syncope, diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer, anterior cruciate ligament tear, left knee tendon tear, right knee tendon tear, left patella dislocation, right patella dislocation, and bilateral patella tendon repair’. The last six look genuinely unrelated, but with the benefit of hindsight the others look like medium-term severe adverse effects resulting from co-opting human bodies into making their own medicines by sending a set of gene-based instructions into their cells.

The US government gain-of-function moratorium lasted a little over three years. Dr Francis Collins, the Director of the NIH, announced the resumption of research on December 19, 2017, stating it was important ‘in helping us identify, understand, and develop strategies and effective countermeasures against rapidly evolving pathogens that pose a threat to public health’. 

What he didn’t admit was that during the moratorium his institute, along with the UC Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the US military medical countermeasure research programmes, had busied themselves finding ways around the FDA clinical hold by off-shoring development projects for MERS vaccines and synthetic antibody therapeutics.

While Moderna went underground, other more ambitious plans for accomplishing the biodefence mission were hatched. The final part of this series, Part 8, will look at how CEPI was created to enable America’s biodefence hawks to evade the moratorium.

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Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine
Paula Jardine is a writer/researcher who has just completed the graduate diploma in law at ULaw. She has a history degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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