In a Jan. 31 email, Andersen told the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that the pathogen responsible for COVID-19 was "possibly engineered." The immunologist noted that "unusual features" he saw in the virus made him believe that it was tampered with.
Andersen elaborated in his email to Fauci: "On a phylogenic tree, the virus looks normal and the close clustering with bats suggest [they] serve as the reservoir. The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome. [One] has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features 'potentially' look engineered." Andersen also mentioned that he and his colleagues found the SARS-CoV-2 genome "inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory" following their discussions.
But some time after sending the email, Andersen walked back on his statement. He changed his initial theory about the Wuhan coronavirus's origins – even going to great lengths to do so. An SRI statement during the pandemic's onset emphasized Andersen's retraction of his earlier stance. "By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural means," he said in March 2020.
According to the immunologist, the receptor-binding domain (RBD) on the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 "naturally evolved" to effectively target the ACE2 receptor on the outside of human cells. The ACE2 receptor is involved in regulating blood pressure. Furthermore, Andersen and other scientists found that SARS-CoV-2's backbone or molecular structure had a substantial difference from already-known coronaviruses. The pathogen's backbone "mostly resembled" viruses found in bats and pangolins. (Related: Email: Researcher who funded Wuhan lab admitted to manipulating coronaviruses, thanked Fauci for dismissing lab leak theory.)
A Chinese virologist also postulated the idea of the Wuhan coronavirus being engineered in a laboratory. In September 2020, Dr. Li-Meng Yan told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that SARS-CoV-2 was a "Frankenstein strain" genetically engineered to target humans. The former University of Hong Kong (HKU) virologist said that time: "It could never come from nature. Together with my experience, I can tell you – this is created in a lab."
Yan and three other scientists detailed their findings about the pathogen behind COVID-19 in a 26-page scientific paper. She detailed in the paper that "there is evidence [of engineering] left in the [SARS-CoV-2] genome." Because of her revelation, Yan remarked that the Chinese Communist Party wants her "disappeared." (Related: Chinese virologist claims to have "smoking gun" evidence that COVID-19 is lab-created.)
The virologist also shared with Carlson that she performed her own investigation while working at the World Health Organization's HKU reference laboratory. Yan's expertise in virology alongside information she received from her network in mainland China confirmed her suspicions of SARS-CoV-2's artificial origins.
Back in December 2019, her supervisor Dr. Leo Poon asked her to examine a number of cases similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that emerged in the mainland. She talked to her friends in hospitals for information and reported her findings. Poon just nodded and told her to continue working, the virologist recalled.
She presented her findings again the next month, but Poon warned her to "keep silent and be careful." Yan recalled her supervisor's warning: "Don't touch the red line. We will get in trouble and we'll be disappeared." The red line Poon spoke of referred to the Chinese government. While Yan felt frustrated at the turn of events, she said that she was not surprised as corruption was definitely involved.
The virologist later fled Hong Kong in April 2020 aboard a U.S.-bound Cathay Pacific flight, eluding surveillance in the special administrative region. However, this came at the cost of no longer seeing her friends and loves ones again. Yan told Fox News three months after she fled: "The reason I came to the U.S. is because I deliver the message of the truth of [COVID-19.]" The virologist added that she "will be disappeared and killed" if she attempted to tell her story in China.
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