Evidence for: Presence of BSL-4 laboratory 20 miles from the Wuhan seafood marketEvidence against: Published opinion.Status: Rumor. But see below.
Option 4. A recombined virus made in a laboratory for the purpose of creating a vaccine.
IPAK researchers found a sequence similarity between a pShuttle-SN recombination vector sequence and INS1378. Here’s a shot of the alignment and the DOT Plot.
Here’s the nucleotide sequence at NCBI’s Nucleotide database . Here’s a patent for its use in recombination virology.
The pShuttle-SN vector was among many described in a 1998 paper by Bert Vogelstein et al; here is a company where one can purchase the pShuttle-SN vector:
It turns out that the sequence from pShuttle is most closely related to the Spike protein from SARS coronavirus.
This particular technology was used in 2008 to attempt to develop a more immunogenic vaccine against coronavirus.
Here’s a Chinese patent for that technique and product intended for use in a vaccine .
The patent summary reads:
SARS vaccine of adenovirus vector and preparation method, application of coronavirus S gene
Abstract (translated from Chinese)
The present invention belongs to the field of genetic engineering, particularly relates to adenoviral vector SARS vaccines, their preparation and coronavirus S genes in SARS (SARS) on vaccines for the prophylaxis. By means of biological engineering, the coronavirus S gene in combination with deficient recombinant adenovirus, the protective immunogen protein or polypeptide expressed therein, through expansion culture, purification, and formulation to prepare a mucosal immunogenicity can cause the gene vaccine, respiratory mucosal immune response induced by the body to produce antibodies against the virus infection. Specific conditions of the present invention, compared with conventional inactivated virus particle vaccine, safe, easy to use, without limitation intramuscular, have broad clinical applications.
In 2015, The US called for an end to research creating new viruses in the lab that have increased threat (higher transmissibility, higher pathogenicity, higher lethalithy) (3)
The very researchers conducting studies on SARS vaccines have cautioned repeatedly against human trials;
“An early concern for application of a SARS-CoV vaccine was the experience with other coronavirus infections which induced enhanced disease and immunopathology in animals when challenged with infectious virus , a concern reinforced by the report that animals given an alum adjuvanted SARS vaccine and subsequently challenged with SARS-CoV exhibited an immunopathologic lung reaction reminiscent of that described for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants and in animal models given RSV vaccine and challenged naturally (infants) or artificially (animals) with RSV , . We and others described a similar immunopathologic reaction in mice vaccinated with a SARS-CoV vaccine and subsequently challenged with SARS-CoV , , , . It has been proposed that the nucleocapsid protein of SARS-CoV is the antigen to which the immunopathologic reaction is directed , . Thus, concern for proceeding to humans with candidate SARS-CoV vaccines emerged from these various observations.” – Tseng et al.,
The disease progression in of 2019-nCoV is consistent with those seen in animals and humans vaccinated against SARS and then challenged with re-infection. Thus, the hypothesis that 2019-nCoV is an experimental vaccine type must be seriously considered.
Evidence for: Sequence homology between INS1378 to pShuttle Coronavirus vaccine; presence of a SARS-like Spike protein in bat coronavirus, otherwise most similar to bat coronaviruses; low bootstrap value.
Evidence against: Low sequence homology (but highly signifiant). NB these viruses are RNA viruses and they can evolve quickly, even under laboratory conditions.
Status: Most likely.
Test: Determine the nucleotide sequence all laboratory types of coronavirus being studied in China (a match will confirm). Find an isolate that matches 2019-nCoV in the wild and reproducibly independently isolate the virus from a wild animal (a match will falsify).
The available evidence most strongly supports that the 2019-NCoV virus is a vaccine strain of coronavirus either accidentally released from a laboratory accident, perhaps a laboratory researcher becoming infected with the virus while conducting animal experiments, or the Chinese were performing clinical studies of a Coronavirus vaccine in humans.
Dr. Dale Brown brought to my attention the studies that have reported serious immunopathology in animals – rats, ferrets, and monkeys – in which animals vaccinated against coronoviruses tended to have extremely high rates of respiratory failure upon subsequent exposure in the study when challenged with the wild-type coronavirus.
“Caton in proceeding to application of a SARS-CoV vaccine in humans is indicated”- Te et al., 2012 [ Full Text ] Yasui et al., (2012) reported severe pneumonia in mice who were vaccinated against SARS who were subsequently infected with SARS.
Another study of a double-inactived SARS vaccine found increased eosinophilic proinflammatory responses in vaccinated mice, especially older mice, writing:
“Importantly, aged animals displayed increased eosinophilic immune pathology in the lungs and were not protected against significant virus replication.”
If the Chinese government has been conducting human trials against SARS, MERS, or other coronaviruses using recombined viruses, they may have made their citizens far more susceptible to acute respiratory distress syndrome upon infection with 2019-nCoV coronavirus.
The implications are clear: if China sensitized their population via a SARS vaccine, and this escaped from a lab, the rest of world has a serious humanitarian urgency to help China, but may not expect as serious an epidemic as might otherwise be expected.
In the worst-case scenario, if the vaccination strain is more highly contagious and lethal, 2019-nCoV could become the worst example of vaccine-derived contagious disease in human history. With an uncharacteristic aysmptomatic prodromal period of 5-7 days, individuals returning from China to other countries must be forthright and cooperative in their now-prescribed 2-week quarantine.
Lu, R et al., 2020. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding The Lancet. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2820%2930251-8/fulltext
Tseng et al., 2012. Double-Inactivated Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Vaccine Provides Incomplete Protection in Mice and Induces Increased Eosinophilic Proinflammatory Pulmonary Response Upon Challenge https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3209347/
Te et al., 2012. Immunization with SARS coronavirus vaccines leads to pulmonary immunopathology on challenge with the SARS virus. PLoS One 7(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22536382 Yasui et al., Prior immunization with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) nucleocapsid protein causes severe pneumonia in mice infected with SARS-CoV. J Immunol. 181:6337-48 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18941225 https://www.jimmunol.org/content/181/9/6337.long