Transcription of Live Panel from Epoch Times
with Sean Lin, Joe Wang, and Joshua Philipp

Joshua Philipp, Epoch Times, Origin of the virus

This is my transcription of a one hour YouTube posted on 18 April 2020 by The Epoch Times.

That video is here: Live Panel: Exploring the Origins of the Wuhan Coronavirus

The host is Jan Jekielek, an Epoch Times Senior Editor and guests include Joe Wang PhD, President of NTD Canada (who spear-headed a vaccine development program against SARS,) and Sean Lin, PhD, a microbiologist and ex-Army officer and former head of a virology lab at the US Army's Walter Reed Hospital, and Joshua Philipp (the senior investigative reporter who narrated the hugely popular documentary, now with 70 million hits (including Facebook hits.)

The original 7 April 2020 documentary is here: Tracking Down the Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus

My own examination of the origin of Covid-19 is here. (Epoch Times documentary on the subject was my springboard.)

Jan Jekielek starts with a question to Dr. Joe Wang: "what are the possible origins of the virus?"

There are five possibilities, he begins ...

  • scenario 1: the virus occurred naturally in an animal host then jumped to humans around Nov 2019;

  • scenario 2: the virus jumped to humans earlier than that and then evolved within humans for a period of time as it naturally developed a gain-of-function mutation to facilitate human infectivity (but via natural evolution;)

  • scenario 3: there are lots of labs around the world with viruses in storage; perhaps a virus from one of the lab cultures escaped and started to infect people... ie a leak from a lab;

  • scenario 4: scientists all over the world have been trying to develop vaccines against different viruses; so (in the course of that work) a lab vector might've escaped - a byproduct of benignly intentioned genetic engineering the purpose of which was vaccine development;

  • scenario 5: the last scenario: a possible bioweapon;

We must examine all these possibilities.

Next (4:45 = minute 4 + 45 seconds): Jan J. directs an audience question to Dr. Sean Lin, PhD former virology lab director at Walter Reed US Army Hospital.

The audience question is ...

If SARS-CoV-2 contains HIV or Ebola subsequences , why aren't we hearing more about that? Aren't the odds of that slim?

Dr Lin begins: the origin of the virus is a mystery right now, but (he continues)

the gp120 glycoprotein sequence (of HIV) is in the S protein of SARS-CoV-2, but there is very little evidence to prove that this was due to deliberate incorporation from HIV.

These homology (sequence correlation) studies use (a tool called) BLAST to study these (nucleotide) alignments; we also see a part of gp41 ... but, a lot of sequences can align together... so it's not solid evidence. (since a lot of sequences can (spuriously) align with BLAST.)

Dr Lin goes on to mention a couple of scientific publications addressing the origin of the virus: (most famously) the Kristian Andersen et al., Nature Medicine 17 March 2020 paper from Scripps entitled "the proximal origin of SARS" ... (the target of my own article dissecting that paper.)

(this discussion is at about minute 6:45 )

That paper argues that the receptor binding domain (the RBD) of the spike protein has five important amino acids which relate to the binding affinity of the RBD. But it isn't optimal. Andersen, et al. argue that if it was intentionally designed it should be optimal; and therefore, (they argue) that's a strike against its having been designed.

But (Dr Lin continues) this argument is flawed; The RBD sequence is just the initial step (relating to infectivity); there are many other factors involved in docking...

Dr. Lin continues to describe the reverse engineering tools that were available to and used in Shi, Zheng-Li's lab at the WIV (Wuhan Institute of Virology.)

They were using then-current reverse engineering systems that Shi references in a 2014 publication, but then they upgraded in 2016 from a system (capable of processing a six segment system to an eight segment system.)

Also (he continues) the virus can always evolve whether in the wild (in animals) or in a lab, particularly a lab which is working on gain-of-function studies. The virus can evolve whether in a lab or in nature, so that's another aspect of Andersen et al. logic that seems flawed.

He continues: (in regard to gain-of-function) ... a key method is (deliberate) selection of a (more infective) virus via serial passage (in a succession of lab animals, eg from rodent 1 to rodent 2 to rodent 2)... to select for an increasingly pathogenic virus. One can get a virus with higher pathogenicity after pehaps a dozen or twenty serial passages. The lab at WIV was working on this.

They had been working on gain-of-function studies in coronaviruses since 2007. And, it's hard to tell whether the sequence we see now was naturally evolved or whether it was as a result of selective passage. The biggest flaw in Andersen, et al. is that sequence homology alone is not enough to conclusively show that the virus evolved in nature.

At minute 10:45 seconds; (Q from another audience member: Wei Bin88 who asks ... and this Q is fielded by Josh Philipp:)

Where is Shi Zheng-Li currently? Where is the (famous/notorious) "Bat Woman" of China?

Josh P answers: She is the PRC's world-renowned expert on this subject; we'd expect her to be front and center in this debate. Instead, she and the other people in the WIV are dead quiet (despite her lab's being at the forefront of this research.)

Why are they not trotting her out... since her research was at the forefront of this field of bat coronaviruses.

At minute 12:45: a Q is asked of Joe Wang in re: the infamous US State Department cables sent in 2018.

Answer: Unfortunately, we don't have the details that gave rise to their (the US diplomats') concerns. We do not have public info backing up the cables, says Joe Wang — we know Shi was manipulating coronaviruses. that's the fact we know. There were extensive publications on their research, and we know that Chinese labs had leaks in 2004 (SARS) and a lab escape in Beijing. So, we must ask these questions. Unfortunately, there seems to be a redline drawn by the international scientific community that such an inquiry is not politically correct.

15:45 origin of the virus as an accidental leak eg of a bat virus from the lab versus a lab leak of a virus that had been engineered.

These two possibilities are often conflated in the mind of the public... Josh says... he himself doesn't think this is a man-made virus. (Nonetheless the WIV was making chimeric viruses. They had these programs! Regardless of what I personally think, we are obligated to show ALL the evidence.

The WIV was making chimeric viruses; but the two hypotheses should not be conflated (lab origin vs man-made). Its (possibly) having come from a lab does not necessarily imply that it was man-made. The world needs answers.

After all, the WIV is the first place that the CCP started looking when the news came out . Now it's being seen as a real possibility. Coming from a lab does NOT mean it was man-made.

Prof. Shi was collecting bat coronaviruses from every corner of the these viruses were there in the lab.

17:45 a question directed to Dr Lin:

In re: the wet market story:

There was initially a heavy emphasis on that, says Sean Lin, as a cover story. The CCP initially heavily emphasized this . BUT 14 of 41 cases in November and December of 2019 were NOT related to the market. So, it's likely that this was just a convenient a smoke screen. 14 cases had NOTHING to do with market.

What is the animal reservoir or intermediate animal host for this virus? Most people think it was zoonotic

But why didn't the Chinese CDC collect animal samples in the market or other markets in Wuhan? (ie to determine which species of animal actually harbored the virus? And, why not collect samples in other wet markets in Wuhan?

In late March of 2020 they started collecting samples in domestic cats; But, they started finding these viruses in January 2020 in cats and in rodents; and designed experiments to look for these in January. Many Chinese have cats; so why didn't they warn of these concerns in January (if they actually thought that might've been the origin); why wait for 2-3 months to publish, if you think that's the origin. (implication is that this was another smoke screen.)

(He continues:) ... in regard to pangolins as a possible reservoir, eg as an intermediate host as they seemed to be in the Hong Kong report of a coronavirus infection.

Yes, there was high homology shown by the HK investigator; but their samples were obtained from anti-smuggling operations in 2017/2018. There was NO evidence that pangolin or civet viruses In Guandong or in Wuhan are related to SARS-CoV-2 and no samples were obtained from pangolin or civets.

Furthermore, there are several strains of those viruses but those strains had low binding affinity (and low infectivity) and there were no attempts to identify the viruses in animals. Therefore, while it's possible that the virus evolved in animals, this was not shown to be the case by samples from animals in the (most relevant previous several months.)

He regards this as scientific malfeasance: a cover-up for their inexcusable lack of animal samples (despite they're pinning the blame on the animals in the market.)

Minute 22:45 Q from a viewer "PermaSherpa:" to Joe Wang:

In regard to the wet markets: why are the wild animals back in the wet markets?

Dr Joe Wang answers (and he is originally from rural China):

You have law and you have ways to get around those laws. The laws may seem to be reasonable; but officials themselves get around the laws and do whatever the want. The CCP also gets around the laws to do whatever it wants; The officials benefit from the market.

In a Western democracy people can ask questions like that; but in China you cannot disagree with the CCP; you must not cross the redline; and they're everywhere (with their surveillance.)

For example, the ophthalmologist told his colleagues about the virus to warn them ; (He was reprimanded for doing so) He then died of C19.

Minute 26:20 Mark Weissman asks a question to Josh:

Did the CCP use the WHO to (facilitate spread of the virus worldwide by lying about its infectivity)?

Yes, they lied to the director of the WHO; they lied about human-to-human transmission. The WHO ignored (other) warnings, but really the WHO should've done an independent investigation. There were still flights leaving the country (even when it was known that many of those on the planes would be carrying the infection.)

Darlene Silver asks a question at 28:30 ...

Did five million Chinese fly out of Wuhan the day before they locked down as potential carriers?

YES.. that happened; that took place before Chinese New Year; Wuhan is the transit hub of China; it did contribute to the spread.

minute 30 from 3squad56 to Dr Lin:

How about patient zero: what do we know about that?

He answers: they say patient zero was infected around Dec 1st... but maybe middle of November; this requires an on-going investigation; And, which animal is the intermediate host? What animal did they contact? It's really unknown if this had a natural origin; All the cases are from Wuhan... we do not know exactly who was patient zero.

Minute 32 to Josh:

Could it (patient zero) be a patient who was cremated (eg might it've been a WIV researcher?):

Josh tells about the female research intern at WIV whose information was scrubbed; that story is very plausible; That story is very plausible; she WAS a researcher there; it could've been an accident with the bats; she might've gotten it and passed it to here boyfriend.

33:30: to Dr Wang (a vaccine expert): in re: vaccine development and herd immunity; a tenative vaccine will be given to healthy people: so, it cannot poison people; safety is foremost: number one! and efficacy is #2; but must do both; it takes time; we'll be lucky if we have a vaccine by April 2021;

in re: patient zero: transparency is crucial: we must share info; Instead what we saw in China was a block of all information; Initially it was the case that scientists could submit papers in January, but then the CCP clamped down and shut down everything. They censored everything; the CCP might have soething to hide.

We must dig to find the truth; the scientific community is trying to be politically correct; The (renowned journal) Nature published apologies; but we MUST ask! (We cannot have) these attitudes that sacrifice truth for political correctness;

39:15 Josh; why isn't the WIV lab front and center?

They were doing gain-of-function studies and only needed a P3 facility (to do that.)

Dr. Sean Lin himself worked on HIV at a P3 facility (and tells an important story.)

Dr. Lin tells the story that (in the course of his own work) a test tube (that was being spun) cracked inside the centrifuge!!! It's a simple example — the failure of a test tube. You could easily get contaminated yourself.

Also, how do you handle animal corpses? If improperly disposed, you can spread the virus to the community. Also, there are lab management issues. it's very hard to safely study highly pathogenic viruses — strict safety standards are needed.

(they continue their remarks) .... on vaccine development, which has been on-going for Dengue for the past two to three decades (with little success. Also, we still have NO vaccine for HIV. All we have are ourour cocktail therapies to treat HIV; This is very difficult research. The viruses can evade our immune systems and can also be antibody dependent - ie, they can have enhancement of virus pathogenicity due to some antibodies. Sean is not optimistic (for they rapid development of a C19 vaccine.)

minute 43: Q for Josh: He addresses the accusation that he himself is promoting the engineered virus speculation.

He answers: they WERE making chimeric viruses (at the WIV)... you cannot write that off! We must talk about what was actually at the lab. They had (dozens of natural virus samples that could've jumped to humans without an intermediate species.

Josh sees his role as a responsible journalist. The idea of my document (his popular video) was not to come to hard conclusions> Rather, we must get the investigation into the Wuhan labs and get answers —; what evidence is there? did it come from the seafood market? That's been discredited; did it come from the P4 lab... maybe? that might be the case; was it bioengineered and possibly a bioweapon; we must look into everything!

There are people who think it was designed (counter to my own opinion); I'm not going to silence them (just because I disagree with them) We must explore every avenue.

minute 48 (Q from Shilendra:) How can we know the number cases in China?

Joe Wang replies: The virus came from China; the CCP is the governing body there; (they clamp down on any threats to their power... they try to control all the info.) The number of cases reported in China is just impossibly low!... it's a cover-up... eg today they jumped up the number by 50% today (April 18th) because (the reported number) is so unbelievably low.

min 50: How about the long-term effects in patients who've had Covid-19? (asked of Sean Lin.)

(Sean Lin answers:) It depends on the severity of symptoms; patients can have have multi-organ failure — even with mild disease, they may need prolonged support with oxygen; The virus may become endemic and/or seasonal; this virus is particularly smart... it may replicate differently in different organs. The virus may continue to mutate in a patient's body in different organs. We know little about the kinetics of this virus nor how it evades our immune response. There are lots of mysterious questions. And, patients may become immunocompromised.

min 53: (A summation: to Dr Wang to start:)

WHO has been towing the CCP line, and similarly so for the scientists within WHO and the WEST in general. We must (instead) respect the facts. But instead we have sacrificed our academic freedom because of pressure from the CCP or from WHO. Freedom of expression is crucial!

Sean Lin offers congratulations to Josh for this documentary. We must have further investigations into their gain-of-function studies at the WIV... that definitely needs to be investigated. That research is ethically questionable — just as research on human clones is.

Josh: (Jan tells Josh ... "you're the closer."): We wanted to give people a package of information; we wanted to show the evidence on every main track (every hypothesis) And now mainstream news outlets are corroborating our findings.

My impression (Bob Blum) is that this panel discussion should lay to rest the notion that The Epoch Times is not capable of unbiased reporting. Most notably, Joshua Philipp himself places greatest weight on the natural origin theory. (That per se doesn't mean that's right.) But, he feels its his duty as an investigative reporter to set before the public all the evidence. (I'm incredibly impressed by his courage.)

If you came away from their popular 7 April video (with all the pizzazz and mood music) persuaded that it was just a hit job on the Chinese Communist Party — well, yes (partially that.) But they've turned up crucial facts that needed to be set before the public. This panel discussion is as honest and straightforward as anything you'll find on this subject in any news outlet. (That's not a blanket endorsement of The Epoch Times— but this piece is admirable.)

Is Trump using the Wuhan story to deflect from his shortcomings? Yes, of course! But that doesn't mean the story is not legitimate.

This story is hugely consequential for our (US) and the world's China policy. At minimum this investigation must continue. The minimalist one liner from the DNI should not be the end of the matter.

posted: 8 May 2020