Where finance and media intersect with reality


Stuff I’ve been reading (Moderna)


From the “Fake News” zone:

  • Daily Mail reports: “Scientists find virus contains tiny chunk of DNA that matches sequence patented by Moderna THREE YEARS before pandemic began”.

    The patent referenced is for a Moderna cancer treatment and the genetic match relates to the all important furin cleavage, which is the bit of the SARS-COV-2 virus which makes it so infectious in humans.

The interesting thing about this is that on June 18, 2021, I emailed the media relations department of UNC — representing Ralph Baric, the coronavirus expert who worked with Shi Zhengli, the bat lady of Wuhan — asking them to confirm or deny if the below document that had been ciruclating among the OSINT community looking into the lab leak theory was genuine. You can see the full doc here. 

The page is from a confidential disclosure agreement that originates from 2015 between disclosing parties the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Moderna Therapeutics and its affiliates — collaborators, Giuseppe Ciaramella, Stephane Bancel and Lee Cooper

with respect to…

“NIAID’s proprietary information and data relation to the evelopment of vaccines for HIV, influenza, Ebola and MERS and development of broadly neutralising monoclonal antibodies for preventative and therapeutic use…for collaborator: Moderna’s proprietary and confidential information related to design and manufacture of a messenger RNA platform and messenger RNA constructs for treatment and prevention of disease.”

I asked UNC to confirm:

“That this Confidential Disclosure Agreement pertaining to information disclosure by NIAID and Moderna to UNC of research material about “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates developed and jointly-owned by NIAID and Moderna“, which classifies Prof Baric as the UNC’s primary investigator and which carries your signature dated 12/12/2019 is genuine. And that this is Prof Baric‘s signature?”

This was the reply from Matthew Chamberlin, Director of Communications and Marketing at UNC, that I received (and which was never published):

“We can confirm that Dr. Baric was a key investigator. However, it’s important to note that the documents refer to work by the University of North of Carolina at Chapel Hill to develop an mRNA vaccine to protect against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which is caused by a beta coronavirus.

Here’s a link to a paper published about the research:  SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine design enabled by prototype pathogen preparedness – PubMed (nih.gov); noting that the MERS-CoV outcomes were extremely positive and used to justify mRNA vaccine development and testing of the SARS-CoV2 mRNa vaccine outcomes that were initiated in the spring of 2020 and also included in the paper. We remind the Financial Times that the Moderna mRNA vaccine has saved tens of thousands of lives.

Also, there’s information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the many human diseases caused by coronaviruses:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html

Nothing to see here, basically, because the work referenced in the document was for vaccines being developed for MERS not SARS. This struck me as an odd thing to say, given I was reaching out with respect to Ralph Baric’s involvement in gain of function work, a controversial scientific research method — which was under moratorium at the time — that uses accelerated evolution to try and predict how viruses might evolve so as to pre-emptively develop vaccines and therapeutics for future diseases. The fact therefore that the contract was for a MERS coronavirus seems a moot point if the purpose of the knowledge sharing was to inform gain-of-function work.

More importantly, the response does seem to confirm the document is genuine.

The Daily Mail story pictures a snap shot of the patented tech.

It’s worth noting that there is at least one scientist who contributed to the work that emerged out of the MERS project for the development of the SARS Cov-2 vaccine (the paper referenced by the UNC official) and the oncology-related work that shares a sequence with Covid. Sayda M Elbashir.

What does all this mean? I don’t know. It’s all highly circumstantial still.

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7 Responses

  1. lab leak my ass.. it was intentionally released. 2018 & 2019 saw swine and avian viral decimation of Chinese livestock. The core of the receptor protein is conserved among many corona respiratory virus, they’ve been trying to make a universal vaccine before cov19. I think the decision was made… that the technology exists for university students around the world to be able to deploy viral epidemics, so better to release something that provides broad immunity to deadlier strains.

  2. Clearly steps had been taken to side-step Obama’s moratorium on gain-of-function research. Subaward to EcoHealth Alliance in Wuhan; subsequent Proximal Origins paper; continues to redated docs. NIH sent The Intercept 292 fully redacted pages related to virus research in Wuhan. What remains known unknowns–USAID was also passing-through funds to EcoHealth Alliance in Wuhan —for what purpose it is also redacted. Last October, Samatha Power’s USAID agency awarded $150 million to Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) and Senator Richard Burr’s (R-NC) state research universities also to WashU, to do predictive work on ranaviruses — a huge glob of funding for ranavirus found in frogs etc, do not occur in humans. Rather coincidentally, Sen Murray is Chair of the Senate Oversight Committee over HHS and health agencies including NIH and NIAID, Sen Burr is the ranking member. Holden Thorp, WashU St Louis was previously at Chancellor at UNC, now also Editor-in-Chief, Science Journals. Steve Jobs said you can’t connect the dots looking forward, the dots only connect looking backwards, so many dots…

      1. True. Dr. Andrew Huff @AGHuff, former EcoHealth Alliance VP, recent whistle blower and former Army combat veteran, has made statements that EcoHealth principals were working for the CIA. Major Joe Murphy USMC, DARPA Fellow, stepped forward with a project rejection document that shows EcoHealth planned a ‘gain-of-function aerosolization’ mechanism. Apparently, different Health and Pentagon agencies were funding virus collection and mRNA vaccine testing, and intelligence collection. Meanwhile, all the risk mitigation of the contradictory research was managed by EcoHealth Alliance. Now, a cover-up is both on-going and unraveling, because nobody, least of all politicians, scientists or agency heads, want to take responsibility for the end results.

  3. Remember when the whole Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and the secretly US-funded Coronavirus research lab in Wuhan was highly “circumstantial”?
    It’s not like Moderna news/leak is a completely different subject…

  4. On initial inspection (admittedly quick because there’s other stuff going on this morning) this looks like bollocks to me. As far as I can see what The Mail is reporting is that the match is very short and occurs in a human DNA repair protein. The reason someone seems to be trying to make this into news is because the sequence of the human gene appears in a Moderna patent but (a) it is not at all surprising that the sequence of a human DNA repair protein would appear in some Moderna documents because such proteins are relevant to oncology and oncology was one of the areas Moderna was thinking its technology could be applied and (b) it is not unusual to find short correspondences of this kind between apparently completely unrelated genes in life’s-rich-genetic-pageant (as some nerd points out in the piece).
    I am on the record from early on trying to make it OK for people to include among the possible explanations for the origin of SARS-CoV-2 that it could have leaked from a lab but that even were this true this would not automatically also mean either that SARS-CoV-2 was a deliberately engineered bio-weapon or that SARS-CoV-2 was the result of any lab-based genetic modification or directed evolution. I have almost completely given up banging my head against a wall trying to explain to people that sating that the virus looks like it could be of ‘natural origin’ need not be incompatible with it having got into humans via a lab leak or other research related activity. It could be a completely natural (probably bat) virus collected by nerds and taken to the lab for study that got into one of the researchers as a consequence. If everyone accepts that SARS1 and MERS were/are natural coronas of recent bat origin that were able, naturally, to infect people without the help of human modification/interference then they have to accept that other such coronas probably exist in nature too and that a research effort directed at going out into the field to collect and then study (particularly bat) coronas would likely stumble upon some of these. My general impression though is that most people are totally uninterested in the lab leak hypotheses unless it turns out that the virus is in some way ‘unnatural’ and thereby bears the hand of horrid meddling hubristic man and that many people have been trying very hard in a cart-before-horse kind of way to demonstrate the presence of the hand of man in the viral sequence (not an easy thing to do definitively really one way or the other in the first place) and/or to find evidence that research that might have generated such a virus was taking place. I have absolutely no problem with people trying to prove this (because it could of course be true) but I am getting the impression increasingly that desperation is starting to set in because they have been unable to uncover anything definitive, but some people still appear so very much to want it to be the case that SARS-CoV-2 was somehow ‘man made’ that we get bursts of guff like this from time to time. If people at least want it to be a lab leak then really it’s surely much simpler to just hypothesise that until there is any compelling reason to think otherwise it is most likely a natural virus that was naturally able to infect humans that was collected from a natural setting as part of the research effort into coronas (a research effort this is known to have happened, for sure, that no one is disputing happened) that followed in the wake of the SARS and MERS outbreaks (both of which, almost everyone seems to agree, were/are natural viruses). Yes of course subsequent modification or directed evolution in a lab could have happened too make a natural virus that couldn’t infect humans able to do so but, you know, maybe it just didn’t. Maybe if there was research involvement it is being covered up though. Yes. Maybe. Also maybe the thing is of natural origin and got into people via a non-research related route (just like SARS did and MERS still does). We still don’t seem to know. Maybe we will never know where the fluffing thing came from (that would be very very bad though).

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