June 6, 2020
Flying completely under the radar of the various crises that have come to define 2020, an interesting story is playing out in India. This story shines a light on the increasingly globalized nature of medical research and on the dark practice of using poor people in third world nations as guinea pigs in that research.
In early May, the US Centers for Disease Creation and Propaganda (CDC) announced a $3.6 million grant to "further strengthen and support the Indian government's efforts to increase laboratory capacity for SARS-COV-2 testing." But just days later, it was reported that the grant may be delayed because the CDC was placed on a "watch list" by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs last December.
Wait, what? The Indian government placed the CDC on a "watch list" last year? Why?
Well, according to The Hindustan Times, the Indian government specifically asked the CDC to "stop funding research in India without government approval" after they discovered that the US health agency had helped an under-qualified Indian research facility to study a potential bioweapon. The facility in question--the Manipal Centre for Virus Research--was researching the Nipah virus, a so-called "Risk Group 4" (RG4) pathogen that is "likely to cause serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are not usually available."
Given their extremely dangerous nature, RG4 pathogens can only be handled in special "biological safety level 4" (BSL4) laboratories. BSL4 labs are completely sealed off from the outside, with dedicated supply and exhaust air systems and rigorous procedures for decontaminating all personnel and materials leaving the building. As a result, BSL4 laboratories are very rare, with only a handful of facilities in the world able to meet the stringent security protocols. Like the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
... Oh, wait.
Well, anyway, the key point is that the Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR) is a BSL2 facility, not a BSL4 laboratory, and thus was not cleared to be working with Nipah virus at all. So how did the researchers at the MCVR get their hands on the viral samples? And how did they get the funding for their research?
The illegal research was uncovered after the coronavirus panic prompted the Indian government to order a review of biological weapons grade pathogens in the country. That review discovered that the CDC was funding a training program at the MCVR to detect and diagnose Nipah virus, and that the US agency was secretly funding the program in violation of India's Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010. The bold, illegal scheme was laid out in an internal government report titled "Unapproved, US-funded Indian Laboratory stored samples of Nipah Virus - a bioterrorism agent."
The Hindustan Times report includes a startling accusation from one unnamed Indian government official:
"Our apprehension is that the lab was being used to map the Nipah virus, which can be used to develop a vaccine, the intellectual property right of which [sic] will not be with India. Importantly, understanding how the human body reacted to the virus will also produce a more virulent form of virus for biological warfare."
That's right, folks. For some reason, the US CDC was secretly funding a research program into a highly dangerous weapons-grade biological pathogen at an under-qualified research facility in India.
Even more incredibly, this isn't the first time that the CDC has been accused of nefarious biowarfare activity in the country. In 1994, an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague hit south-central and western India, causing 693 cases of the disease and 56 deaths. The loss of life may have been relatively small, but the panic surrounding the event was unprecedented. 300,000 people fled the plague-stricken city of Surat in two days, the largest post-independence migration of Indians in history, and the Indian economy suffered a $600 million hit.
Upon further inspection, however, questions began to emerge about whether the outbreak had really been the plague at all. Writing about the questions surrounding the recent coronavirus panic, a journalist in the Indian publication THE WEEK wrote:
"During the 1994 plague outbreak in Surat and Beed, it was found that the germs had an extra protein ring which could only have been inserted artificially. Indian scientists had raised concerns about a US biowar experiment having gone awry. THE WEEK had carried reports giving details of germ war research being carried on in labs under the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta and about a newly developed germ detector being tested. The US embassy had denied the allegations."
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