Virus that caused covid-19 pandemic was created in lab, says new research

News Network
October 24, 2022

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The virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic was most likely created in a laboratory, a study by German and American scientists has claimed.

A team of three researchers concluded that Sars-CoV-2 was a genetically modified virus, after comparing its structure to that of “wild” and laboratory-borne equivalents.

Sars-CoV-2 literally has “fingerprints” of genetic manipulations, according to a preprint released by Valentin Bruttel of Germany’s Wuerzburg University, Alex Washburne of the US-based Selva Analytics research center and Antonius VanDongen of Duke University, also in the US. The paper published this week reported that the three scientists had found a recurring genetic structure element called a restriction site, which they describe as a sign of the virus’ genome having been “stitched” together.

“To make a virus in the lab, researchers usually engineer the viral genome to add and remove stitching sites, called restriction sites. The ways researchers modify these sites can serve as fingerprints of in vitro genome assembly,” the paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, claims.

The structure of Sars-CoV-2 is “anomalous in wild coronaviruses” but “common in lab-assembled viruses,” it adds, pointing to the certain “synonymous or silent mutations” that differentiate the restriction sites. The concentration of such mutations “is extremely unlikely to have arisen by random evolution,” the preprint says.

The study results show that “this virus is 99.9 percent an artificial, probably manipulated, copy of a natural virus,” Bruttel told Germany’s ntv news media outlet. The researcher said that, during his study, he found the signs of similar manipulations he carries out daily to create protein-based drugs for autoimmune diseases.

Bruttel, who holds a doctoral degree in the field of immunology and was awarded this year’s Innovation Prize at German Biotechnology Days – the national forum of the biotech industry – told ntv he had been working on the study since summer 2021, when he first noticed abnormalities in the virus genome.

The study, however, has been promptly lambasted by other immunologists, including Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Andersen branded the paper “nonsense” that was “so deeply flawed that it wouldn’t pass kindergarten molecular biology.” He also presented his own version of Sars-CoV-2 genome analysis in a series of tweets.

German virologist Friedemann Weber, who leads the Institute for Virology at the University of Giessen, said that the “fingerprints” found by Bruttel and his colleagues do not necessarily point to the artificial origin of the virus, since genetic manipulations with it are possible even without the techniques the study was pointing to. At the same time, he admitted that one “can actually do it like” the study suggests it was done but called such a method “not necessary and actually more complicated.”

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News Network
April 14,2024

Qatar and Kuwait have banned any use of their airspace and air bases for attacks against Iran amid heightened tensions between Iran and the Israeli regime following an Israeli attack early this month on an Iranian diplomatic mission in Syria.

Reports on Saturday indicated that both Qatar and Kuwait had issued directives to the United States stressing that the US military will not be allowed to use air bases in the two countries for carrying out any potential airstrikes on Iran.

Qatar and Kuwait have also indicated that their airspace will not be available for any military action against Iran.

The US has military aircraft at the Ali Al Salem Air Base and Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait. The Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is also the largest US air base in the West Asia region.

The directives issued by Iran’s two Arab neighbors come amid reports showing that Iran is preparing to respond to an Israeli airstrike that killed two of its senior military commanders in its consulate in the Syrian capital Damascus on April 1.

Washington has urged Iran to deescalate while saying that it will defend Israel in case it is attacked.

Iran, which has no direct relations with the US, has called on regional Arab countries to advise the US not to interfere if Israel is attacked.

Countries have been wary of a major confrontation in the region more than six months into an Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

Reports show they have already limited the ability of the US to use their airspace and air bases for attacks on resistance groups that are allied with Iran and have been attacking Israeli and US interests in the region since the start of the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

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News Network
April 15,2024

New Delhi: India is likely to experience above-normal cumulative rainfall in the 2024 monsoon season with La Nina conditions likely to set in by August-September, the IMD has said on Monday.

However, normal cumulative rainfall does not guarantee uniform temporal and spatial distribution of rain across the country, with climate change further increasing the variability of the rain-bearing system.

Climate scientists say the number of rainy days is declining while heavy rain events (more rain over a short period) are increasing, leading to frequent droughts and floods.

Based on data between 1951-2023, India experienced above-normal rainfall in the monsoon season on nine occasions when La Nina followed an El Nino event, India Meteorological Department chief Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told a press conference here.

Positive Indian Ocean Dipole conditions are predicted during the monsoon season. Also, the snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is low. These conditions are favourable for the Indian southwest monsoon, he said.

Moderate El Nino conditions are prevailing at present. It is predicted to turn neutral by the time monsoon season commences. Thereafter, models suggest, La Lina conditions may set in by August-September, Mohapatra said.

India received "below-average" cumulative rainfall -- 820 mm compared to the long-period average of 868.6 mm -- in 2023, an El Nino year. Before 2023, India recorded "normal" and "above-normal" rainfall in the monsoon season for four years in a row.

El Nino conditions -- periodic warming of surface waters in the central Pacific Ocean -- are associated with weaker monsoon winds and drier conditions in India.

Three large-scale climatic phenomena are considered for forecasting monsoon season rainfall.

The first is El Nino, the second is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which occurs due to differential warming of the western and eastern sides of the equatorial Indian Ocean, and the third is the snow cover over the northern Himalayas and the Eurasian landmass, which also has an impact on the Indian monsoon through the differential heating of the landmass.

The southwest monsoon delivers about 70 percent of India's annual rainfall, which is critical for the agriculture sector. Agriculture accounts for about 14 percent of the country's GDP.

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News Network
April 3,2024

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Sumalatha Ambareesh, the Independent MP who won from Karnataka’s Mandya constituency in 2019, announced on Wednesday that she would join the BJP and not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

After the BJP-JD(S) coalition has fielded former chief minister and JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy from Mandya, all eyes were on Sumalatha, who defeated Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The announcement came along expected lines as Kumaraswamy had met Sumalatha on Sunday, March 31, seeking her support for the elections.

In a supporters’ meeting held at Mandya to announce her decision, Sumalatha, who is the first Independent MP from the constituency, said, “I will not be contesting this election, but I am not leaving Mandya…. Some people, when they don’t get the ticket, decide to leave the party. But, I have decided to give up my seat and join the BJP”.

Sumalatha said her options were to either contest as an Independent, join the Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“If I contest as an independent, it will be to prove something to myself. Who will benefit from that and who will lose, we have to think. We have to be mature,” she said, adding that she was “not worried about self-interest” and had turned down offers from BJP to contest at either Bengaluru North, Chikkaballapur or Mysore-Kodagu to remain with the people of Mandya.

Sumalatha said that she would not join the Congress as the party did not want her. “On the other hand, the BJP leadership took me into confidence in all issues. When even the Prime Minister says that the party needs leadership from people like me and asks me not to take any other decision, do I have respect there (in BJP) or not?” the MP asked.

Riding on a sympathy wave following the demise of her husband, former Union Minister and actor-turned politician Ambareesh, Sumalatha had defeated Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy by a margin of over 1.25 lakh votes in 2019. Though Ambareesh was from Congress, Sumalatha had contested as an Independent after the Congress denied her ticket due to the coalition arrangement of the party with JD(S) that year.

Though Sumalatha was keen on joining the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and contesting from Mandya, it has not panned out due to BJP’s alliance with JD(S) in 2024.

Mandya, which Sumalatha represents, is a Vokkaliga bastion which has largely favoured either the JD(S) or Congress over the years. Due to this, the BJP-JD(S) coalition went with Kumaraswamy, a top Vokkaliga politician of the state.

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