Tag Archives: mandates

Research Triangle

North Carolina’s Dr. Ralph Baric, Virologist

North Carolina’s Research Triangle is home to world-class institutions. The Triangle gets its name from Research Triangle Park and three Tier 1 research universities—Duke University, North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Thus, it is not surprising to find North Carolina scientists on the forefront of coronavirus research and pharmaceutical development.

One such person is Dr. Ralph Baric, distinguished researcher and professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Recognition for his contributions to coronavirus research and vaccine development abound. Among his accolades in 2021 are the O. Max Gardner Award which recognizes faculty within the UNC System that make “the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race,” and the News & Observer Tar Heel of the Year award given to North Carolina residents who have made lasting contributions to their community and state.

Acknowledgement of individuals in any cutting-edge endeavor never comes without controversy. In today’s hyper reaction and response to the corona virus pandemic, Dr. Baric’s virus engineering is especially controversial. Dismissing concern about his work as conspiracy theory does not help, since it detracts from the immense complexity of such work. Some of the arguments are worth repeating.

The Lab-Leak Debate

In its September 2021 issue, the Atlantic carried an article about a proposal presented by Peter Daszak, President the EcoHealth Alliance, to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 2018, describing a $14.2 million project to defuse the threat of bat-borne coronaviruses. Here is an excerpt from The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier, the Atlantic, 09/26/21.

The document seems almost tailor-made to buttress one specific theory of a laboratory origin: that SARS-CoV-2 wasn’t simply brought into a lab by scientists and then released by accident, but rather pieced together in a deliberate fashion. In fact, the work described in the proposal fits so well into that narrative of a “gain-of-function experiment gone wrong” that some wondered if it might be too good to be true.

Central figures in the coronavirus-origins debate were involved. Among Daszak’s listed partners on the grant were Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an American virologist known for doing coronavirus gain-of-function studies in his lab, and Shi Zhengli, the renowned virus hunter from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Risks vs. Benefits of Virus Engineering

In June 2021, MIT Technology Review discussed the risks of bat-virus engineering that need to be weighed against the urgency of emerging pandemics. The article quoted Dr. Ralph Baric’s assessment of risk vs. benefit. Here is an excerpt from Inside the risky bat-virus engineering that links America to Wuhan, Technology Review, 06/29/21

His 2015 paper, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” was a tour de force, utilizing bleeding-edge genetic technology to alert the civilized world to a looming danger on its periphery. It also revived concerns about gain-of-function experiments, which Baric had known it would.

In the paper, he spelled out the extra precautions he’d taken and held up the research as a test case. “The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens,” he wrote. “Scientific review panels may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue.”

The NIH decided the risk was worth it. In a potentially fateful decision, it funded work similar to Baric’s at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which soon used its own reverse-genetics technology to make numerous coronavirus chimeras.

Quest for the Universal Remedy

As arguments pro and con COVID-19 vaccines rage, scientists on the fore front of vaccine development will inevitably receive both accolades and criticism. Again, dismissing all con arguments as conspiracy, anti-science, or anti-vaxxer is unhelpful. More rational and helpful would be to acknowledge that, as human beings, none of us produces perfect solutions, free from human limitations and frailties. Picking a best balance between risk and rewards is perhaps the best any of us can do.

The MIT Technology Review article quoted earlier mentions Dr. Baric’s efforts to develop “universal drugs and vaccines against the full spectrum of SARS-like viruses.” A breakthrough came with his collaborative work in 2013 with Dr. Shi Zhengli, the virology at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Shi had detected the genome of a new virus, called SHC014, that was one of the two closest relatives to the original SARS virus, but her team had not been able to culture it in the lab.

Baric had developed a way around that problem—a technique for “reverse genetics” in coronaviruses. Not only did it allow him to bring an actual virus to life from its genetic code, but he could mix and match parts of multiple viruses. He wanted to take the “spike” gene from SHC014 and move it into a genetic copy of the SARS virus he already had in his lab. The spike molecule is what lets a coronavirus open a cell and get inside it.

The resulting chimera would demonstrate whether the spike of SHC014 would attach to human cells. If it could, then it could help him with his long-term project of developing universal drugs and vaccines against the full spectrum of SARS-like viruses that he increasingly considered sources of potential pandemics.

From Splicing to Vaccination

Dr. Baric holds Patent number 9884895 Methods and compositions for chimeric coronavirus spike proteins, among his many other scientific papents. As the inventor of this product (with Drs. Sudhakar Agnihothram and Boyd Yount), Dr. Baric can claim a major contribution to the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Risks Necessitate Free and Informed Choices

Identification and manipulation of viral spike proteins entail serious risk. But so is being exposed to the coronavirus without the choice of protection via a vaccine.

Researchers in the life sciences are the primary line of defense against organisms that harms us. Polio and smallpox are no longer the scourges they once were. Hopefully, soon SARS-CoV-2 will also be tamed in a collaborative approach that allows for rational and free assessments of risks and benefits.

Workers vaccine protest

Mandates v. the survival of our Republic

Yes, we have a pandemic. It does not matter whether the pandemic originated from some spliced bug engineered with the help of the U.S. Chief Medical Advisor or not. We still need to deal with the bug. How we deal with it, though, has become a determinant whether our nation remains a free Republic or a restrictive Fascist state.

To elucidate, a free Republic is what our Founding Fathers envisioned – a nation ruled by a government that abides by the will of its people. A Fascist state is ruled by the will of the unholy alliance of government and corporations. And socialism? Questionable whether socialism is taking hold in the U.S. For starters, true socialism views all citizens as responsible for one another, not one group solely responsible for another group.

Now, back to the subject at hand, mandates.

On September 9, 2021, President Joe Biden directed the U.S. Department of Labor to draft a rule to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate that their employees receive the COVID-19 injection or undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.

On November 4, 2021, Biden and the Department of Labor announced the mandate, including heavy fines for employers that do not comply with the injection or testing mandates.

Big corporations, including pharmaceutical corporations, have been reaping government largess for the last couple of decades. Cheap money courtesy of the Fed has allowed corporations to gobble up small and nascent businesses – their competition – creating the kleptocracy we now have. Big Pharma has joined Big Data in their alliance with Big Government, while we the average Janes and Joes of America lose our individual freedoms, our economic power, and our will to fight back.

The Pushback

But that is not the end of the story. It might be that this nation is still the land of the free and the brave. It might be that some are drawing their line in the sand issuing the same warning as the Revolutionaries did back in 1775,

DON’T TREAD ON ME

Yes, we have a pandemic. Yes, our hearts break when we lose a loved one to COVID-19. But some states like Florida and Texas are not willing to let our Republic die too. Citizens of those states, and brave souls in more repressive states such as California and New York, are willing to let nature and natural immunity take their course. They are willing to take chances on behalf of the survival of our Republic.

Pockets of resistance to decrees from above have been popping up, in spite of mainstream media’s habit of calling resisters to government overreach “anti-government,” in spite of peer pressure calling resisters “selfish,” in spite of loss of jobs for resisting. Here are some high-profile upsets to the status quo:

* Airlines, healthcare, and municipal workers were among the first to protest vaccine mandates.

* On November 2, 2021, Edward Durr, a commercial truck driver won the New Jersey Senate seat over long-standing politician Steve Sweeney. His words,

It’s people told they can’t have a job. They can’t go to church. They can’t go to school. You can’t go shopping. They can’t go and eat dinner. …You cannot continue to tell people they cannot do things when we live in the freest country in the world. Edward Durr

* In Virginia financier and political newcomer Glenn Youngkin defeated career politician Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race. Youngkin’s platform included private sector creation of jobs and lower taxes. But what prompted his win was his support for parents of school-age children concerned about school closures, mask mandates, and curriculum over which parents exercised little control.

* On November 12, a three-member panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed its ruling to place President Biden’s on hold.

The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials. Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt

* A slick video, reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, landed on DC Patriots website opposing P&G’s vaccine mandate. The video reminds viewers of the byword “our body our choice,” and warns of the results of our allowing politicians and corporations to push producers too hard.

Our company has threatened us with termination in the near future for daring to say “our body our choice.” … When the factories in which we work grind to a halt you will be to blame.

The Real Fight

Children suffocate under masks, workers live under threats of termination, going to work or going to our house of worship now comes with numerous restrictions.

The fight is no longer against a bug. The fight is for the survival of our free Republic.

Picture: New York City firefighters protest vaccine mandates in front of Mayor’s office.