Deepwater Horizon and COVID-19: ‘Cynthia bacterium isn’t notable for any pathogenic features’

A professor-microbiologist debunks the new coronavirus conspiracy theory

Deepwater Horizon and COVID-19: ‘Cynthia bacterium isn’t notable for any pathogenic features’

The biggest manmade catastrophe in oil production took place 10 years sharp — an explosion at Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Mexican Gulf near the USA shore. It has unexpectedly resonated around the world 10 years later — Cynthia synthetic bacterium has been launched to get rid of the environmental consequences of this emergency in the world ocean. Doctor of Biological Sciences Irina Yermakova considers that it gave rise to the now outraging coronavirus. However, Realnoe Vremya’s experts think this is a conspiracy theory and absurd.

From explosion to pandemic

Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Mexican Gulf near the USA shore exploded on 20 April 2010. Following oil spill turned this accident into one of the biggest manmade catastrophes nowadays: about 5 million barrels of oil got to the Mexican Gulf from April to September 2010.

To eliminate the oil spot of 75,000 square kilometres, the USA developed Cynthia synthetic bacterium designed to absorb hydrocarbons. Cynthia is an artificial organism whose genome was completely generated by a computer that consists of special links of watermarks and doesn’t have natural DNA like the other living organisms on Earth.

What does Cynthia have to do with the coronavirus? According to a version of Vice-President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, international expert in environmental and food safety, Doctor of Biological Sciences Irina Yermakova, COVID-19 came about after fish and other animals infected with an artificially created bacterium got to a market in Chinese Wuhan. Irina Yermakova talked about this during a live transmission on Andrey Karaulov’s YouTube channel.

“Our version is that diseases and death of people as well as the appearance of the new dangerous virus with recombinant RNA could be linked with fish and other animals infected with Cynthia that got to a market in Wuhan. The appearance of recombinant RNA could be conditioned by the penetration of the virus’s RNA to Cynthia bacterium and a copy of the information about DNA of this artificially created bacterium,” Yermakova thinks.

We didn’t manage to contact the professor when the article was prepared. Realnoe Vremya is ready to give her the floor.

Honourary VRAL academician

Meanwhile, famous Russian bioinformatician, one of the founders of Dissernet Mikhail Gelfand expressed his opinion about Irina Yermakova and her works.

“She is talking allegedly on behalf of science introducing herself as a biologist. Mrs Yermakova, indeed, defended a PhD in biology in 2001. Her further career included a fight against GMO, the theory of the origin of the modern human from Amazon women-hermaphrodites, publications in Trinity Academy magazine,” Mikhail Gelfand enumerates. “She was solemnly elected as honourary VRAL academician (Editor’s Note: an anti-award For Outstanding Contribution to Development and Spread of Pseudo-Science) for these and other similar achievements at a forum of Scientists Against Myths in 2016.

Interlocutor of our newspaper, Professor, Head of the Department of Microbiology of the Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology at Kazan Federal University Olga Ilyinskaya calls Irina Yermakova a pseudo-scientist too.

Cynthia and Wuhan virus

Olga Ilyinskaya began to explain what’s wrong with the new conspiracy theory with the basics.

“Absolutely all viruses came about much earlier than humans did, and at first they sponged on other organisms: animals, bacteria. But evolution happens in a way that every living organism occupies a new niche to live in, this is why with time viruses began to infect humans too. Now they are widely spread among us, and evolution goes on. In other words, viruses from animals adapt to occupying a new space to live in. They mutate, become more aggressive to settle down in another organism.”

Ilyinskaya reminds us that humankind once faced such cases or, more precisely, the swine and bird flu. The Wuhan virus is raging around the world now, and it is suspected that it first appeared among bats. At the same time, China has certain food traditions, while when a virus gets into a human it quickly adapts to live in it.

“The coronavirus as well as the flu or HIV contains RNA as information molecule. There is nothing special about it because there are a lot of such viruses. It is completely absurd to say that it has a built-in artificial nucleotide fragment. A synthetic nucleotide fragment anyway repeats the natural diversity of RNA,” Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor is sure. “Synthetic bacteria, particularly Cynthia, do exist — there is such lab research, but it isn’t linked with pathogenicity or spread. The thing is that today’s level of molecular biology allows synthesising it artificially with nucleic acid, introduce it to the empty membrane of the bacterium, and this bacterium will function. It is not notable for any pathogenic features.”

Coronavirus forever

In any case, the true reasons for the appearance of COVID-19 now probably aren’t so important for a layman as well as the questions if this virus will stay with us for long and what to expect from it. In Olga Ilyinskaya’s opinion, “sooner or later we all will fall ill with the new coronavirus” — somebody will severely, somebody — mildly.

“Generally speaking I am sure that many of us were will with it a long time ago, it hadn’t simply been discovered then, its genetic code hadn’t been deciphered. Human will have the so-called collective immunity, and we all will consider the coronavirus as we do now the flu,” the expert thinks.

The professor reminds us that the first flu viruses were terrifying, the well-known Spain flu or HIV can be remembered.

“The more the virus affects the human population, the less active it becomes. If we have a look at the situation from a perspective of the virus, it is unprofitable for it to kill people — it lives inside them. Everything will calm down with time, the disease will have a mild form. There maybe remain separate severe cases, but nowadays we already know who is dying: it is the elderly and patients with chronic diseases. And the situation we now see in the USA demonstrates that medicine is very expensive there: people don’t have insurance, and those who have it anyway have to pay,” Olga Ilyinskaya concludes.

By Lina Sarimova