report-roundup-wtf-is-metabiota-and-what-does-it-do

REPORT ROUNDUP: WTF Is METABIOTA and What Does It Do?


Here is a report roundup for METABIOTA. Metabiota, founded in 2008 in San Francisco, CA, provides “risk analytics” for disease outbreaks. The company has received tens of millions of dollars in funding from the federal government, as well as $500,000 from Hunter Biden’s investment fund, Rosemont Seneca.


METABIOTA (AND HUNTER BIDEN’S RELATIONSHIP TO IT) IN BRIEF

Metabiota, headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded in 2008 by Nathan Wolfe. Wolfe, an American virologist who “spent over eight years conducting biomedical research in both sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia”—and is a member of DARPA’s Defense Science Research Council—led a lab that was the first to discover and describe Simian foamy virus.

In 2012 The Independent said that Wolfe had taken on the moniker “virus hunter” as head of Metabiota as he aimed to build a “‘kind of global immune system’ that would be able to predict and then prevent viral outbreaks by ‘harnessing the power of data.'” Something he felt compelled to do as he was “almost certain” at that time that humanity’s “luck would run out” in the 21st century.

When put to task in 2016, however, the company apparently bungled its response to an Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. The Associated Press reported that “Sylvia Blyden, who served as special executive assistant to the country’s president in the early days of the [Ebola] outbreak, said Metabiota’s response was a disaster,” AP reported. “‘They messed up the entire region,'” she said. The outlet added that Blyden called Metabiota’s attempt to claim credit for its Ebola work “an insult for the memories of thousands of Africans who have died.”

A video demonstrating Metabiota’s “advanced computational analytics.”

WHO Ebola coordinator Philippe Barboza said in an August 8, 2014 email that “Metabiota staffers “are systematically obstructing any attempt to improve the existing surveillance system and there are a lot of improvement(s) needed.”

Cut to March of 2022—after Metabiota received a $1 million investment from Google Ventures in 2021when The Mail reported that “emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop show he helped secure millions of dollars of funding for Metabiota… .”

The claims and evidence from The Mail—which has a copy of the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop—came after a speech given to the Russian Defense Ministry by the commander of the Russian Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Forces Igor Kirillov.

“The incoming materials [from Ukraine] make it possible to trace the interaction pattern between US government agencies and Ukrainian biological objects,” Kirillov said in his speech. “It’s remarkable that structures close to the current US leadership, in particular, the investment fund Rosemont Seneca, headed by Hunter Biden, are involved in the financing of these activities. All of this activity is carried out under the full control of the Pentagon.

Igor Kirillov speaking before the Russian Ministry of Defense

Despite the fact that many say Kirillov’s claims are “Russian disinformation,” however, The Mail reported that “emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop show he helped secure millions of dollars of funding for Metabiota… .” The Mail also reported that “although Metabiota is ostensibly a medical data company, its vice president emailed Hunter in 2014 describing how they could ‘assert Ukraine’s cultural and economic independence from Russia’ – an unusual goal for a biotech firm.”

In the same report The Mail even showcased an email from Vadim Pozharskyi, an adviser on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, discussing a “Science Ukraine” project involving Metabiota with Hunter and his colleagues. In an April 8, 2014 email—which came just days after the email from Metabiota to Hunter touting the company’s aim to “assert Ukraine’s cultural and economic independence from Russia”—Pozharskyi sent a list of questions regarding the “Science Ukraine” project to one of Hunter’s colleagues, Devon Archer. Questions like: “What kind of partnership Metabiota is looking for in Ukraine [sic]? From [sic] potential non-governmental player in Kiev?

On top of all of the other evidence linking Metabiota to Hunter Biden and his colleagues, as well as Burisma in Ukraine, The Mail also noted connections between the risk analytics company and “Chinese scientists [who] performed gain of function research on coronaviruses at the [Wuhan Institute of Virology], working alongside a US-backed organization EcoHealth Alliance that has since drawn intense scrutiny over its coronavirus research since the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Indeed, as The Mail pointed out, researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology—specifically Zhengli Shi, a.k.a. the “Batwoman”—along with researchers from EcoHealth Alliance (Peter Daszak’s operation), and Metabiota published a study together in the journal Viruses. In the study Daszak, the “Batwoman” et al. “characterized the fecal pathogen microbiome of both insectivorous and frugivorous bats, incorporating 281 individual bats comprising 20 common species, which were sampled in three locations of Yunnan province… .”

Beyond Hunter Biden, a cross-sectional view of Metabiota’s financing reveals a funding and partnership web amongst several key organizations that architected the global response to COVID-19. Incredibly, Metabiota has received funding from: The DoD, Rosemont Seneca, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, and USAID. Metabiota is also partnered, in one way or another, with the World Economic Forum (WEF), as well as Amazon’s AWS. In-Q-Tel, the “venture capitalist” arm of the CIA, is also invested in Metabiota.

Despite Kirillov‘s claims—and those of former Navy officer and journalist Jack Maxey—it is difficult to find readily available evidence online directly connecting Metabiota to any gain-of-function (GOF) research. While there are many more papers involving researchers from Metabiota along with the one from 2014 in Viruses—it seems, as of right now—there is no source evidence showing the company was performing GOF research; although Kirillov’s claim was, more specifically, that Metabiota supplied the means (equipment and lab supplies, etc.) to allow the Ukrainians to do so.


THE INDEPENDENT (AUGUST 31, 2012)

“Up to now, we have been bullet dodging, but right now lurking in the jungle are viruses that, if they crossed over, have the capability to kill hundreds of millions of us,” Wolfe said in an August 2012 article in The Independent. “And in a world where for the first time in history we can travel from the heart of the jungle to downtown London in little more than 24 hours there is an ever-increasing risk our luck is going to run out,” the virologist added.

The article refers to Wolfe as a “virus hunter” aiming to build a “‘kind of global immune system’ that would be able to predict and then prevent viral outbreaks by ‘harnessing the power of data.'” Something he felt compelled to do as he was “almost certain” at that time that humanity’s “luck would run out” in the 21st century.

Image: Tom Clynes

The Independent notes that, at the time, Wolfe’s goal with Metabiota was to aggregate together information from “jungle hunters reporting strange deaths of wild animals” indicating the possible outbreak of a novel disease with “sickness records” from the global workforce.

The article does describe Wolfe as being “concerned” that “understandable fears over privacy” would hinder the “good use” of personal data, however.


AP NEWS (MARCH 7, 2016)

As the Associated Press reported in March 2016, Metabiota apparently bungled its task at helping to monitor the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean government and the World Health Organization (WHO) entered the picture in 2014 to help the response after Ebola virus—a highly deadly pathogen that causes horrendous effects on the body—was found circulating in the neighboring country of Guinea.

Emails obtained by AP as well as interviews with aid workers on the ground, however, showed that “some of [Metabiota’s] actions made an already chaotic situation worse.”

“In Sierra Leone, Sylvia Blyden, who served as special executive assistant to the country’s president in the early days of the outbreak, said Metabiota’s response was a disaster,” AP reported. “‘They messed up the entire region,'” she said. The outlet said that Blyden called Metabiota’s attempt to claim credit for its Ebola work “an insult for the memories of thousands of Africans who have died.”

AP News reported at the time that Dr. Eric Bertherat, an outbreak expert at the WHO, wrote to colleagues in a July 17, 2014, email about “total confusion” at the Sierra Leone government lab Metabiota shared with Tulane University. AP reported that Bertherat wrote there was “no tracking of the samples” and “absolutely no control on what is being done.” He even stated outright in writing that “This is a situation that WHO can no longer endorse.”

In response to the letter Wolfe said there was “no evidence his company was responsible for the lab blunders” (AP’s words), and that “the reported squabbles were overblown and that any predictions made by his employees didn’t reflect the company’s position” (AP’s words). AP reported that Wolfe claimed “Metabiota doesn’t specialize in outbreak response and that his employees stepped in to help and performed admirably amid the carnage of the world’s biggest-ever Ebola outbreak.”

AP also reported that WHO Ebola coordinator Philippe Barboza said in an August 8, 2014 email that “Metabiota staffers “are systematically obstructing any attempt to improve the existing surveillance system and there are a lot of improvement(s) needed.” AP reported that the next day he said the WHO should pull its outbreak staff from the area so they wouldn’t be tarred with Metabiota’s failures, writing he was “very concerned of the potential reputational risk for WHO.”


PILOT GROWTH (2021)

On an unspecified date in 2021 Pilot Growth Equity Partners reported Google Ventures had invested $1 million in Metabiota. Pilot Growth reported that “Google Ventures, the venture arm of Internet giant Google Inc., also will partner with Metabiota, offering its big-data expertise to help the company serve its customers–insurers, government agencies and other organizations–by offering them forecasting and risk-management tools… .” As of this writing, it seems Metabiota’s most useful tool available to the public online is its “epidemic tracker.” The video immediately below gives a synopsis of the tool’s purpose.


THE DAILY MAIL (MARCH 25, 2022)

On March 25, 2022 The Daily Mail—which also helped to break the Hunter Biden laptop storyreported on a claim from Moscow that Hunter had helped to finance a US military “bioweapons” research program in Ukraine. In a speech given to the Russian Defense Ministry the commander of the Russian Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Forces, Igor Kirillov, said 30 biolabs in 14 Ukrainian settlements had been engaged in the development of biological weapons prior to Russia’s invasion of the country.

In his speech, Kirillov specifically calls out Hunter Biden, Rosemont Seneca, and Metabiota—all by name:

“The incoming materials [from Ukraine] make it possible to trace the interaction pattern between US government agencies and Ukrainian biological objects. It’s remarkable that structures close to the current US leadership, in particular, the investment fund Rosemont Seneca, headed by Hunter Biden, are involved in the financing of these activities. All of this activity is carried out under the full control of the Pentagon.

Kirillov also said in his speech that:

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has often turned its attention to the military-biological program, rolled out on post-Soviet space by the Pentagon. Including on the territory of Ukraine, which housed 30 biolabs that could be divided into ‘scientific research’ and ‘sanitary-biological [ones].

“The funding agency of the work is the Ministry of Defense of the US, DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency). The work is carried out by a military department of Black & Veatch. Their work is tasked across three directives. One: Monitoring of the biological environment around the military locations of NATO. Two: Repatriation of different strains of dangerous pathogens to the U.S. Three: Research on potential agents of biological weapons; specific to this region and that have natural foci, and can be passed on to people.

“For example, since 2021, the Pentagon has been monitoring, diagnosing zoonotic diseases among the Armed Forces of Ukraine – with funding of $1.8 million dollars.”

Despite the fact that some have referred to Kirillov’s claims as “Russian disinformation,” The Mail reported that “emails from Hunter’s abandoned laptop show he helped secure millions of dollars of funding for Metabiota… .” The Mail also reported that “although Metabiota is ostensibly a medical data company, its vice president emailed Hunter in 2014 describing how they could ‘assert Ukraine’s cultural and economic independence from Russia’ – an unusual goal for a biotech firm.”

According to emails from/to Hunter The Mail says the President’s son and his colleagues via their investment firm, Rosemont Seneca, invested $500,000 in Metabiota. Hunter also apparently helped to finance Metabiota by raising “several million dollars of funding for the company” from giant investment firms, including Goldman Sachs.

The Mail even showcases an email from Vadim Pozharskyi, an adviser on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, discussing a “Science Ukraine” project with Hunter and his colleagues. In an April 8, 2014 email—which came just days after the email from Metabiota to Hunter touting the company’s aim to “assert Ukraine’s cultural and economic independence from Russia”—Pozharskyi sent a list of questions regarding the “Science Ukraine” project to one of Hunter’s colleagues, Devon Archer. Immediately below are some of the bullet-pointed questions, verbatim (with Pozharsky’s grammatical errors unchanged):

“1. Financing. As I understand the Metabiota was a subcontract to principal contractor of the DoD B&V. Today they seem to state that financing is closed. What was the reason of stopping the projects and financing of the projects? They look for a new financing? Do they expect to receive it again from B&V or they look for else were?

“2. What kind of partnership Metabiota is looking for in Ukraine? From potential non-governmental player in Kiev? Rebuilt the ties with respective ministries in Ukraine, and on the basis of that reinstate the financing from the B&V? Or they look for partnership in managing projects in Ukraine, PR with Government institutions here, financing of the projects?

“((Metabiota counterparts in Ukraine were (i.e. final beneficiary and the recipient of the results of the projects) were ministries of from Ukraine, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health. From the Ukrainian governmental point of you, it looks like standard international Assistance project, that could be technical, financial, etc))

“3. The principal contractor B&V seems to be also the party that operates in Ukraine on the similar or the same projects. There is no competition here?”

“Emails and defense contract data reviewed by DailyMail.com suggest that Hunter had a prominent role in making sure Metabiota was able to conduct its pathogen research just a few hundred miles from the border with Russia,” The Mail added in its March 25, 2022 report.

The Mail also reported that “Hunter’s pitches to investors claimed that they not only organized funding for the firm, they also helped it ‘get new customers’ including ‘government agencies in case of Metabiota.'”

The Mail also reports that the Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Metabiota a total of $18.4 million in government grants. Indeed, a search of usaspending.gov now turns up—as of this writing—approximately $25 million in DoD funding for Metabiota.

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On top of all of the other evidence linking Metabiota to Hunter Biden and his colleagues, as well as Burisma in Ukraine, The Mail also notes connections between the risk analytics company and “Chinese scientists [who] performed gain of function research on coronaviruses at the [Wuhan Institute of Virology], working alongside a US-backed organization EcoHealth Alliance that has since drawn intense scrutiny over its coronavirus research since the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Indeed, as The Mail points out, researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology—specifically Zhengli Shi, a.k.a. the “Batwoman”—along with researchers from EcoHealth Alliance (Peter Daszak’s operation), and Metabiota published a study together in the journal Viruses. In the study, Daszak, the “Batwoman” et al. “characterized the fecal pathogen microbiome of both insectivorous and frugivorous bats, incorporating 281 individual bats comprising 20 common species, which were sampled in three locations of Yunnan province… .”

In the acknowledgements for the paper, the authors write, in part, that the research was “made possible by the generous support of the American people” through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


FUNDING AND PARTNERSHIP WEB

It should be noted that a cross-sectional view of Metabiota’s funding reveals a funding and partnership web amongst several key organizations that architected the global response to COVID-19. As noted above, Metabiota has now received funding from: The DoD, Rosemont Seneca, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the CDC, and USAID. Metabiota is also partnered, in one way or another, with the World Economic Forum (WEF), as well as Amazon’s AWS. Although in the case of AWS, Amazon says that “By using Rescale [a hosting service] on AWS, the Metabiota data science team and their collaborators can focus on their data and simulation modeling rather than infrastructure procurement and management.” A description that makes the partnership seem surface depth.

In-Q-Tel, the “venture capitalist” arm of the CIA, is also invested in Metabiota.

WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE THAT METABIOTA ACTUALLY MANIPULATES VIRUSES?

While Kirillov claimed in his speech before the Russian Ministry of Defense that Metabiota is linked to biolabs in Ukraine, source evidence for this claim is difficult to find. Nowhere on its site does Metabiota say that it performs anything like gain-of-function (GOF) with viruses, and certainly not GOF itself. As per Wolfe’s “virus hunter” moniker, it does seem that Metabiota merely tracks down and characterizes viruses, but does not manipulate them; i.e. there is no source evidence (as of this writing) that clearly shows the company was involved in the kind of work that EcoHealth Alliance was at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (Even the work Metabiota did with EcoHealth doesn’t seem like it had anything to do with GOF research per se.)

However, not only did Kirillov claim that Metabiota was performing dangerous experiments in Ukraine using viral pathogens, but so too does Jack Maxey; the former Navy officer and journalist who was one of the first people to see the contents of Hunter’s abandoned laptop for himself.

Indeed, even though there is no clear evidence of Metabiota performing dangerous experiments with pathogens in Ukraine (or anywhere else) readily available online, what the company is doing with its funds from the DoD or HHS is extraordinarily vague. On the page outlining the DoD’s grants to Metabiota, the agency simply reports the project is “R&D” for “International affairs and cooperation (basic research).” The description for Metabiota’s HHS grant simply states as its description: “Global health security partner engagement: Expanding efforts and strategies to protect and improve public health globally.”

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While there is no easily accessible evidence of Metabiota’s involvement in any GOF research as of this writing, even if the claim does turn out to be “Russian disinformation,” it should be noted that former senior CIA officer Sam Faddis, who has reviewed emails on Hunter’s laptop, told The Mail that Hunter et al.’s “attempt to get Metabiota to form a partnership with Burisma was a perplexing and worrying revelation.” Faddis added that “His father was the Vice President of the United States and in charge of relations with Ukraine,” and posed the question: “[W]hy was Hunter not only on the board of a suspect Ukrainian gas firm, but also hooked them up with a company working on bioweapons research?”


Feature image: Metabiota

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