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There are can order at least 10k-basepair DNA synthesis online, longer sequences are "call to get a quote" on the sites I found. The smallest synthetic genome for a viable self-replicating bacterium is 531kb. The genome for a virus would be even smaller.

My understanding is that there are existing processes to encapsulate genes into virus shells from other species for gene therapy purposes. That leaves the logistics of buying both services, hooking them up and getting the particles injected into some lab animals.

It doesn't look trivial, but less complicated than buying an entire nuclear arsenal.

Point (b) sounds like early stages of gain of function research.

What updates on your predictions, if any, would you make if we learned that the variant developed from a long-term infection in an immunocompromised person, i.e. had plenty of opportunity to adapt to the immune response.