On May 23, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. intelligence agencies have been aware of the possibility of lab accident at the Wuhan Institute for Virology occurring as early as Nov. 2019, a month before the virus was clinically recognized.
According to the Journal: “Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.” The intelligence report came atop a separate State Department fact sheet that stated the researchers had “symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
The inquiry, led by the State Department’s arms control and verification bureau, was investigating whether Covid was a biological weapon since at least last fall and was shut down early on in the Biden administration, CNN reported on May 26.
But then, just as reporting of the scuttled State Department inquiry was becoming public, President Joe Biden immediately issued a statement on May 26 that in March he has “asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information” on “whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.”
The Biden statement noted, “As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question. Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.’”
This all corroborates a May 2020 Australian Daily Telegraph news story that quoted a “Five Eyes” intelligence report on the potential Wuhan lab origins of Covid. According to the Daily Telegraph, “[The dossier] states that to the ‘endangerment of other countries’ the Chinese government covered-up news of the virus by silencing or ‘disappearing’ doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories and refusing to provide live samples to international scientists who were working on a vaccine… As intelligence agencies investigate whether the virus inadvertently leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, the team and its research led by scientist Shi Zhengli feature in the dossier prepared by Western governments that points to several studies they conducted as areas of concern.”
Moreover, the intelligence report was aware that western governments “funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure, and is now the subject of a probe into the origins of COVID-19.”
The intel report itself stated, “Despite evidence of human-human transmission from early December, PRC authorities deny it until January 20… The World Health Organisation does the same. Yet officials in Taiwan raised concerns as early as December 31, as did experts in Hong Kong on January 4.”
So, U.S. and western intelligence agencies have known that the virus could have been spawned at the Wuhan Institute for Virology since May 2020 – and probably earlier if the intel goes back to 2019.
In turn, the latest revelations have rightly prompted renewed calls for the World Health Organization to investigate the Wuhan lab as a potential source for the virus. But it also raises significant questions about information sharing in the federal government related to the pandemic:
- Were intelligence agencies giving scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National institutes of Health (NIH) everything they needed to potentially identify patient(s) zero in Wuhan, China to best combat the virus?
- Were scientists who were working on federally funded research in China forthcoming with policymakers in the executive and legislative branches about what they knew about the potential Wuhan laboratory origins of Covid?
In short: What did we know about Wuhan, and when did we know it? Former President Donald Trump touted this theory a lot during his term of office to near-universal dismissal by mainstream media and Washington, D.C. establishment, but only recently has it gained public traction.
Was Trump right all along?
Take the most recent flip-flop by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), on the potential Wuhan lab origin of the Covid pandemic, which could be the final straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
Dr. Fauci’s most definitive statements on this matter came in May 2020 with an interview with National Geographic. When asked by Nsikan Akpan if the virus could have really come from the Wuhan lab, either as a result of genetic manipulation or was caught in the wild and then released from the lab accidentally, Dr. Fauci categorically dismissed both possibilities.
“Well, there’s two issues,” Fauci said, explaining, “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now it’s very, very strongly leaning towards this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated, the way the mutations have naturally evolved. A number of very qualified evolutionary biologists have said that everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
Second, Fauci said: “[I]f it was in the wild and evolved in it, [with] the likelihood it jumps species naturally, someone will say, well, maybe somebody took it from the wild, put it in the lab, but that means it was in the wild to begin with.”
At that point in the interview, Fauci was laughing at the idea, adding, “So, that’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about. If it isn’t manipulated in the lab, and you’re trying to say it escaped from the lab, then how did it get in the lab? It got in the lab because somebody isolated it from the environment. So, that’s the reason I don’t spend a lot of time going in that circular argument.”
This is incredibly misleading, and here’s why. Fauci definitively knew (or should have know) that at that point, there was ongoing U.S. taxpayer-funded research from the NIAID and USAID to Ecohealth Alliance, which subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, that specifically was taking bats out of the wild and researching these dangerous coronaviruses at the lab.
A $666,442 grant by NIAID via the NIH beginning in 2014 to the EcoHealth Alliance was in fact subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute via the Director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Dr. Shi Zheng-li.
A Nov. 2017 study on bat-to-human Covid transmission co-authored Dr. Shi was “jointly funded by… the National Institutes of Health (NIAID R01AI110964), the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) PREDICT program to PD and ZLS,” among others, according to the study itself.
Fourteen of the study’s authors, including Dr. Shi, are attributed as a part of the “CAS Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases of Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China,” on the first page of the study.
In addition, the study made use of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, stating in the acknowledgements, “We thank the Center for Instrumental Analysis and Metrology of Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS, for the assistance in taking confocal microscope pictures”.
According to the grant award from NIH, the funding was for a study in China of “bat-CoV serology against human-wildlife contact and exposure data to quantify risk factors and health impacts of SARSr-CoV spillover” and to “use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential.”
And in a Dec. 2019 interview, Dr. Peter Daszak of EcoHealth, which received the grant funding, admitted that the research at the Wuhan lab was in fact with novel coronaviruses and that the viruses were in fact being manipulated: “we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new SARS-related corona viruses, very close to SARS… Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanised mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger… I think … corona viruses – you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happen with corona virus, in zoonotic risk. So you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work a lot with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert into the backbone of another virus and do some work in the lab. So you can get more predictive when you find a sequence. You’ve got this diversity. Now the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s insert some of these other things and get a better vaccine.”
So, of course it could have escaped from the lab. The very scenario Dr. Fauci described that “you’re trying to say it escaped from the lab… because somebody isolated it from the environment,” was not only plausible, but a high likelihood, precisely because per the study’s lead, Dr. Dasnak, there were “over 100 new SARS-related corona viruses, very close to SARS… in the lab” that was being funded in part by NIH and NIAID in an effort to study bat-to-human coronaviruses.
For Fauci, last year, this was almost a rhetorical point, basically saying, well, if it came from the wild, whether from the cave or the cave and then the lab, what difference does it make? It came from the wild, right?
Now, a year later, Fauci is not as dismissive of either idea. Now, per Fauci, perhaps it was genetically made at the lab or was caught in the wild and accidentally released from the lab after all. Thanks for telling us!
On May 11, replying in testimony to a question from Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), on whether the virus could have been the result of a lab accident, Fauci stated, “That possibility certainly exists, and I am totally in favor of a full investigation of whether that could have happened.”
And on whether it was possible that the virus in fact was not naturally occurring, Fauci told Marshall, “That is a possibility. I don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to prove that, but you always need to open up and leave all possibilities, which is why I and so many of my colleagues are in favor of what the WHO said, that they want to go back and take another look in there and see what was going on in that lab.”
Here, Fauci is referring to a May 14 letter to Science magazine co-authored by Dr. David Relman of Stanford University School of Medicine and 17 other doctors says a lab accident remains a “viable” hypothesis alongside a natural event, and urging further review of the subject: “Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable. Knowing how COVID-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks… In November, the Terms of Reference for a China–WHO joint study were released. The information, data, and samples for the study’s first phase were collected and summarized by the Chinese half of the team; the rest of the team built on this analysis. Although there were no findings in clear support of either a natural spillover or a lab accident, the team assessed a zoonotic spillover from an intermediate host as ‘likely to very likely,’ and a laboratory incident as ‘extremely unlikely’. Furthermore, the two theories were not given balanced consideration. Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident. Notably, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus com-mented that the report’s consideration of evidence supporting a laboratory accident was insufficient and offered to provide additional resources to fully evaluate the possibility. As scientists with relevant expertise, we agree with the WHO director-general, the United States and 13 other countries, and the European Union that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve. We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data.”
Notably, one of the letter’s coauthors is Dr. Ralph Baric of the Department of Epidemiology and Department of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of Dr. Shi’s long-time research collaborators, and one of the world’s foremost experts on novel coronaviruses. In a 2015 study, Baric and Shi were able to combine two separate coronaviruses to create a new one. It appears Baric is worried that such an experiment could have absolutely been the cause of the pandemic, but more investigation is needed.
Additionally, in questioning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on May 11, Dr. Fauci stated “[The] NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
When Paul asked if “Covid 19 could not have occurred through serial passage [a method of creating a virus] in a laboratory,” Dr. Fauci stated, “I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done and I am fully in favor of any further investigation of what went on in China,” and added, “However, I will repeat, the NIH…categorically has not funded gain of function research to be conducted in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
But then, on May 26, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Fauci, “How do you know they didn’t lie to you and use the money for gain of function research anyway?” Fauci replied, “You never know.”
So, to summarize: In the past year, Dr. Fauci has said that Covid most likely came from the wild and was not manipulated in the lab, and that there was no lab accident involving bat-to-human coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which U.S. tax dollars were most certainly not funding. And then, in hindsight, Fauci says that both Wuhan lab manipulation of bat-to-human Covid and a potential accident there are real possibilities, and it turns out the NIAID, which Fauci heads, was funding that very type of research in China.
Finally, the straw that breaks the camel’s back: U.S. intelligence agencies have had information that corroborates the Wuhan lab origin of the virus since at least last fall, but probably months longer than that.
As a result, Republican lawmakers are now calling for Dr. Fauci’s removal as the head of NIAID, with “Fauci’s Incompetence Requires Early Dismissal Act” or the “FIRED Act” by U.S. Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). In addition, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) is proposing H.R. 834, which would create a bipartisan commission to look at the origins of the virus.
And that’s the least of it. As of today, more than 3.5 million people worldwide have died from Covid since last year.
And as far as we know, former President Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were the only public officials who attempted to get the information on the potential Wuhan lab origins of Covid to the American people, and for probably for political reasons — chiefly, manipulating the outcome of the 2020 election — official Washington, D.C. sat on the information and categorically dismissed any who dared to question the official narrative. They even got social media to ban accounts, such as those maintained by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who were trying to bring this information to the public fore.
As for all those in favor of Covid censorship, here’s my question: How many lives could have been saved if intelligence agencies and NIH had been forthcoming about everything they knew in the first place? And what are they still hiding? How do you people sleep at night?
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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