Lab leak theory fuels growing calls for new China ‘probe’
Beijing brands US report ‘lies’ amid allegations that lab ‘researchers became sick’ just before Wuhan outbreak
A new investigation into the source of the Covid-19 pandemic should be launched at a top-secret Chinese laboratory.
More than 168 million people have been infected globally since SARS-CoV-2 first officially surfaced in Wuhan in December 2019. At least 3.4 million have died.
Nearly 17 months later, the origins of the coronavirus strain still remain a mystery despite growing evidence that it might have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“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 intelligence report [in the United States] that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory,” The Wall Street Journal reported at the weekend.
- The new details go beyond a US State Department fact sheet last year.
- The information was also released ahead of a crucial World Health Organization meeting.
- In the WSJ report, the “three researchers” had “symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”
- The WHO sent a mission to Wuhan earlier this year to trace the origins of the virus.
- The study was inconclusive and widely criticized.
- Since then, documents uncovered by the US State Department have alleged that Covid-19 might have been part of a Chinese biological military program.
- The ruling Communist Party government has denied the accusations.
What was said: “We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2, but we’ve been clear that sound and technically credible theories should be thoroughly evaluated by international experts,” a National Security Council spokeswoman told the WSJ.
Reaction to the news: “I’ve read it, it’s a complete lie,” Yuan Zhiming, the director of the institute’s Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, told the state-controlled Global Times in response to the WSJ report.
Where is the evidence: Peter Daszak, who was part of the WHO mission to Wuhan, told the CNN television network in February that there was “still no evidence that this came from a lab.”
Risk levels: The WHO concluded in its initial Wuhan report that the risk of an accident was “extremely low.”
Show me the data: A letter signed by 18 influential scientists in Science magazine has called for further investigations into the pandemic’s origins. “Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable. We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,” they said.
China Factor comment: The rapid spread of Covid-19 has only been matched by a Chinese state-run “disinformation” campaign, orchestrated from Beijing. Then there is the cover-up in Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced, and the fact it took more than a year for a WHO team to get into the city. No wonder there are suspicious minds at work.