By R. Cort Kirkwood
You wouldn’t know it from the leftist mainstream media, but a recently released congressional report about the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) almost certainly proves that the China virus — SARS-CoV-2 — leaked from a poorly run lab at the institute. Other than Fox News and Reuters, few if any reports detailed the carefully constructed case in The Origins of Covid-19: An Investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published by the minority staff of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The 84-page paper reprises much of what has been widely reported about the lab-leak theory, including details in The New American’slengthy story (“COVID Lab-leak Theory: Media Lied, People Died,” July 5, 2021). The minority report shows just what Communist China’s real-life Fu Manchus did in the lab, and what they didn’t do.
Chinese labs suffered myriad safety problems, and authorities were renovating the lab at the institute, specifically a nearby satellite campus, from which the virus escaped. Chinese with COVID-19 symptoms began surging into Wuhan’s hospitals as early as September 2019, three months before the virus spread around the world. Athletes from around the globe assembled in Wuhan, ground zero for the outbreak, for the Military World Games in October. They took the virus back home.
When Democrats on Capitol Hill will agree to an independent probe is anyone’s guess, but the Biden regime’s report on the lab leak theory, was, as the leftist media said, “inconclusive.”
Safety and Renovations
It’s worth reviewing what already was known before the Republicans on the committee released their report:
• In her lab at the institute using U.S. taxpayer money and gene-forwarding know-how from American scientists, the notorious Bat Lady, Shi Zheng-li, modified a virus that could infect humans;
• Lab workers became ill and spread the virus throughout the city;
• The scientist who helped cover up the lab leak funneled those U.S. taxpayer grants to the lab;
• Chinese military personnel collaborated with institute scientists;
• The People’s Liberation Army published a paper that discussed a “new era of genetic weapons” as the Bat Lady monkeyed with the virus; and
• Chinese communists lied about a SARS virus outbreak in 2002.
We also know that alarmed U.S. science diplomats expressed safety concerns about the lab in 2018. But they were not alone, the minority report notes.
“One year later, in June 2019, George Gao, the Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed concerns about safety protocols at the WIV,” the House report observes. Wrote Gao:
Advances in biomedical technologies, such as genome editing and synthetic biotechnology, have the potential to provide new avenues for biological intervention in human diseases.… However, the proliferation of such technologies means they will also be available to the ambitious, careless, inept, and outright malcontents, who may misuse them in ways that endanger our safety. For example, [they might create] unexpected off-target mutations within genomes or the possibility of gene drive initiation in humans, animals, insects, and plants. Similarly, genetic modification of pathogens, which may expand host range as well as increase transmission and virulence, may result in new risks for epidemics.
Gao cited several examples of dangerous mutations, including “synthetic bat-origin SARS-like coronaviruses [that] acquired an increased capability to infect human cells.”
In September 2019, Yuan Zhiming, director of the Biosecurity Level 4 lab at the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory (WNBL), the institute’s satellite campus, confessed serious safety worries in the Journal of Biosafety and Biosecurity.
“The article discusses at length the construction of the WNBL.” The minority report observes:
Yuan identifies multiple key issues, including inadequate biosafety management systems, insufficient resources for efficient laboratory operation, and deficiency of professional capacity. With a surprising level of transparency, Yuan admits that the enforcement of pathogen, waste, and laboratory animal management regulations “needs to be strengthened.”
Beyond that, just before the release of the virus, the WNBL’s hazardous-waste treatment system “was undergoing renovation,” the report says. And “the central air conditioning system at one of the facilities needed to be renovated, which likely resulted in lower than ideal air circulation and enabling viral particles to remain suspended in the air longer.”
Data that point to the lab leak came from researchers at Boston University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Those scientists tracked parking-lot volume at hospitals in Wuhan before the outbreak hit full force.
“They found that five of six hospitals analyzed had the highest relative daily volume of cars in the parking lot in September and October 2019, before the first reported cases of COVID-19,” the report says. Those hospitals, all within 6.5 miles of the institute and connected by public transportation, “saw a rise in traffic with patients complaining of COVID-19 symptoms.”
The report then links the institute, its experiments, the hospitals, and the transportation system:
[A] daily shuttle bus transfers WIV researchers from the Wuhan Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to the WNBL facility and back again. According to public mapping data, the shuttle pick up and drop off point is less than 500 meters from the WIV Headquarters. As such, it is likely that researchers from both the WIV Headquarters, as well as the WNBL, used the Wuhan metro and/or the WNBL shuttle bus, as part of their daily work commute.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude … that in early September, one or more researchers became infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the lab and carried it out into the city. Based on the WIV’s publications, researchers could have been exposed while experimenting with a natural virus collected from the wild or infected with a virus they genetically manipulated. Those researchers likely traveled to and from the WIV via the Wuhan metro or via the shuttle service, providing a vector for the virus to spread.
That assessment backs up what we’ve known all along, and what former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo observed: A major virus outbreak occurred in the city where a major virology institute genetically manipulated the bat-borne microbe.
That raises the question of how the virus spread around the world so quickly. One reason was China’s hosting the Military World Games that October — just two months before the pandemic became known, but at the same time Wuhan’s hospitals were packed with patients with COVID-19-like symptoms.
The games drew more than 9,000 athletes from 109 countries, including Russia, Brazil, France, Germany, and Poland; 236,000 volunteers stayed in 90 hotels. More than 2,000 drivers shuttled them around town.
“During the games, many of the international athletes became sick with what now appear to be symptoms of COVID-19,” the report says. An athlete from Luxembourg said Wuhan was a “ghost town” and that authorities took his temperature at the airport when he entered the country.
A Canadian military man described contracting the lab-fortified virus:
This was a city of 15 million people that was in lockdown. It was strange, but we were told this was to make it easy for the Games’ participants to get around. [I got] very sick 12 days after we arrived, with fever, chills, vomiting, insomnia…. On our flight to come home, 60 Canadian athletes on the flight were put in isolation [at the back of the plane] for the 12-hour flight. We were sick with symptoms ranging from coughs to diarrhea and in between.
The athlete’s family members “became ill as his symptoms increased, a development that is consistent with both human-to-human transmission of a viral infection and COVID-19,” the report continues. “Similar claims about COVID-19 like symptoms have been made by athletes from Germany, France, Italy, and Sweden.”
Those claims are important because the four countries confirmed that the virus had entered their countries by November or December — “before the news of an outbreak first became public.” (Emphasis added.) The athletes unknowingly helped transmit the virus globally.
Details from the four nations explain the timeline and infections:
1. Italy. In February 2021, researchers from Italy published a research letter in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal describing a case involving a 4-year-old boy from Milan. A retrospective analysis of samples taken in 2019 identified the boy, who developed a cough on November 21, 2019, as having been infected with SARS-CoV-2 three months before Italy’s first reported case. The boy had no reported travel history.
2. Brazil. A March 2021 article by researchers in Brazil examined wastewater samples from October to December 2019. Previous studies have confirmed that humans infected with the virus can experience prolonged viral shedding via their gastrointestinal tract. A sample from November 27th tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, confirming the virus was circulating in Santa Catarina, Brazil months before January 21, 2020, when the first case in the Americas was reported.
3. Sweden. Sweden’s Public Health Agency said it is likely that individuals in the country were infected with SARS-CoV-2 as early as November 2019.
4. France. Researchers in France also re-tested samples from late 2019 in an effort to identify early COVID-19 cases. They identified a 42-year-old male who presented to the emergency room on December 27th with an influenza-like illness. He had no connection to the PRC and no recent travel history. Upon re-testing, the patient’s samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. It should be noted that one of his children also had similar symptoms before the man became sick, suggesting that the first case in France was likely earlier than December 27th.
But recall that athletes were falling ill while still in China. “The presence of SARS-CoV-2 in four countries, on two separate continents, suggests a common source,” the report says. “The 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan appears to be a key vector in the global spread — in other words, potentially one of the first ‘super spreader’ events.”
Let’s be clear on why the athletes were infected: China permitted the games to continue even though lab workers and others had contracted the virus as early as September.
The Full Lab-leak Hypothesis
The report presents 16 pages of evidence and arguments that the Chinese communists covered up the lab leak. Early on, they claimed the virus bubbled out of the filthy, repulsive wet markets in Wuhan, which sell exotic animals, including bats that carry coronaviruses, for human consumption. Someone must have contracted the virus from a bat, the claim was, and the pathogen spread from that individual.
That was hooey. The Chinese knew very well that the institute’s Bat Lady and her lab underlings were fiddling with bat viruses — the institute is tightly connected to the People’s Liberation Army — and that a U.S. scientist helped her create a souped-up pathogen that would infect humans.
The report assembled all the data and provides what by all measures appears to be the definitive story of how the virus, possibly created as a bioweapon but released from the lab accidentally, spread globally so quickly.
But the Bat Lady and her sidekicks weren’t, again, merely looking at viruses under a microscope. They were genetically altering bat coronaviruses. “They were actively testing novel and genetically manipulated coronaviruses.… A defective hazardous waste treatment system and central air conditioning system would increase the likelihood of a lab employee (or several) becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, as viral particles would be more likely to remain in the air for longer periods of time.”
Riding on an institute shuttle and Wuhan’s metro system, infected lab workers ran thither and yon about the city, which spread the virus. Moreover, the authorities knew something was amiss. Once the “accidental release occurred,” the report says, at midnight local time on September 12, worried officials ordered lab inspections for late September. Hours later, “the WIV’s viral sequence database is taken offline.”
But the clues to a lab leak kept piling up in the action of “worried officials”:
Roughly 17 hours later … the WIV publishes a procurement announcement for “security services” at the WNBL, to include gatekeepers, guards, video surveillance, security patrols, and people to handle the “registration and reception of foreign personnel.” The budget provided was in excess of $1.2 million.
In order to prevent national embarrassment, the decision was made to allow the 2019 Military World Games to continue. No spectators were allowed to attend the games, but international athletes and some of the 236,000 volunteers still become infected, spreading the virus in the city. Dozens of athletes fall ill with symptoms. Since COVID-19 can infect humans without causing symptoms, an untold number of athletes and volunteers become infected, but are asymptomatic and unaware they are infectious.
The athletes return to their home countries in late October, carrying SARS-CoV-2 across the world. Just as was the case in 2002 with SARS, the CCP sought to hide the outbreak, wasting precious time that could have been used to prevent the global pandemic. By the time the world was alerted to the virus spreading in Wuhan, it had already begun to spread around the world.
In December, as cases begin to overload local hospitals, it became impossible to hide the outbreak.
In February, the Reds persuaded American scientists and those who backed the dangerous gene-forwarding experiment to say any discussion of a lab leak was a “conspiracy theory,” a lie the leftist mainstream media uncritically and relentlessly repeated. The panicked public was clueless. The media became nothing more than a transmission belt for Communist Chinese lies.
One reason the media conspired with the Chinese so readily — instead of skeptically investigating denials of a lab leak — is surely because of its single-minded hatred of President Trump. He said the virus leaked from a lab early on. But such was the media’s Trump Derangement they refused to entertain even the mere possibility.
Now, they seem equally unenthused to report what the minority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has shown in a comprehensive, extensively researched, and footnoted report.
As always, leftist Democrats, and even neoconservatives within the Republican Party, couldn’t care less.
Yet regardless of whether the media, Congress, or President Biden ever admit the truth, no one will ever get the remorseless Reds to pay the doctor’s bill.