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FTR #1170 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 25: The Oswald Institute of Virology

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FTR #1170 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Revis­it­ing Peter Daszak, cen­tral­ly involved in the gain-of-func­tion research that appears to have spawned the SARS CoV2 virus and Covid-19, we note that Daszak has deflect­ed inquiries into his work by call­ing crit­ics “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists.”  ” . . . The ‘media-indus­tri­al com­plex’ includes peo­ple in pow­er who vehe­ment­ly, if irra­tional­ly, deny a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al ver­sion of his­to­ry, auto­mat­i­cal­ly mock­ing any­one who sub­scribes to it as a ‘con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist,’ code words for ‘dan­ger­ous­ly deranged fool.’ Utter­ing the phrase ‘con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist’ is used as a con­ve­nient way of shut­ting down con­ver­sa­tion on a sub­ject. . . .”

We begin by return­ing to the sub­ject of syn­the­siz­ing virus­es in a lab­o­ra­to­ry. A study released by US Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences at the request of the Depart­ment of Defense about the threats of syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy con­clud­ed that the tech­niques to tweak and weaponize virus­es from known cat­a­logs of viral sequences is very fea­si­ble and rel­a­tive­ly easy to do.

In FTR #‘s 1157, 1158 and 1159, we high­light­ed very dis­turb­ing con­nec­tions between Peter Daszak and his Eco­Health Alliance and the Pen­ta­gon and USAID, a State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that serves as a fre­quent cov­er for CIA.

The Eco­Health Alliance–financed by USAID–partnered with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy and Dr. Ralph Bar­ic of the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill to research bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es. A “chimeric” virus was cre­at­ed by Bar­ic under this pro­gram in 2015, and Bar­ic was sub­se­quent­ly select­ed to cre­ate the SARS Cov‑2 virus from scratch.

It is our con­sid­ered view that the WIV was set up for the blame for Covid-19, in a man­ner not unlike the “Paint­ing of Oswald Red” dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #‘s 925 and 926, as well as our series of inter­views with Jim DiEu­ge­nio.

We have also not­ed the pro­found links between ele­ments of the mil­i­tary and treat­ment reg­i­mens (vac­cines and med­i­cines) for Covid-19.

A new arti­cle adds fur­ther depth to the alarm­ing con­nec­tions of Daszak, the Eco­Health Alliance and Jef­frey Sachs. (As dis­cussed in a num­ber of pro­grams, includ­ing the above-men­tioned FTR #‘s 1157, 1158 and 1159, Sachs presided over the Har­vard Insti­tute of Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, a US-fund­ed orga­ni­za­tion that advised Boris Yeltsin’s dis­as­trous eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy in Rus­sia.)

Many in Rus­sia view Sachs as “an emis­sary either of Satan or the CIA.” Recent polit­i­cal incar­na­tions have him as a mem­ber of the [Bernie] Sanders Insti­tute and an advi­sor to AOC.

A bril­liant, insight­ful arti­cle by Sam Hus­sei­ni on Inde­pen­dent Sci­ence News pro­vides crit­i­cal depth to our pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of Cit­i­zen Daszak.

Hus­sei­ni notes that:

  1.  The Pen­ta­gon and USAID (a State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that has fre­quent­ly front­ed for CIA) are the largest fun­ders of Eco­Health Alliance, which obscures this fact: “ . . . . Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance obscures its Pen­ta­gon fund­ing. . . . Only buried under their ‘Pri­va­cy Pol­i­cy,’ under a sec­tion titled ‘Eco­Health Alliance Pol­i­cy Regard­ing Con­flict of Inter­est in Research,’ does the Eco­Health Alliance con­cede it is the ‘recip­i­ent of var­i­ous grant awards from fed­er­al agen­cies includ­ing . . . . the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment and the Depart­ment of Defense.’ . . . Even this list­ing is decep­tive. It obscures that its two largest fun­ders are the Pen­ta­gon and the State Depart­ment (USAID) . . . . These two sources thus total over $103 mil­lion. . . .”
  2. One of the prin­ci­pal advis­ers to Eco­Health Alliance is David Franz: ” . . . . The mil­i­tary links of the Eco­Health Alliance are not lim­it­ed to mon­ey and mind­set. One note­wor­thy ‘pol­i­cy advi­sor’ to the Eco­Health Alliance is David Franz. Franz is for­mer com­man­der of Fort Det­rick, which is the prin­ci­pal U.S. gov­ern­ment biowarfare/biodefense facil­i­ty. . . .”
  3. Peter Daszak has high regards for Don­ald Rums­feld, whom he enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly quotes. (Rums­feld was Chair­man of the Board of Gilead Sci­ences for many years, leav­ing that posi­tion to become Sec­re­tary of Defense for George W. Bush. Rums­feld made mil­lions on his sale of Gilead stock, which soared in val­ue fol­low­ing the Pen­tagon’s pur­chase of Gilead­’s Tam­i­flu to com­bat a feared break­out of H5N1 influen­za. Gildead Sci­ences makes remde­sivir, which was being test­ed on rhe­sus macaques at the U.S. Army’s Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases at Fort Det­rick in the spring of 2019. The USAAMRIID was shut down by the CDC in ear­ly August of 2019, in part for the improp­er dis­pos­al of waste from “non-human pri­mates” infect­ed with a “select agent” which has not been dis­closed for nation­al secu­ri­ty rea­sons.) ” . . . . ‘It’s an awe­some quote! And yes, it’s Don­ald Rums­feld, Jeff, and I know he’s a Repub­li­can, but — what a genius!’ . . .”
  4. The close asso­ci­a­tion of Jef­frey Sachs and Daszak: ” . . . . In Sep­tem­ber, Sachs’ com­mis­sion [on the Lancet–D.E.] named Daszak to head up its com­mit­tee on the pandemic’s ori­gins. Daszak is also on the WHO’s com­mit­tee to inves­ti­gate the pandemic’s ori­gin. He is the only indi­vid­ual on both com­mit­tees. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Fur­ther devel­op­ment of the medi­a’s reflex­ive use of “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” and/or “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists” to pre­empt intel­li­gent analy­sis of lethal covert operations–both for­eign and domes­tic; The New York Times’ lead role in rhetor­i­cal fire­wall pro­tect­ing both domes­tic and for­eign covert oper­a­tions.

1. A study released by US Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences at the request of the Depart­ment of Defense about the threats of syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy con­clud­ed that the tech­niques to tweak and weaponize virus­es from known cat­a­logs of viral sequences is very fea­si­ble and rel­a­tive­ly easy to do:

“Syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy rais­es risk of new bioweapons, US report warns” by Ian Sam­ple; The Guardian; 06/19/2018

The rapid rise of syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy, a futur­is­tic field of sci­ence that seeks to mas­ter the machin­ery of life, has raised the risk of a new gen­er­a­tion of bioweapons, accord­ing a major US report into the state of the art.

Advances in the area mean that sci­en­tists now have the capa­bil­i­ty to recre­ate dan­ger­ous virus­es from scratch; make harm­ful bac­te­ria more dead­ly; and mod­i­fy com­mon microbes so that they churn out lethal tox­ins once they enter the body.

The three sce­nar­ios are picked out as threats of high­est con­cern in a review of the field pub­lished on Tues­day by the US Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences at the request of the Depart­ment of Defense. The report was com­mis­sioned to flag up ways in which the pow­er­ful tech­nol­o­gy might be abused, and to focus minds on how best to pre­pare.

Michael Impe­ri­ale, chair of the report com­mit­tee, and pro­fes­sor of micro­bi­ol­o­gy and immunol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan, said the review used only unclas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and so has no assess­ment of which groups, if any, might be pur­su­ing nov­el bio­log­i­cal weapons. “We can’t say how like­ly any of these sce­nar­ios are,” he said. “But we can talk about how fea­si­ble they are.”

In the report, the sci­en­tists describe how syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy, which gives researchers pre­ci­sion tools to manip­u­late liv­ing organ­isms, “enhances and expands” oppor­tu­ni­ties to cre­ate bioweapons. “As the pow­er of the tech­nol­o­gy increas­es, that brings a gen­er­al need to scru­ti­nise where harms could come from,” said Peter Carr, a senior sci­en­tist at MIT’s Syn­thet­ic Biol­o­gy Cen­ter in Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts.

More than 20 years ago, Eckard Wim­mer, a geneti­cist at Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty in New York, high­light­ed the poten­tial dan­gers of syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy in dra­mat­ic style when he recre­at­ed poliovirus in a test tube. Ear­li­er this year, a team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta built an infec­tious horse­pox virus. The virus is a close rel­a­tive of small­pox, which may have claimed half a bil­lion lives in the 20th cen­tu­ry. Today, the genet­ic code of almost any mam­malian virus can be found online and syn­the­sised. “The tech­nol­o­gy to do this is avail­able now,” said Impe­ri­ale. “It requires some exper­tise, but it’s some­thing that’s rel­a­tive­ly easy to do, and that is why it tops the list.”

Oth­er fair­ly sim­ple pro­ce­dures can be used to tweak the genes of dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria and make them resis­tant to antibi­otics, so that peo­ple infect­ed with them would be untreat­able. A more exot­ic bioweapon might come in the form of a genet­i­cal­ly-altered microbe that colonis­es the gut and churns out poi­sons. “While that is tech­ni­cal­ly more dif­fi­cult, it is a con­cern because it may not look like any­thing you nor­mal­ly watch out for in pub­lic health,” Impe­ri­ale said.

One bioweapon that is not con­sid­ered an imme­di­ate threat is a so-called gene dri­ve that spreads through a pop­u­la­tion, rewrit­ing human DNA as it goes. “It’s impor­tant to recog­nise that it’s easy to come up with a scary-sound­ing idea, but it’s far more dif­fi­cult to do some­thing prac­ti­cal with it,” said Carr.

2. In FTR #‘s 1157, 1158 and 1159, we high­light­ed very dis­turb­ing con­nec­tions between Peter Daszak and his Eco­Health Alliance and the Pen­ta­gon and USAID, a State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that serves as a fre­quent cov­er for CIA.

The Eco­Health Alliance–financed by USAID–partnered with the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy and Dr. Ralph Bar­ic of the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na at Chapel Hill to research bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es. A “chimeric” virus was cre­at­ed by Bar­ic under this pro­gram in 2015, and Bar­ic was sub­se­quent­ly select­ed to cre­ate the SARS Cov‑2 virus from scratch.

It is our con­sid­ered view that the WIV was set up for the blame for Covid-19.

We have also not­ed the pro­found links between ele­ments of the mil­i­tary and treat­ment reg­i­mens (vac­cines and med­i­cines) for Covid-19.

A new arti­cle adds fur­ther depth to the alarm­ing con­nec­tions of Daszak, the Eco­Health Alliance and Jef­frey Sachs. (As dis­cussed in a num­ber of pro­grams, includ­ing the above-men­tioned FTR #‘s 1157, 1158 and 1159, Sachs presided over the Har­vard Insti­tute of Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment, a US-fund­ed orga­ni­za­tion that advised Boris Yeltsin’s dis­as­trous eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy in Rus­sia.)

Many in Rus­sia view Sachs as “an emis­sary either of Satan or the CIA.” Recent polit­i­cal incar­na­tions have him as a mem­ber of the [Bernie] Sanders Insti­tute and an advi­sor to AOC.

A bril­liant, insight­ful arti­cle by Sam Hus­sei­ni on Inde­pen­dent Sci­ence News pro­vides crit­i­cal depth to our pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of Cit­i­zen Daszak.

Hus­sei­ni notes that:

  1.  The Pen­ta­gon and USAID (a State Depart­ment sub­sidiary that has fre­quent­ly front­ed for CIA) are the largest fun­ders of Eco­Health Alliance, which obscures this fact: “ . . . . Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance obscures its Pen­ta­gon fund­ing. . . . Only buried under their ‘Pri­va­cy Pol­i­cy,’ under a sec­tion titled ‘Eco­Health Alliance Pol­i­cy Regard­ing Con­flict of Inter­est in Research,’ does the Eco­Health Alliance con­cede it is the ‘recip­i­ent of var­i­ous grant awards from fed­er­al agen­cies includ­ing . . . . the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment and the Depart­ment of Defense.’ . . . Even this list­ing is decep­tive. It obscures that its two largest fun­ders are the Pen­ta­gon and the State Depart­ment (USAID) . . . . These two sources thus total over $103 mil­lion. . . .”
  2. One of the prin­ci­pal advis­ers to Eco­Health Alliance is David Franz: ” . . . . The mil­i­tary links of the Eco­Health Alliance are not lim­it­ed to mon­ey and mind­set. One note­wor­thy ‘pol­i­cy advi­sor’ to the Eco­Health Alliance is David Franz. Franz is for­mer com­man­der of Fort Det­rick, which is the prin­ci­pal U.S. gov­ern­ment biowarfare/biodefense facil­i­ty. . . .”
  3. Peter Daszak has high regards for Don­ald Rums­feld, whom he enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly quotes. (Rums­feld was Chair­man of the Board of Gilead Sci­ences for many years, leav­ing that posi­tion to become Sec­re­tary of Defense for George W. Bush. Rums­feld made mil­lions on his sale of Gilead stock, which soared in val­ue fol­low­ing the Pen­tagon’s pur­chase of Gilead­’s Tam­i­flu to com­bat a feared break­out of H5N1 influen­za. Gildead Sci­ences makes remde­sivir, which was being test­ed on rhe­sus macaques at the U.S. Army’s Med­ical Research Insti­tute of Infec­tious Dis­eases at Fort Det­rick in the spring of 2019. The USAAMRIID was shut down by the CDC in ear­ly August of 2019, in part for the improp­er dis­pos­al of waste from “non-human pri­mates” infect­ed with a “select agent” which has not been dis­closed for nation­al secu­ri­ty rea­sons.) ” . . . . ‘It’s an awe­some quote! And yes, it’s Don­ald Rums­feld, Jeff, and I know he’s a Repub­li­can, but — what a genius!’ . . .”
  4. The close asso­ci­a­tion of Jef­frey Sachs and Daszak: ” . . . . In Sep­tem­ber, Sachs’ com­mis­sion [on the Lancet–D.E.] named Daszak to head up its com­mit­tee on the pandemic’s ori­gins. Daszak is also on the WHO’s com­mit­tee to inves­ti­gate the pandemic’s ori­gin. He is the only indi­vid­ual on both com­mit­tees. . . .”

“Peter Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance Has Hid­den Almost $40 Mil­lion In Pen­ta­gon Fund­ing And Mil­i­ta­rized Pan­dem­ic Sci­ence” by Sam Hus­sei­ni; Inde­pen­dent Sci­ence News; 12/16/2020.

“Pan­demics are like ter­ror­ist attacks: We know rough­ly where they orig­i­nate and what’s respon­si­ble for them, but we don’t know exact­ly when the next one will hap­pen. They need to be han­dled the same way — by iden­ti­fy­ing all pos­si­ble sources and dis­man­tling those before the next pan­dem­ic strikes.”

This state­ment was writ­ten in the New York Times ear­li­er this year by Peter Daszak. Daszak is the long­time pres­i­dent of the Eco­Health Alliance, a New York-based non-prof­it whose claimed focus is pan­dem­ic pre­ven­tion. But the Eco­Health Alliance, it turns out, is at the very cen­tre of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic in many ways.

To depict the pan­dem­ic in such mil­i­ta­rized terms is, for Daszak, a com­mon­place. In an Oct. 7 online talk orga­nized by Colum­bia University’s School of Inter­na­tion­al and Pub­lic Affairs, Daszak pre­sent­ed a slide titled “Don­ald Rumsfeld’s Pre­scient Speech.”:

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we don’t know we don’t know.” (This Rums­feld quote is in fact from a news con­fer­ence)

In the sub­se­quent online dis­cus­sion, Daszak empha­sized the par­al­lels between his own cru­sade and Rumsfeld’s, since, accord­ing to Daszak, the “poten­tial for unknown attacks” is “the same for virus­es”.

Daszak then pro­ceed­ed with a not ter­ri­bly sub­tle pitch for over a bil­lion dol­lars. This mon­ey would sup­port a fledg­ling virus hunt­ing and sur­veil­lance project of his, the Glob­al Virome Project — a “doable project” he assured watch­ers — giv­en the cost of the pan­dem­ic to gov­ern­ments and var­i­ous indus­tries.

Also on the video was Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Sachs. Sachs is a for­mer spe­cial advi­sor to the UN, the for­mer head of the Mil­len­ni­um Vil­lages Project, and was recent­ly appoint­ed Chair of the new­ly-formed EAT Lancet Com­mis­sion on the pan­dem­ic. In Sep­tem­ber, Sachs’ com­mis­sion named Daszak to head up its com­mit­tee on the pandemic’s ori­gins. Daszak is also on the WHO’s com­mit­tee to inves­ti­gate the pandemic’s ori­gin. He is the only indi­vid­ual on both com­mit­tees.

These lead­er­ship posi­tions are not the only rea­son why Peter Daszak is such a cen­tral fig­ure in the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, how­ev­er. His appoint­ment dis­mayed many of those who are aware that Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance fund­ed bat coro­n­avirus research, includ­ing virus col­lec­tion, at the Wuhan Insti­tute for Virol­o­gy (WIV) and thus could them­selves be direct­ly impli­cat­ed in the out­break.

For his part, Daszak has repeat­ed­ly dis­missed the notion that the pan­dem­ic could have a lab ori­gin. In fact, a recent FOIA by the trans­paren­cy group U.S. Right To Know revealed that Peter Daszak draft­ed an influ­en­tial mul­ti-author let­ter pub­lished on Feb­ru­ary 18 in the Lancet. That let­ter dis­missed lab ori­gin hypothe­ses as “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.” Daszak was revealed to have orches­trat­ed the let­ter such as to “avoid the appear­ance of a polit­i­cal state­ment.”

Sachs for his part seemed sur­prised by Daszak’s depic­tion of Rums­feld but Daszak reas­sured him. “It’s an awe­some quote! And yes, it’s Don­ald Rums­feld, Jeff, and I know he’s a Repub­li­can, but — what a genius!”

Fol­low­ing the Eco­Health Alliance’s mon­ey trail to the Pen­ta­gon

Col­lect­ing dan­ger­ous virus­es is typ­i­cal­ly jus­ti­fied as a pre­ven­tive and defen­sive activ­i­ty, get­ting ahead of what “Nature” or “The Ter­ror­ists” might throw at us. But by its nature, this work is “dual use”. “Biode­fense” is often just as eas­i­ly biowar­fare since biode­fense and the prod­ucts of biowar­fare are iden­ti­cal. It’s sim­ply a mat­ter of what the stat­ed goals are.

This is open­ly acknowl­edged [See below] by sci­en­tists asso­ci­at­ed with Eco­Health Alliance when talk­ing about alleged pro­grams in oth­er coun­ties — like Iraq.

For much of this year, Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance gar­nered a great deal of sym­pa­thet­ic media cov­er­age after its $3.7 mil­lion five-year NIH grant was pre­ma­ture­ly cut when the Trump admin­is­tra­tion learned that Eco­Health Alliance fund­ed bat coro­n­avirus research at the WIV.

The tem­po­rary cut was wide­ly depict­ed in major media as Trump under­min­ing the Eco­Health Alliance’s noble fight against pan­demics. The ter­mi­na­tion was reversed by NIH in late August, and even upped to $7.5 mil­lion. But entire­ly over­looked amid the claims and counter-claims was that far more fund­ing for the Eco­Health Alliance comes from the Pen­ta­gon than the NIH.

To be strict­ly fair to the media, Daszak’s Eco­Health Alliance obscures its Pen­ta­gon fund­ing. On its web­site Eco­Health Alliance states that “A copy of the EHA Grant Man­age­ment Man­u­al is avail­able upon request to the EHA Chief Finan­cial Offi­cer at finance ( at ) ecohealthalliance.org”. But an email to that address and numer­ous oth­ers, includ­ing Peter Daszak’s, request­ing that Man­u­al, as well as oth­er finan­cial infor­ma­tion, was not returned. Nei­ther were repeat­ed voice­mails.

Only buried under their “Pri­va­cy Pol­i­cy,” under a sec­tion titled “Eco­Health Alliance Pol­i­cy Regard­ing Con­flict of Inter­est in Research,” does the Eco­Health Alliance con­cede it is the “recip­i­ent of var­i­ous grant awards from fed­er­al agen­cies includ­ing the Nation­al Insti­tute of Health, the Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, and the US Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment and the Depart­ment of Defense.”

Even this list­ing is decep­tive. It obscures that its two largest fun­ders are the Pen­ta­gon and the State Depart­ment (USAID); where­as the US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, which accounts for a minus­cule $74,487, comes before either.

Metic­u­lous inves­ti­ga­tion of U.S. gov­ern­ment data­bas­es reveals that Pen­ta­gon fund­ing for the Eco­Health Alliance from 2013 to 2020, includ­ing con­tracts, grants and sub­con­tracts, was just under $39 mil­lion. Most, $34.6 mil­lion, was from the Defense Threat Reduc­tion Agency (DTRA), which is a branch of the DOD which states it is tasked to “counter and deter weapons of mass destruc­tion and impro­vised threat net­works.”

Most of the remain­ing mon­ey to EHA was from USAID (State Dept.), com­pris­ing at least $64,700,000 (1). These two sources thus total over $103 mil­lion.

Anoth­er $20 mil­lion came from Health and Human Ser­vices ($13 mil­lion, which includes Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health and Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol), Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion ($2.6 mil­lion), Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty ($2.3 mil­lion), Depart­ment of Com­merce ($1.2 mil­lion), Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture ($0.6 mil­lion), and Depart­ment of Inte­ri­or ($0.3 mil­lion). So, total U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ing for EHA to-date stands at $123 mil­lion, approx­i­mate­ly one third of which comes from the Pen­ta­gon direct­ly. The full fund­ing break­down is avail­able here and is sum­ma­rized by year, source, and type, in a spread­sheet for­mat.

Pdf ver­sions of this the spread­sheet are avail­able to down­load. The sum­ma­ry is here and all Fed­er­al grants and con­tracts are here.

More mil­i­tary con­nec­tions

The mil­i­tary links of the Eco­Health Alliance are not lim­it­ed to mon­ey and mind­set. One note­wor­thy ‘pol­i­cy advi­sor’ to the Eco­Health Alliance is David Franz. Franz is for­mer com­man­der of Fort Det­rick, which is the prin­ci­pal U.S. gov­ern­ment biowarfare/biodefense facil­i­ty.

David Franz was part of UNSCOM which inspect­ed Iraq for alleged bioweapons — what were con­stant­ly referred to as WMDs or Weapons of Mass Destruc­tion by the U.S. gov­ern­ment and the media. Franz has been one of those eager to state, at least when dis­cussing alleged Iraqi pro­grams, that “in biol­o­gy … every­thing is dual use — the peo­ple, the facil­i­ties and the equip­ment.” (NPR, May 14, 2003; link no longer avail­able).

Just this year Franz wrote a piece with for­mer New York Times jour­nal­ist Judith Miller, whose sto­ries of Iraqi WMDs did much to mis­in­form the US pub­lic regard­ing the case for the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq. Their joint arti­cle, “A Biose­cu­ri­ty Fail­ure: America’s key lab for fight­ing infec­tious dis­ease has become a Pen­ta­gon back­wa­ter,” urges more fund­ing for Fort Det­rick.

Miller and Franz are long-time asso­ciates. Miller co-wrote the book Germs, released amid the 2001 false flag anthrax attacks, which repeat­ed­ly quotes Franz. Miller at the time received a hoax let­ter with a harm­less white pow­der, increas­ing her promi­nence.

Franz con­tin­ued hyp­ing the exis­tence of Iraqi WMDs even after the inva­sion of Iraq. While she was still with the Times, Miller quot­ed him in a sto­ry “U.S. Ana­lysts Link Iraq Labs To Germ Arms” on May 21, 2003 push­ing the the­o­ry that Iraq had mobile bio­log­i­cal WMD units. (This the­o­ry was debunked by the British sci­en­tist Dr David Kel­ly, who would die, appar­ent­ly by sui­cide, soon there­after.

Four sig­nif­i­cant insights emerge from all this. First, although it is called the Eco­Health Alliance, Peter Daszak and his non-prof­it work close­ly with the mil­i­tary. Sec­ond, the Eco­Health Alliance attempts to con­ceal these mil­i­tary con­nec­tions. Third, through mil­i­taris­tic lan­guage and analo­gies Daszak and his col­leagues pro­mote what is often referred to as, and even then some­what euphemisti­cal­ly, an ongo­ing agen­da known as “secu­ri­ti­za­tion“. In this case it is the secu­ri­ti­za­tion of infec­tious dis­eases and of glob­al pub­lic health. That is, they argue that pan­demics con­sti­tute a vast and exis­ten­tial threat. They min­i­mize the very real risks asso­ci­at­ed with their work, and sell it as a bil­lion dol­lar solu­tion. The fourth insight is that Daszak him­self, as the God­fa­ther of the Glob­al Virome Project, stands to ben­e­fit from the like­ly out­lay of pub­lic funds.

Acknowl­edge­ments

Thanks to James Barat­ta and Mari­amne Everett for research­ing the fund­ing sources.

Foot­note

  1. The fig­ure for EHA’s USAID fund­ing was obtained from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis, a major grantee of PREDICT funds, which EHA has been a major sub-grantee of Davis con­firmed that EHA’s fund­ing from PREDICT totaled $64,722,669 (PREDICT‑1: 2009 to 2014: $19,943,214; PREDICT‑2: 2014 to present (2020) $44,779,455)

3. Daszak has dis­missed dis­cus­sion of a lab­o­ra­to­ry ori­gin of the virus as the work of “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists,” uti­liz­ing a time-worn device for dis­miss­ing infor­ma­tion with­out any intel­li­gent dis­cus­sion. ” . . . The ‘media-indus­tri­al com­plex’ includes peo­ple in pow­er who vehe­ment­ly, if irra­tional­ly, deny a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al ver­sion of his­to­ry, auto­mat­i­cal­ly mock­ing any­one who sub­scribes to it as a ‘con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist,’ code words for ‘dan­ger­ous­ly deranged fool.’ Utter­ing the phrase ‘con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist’ is used as a con­ve­nient way of shut­ting down con­ver­sa­tion on a sub­ject. . . .”

Into the Night­mare: My Search for the Killers of John F. Kennedy and Offi­cer J.D. Tip­pit by Joseph McBride; High­tow­er Press [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Joseph McBride; ISBN 978–1939795250; p. 103.

. . . . There is such a stark dif­fer­ence in view­point between the aver­age Amer­i­can who tends to believe in con­spir­a­cy and what film crit­ic Jonathan Rosen­baum calls “the media-indus­tri­al com­plex” that we seem to be liv­ing in two dif­fer­ent real­i­ties. The “media-indus­tri­al com­plex” includes peo­ple in pow­er who vehe­ment­ly, if irra­tional­ly, deny a con­spir­a­to­r­i­al ver­sion of his­to­ry, auto­mat­i­cal­ly mock­ing any­one who sub­scribes to it as a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist,” code words for “dan­ger­ous­ly deranged fool.” Utter­ing the phrase “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist” is used as a con­ve­nient way of shut­ting down con­ver­sa­tion on a sub­ject. . . .

4. The rhetor­i­cal reflex of dis­miss­ing seri­ous inves­tiga­tive effort as “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” dates large­ly to the coup of 11/22/1963.

Into the Night­mare: My Search for the Killers of John F. Kennedy and Offi­cer J.D. Tip­pit by Joseph McBride; High­tow­er Press [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Joseph McBride; ISBN 978–1939795250; pp. 177–178.

Peo­ple who pre­tend that con­spir­a­cies don’t exist, when in fact they are among the most com­mon modus operan­di of sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal change through­out the world, includ­ing in this coun­try, become furi­ous when their naïve illu­sion is chal­lenged. They attack the mes­sen­gers, “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists,” for propos­ing alter­nate accounts of real­i­ty. Not only do they attack, they demo­nize. The con­ven­tion of por­tray­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists as crazy is crude but effec­tive way of stig­ma­tiz­ing them, ensur­ing that they aren’t tak­en seri­ous­ly by “rea­son­able” peo­ple, and send­ing the mes­sage to the main­stream media that such peo­ple are beyond the pale. Dr. [E. Mar­tin] Schotz writes that for years he thought the unpun­ished assas­si­na­tion of Kennedy was “a griev­ous wound to our democ­ra­cy in urgent need of being exposed so the soci­ety would heal,” but he came to real­ize it was instead “a wound against cer­tain polit­i­cal forces in our democ­ra­cy, but not to the democ­ra­cy itself. In fact, I sub­mit that the assas­si­na­tion was total­ly with­in the frame­work of how Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy works.” Much of Dr. Schotz’s analy­sis is acute­ly insight­ful, but I would sub­mit that the type of gov­ern­ment he describes is not a gen­uine “democ­ra­cy” but a mere sim­u­lacrum of one to fool the pub­lic into acqui­es­cence with the war poli­cies of dubi­ous legal­i­ty. In the regime of George W. Bush, fol­low­ing the stolen elec­tion of 2000, we saw the inevitable con­se­quences of the lack of gen­uine democ­ra­cy, the ulti­mate fall­out from the 1963 coup, on full ter­ri­ble dis­play in domes­tic ter­ror­ism, ille­gal wars of aggres­sion, and the strip­ping away of many of our basic civ­il lib­er­ties. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., per­sua­sive­ly demon­strat­ed in a 2006 inves­tiga­tive report for Rolling Stone that Bush and Dick Cheney also stole the 2004 elec­tion by com­mit­ting fraud in Ohio. This anti­de­mo­c­ra­t­ic trend in our coun­try unfor­tu­nate­ly did not end with the 2008 elec­tion of Barack Oba­ma, which was thought by many to be a form of heal­ing, but actu­al­ly only showed that the changes in the sys­tem had become sys­temic and almost impos­si­ble to reverse.

Our President’s mur­der in broad day­light on a pub­lic street fifty years ago, and the new government’s refusal to bring his killers to jus­tice, meant noth­ing less than the end of our long exper­i­ment in democ­ra­cy. We now live not in a democ­ra­cy but in what more accu­rate­ly can be termed a lim­it­ed police state, and that is the ulti­mate lega­cy of the Coup of 1963 . . . .

5. Pub­lish­er of the War­ren Report, The New York Times has “walked point” on the issue of dis­cred­it­ing crit­ics of the offi­cial lie about the JFK assas­si­na­tion.

In the imme­di­ate after­math of the coup of 11/22/1963, ” . . . . The paper’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, Turn­er Catledge, took the unusu­al approach of writ­ing a let­ter to the edi­tor on Novem­ber 26 object­ing to the label­ing of the mur­dered Oswald in the pre­vi­ous day’s paper as the ‘assas­sin.’ . . . .”

Into the Night­mare: My Search for the Killers of John F. Kennedy and Offi­cer J.D. Tip­pit by Joseph McBride; High­tow­er Press [SC]; Copy­right 2013 by Joseph McBride; ISBN 978–1939795250; pp. 111–112.

. . . . Most Amer­i­can media out­lets were as quick to con­vict Oswald extrale­gal­ly as the Dal­las police were to allow him to be exe­cut­ed in their head­quar­ters. The New York Times would flat­ly iden­ti­fy Oswald as the assas­sin once he was dead, in its ban­ner head­line on Novem­ber 25 “PRESIDENT’S ASSASSIN SHOT TO DEATH IN JAIL CCORRIDOR BY A DALLAS CITIZEN . . . ”  This posthu­mous ver­dict with­out the ben­e­fit of a tri­al was a seri­ous breach of jour­nal­is­tic ethics, show­ing the Times to be more of an organ of gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da than a dis­in­ter­est­ed seek­er of the truth. The enor­mous and egre­gious head­line on the day of Kennedy’s funer­al evi­dent­ly caused some dis­agree­ment with­in the Times. The paper’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, Turn­er Catledge, took the unusu­al approach of writ­ing a let­ter to the edi­tor on Novem­ber 26 object­ing to the label­ing of the mur­dered Oswald in the pre­vi­ous day’s paper as the “assas­sin.” Catledge not­ed that while the Dal­las police “thought they had an air-tight case against him, he was nev­er tried and con­vict­ed. Under the Amer­i­can sys­tem of jus­tice, he is inno­cent until proven guilty. Future sto­ries and head­lines will reflect that fact.” Yet the “paper of record” has kept call­ing Oswald the “assas­sin” ever since. The word “alleged” rarely appears in con­junc­tion with Oswald’s name in the main­stream media. The Times con­sis­tent­ly attacks those who ques­tion the lone-gun­man the­o­ry. Why that lead­ing news­pa­per has such a vest­ed inter­est in fol­low­ing and prop­a­gat­ing the offi­cial line after all these many years is a trou­bling ques­tion reflect­ing the extent to which our “free press” knuck­les under to the government’s pro­pa­gan­da needs. . . .”

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #1170 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 25: The Oswald Institute of Virology”

  1. The WHO team of experts tasked with study­ing the ori­gins of SARS-CoV­‑2 virus have issued their ini­tial pub­lic report. This is, of course, just one of the inter­na­tion­al teams that includes Peter Daszak, some­one who quite pos­si­bly has more con­flicts of inter­est in this inves­ti­ga­tion than any­one else on the plan­et.

    So what was the ver­dict? It was almost cer­tain­ly not a lab-based ori­gin and like­ly came from the virus nat­u­ral­ly jump­ing from bats to anoth­er ani­mal and then on to humans. In oth­er words, exact­ly as pre­dict­ed. Sur­prise!

    While the inves­ti­ga­tors are con­tin­u­ing to focus on the ani­mal-to-human jump hypoth­e­sis, they aren’t falling back on the ini­tial ‘wet mar­ket’ sce­nario that the virus jumped from ani­mal to human at the wet mar­ket near the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV). Instead, they note that the virus was found inside and out­side the mar­ket, sug­gest­ing the mar­ket was not nec­es­sar­i­ly the source of the out­break. But while the team is rec­om­mend­ing that fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the virus be car­ried out, the ques­tion of a lab based ori­gin should NOT BE ASKED AGAIN GOING FORWARD. Yep.

    And what was the basis for their con­clu­sion that a lab ori­gin is so unlike­ly that it should­n’t even be con­sid­ered? Well, they held a lot of meet­ings with the WIV’s safe­ty pro­to­cols and con­clud­ed that it was extreme­ly unlike­ly a virus could have escaped from there. In oth­er words, their inves­ti­ga­tion into a lab ori­gin was exclu­sive­ly restrict­ed to an inves­ti­ga­tion of the WIV, a con­ve­nient fram­ing of the ques­tion. As we’ll see in the sec­ond arti­cle below, Peter Daszak was quite effu­sive in his praise of the WIV’s and Chi­nese gov­ern­men­t’s open­ness with the inves­ti­ga­tors.

    They did sort of address the gen­er­al ques­tion of whether or not Chi­nese researchers were involved with exper­i­ment­ing on coro­n­avirus­es, some­thing that is unde­ni­able giv­en the pub­lished research. The lead Chi­nese sci­en­tist on the inves­tiga­tive team, Liang Wann­ian, told reporters none of the labs in Wuhan had worked with the SARS-Cov­‑2 strain but did work on the virus’s “dis­tant rel­a­tives.” The char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of these virus­es as “dis­tant rel­a­tives” is inter­est­ing in the con­text of the find­ings by Harvard/MIT researcher Ali­na Chan that Shi Zhengli’s lab had access and sequenced the clos­et known rel­a­tive to SAR-CoV­‑2, the RaTG13 virus, mul­ti­ple times start­ing in 2017 and 2018. Keep in mind that, while RaTG13 is the clos­est known rel­a­tive to SARS-CoV­‑2, one could arguably still char­ac­ter­ize it as a “dis­tant rel­a­tive”. There was of course no men­tion of the his­to­ry of Shi Zhengli’s lab work­ing on gain-of-func­tion exper­i­ments on coro­n­avirus­es with inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tors. Inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tors that includes Peter Daszak and the Eco­Health Alliance.

    The alle­ga­tions about sick ath­letes at the Mil­i­tary World Games held in Wuhan in Octo­ber of 2019 was not addressed at all by the team. Sim­i­lar­ly, the stud­ies like the Ital­ian study that found evi­dence of the virus in Ital­ian blood sam­ples drawn in Sep­tem­ber of 2019 were not men­tioned.

    Liang Wann­ian did, how­ev­er, call for the inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the virus to now expand beyond Chi­na to include the rest of the world. There’s no indi­ca­tion of that expand­ed search actu­al­ly tak­ing place.

    So, over­all, in the WHO team’s ini­tial report we find exact­ly what we should have expect­ed to find, which is basi­cal­ly noth­ing oth­er than a rehash­ing of the same talk­ing points we’ve been hear­ing all along. It’s the kind of report that should raise a whole lot of ques­tions about the ques­tions being asked by this inves­ti­ga­tion and, more impor­tant­ly, not being asked by this inves­ti­ga­tion:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    After Wuhan mis­sion on pan­dem­ic ori­gins, WHO team dis­miss­es lab leak the­o­ry

    By Ger­ry Shih and Emi­ly Rauha­la
    Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:24 a.m. CST

    TAIPEI, Tai­wan — After a 12-day vis­it, a World Health Orga­ni­za­tion mis­sion to Wuhan appeared no clos­er Tues­day to solv­ing the mys­tery of the pan­demic’s ori­gins, reit­er­at­ing that the coro­n­avirus like­ly spread to humans from an ani­mal and cast­ing doubt on the­o­ries it leaked from a lab.

    The group’s find­ings — more than a year after the ini­tial out­break and after months of wran­gling between Chi­na and the U.N. health agency — could be a small step toward under­stand­ing the roots of a glob­al cri­sis.

    The update is unlike­ly to sat­is­fy U.S. offi­cials and oth­ers around the world call­ing for greater trans­paren­cy from Chi­na — and is unlike­ly to silence ques­tions about whether the Gene­va-based WHO is equipped to inves­ti­gate at all.

    At a news con­fer­ence, the team of Chi­nese and inter­na­tion­al researchers said they found that the virus was spread­ing in Wuhan dur­ing Decem­ber 2019 both inside and out­side the Hua­nan Seafood Mar­ket. That sug­gest­ed the mar­ket was not nec­es­sar­i­ly the orig­i­nal source of the out­break, the sci­en­tists said.

    The team also left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the virus may have been trans­mit­ted to humans through frozen food — a once-fringe the­o­ry that Chi­nese offi­cials have been tout­ing as part of broad­er push to claim that covid-19, the dis­ease caused by the coro­n­avirus, did not come from Chi­na.

    Notably, the WHO team dis­missed as “extreme­ly unlike­ly” anoth­er the­o­ry that the virus leaked from lab­o­ra­to­ries at the local Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV). Peter Ben Embarek, the Dan­ish food safe­ty expert lead­ing the WHO team, said his group was sat­is­fied with answers about safe­ty at the WIV and will not rec­om­mend fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion into the pos­si­ble links to the lab.

    “Just say­ing that they have real­ly good safe­ty pro­to­cols is not an answer in my view,” said Marc Lip­sitch, a pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­o­gy at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health, who was not among the sci­en­tists on the trip. “That alone does not put my mind at rest.”

    It was nev­er like­ly that the team would reach a defin­i­tive con­clu­sion after two weeks in quar­an­tine and less than two weeks of on-site inves­ti­ga­tion. But the dis­missal of the lab the­o­ry, in par­tic­u­lar, is like­ly to draw scruti­ny.

    Most researchers believe the virus passed through an inter­me­di­ary ani­mal host — such as pan­golins — and evolved into a form that is eas­i­ly trans­mis­si­ble among humans.

    A small­er cir­cle of experts says the pos­si­bil­i­ty can­not be ruled out that the virus slipped out of the WIV, an insti­tu­tion that con­ducts work on coro­n­avirus­es sam­pled from bats.

    The mis­sion was com­posed of Chi­nese and inter­na­tion­al researchers. The lead Chi­nese sci­en­tist, Liang Wann­ian, told reporters that none of the labs in Wuhan had worked with the SARS-Cov­‑2 strain, as the nov­el coro­n­avirus is offi­cial­ly called, but on the virus’s dis­tant rel­a­tives.

    Instead, Liang point­ed to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the virus jumped across species in nature through inter­me­di­ary hosts such as pan­golins, cats or minks. Ben Embarek agreed that it was “most like­ly” the virus evolved in nature and spread to humans through an inter­me­di­ary host.

    Ben Embarek told reporters that the judg­ment was based on “long, frank, open dis­cus­sions with researchers and man­age­ment” at insti­tu­tions includ­ing the WIV. The insti­tute pro­vid­ed “detailed descrip­tions of the center’s research both present and past on all projects involv­ing bats and coro­n­avirus­es and more advanced projects,” he said.

    He added that he ques­tioned WIV offi­cials exten­sive­ly about what they thought of the lab leak hypoth­e­sis. “They’re the best ones to dis­miss the claims and pro­vide answers to all the ques­tions,” the WHO team leader said.

    But that line of rea­son­ing drew skep­ti­cism from out­side experts.

    “If the only infor­ma­tion you’re allow­ing to be weighed is pro­vid­ed by the very peo­ple who have every­thing to lose by reveal­ing such evi­dence, that just does­n’t come close to pass­ing the sniff test,” said David A. Rel­man, a micro­bi­ol­o­gist at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty.

    Rel­man sug­gest­ed that the WHO team should have sought com­plete, detailed records from the lab­o­ra­to­ries about their exper­i­ments and the raw genom­ic sequence data of their research going back a decade.

    Raina Mac­In­tyre, pro­fes­sor of biose­cu­ri­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New South Wales in Aus­tralia, was also sur­prised to see the idea of a lab acci­dent ruled out so quick­ly.

    With­out explor­ing all leads, she sug­gest­ed, “we may nev­er know the ori­gins of this virus.”

    ...

    On Tues­day, Liang and an offi­cial from China’s Nation­al Health Com­mis­sion declared the Chi­na leg of the WHO probe com­plete and called for its scope to be expand­ed glob­al­ly to answer the ori­gin ques­tion.

    In recent days, Chi­nese state media have pre­empt­ed Tuesday’s news con­fer­ence with reports declar­ing Wuhan has been “cleared of guilt” as the sus­pect­ed ori­gin of the pan­dem­ic, with some echo­ing the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry in call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion into U.S. labs.

    A key ques­tion going for­ward will be whether the WHO team is allowed to return to Chi­na. In a pre-trip inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post, Ben Embarek said he believed the search would require trips to dif­fer­ent places in Chi­na.

    It remains to be seen, how­ev­er, whether Chi­na will grant the WHO access, said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fel­low for glob­al health at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions.

    “There will be more pres­sure to do more work in Chi­na,” Huang said. “I hope this going to be the start­ing point of a more in-depth, more com­pre­hen­sive inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    ————-

    “After Wuhan mis­sion on pan­dem­ic ori­gins, WHO team dis­miss­es lab leak the­o­ry” by Ger­ry Shih and Emi­ly Rauha­la; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 02/09/2021

    “Notably, the WHO team dis­missed as “extreme­ly unlike­ly” anoth­er the­o­ry that the virus leaked from lab­o­ra­to­ries at the local Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV). Peter Ben Embarek, the Dan­ish food safe­ty expert lead­ing the WHO team, said his group was sat­is­fied with answers about safe­ty at the WIV and will not rec­om­mend fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion into the pos­si­ble links to the lab.

    No fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion is rec­om­mend­ed into the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lab ori­gin. The inves­ti­ga­tors point­ed to evi­dence that under­cuts the ini­tial sus­pi­cions about the local wet mar­ket, and left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it could have been trans­mit­ted through frozen food, but some­how were able to deter­mine con­clu­sive­ly that it could­n’t pos­si­bly have come from a lab:

    ...
    At a news con­fer­ence, the team of Chi­nese and inter­na­tion­al researchers said they found that the virus was spread­ing in Wuhan dur­ing Decem­ber 2019 both inside and out­side the Hua­nan Seafood Mar­ket. That sug­gest­ed the mar­ket was not nec­es­sar­i­ly the orig­i­nal source of the out­break, the sci­en­tists said.

    The team also left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the virus may have been trans­mit­ted to humans through frozen food — a once-fringe the­o­ry that Chi­nese offi­cials have been tout­ing as part of broad­er push to claim that covid-19, the dis­ease caused by the coro­n­avirus, did not come from Chi­na.

    ...

    It was nev­er like­ly that the team would reach a defin­i­tive con­clu­sion after two weeks in quar­an­tine and less than two weeks of on-site inves­ti­ga­tion. But the dis­missal of the lab the­o­ry, in par­tic­u­lar, is like­ly to draw scruti­ny.

    Most researchers believe the virus passed through an inter­me­di­ary ani­mal host — such as pan­golins — and evolved into a form that is eas­i­ly trans­mis­si­ble among humans.

    A small­er cir­cle of experts says the pos­si­bil­i­ty can­not be ruled out that the virus slipped out of the WIV, an insti­tu­tion that con­ducts work on coro­n­avirus­es sam­pled from bats.

    ...

    “If the only infor­ma­tion you’re allow­ing to be weighed is pro­vid­ed by the very peo­ple who have every­thing to lose by reveal­ing such evi­dence, that just does­n’t come close to pass­ing the sniff test,” said David A. Rel­man, a micro­bi­ol­o­gist at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty.

    Rel­man sug­gest­ed that the WHO team should have sought com­plete, detailed records from the lab­o­ra­to­ries about their exper­i­ments and the raw genom­ic sequence data of their research going back a decade.

    Raina Mac­In­tyre, pro­fes­sor of biose­cu­ri­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty of New South Wales in Aus­tralia, was also sur­prised to see the idea of a lab acci­dent ruled out so quick­ly.

    With­out explor­ing all leads, she sug­gest­ed, “we may nev­er know the ori­gins of this virus.”
    ...

    And that con­clu­sive deter­mi­na­tion that the virus could­n’t have orig­i­nat­ed in a lab was made despite Liang Wan­ni­an’s admis­sion that, yes, labs in Wuhan were study­ing the dis­tant rel­a­tive of SARS-CoV­‑2, but not the virus itself. It’s the kind of admis­sion that should lead to an array of new ques­tions about the nature of this research, in Wuhan and else­where. But those ques­tions obvi­ous­ly aren’t real­ly being asked:

    ...
    The mis­sion was com­posed of Chi­nese and inter­na­tion­al researchers. The lead Chi­nese sci­en­tist, Liang Wann­ian, told reporters that none of the labs in Wuhan had worked with the SARS-Cov­‑2 strain, as the nov­el coro­n­avirus is offi­cial­ly called, but on the virus’s dis­tant rel­a­tives.

    Instead, Liang point­ed to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the virus jumped across species in nature through inter­me­di­ary hosts such as pan­golins, cats or minks. Ben Embarek agreed that it was “most like­ly” the virus evolved in nature and spread to humans through an inter­me­di­ary host.
    ...

    Final­ly, we have Liang’s calls for expand­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion glob­al­ly. Calls that did­n’t appear to be echoed by any­one else, giv­ing us a clue as the like­li­hood of that hap­pen­ing:

    ...
    On Tues­day, Liang and an offi­cial from China’s Nation­al Health Com­mis­sion declared the Chi­na leg of the WHO probe com­plete and called for its scope to be expand­ed glob­al­ly to answer the ori­gin ques­tion.

    In recent days, Chi­nese state media have pre­empt­ed Tuesday’s news con­fer­ence with reports declar­ing Wuhan has been “cleared of guilt” as the sus­pect­ed ori­gin of the pan­dem­ic, with some echo­ing the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry in call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion into U.S. labs.
    ...

    Next, here’s a report from last week about the progress the inves­tiga­tive team was mak­ing dur­ing their time in Chi­na. Peter Daszak had high praise for the Chi­nese experts they met with, in par­tic­u­lar Shi Zhengli, and not­ed no obsta­cles in their inves­ti­ga­tion. The arti­cle notes that Daszak and Shi worked togeth­er in the past on track­ing down the ori­gins of SARS.

    Daszak warned that it would like­ly take years to con­firm the ori­gins of the virus and described what would be required to do it: Exhaus­tive research is need­ed to pin down an outbreak’s ani­mal reser­voir, includ­ing tak­ing ani­mal sam­ples, genet­ic analy­sis and epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies. And that just hap­pens to describe the work of Dasza­k’s Eco­Health alliance. In oth­er words, Daszak is telling us that it will prob­a­bly be his own Eco­Health Alliance that will deliv­er the even­tu­al final con­clu­sion on this ques­tion of the ori­gin of the virus. Which will pre­sum­ably require more fund­ing for the project:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    AP Inter­view: Chi­na grant­ed WHO team full access in Wuhan

    By EMILY WANG FUJIYAMA and SAM McNEIL
    Feb­ru­ary 5, 2021

    WUHAN, Chi­na (AP) — A mem­ber of the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion expert team inves­ti­gat­ing the ori­gins of the coro­n­avirus in Wuhan said the Chi­nese side grant­ed full access to all sites and per­son­nel they request­ed — a lev­el of open­ness that even he hadn’t expect­ed.

    Peter Daszak told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press on Fri­day that team mem­bers had sub­mit­ted a deeply con­sid­ered list of places and peo­ple to include in their inves­ti­ga­tion and that no objec­tions were raised.

    “We were asked where we want­ed to go. We gave our hosts a list ... and you can see from where we’ve been, we’ve been to all the key places,” Daszak said.

    “Every place we asked to see, every­one we want­ed to meet. ... So real­ly good,” said the British-born zool­o­gist, who is pres­i­dent of the NGO Eco­Health Alliance in New York City.

    Daszak said the team has now con­clud­ed site vis­its and will spend the next few days trolling through data and con­sult­ing with Chi­nese experts before pre­sent­ing a sum­ma­ry of their find­ings at a news brief­ing pri­or to their depar­ture on Wednes­day.

    “I can’t real­ly say too much about what we’ve found yet because we’re at that exact point in time where the teams are com­ing togeth­er look­ing at dif­fer­ent path­ways, dif­fer­ent issues,” he said.

    He said ques­tions include what were the first cas­es, what was the link with ani­mals and what, if any, was the role of the so-called “cold chain” — the pos­si­bil­i­ty the virus was brought into Chi­na on pack­ag­ing from import­ed frozen food, an unproven the­o­ry that Chi­na has long put for­ward.

    “And of course, we’re look­ing at every hypothe­ses that’s been out there and see­ing where the data take us and do they point to any par­tic­u­lar one,” Daszak said.

    Daszak had high praise for Chi­nese experts, who had been prepar­ing for the vis­it for months, par­tic­u­lar­ly deputy direc­tor of the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy, Shi Zhengli, with whom he worked to track down the ori­gins of sev­er acute res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­drome, or SARS, that orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­na and led to the 2003 out­break.

    Some, includ­ing peo­ple close to for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, had spec­u­lat­ed the insti­tute may have been the ori­gin of the out­break because of its large col­lec­tion of bat virus spec­i­mens and that Chi­nese author­i­ties were cov­er­ing up the truth.

    How­ev­er, Daszak said they were met dur­ing their vis­it to the high-secu­ri­ty insti­tute with a lev­el of open­ness even he hadn’t antic­i­pat­ed, and that sus­pi­cions sur­round­ing it had been “politi­cized on a glob­al scale.”

    “The pres­sure for this insti­tu­tion I’m sure has been intense so it was real­ly good to have, not just me, but this whole group of inter­na­tion­al experts be able to ask real­ly insight­ful ques­tions and also to have all the key peo­ple in the room when we did that,” Daszak said.

    Chi­na has strong­ly denied the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a leak from the lab and has pro­mot­ed unproven the­o­ries that the virus may have orig­i­nat­ed else­where before being brought to Wuhan, includ­ing pos­si­bly on import­ed frozen food pack­ag­ing.

    The vis­it by the WHO team took months to nego­ti­ate after Chi­na only agreed to it amid mas­sive inter­na­tion­al pres­sure at the World Health Assem­bly meet­ing last May, and Bei­jing has con­tin­ued to deny calls for a strict­ly inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion. Author­i­ties have kept a tight hold on infor­ma­tion about the pos­si­ble caus­es of the pan­dem­ic that has now sick­ened more than 105 mil­lion peo­ple and killed more than 2.2 mil­lion world­wide.

    Daszak said the team was also giv­en wide access when vis­it­ing hos­pi­tals that treat­ed patients in the ini­tial out­break at the end of 2019 and begin­ning of 2020.

    “To meet the first clin­i­cians who took in the first patients with COVID, that’s incred­i­ble ... that you can talk to that per­son who dealt with that first case and ask her what she saw and ask ques­tions,” Daszak said.

    The same lev­el of access was giv­en at the Hua­nan Seafood Mar­ket that was linked to ear­ly case clus­ters, he said. That includ­ed meet­ing with ven­dors and mar­ket man­agers and tour­ing the mar­ket with those who did the orig­i­nal envi­ron­men­tal swab­bing that pro­duced signs of the virus even after the mar­ket had been closed down.

    “So this is an in-depth, deep under­stand­ing of the sites and the peo­ple who were involved,” Daszak said.

    Daszak said the inves­ti­ga­tion by the team, com­posed of experts from 10 nations, was sim­ply an ini­tial step and that it would like­ly take years to con­firm the ori­gins of the virus. Exhaus­tive research is need­ed to pin down an outbreak’s ani­mal reser­voir, includ­ing tak­ing ani­mal sam­ples, genet­ic analy­sis and epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies.

    The virus is wide­ly sus­pect­ed to have orig­i­nat­ed in bats, which also pro­duced the SARS virus, before being passed to humans through an inter­me­di­ary species, pos­si­bly a wild ani­mal such as a pan­golin or bam­boo rat, con­sid­ered an exot­ic del­i­ca­cy by some in Chi­na. One pos­si­ble cause is that a wildlife poach­er might have passed the virus to traders who car­ried it to Wuhan but that has yet to be proven.

    Among mea­sures tak­en by Chi­na after the ini­tial out­break, Daszak had spe­cif­ic praise for the 76-day lock­down imposed on Wuhan, a city of 11 mil­lion, along with the almost total clo­sure of wildlife mar­kets and breed­ing farms nation­wide.

    ...

    In recent months, Chi­na has large­ly elim­i­nat­ed cas­es of local trans­mis­sion, with just six report­ed on Fri­day — five in the north­east­ern province of Hei­longjiang and one in the east­ern finan­cial hub of Shang­hai.

    Although some social dis­tanc­ing restric­tions have been eased, strict test­ing, quar­an­tines, elec­tron­ic mon­i­tor­ing and com­mu­ni­ty lock­downs remain in force, while mask-wear­ing in pub­lic is almost uni­ver­sal.

    ———-

    “AP Inter­view: Chi­na grant­ed WHO team full access in Wuhan” by EMILY WANG FUJIYAMA and SAM McNEIL; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 02/05/2021

    “Daszak said the inves­ti­ga­tion by the team, com­posed of experts from 10 nations, was sim­ply an ini­tial step and that it would like­ly take years to con­firm the ori­gins of the virus. Exhaus­tive research is need­ed to pin down an outbreak’s ani­mal reser­voir, includ­ing tak­ing ani­mal sam­ples, genet­ic analy­sis and epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies.

    Are we in store for an explo­sion of invest­ments in virus hunt­ing research projects? That’s what Daszak is rec­om­mend­ing, and it’s not hard to imag­ine. An explo­sion of ‘defen­sive’ bio­log­i­cal research that just hap­pens to have obvi­ous bio­log­i­cal war­fare dual use appli­ca­tions. And that’s part of why under­stand­ing the bio­log­i­cal war­fare dual use impli­ca­tions of the Eco­Health Alliance and relat­ed ‘defen­sive’ bio­log­i­cal research is going to be more impor­tant than ever going for­ward. Because when you explode the fund­ing for dual use ‘defen­sive’ bio­log­i­cal research, you’re def­i­nite­ly chang­ing the risks of a viral dis­as­ter but not nec­es­sar­i­ly low­er­ing them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2021, 4:09 pm
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Looks like the War­ren Report has “gone viral!”

    No men­tion of Dasza­k’s fund­ing com­ing most­ly from Pen­ta­gon, USAID, nor of his asso­ci­a­tion with David Franz, for­mer com­man­der of Ft. Det­rick.

    Daszak might be viewed as the Allen Dulles of this com­mis­sion.

    Keep up the great work!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 11, 2021, 6:57 pm
  3. Well look at that: Politi­co just pub­lished an arti­cle about how US diplo­mats were informed as far back as late 2017 that researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy (WIV) were Shi Zhengli’s lab at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy was car­ry­ing out gain-of-func­tion exper­i­ments on bat-borne coro­n­avirus­es. And informed the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, which seem­ing­ly did noth­ing with this infor­ma­tion. The con­tent of the report, authored by Josh Rogin, was actu­al­ly first report­ed by Rogin back in April of 2020 in the Wash­ing­ton Post, but Rogin’s new piece has some inter­est­ing new details:

    In late 2017, top health and sci­ence offi­cials at the U.S. Embassy in Bei­jing attend­ed a con­fer­ence for a pre­sen­ta­tion by a group of Chi­nese sci­en­tists, includ­ing sev­er­al from the WIV, of a new study put out by the group along with the US Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health enti­tled “Dis­cov­ery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-Relat­ed Coro­n­avirus­es Pro­vides New Insights into the Ori­gin of SARS Coro­n­avirus.”. So it was a con­fer­ence specif­i­cal­ly on research into bat borne coro­n­avirus­es.

    It was at this con­fer­ence that US offi­cials grew alarmed after learn­ing that one of the three virus­es they were work­ing on con­tained a spike pro­tein that was par­tic­u­lar­ly good at grab­bing on to a spe­cif­ic recep­tor in human lung cells known as an ACE2 recep­tor. Recall how, back in March of 2020, we were already get­ting hints that this virus was devel­oped in a lab when we learned that the SARS-CoV­‑2 spike pro­tein’s con­tained the can­non­i­cal furin cleav­age site. Around this same time we also learned that the virus’s Recep­tor Bind­ing Domain (RBD) is par­tic­u­lar­ly good as stick­ing to the human ACE2 recep­tor. So at least some of SARS-CoV-2’s fea­tures that make it par­tic­u­lar­ly good at infect­ing humans were appar­ent­ly shared with the virus­es the WIV was study­ing in 2017.

    It’s also worth recall­ing the evi­dence found by Ali­na Chan that the WIV was access­ing and sequenc­ing the genome of the clos­est known rel­a­tive to SARS-CoV­‑2: the RaTG13 virus, which appears to have been was first accessed by Shi’s lab in June of 2017. Did the analy­sis Shi’s lab pre­sent­ed to US diplo­mats at that con­fer­ence in late 2017 include the RaTG13 virus? That would be a fas­ci­nat­ing detail.

    In response the con­cerns of the diplo­mats over what they saw at the con­fer­ence, the US embassy sent three teams of experts in late 2017 and ear­ly 2018 to meet with the WIV sci­en­tists, includ­ing Shi Zhengli. Is was dur­ing these meet­ings that the Chi­nese researchers report­ed­ly informed them that the WIV didn’t have enough prop­er­ly trained tech­ni­cians to safe­ly oper­ate their BSL‑4 lab and asked for more sup­port to get it up to stan­dards. Recall how Chi­na’s very first BSL‑4 lab was opened in ear­ly 2017 with inter­na­tion­al sup­port and approval. So we have Chi­nese researchers shar­ing with US diplo­mats their joint research on bat coro­n­avirus­es as well as their safe­ty con­cerns over the BSL‑4 lab that the US helped Chi­na open months ear­li­er. It’s a sign of how close the rela­tion­ship has been between the US gov­ern­ment and the oper­a­tions of the WIV.

    Fol­low­ing these meet­ings, the US diplo­mats sent warn­ings back to Wash­ing­ton that the Chi­nese researchers were work­ing with virus­es that could eas­i­ly infect humans and more sup­port was need­ed for the WIV. The diplo­mat­ic cables were inten­tion­al­ly kept unclas­si­fied to ensure broad­er read­er­ship. So these warn­ings in 2018 were pre­sum­ably rel­a­tive­ly wide­ly known with­in US gov­ern­ment cir­cles, almost a year and a half before the first signs of the out­break. There was no response from State Depart­ment head­quar­ters to the cables and they were nev­er made pub­lic. It sounds like these diplo­mat­ic cables were not leaked to Josh Rogin by any­one in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion when he received them back in April and then-Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo was angry about Rogin’s report, so these diplo­mat­ic cables and fore­knowl­edge of the kind of research tak­ing place in the WIV was not some­thing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion nec­es­sar­i­ly want­ed the pub­lic to know.

    Now, Rogin pub­lished most of these details last year. In his new report, he gives us an idea of how that April 2020 report was received and what peo­ple inside gov­ern­ment and the research com­mu­ni­ty were telling him. Rogin appar­ent­ly found that many gov­ern­ment offi­cials who he trusts and reached out to had sus­pi­cions of a lab-based ori­gin they did­n’t want to pub­licly share. They were specif­i­cal­ly con­cerned about ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­ments.

    There’s a pret­ty explo­sive admis­sion, at least explo­sive in the con­text of the non-stop asser­tions that ‘the entire sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty’ has some­how deter­mined the virus did­n’t orig­i­nate in a lab: When Rogin asked the US sci­en­tists who worked with Shi Zhengli’s lab whether or not they thought her Shi’s lab was con­nect­ed to the out­break, they told Rogin they could­n’t be sure because there was no way they could know what exact­ly the WIV lab was doing out­side of their coop­er­a­tive projects. In oth­er words, they were admit­ting that, yes, it’s pos­si­ble the virus came from a lab. It’s quite an admis­sion giv­en the pre­vail­ing nar­ra­tive on this.

    There was one pret­ty big new alle­ga­tion in Rogin’s piece that, if it panned out, would actu­al­ly lend cred­i­bil­i­ty to the idea that this virus leaked from the WIV: a US offi­cial told Rogin that the U.S. gov­ern­ment had evi­dence that Chi­nese labs were per­form­ing gain-of-func­tion research on a much larg­er scale than was pub­licly dis­closed. We are told noth­ing more than that. So it would be extreme­ly inter­est­ing to know who this US offi­cial is and the nature of that evi­dence. Was this a Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial?

    Over­all, Rogin’s piece gives us an idea of the direc­tion the ques­tions about the ori­gins of SARS-CoV­‑2 are going and, slow­ly but sure­ly, these ques­tions are head­ing in the appro­pri­ate direc­tion. Ques­tions about gain-of-func­tion research and the exten­sive work­ing rela­tion­ship between the US gov­ern­ment, US researchers, and the Chi­nese lab that is being fin­gered as the top cul­prit. And ques­tions about why the US gov­ern­ment seem­ing­ly did­n’t act in response to the diplo­mat­ic warn­ings. But we still haven’t heard many ques­tions about the dark, yet, obvi­ous range of options that would have been avail­able to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion upon learn­ing about these diplo­mat­ic warn­ings. Options like a covert inten­tion­al release out­side of the WIV. After all, it’s not like this research was being hid­den from the US. What the Chi­nese researchers knew they were shar­ing with the US col­lab­o­ra­tors. So when we talk about the labs were the virus could have emerged from, we can now con­clude that the WIV and its inter­na­tion­al col­lab­o­ra­tors had the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge to arti­fi­cial­ly make SARS-CoV­‑2 by rough­ly mid-2018.

    So what’s the Occam’s razor sce­nario at this point? The whole premise of exclu­sive­ly sus­pect­ing the WIV is based on an Occam’s razor approach: if the virus first appeared near­by the WIV, Occam’s razor clear­ly points towards the WIV. But when we expand out the full scope of what we now know, where does Occam’s razor actu­al­ly point? After all, oth­er than the claim by the anony­mous US offi­cial that evi­dence exists of secret Chi­nese ‘gain-of-func­tion’ exper­i­ments, all oth­er data points we have sug­gest the Chi­nese researchers were being incred­i­bly open with the US offi­cials. And why not? The US was basi­cal­ly their spon­sor. The Chi­nese researchers lit­er­al­ly told them about safe­ty issues and asked for help. So on the one hand, if we have Chi­nese researchers who appear to have been quite open with their col­lab­o­ra­tors. And on the oth­er hand, we had a Trump admin­is­tra­tion that was ful­ly aware of these exper­i­ments and keen­ly intent on find­ing ways of stok­ing con­flict with Chi­na as a core polit­i­cal objec­tive. And that’s why we have to ask: what’s the actu­al Occam’s razor sce­nario here?:

    Politi­co

    In 2018, Diplo­mats Warned of Risky Coro­n­avirus Exper­i­ments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Lis­tened.

    After see­ing a risky lab, they wrote a cable warn­ing to Wash­ing­ton. But it was ignored.

    By JOSH ROGIN
    03/08/2021 04:30 AM EST

    On Jan­u­ary 15, in its last days, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s State Depart­ment put out a state­ment with seri­ous claims about the ori­gins of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic. The state­ment said the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty had evi­dence that sev­er­al researchers at the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy lab­o­ra­to­ry were sick with Covid-like symp­toms in autumn 2019—implying the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment had hid­den cru­cial infor­ma­tion about the out­break for months—and that the WIV lab, despite “pre­sent­ing itself as a civil­ian insti­tu­tion,” was con­duct­ing secret research projects with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary. The State Depart­ment alleged a Chi­nese gov­ern­ment cov­er-up and assert­ed that “Bei­jing con­tin­ues today to with­hold vital infor­ma­tion that sci­en­tists need to pro­tect the world from this dead­ly virus, and the next one.”

    The exact ori­gin of the new coro­n­avirus remains a mys­tery to this day, but the search for answers is not just about assign­ing blame. Unless the source is locat­ed, the true path of the virus can’t be traced, and sci­en­tists can’t prop­er­ly study the best ways to pre­vent future out­breaks.

    The orig­i­nal Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sto­ry, that the pan­dem­ic spread from a seafood mar­ket in Wuhan, was the first and there­fore most wide­ly accept­ed the­o­ry. But cracks in that the­o­ry slow­ly emerged through­out the late win­ter and spring of 2020. The first known case of Covid-19 in Wuhan, it was revealed in Feb­ru­ary, had no con­nec­tion to the mar­ket. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment closed the mar­ket in Jan­u­ary and san­i­tized it before prop­er sam­ples could be tak­en. It wouldn’t be until May that the Chi­nese Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol dis­avowed the mar­ket the­o­ry, admit­ting it had no idea how the out­break began, but by then it had become the sto­ry of record, in Chi­na and inter­na­tion­al­ly.

    In the spring of 2020, inside the U.S. gov­ern­ment, some offi­cials began to see and col­lect evi­dence of a dif­fer­ent, per­haps more trou­bling theory—that the out­break had a con­nec­tion to one of the lab­o­ra­to­ries in Wuhan, among them the WIV, a world lead­ing cen­ter of research on bat coro­n­avirus­es.

    To some inside the gov­ern­ment, the name of the lab­o­ra­to­ry was famil­iar. Its research on bat virus­es had already drawn the atten­tion of U.S. diplo­mats and offi­cials at the Bei­jing Embassy in late 2017, prompt­ing them to alert Wash­ing­ton that the lab’s own sci­en­tists had report­ed “a seri­ous short­age of appro­pri­ate­ly trained tech­ni­cians and inves­ti­ga­tors need­ed to safe­ly oper­ate this high-con­tain­ment lab­o­ra­to­ry.”

    But their cables to Wash­ing­ton were ignored.

    When I pub­lished the warn­ings from these cables in April 2020, they added fuel to a debate that had already gone from a sci­en­tif­ic and foren­sic ques­tion to a hot-but­ton polit­i­cal issue, as the pre­vi­ous­ly inter­nal U.S. gov­ern­ment debate over the lab’s pos­si­ble con­nec­tion spilled into pub­lic view. The next day, Trump said he was “inves­ti­gat­ing,” and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo called on Bei­jing to “come clean” about the ori­gin of the out­break. Two weeks lat­er, Pom­peo said there was “enor­mous evi­dence” point­ing to the lab, but he didn’t pro­vide any of said evi­dence. As Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s rela­tion­ship unrav­eled and admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials open­ly blamed the Wuhan lab, the U.S.-China rela­tion­ship only went fur­ther down­hill.

    As the pan­dem­ic set in world­wide, the ori­gin sto­ry was large­ly set aside in the pub­lic cov­er­age of the cri­sis. But the inter­nal gov­ern­ment debate con­tin­ued, now over whether the Unit­ed States should release more infor­ma­tion about what it knew about the lab and its pos­si­ble con­nec­tion to the out­break. The Jan­u­ary 15 state­ment was cleared by the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, but the under­ly­ing data was still held secret. Like­ly chang­ing no minds, it was meant as a signal—showing that cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence did exist, and that the the­o­ry deserved fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Now, the new Joe Biden team is walk­ing a tightrope, call­ing on Bei­jing to release more data, while declin­ing to endorse or dis­pute the Trump administration’s con­tro­ver­sial claims. The ori­gin sto­ry remains entan­gled both in domes­tic pol­i­tics and U.S.-China rela­tions. Last month, Nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Jake Sul­li­van issued a state­ment express­ing “deep con­cerns” about a forth­com­ing report from a team assem­bled by the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion that toured Wuhan—even vis­it­ing the lab—but was denied cru­cial data by the Chi­nese author­i­ties.

    But more than four years ago, long before this ques­tion blew up into an inter­na­tion­al point of ten­sion between Chi­na and the Unit­ed States, the sto­ry start­ed with a sim­ple warn­ing.

    ***

    In late 2017, top health and sci­ence offi­cials at the U.S. Embassy in Bei­jing attend­ed a con­fer­ence in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal. There, they saw a pre­sen­ta­tion on a new study put out by a group of Chi­nese sci­en­tists, includ­ing sev­er­al from the Wuhan lab, in con­junc­tion with the U.S. Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health.

    Since the 2002 out­break of SARS—the dead­ly dis­ease caused by a coro­n­avirus trans­mit­ted by bats in China—scientists around the world had been look­ing for ways to pre­dict and lim­it future out­breaks of sim­i­lar dis­eases. To aid the effort, the NIH had fund­ed a num­ber of projects that involved the WIV sci­en­tists, includ­ing much of the Wuhan lab’s work with bat coro­n­avirus­es. The new study was enti­tled “Dis­cov­ery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-Relat­ed Coro­n­avirus­es Pro­vides New Insights into the Ori­gin of SARS Coro­n­avirus.”

    These researchers, the Amer­i­can offi­cials learned, had found a pop­u­la­tion of bats from caves in Yun­nan province that gave them insight into how SARS coro­n­avirus­es orig­i­nat­ed and spread. The researchers boast­ed that they may have found the cave where the orig­i­nal SARS coro­n­avirus orig­i­nat­ed. But all the U.S. diplo­mats cared about was that these sci­en­tists had dis­cov­ered three new virus­es that had a unique char­ac­ter­is­tic: they con­tained a “spike pro­tein” that was par­tic­u­lar­ly good at grab­bing on to a spe­cif­ic recep­tor in human lung cells known as an ACE2 recep­tor. That means the virus­es were poten­tial­ly very dan­ger­ous for humans—and that these virus­es were now in a lab with which they, the U.S. diplo­mats, were large­ly unfa­mil­iar.
    /
    Know­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the Wuhan virol­o­gists’ dis­cov­ery, and know­ing that the WIV’s top-lev­el biosafe­ty lab­o­ra­to­ry (BSL‑4) was rel­a­tive­ly new, the U.S. Embassy health and sci­ence offi­cials in Bei­jing decid­ed to go to Wuhan and check it out. In total, the embassy sent three teams of experts in late 2017 and ear­ly 2018 to meet with the WIV sci­en­tists, among them Shi Zhengli, often referred to as the “bat woman” because of her exten­sive expe­ri­ence study­ing coro­n­avirus­es found in bats.

    When they sat down with the sci­en­tists at the WIV, the Amer­i­can diplo­mats were shocked by what they heard. The Chi­nese researchers told them they didn’t have enough prop­er­ly trained tech­ni­cians to safe­ly oper­ate their BSL‑4 lab. The Wuhan sci­en­tists were ask­ing for more sup­port to get the lab up to top stan­dards.

    The diplo­mats wrote two cables to Wash­ing­ton report­ing on their vis­its to the Wuhan lab. More should be done to help the lab meet top safe­ty stan­dards, they said, and they urged Wash­ing­ton to get on it. They also warned that the WIV researchers had found new bat coro­n­avirus­es could eas­i­ly infect human cells, and which used the same cel­lu­lar route that had been used by the orig­i­nal SARS coro­n­avirus.

    Tak­en togeth­er, those two points—a par­tic­u­lar­ly dan­ger­ous groups of virus­es being stud­ied in a lab with real safe­ty problems—were intend­ed as a warn­ing about a poten­tial pub­lic-health cri­sis, one of the cable writ­ers told me. They kept the cables unclas­si­fied because they want­ed more peo­ple back home to be able to read and share them, accord­ing to the cable writer. But there was no response from State Depart­ment head­quar­ters and they were nev­er made pub­lic. And as U.S.-China ten­sions rose over the course of 2018, Amer­i­can diplo­mats lost access to labs such as the one at the WIV.

    “The cable was a warn­ing shot,” one U.S. offi­cial said. “They were beg­ging peo­ple to pay atten­tion to what was going on.” The world would be pay­ing atten­tion soon enough—but by then, it would be too late.

    The cables were not leaked to me by any Trump admin­is­tra­tion polit­i­cal offi­cial, as many in the media wrong­ly assumed. In fact, Sec­re­tary of State Pom­peo was angry when he found out about the leak. He need­ed to keep up the veneer of good rela­tions with Chi­na, and these rev­e­la­tions would make that job more dif­fi­cult. Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi had agreed dur­ing their March 26 phone call to halt the war of words that had erupt­ed when a Chi­nese diplo­mat alleged on Twit­ter that the out­break might have been caused by the U.S. Army. That had prompt­ed Trump to start call­ing it the “Chi­na virus,” delib­er­ate­ly blam­ing Bei­jing in a racist way. Xi had warned Trump in that call that China’s lev­el of coop­er­a­tion on releas­ing crit­i­cal equip­ment in America’s dark­est moment would be jeop­ar­dized by con­tin­ued accu­sa­tions.

    After receiv­ing the cables from a source, I called around to get reac­tions from oth­er Amer­i­can offi­cials I trust­ed. What I found was that, just months into the pan­dem­ic, a large swath of the gov­ern­ment already believed the virus had escaped from the WIV lab, rather than hav­ing leaped from an ani­mal to a human at the Wuhan seafood mar­ket or some oth­er ran­dom nat­ur­al set­ting, as the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment had claimed.

    Any the­o­ry of the pandemic’s ori­gins had to account for the fact that the out­break of the nov­el coronavirus—or, by its offi­cial name, SARS-CoV‑2—first appeared in Wuhan, on the doorstep of the lab that pos­sessed one of the world’s largest col­lec­tions of bat coro­n­avirus­es and that pos­sessed the clos­est known rel­a­tive of SARS-CoV­‑2, a virus known as RaTG13 that Shi iden­ti­fied in her lab.

    Shi, in her March inter­view, said that when she was first told about the virus out­break in her town, she thought the offi­cials had got­ten it wrong, because she would have guessed that such a virus would break out in south­ern Chi­na, where most of the bats live. “I had nev­er expect­ed this kind of thing to hap­pen in Wuhan, in cen­tral Chi­na,” she said.

    By April, U.S. offi­cials at the NSC and the State Depart­ment had begun to com­pile cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that the WIV lab, rather than the seafood mar­ket, was actu­al­ly the source of the virus. The for­mer expla­na­tion for the out­break was entire­ly plau­si­ble, they felt, where­as the lat­ter would be an extreme coin­ci­dence. But the offi­cials couldn’t say that out loud because there wasn’t firm proof either way. And if the U.S. gov­ern­ment accused Chi­na of lying about the out­break with­out firm evi­dence, Bei­jing would sure­ly esca­late ten­sions even more, which meant that Amer­i­cans might not get the med­ical sup­plies that were des­per­ate­ly need­ed to com­bat the rapid spread of SARS-CoV­‑2 in the Unit­ed States.

    Arkansas Sen­a­tor Tom Cot­ton seemed not to have been con­cerned about any of those con­sid­er­a­tions. On Feb­ru­ary 16, he had offered a total­ly unfound­ed the­o­ry of his own, claim­ing on Fox News that the virus might have come from China’s biowar­fare program—suggesting, in oth­er words, that it had been engi­neered delib­er­ate­ly to kill humans. This wasn’t sup­port­ed by any known research: To this day, sci­en­tists large­ly agree that the virus was not “engi­neered” to be dead­ly; SARS-CoV­‑2 showed no evi­dence of direct genet­ic manip­u­la­tion. Fur­ther­more, the WIV lab had pub­lished some of its research about bat coro­n­avirus­es that can infect humans—not exact­ly the lev­el of secre­cy you would expect for a clan­des­tine weapons pro­gram.

    As Cotton’s spec­u­la­tion vault­ed the ori­gin sto­ry into the news in an incen­di­ary new way, he under­mined the ongo­ing effort in oth­er parts of the U.S. gov­ern­ment to pin­point the exact ori­gins and nature of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. From then on, jour­nal­ists and politi­cians alike would con­flate the false idea of the coro­n­avirus being a Chi­nese bioweapon with the plau­si­ble idea that the virus had acci­den­tal­ly been released from the WIV lab, mak­ing it a far more polit­i­cal­ly loaded ques­tion to pur­sue.

    ***

    After I pub­lished a Wash­ing­ton Post col­umn on the Wuhan cables on April 14, Pom­peo pub­licly called on Bei­jing to “come clean” about the ori­gin of the out­break and weeks lat­er declared there was “enor­mous evi­dence” to that effect beyond the Wuhan cables them­selves. But he refused to pro­duce any oth­er proof.

    At the same time, some mem­bers of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty leaked to my col­leagues that they had dis­cov­ered “no firm evi­dence” that the out­break orig­i­nat­ed in the lab. That was true in a sense. Deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Matthew Pot­tinger had asked the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to look for evi­dence of all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios for the out­break, includ­ing the mar­ket or a lab acci­dent, but they hadn’t found any firm links to either. But absence of evi­dence is not evi­dence of absence. There was a gap in the intel­li­gence. And the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty didn’t know either way.

    Large parts of the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty also decried my report, point­ing to the fact that nat­ur­al spillovers have been the cause of oth­er viral out­breaks, and that they were the cul­prit more often than acci­dents. But many of the sci­en­tists who spoke out to defend the lab were Shi’s research part­ners and fun­ders, like the head of the glob­al pub­lic health non­prof­it Eco­Health Alliance, Peter Daszak; their research was tied to hers, and if the Wuhan lab were impli­cat­ed in the pan­dem­ic, they would have to answer a lot of tough ques­tions.

    Like­wise, the Amer­i­can sci­en­tists who knew and worked with Shi could not say for sure her lab was uncon­nect­ed to the out­break, because there’s no way they could know exact­ly what the WIV lab was doing out­side their coop­er­a­tive projects. Bei­jing threat­ened Aus­tralia and the EU for even sug­gest­ing an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the virus.

    In May, Chi­nese CDC offi­cials declared on Chi­nese state media that they had ruled out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the seafood mar­ket was the ori­gin of the virus, com­plete­ly aban­don­ing the orig­i­nal offi­cial sto­ry. As for the “bat woman” her­self, Shi didn’t think the lab acci­dent the­o­ry was so crazy. In her March inter­view, she described fran­ti­cal­ly search­ing her own lab’s records after learn­ing of the coro­n­avirus out­break in Wuhan. “Could they have come from our lab?” she recalled ask­ing her­self.

    Shi said she was relieved when she didn’t find the new coro­n­avirus in her files. “That real­ly took a load off my mind,” she said. “I had not slept a wink in days.” Of course, if she had found the virus, she like­ly would not have been able to admit it, giv­en that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment was going around the world insist­ing the lab had not been involved in the out­break.

    ***

    A key argu­ment of those Chi­nese and Amer­i­can sci­en­tists dis­put­ing the lab acci­dent the­o­ry is that Chi­nese researchers had per­formed their work out in the open and had dis­closed the coro­n­avirus research they were per­form­ing. This argu­ment was used to attack any­one who didn’t believe the Chi­nese sci­en­tists’ firm denials their labs could pos­si­bly have been respon­si­ble for the out­break.

    But one senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told me that many offi­cials in var­i­ous parts of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, espe­cial­ly the NSC and the State Depart­ment, came to believe that these researchers had not been as forth­com­ing as had been claimed.

    What they were wor­ried about was some­thing called “gain-of-func­tion” research, in which the vir­u­lence or trans­mis­si­bil­i­ty of dan­ger­ous pathogens is delib­er­ate­ly increased. The pur­pose is to help sci­en­tists pre­dict how virus­es might evolve in ways that hurt humans before it hap­pens in nature. But by bypass­ing pathogens’ nat­ur­al evo­lu­tion­ary cycles, these exper­i­ments cre­ate risks of a human-made out­break if a lab acci­dent were to occur. For this rea­son, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion issued a mora­to­ri­um on gain-of-func­tion exper­i­ments in Octo­ber 2014.

    The Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy had open­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in gain-of-func­tion research in part­ner­ship with U.S. uni­ver­si­ties and insti­tu­tions. But the offi­cial told me the U.S. gov­ern­ment had evi­dence that Chi­nese labs were per­form­ing gain-of-func­tion research on a much larg­er scale than was pub­licly dis­closed, mean­ing they were tak­ing more risks in more labs than any­one out­side Chi­na was aware of. This insight, in turn, fed into the lab-acci­dent hypoth­e­sis in a new and trou­bling way.

    A lit­tle-noticed study was released in ear­ly July 2020 by a group of Chi­nese researchers in Bei­jing, includ­ing sev­er­al affil­i­at­ed with the Acad­e­my of Mil­i­tary Med­ical Sci­ence. These sci­en­tists said they had cre­at­ed a new mod­el for study­ing SARS-CoV­‑2 by cre­at­ing mice with human-like lung char­ac­ter­is­tics by using the CRISPR gene-edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy to give the mice lung cells with the human ACE2 recep­tor — the cell recep­tor that allowed coro­n­avirus­es to so eas­i­ly infect human lungs.

    After con­sul­ta­tions with experts, some U.S. offi­cials came to believe this Bei­jing lab was like­ly con­duct­ing coro­n­avirus exper­i­ments on mice fit­ted with ACE2 recep­tors well before the coro­n­avirus outbreak—research they hadn’t dis­closed and con­tin­ued not to admit to. In its Jan­u­ary 15 state­ment, the State Depart­ment alleged that although the Wuhan Insti­tute of Virol­o­gy dis­closed some of its par­tic­i­pa­tion in gain-of-func­tion research, it has not dis­closed its work on RaTG13 and “has engaged in clas­si­fied research, includ­ing lab­o­ra­to­ry ani­mal exper­i­ments, on behalf of the Chi­nese mil­i­tary since at least 2017.” That, by itself, did not help to explain how SARS-CoV­‑2 orig­i­nat­ed. But it was clear that offi­cials believed there was a lot of risky coro­n­avirus research going on in Chi­nese labs that the rest of the world was sim­ply not aware of.

    “This was just a peek under a cur­tain of an entire galaxy of activ­i­ty, includ­ing labs and mil­i­tary labs in Bei­jing and Wuhan play­ing around with coro­n­avirus­es in ACE2 mice in unsafe labs,” the senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said. “It sug­gests we are get­ting a peek at a body of activ­i­ty that isn’t under­stood in the West or even has prece­dent here.”

    ...

    ———–

    “In 2018, Diplo­mats Warned of Risky Coro­n­avirus Exper­i­ments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Lis­tened.” by JOSH ROGIN; Politi­co; 03/08/2021

    “In late 2017, top health and sci­ence offi­cials at the U.S. Embassy in Bei­jing attend­ed a con­fer­ence in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal. There, they saw a pre­sen­ta­tion on a new study put out by a group of Chi­nese sci­en­tists, includ­ing sev­er­al from the Wuhan lab, in con­junc­tion with the U.S. Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health.

    It was no secret: The WIV lit­er­al­ly invit­ed the US offi­cials to a con­fer­ence to share their coro­n­avirus results. Results on mul­ti­ple coro­n­avirus­es seem­ing­ly ready to start a pan­dem­ic thanks to their spike pro­teins’ stick­i­ness to human ACE2 recep­tors. And when the US gov­ern­ment sent teams to inter­view these Chi­nese researchers they were told even more about the pos­si­ble safe­ty issues at the WIV. Alarms real­ly were raised. What hap­pened after they were raised remains an open ques­tion, but they were raised:

    ...
    Since the 2002 out­break of SARS—the dead­ly dis­ease caused by a coro­n­avirus trans­mit­ted by bats in China—scientists around the world had been look­ing for ways to pre­dict and lim­it future out­breaks of sim­i­lar dis­eases. To aid the effort, the NIH had fund­ed a num­ber of projects that involved the WIV sci­en­tists, includ­ing much of the Wuhan lab’s work with bat coro­n­avirus­es. The new study was enti­tled “Dis­cov­ery of a Rich Gene Pool of Bat SARS-Relat­ed Coro­n­avirus­es Pro­vides New Insights into the Ori­gin of SARS Coro­n­avirus.”

    These researchers, the Amer­i­can offi­cials learned, had found a pop­u­la­tion of bats from caves in Yun­nan province that gave them insight into how SARS coro­n­avirus­es orig­i­nat­ed and spread. The researchers boast­ed that they may have found the cave where the orig­i­nal SARS coro­n­avirus orig­i­nat­ed. But all the U.S. diplo­mats cared about was that these sci­en­tists had dis­cov­ered three new virus­es that had a unique char­ac­ter­is­tic: they con­tained a “spike pro­tein” that was par­tic­u­lar­ly good at grab­bing on to a spe­cif­ic recep­tor in human lung cells known as an ACE2 recep­tor. That means the virus­es were poten­tial­ly very dan­ger­ous for humans—and that these virus­es were now in a lab with which they, the U.S. diplo­mats, were large­ly unfa­mil­iar.

    Know­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the Wuhan virol­o­gists’ dis­cov­ery, and know­ing that the WIV’s top-lev­el biosafe­ty lab­o­ra­to­ry (BSL‑4) was rel­a­tive­ly new, the U.S. Embassy health and sci­ence offi­cials in Bei­jing decid­ed to go to Wuhan and check it out. In total, the embassy sent three teams of experts in late 2017 and ear­ly 2018 to meet with the WIV sci­en­tists, among them Shi Zhengli, often referred to as the “bat woman” because of her exten­sive expe­ri­ence study­ing coro­n­avirus­es found in bats.

    When they sat down with the sci­en­tists at the WIV, the Amer­i­can diplo­mats were shocked by what they heard. The Chi­nese researchers told them they didn’t have enough prop­er­ly trained tech­ni­cians to safe­ly oper­ate their BSL‑4 lab. The Wuhan sci­en­tists were ask­ing for more sup­port to get the lab up to top stan­dards.

    The diplo­mats wrote two cables to Wash­ing­ton report­ing on their vis­its to the Wuhan lab. More should be done to help the lab meet top safe­ty stan­dards, they said, and they urged Wash­ing­ton to get on it. They also warned that the WIV researchers had found new bat coro­n­avirus­es could eas­i­ly infect human cells, and which used the same cel­lu­lar route that had been used by the orig­i­nal SARS coro­n­avirus.
    ...

    But those diplo­mat­ic alarms were some­how ignored despite the diplo­mats mak­ing their cables unclas­si­fied. Which rais­es the ques­tion: just how many peo­ple were aware of the con­tents of these cables? Hun­dreds of peo­ple? Thou­sands? We don’t know. But despite all of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s keen inter­est in blam­ing the pan­dem­ic on the WIV, for some rea­son it was­n’t inter­est­ed in pub­licly shar­ing this knowl­edge about these diplo­mat­ic viral con­cerns from recent years. It’s the kind of strate­gic choice that sug­gests an aware­ness that if the pub­lic knew the full sto­ry, the sto­ry the Trump admin­is­tra­tion was try­ing to ped­dle would­n’t sell as well:

    ...
    Tak­en togeth­er, those two points—a par­tic­u­lar­ly dan­ger­ous groups of virus­es being stud­ied in a lab with real safe­ty problems—were intend­ed as a warn­ing about a poten­tial pub­lic-health cri­sis, one of the cable writ­ers told me. They kept the cables unclas­si­fied because they want­ed more peo­ple back home to be able to read and share them, accord­ing to the cable writer. But there was no response from State Depart­ment head­quar­ters and they were nev­er made pub­lic. And as U.S.-China ten­sions rose over the course of 2018, Amer­i­can diplo­mats lost access to labs such as the one at the WIV.

    “The cable was a warn­ing shot,” one U.S. offi­cial said. “They were beg­ging peo­ple to pay atten­tion to what was going on.” The world would be pay­ing atten­tion soon enough—but by then, it would be too late.

    The cables were not leaked to me by any Trump admin­is­tra­tion polit­i­cal offi­cial, as many in the media wrong­ly assumed. In fact, Sec­re­tary of State Pom­peo was angry when he found out about the leak. He need­ed to keep up the veneer of good rela­tions with Chi­na, and these rev­e­la­tions would make that job more dif­fi­cult. Trump and Pres­i­dent Xi had agreed dur­ing their March 26 phone call to halt the war of words that had erupt­ed when a Chi­nese diplo­mat alleged on Twit­ter that the out­break might have been caused by the U.S. Army. That had prompt­ed Trump to start call­ing it the “Chi­na virus,” delib­er­ate­ly blam­ing Bei­jing in a racist way. Xi had warned Trump in that call that China’s lev­el of coop­er­a­tion on releas­ing crit­i­cal equip­ment in America’s dark­est moment would be jeop­ar­dized by con­tin­ued accu­sa­tions.
    ...

    In anoth­er sign of how wide­spread the sus­pi­cions of a lab ori­gin were inside the US gov­ern­ment, when Rogin reached out to US offi­cials he trust­ed to get their take on the pan­dem­ic back in April, a large swath of these peo­ple were already sus­pi­cious it had escaped from the WIV:

    ...
    After receiv­ing the cables from a source, I called around to get reac­tions from oth­er Amer­i­can offi­cials I trust­ed. What I found was that, just months into the pan­dem­ic, a large swath of the gov­ern­ment already believed the virus had escaped from the WIV lab, rather than hav­ing leaped from an ani­mal to a human at the Wuhan seafood mar­ket or some oth­er ran­dom nat­ur­al set­ting, as the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment had claimed.

    Any the­o­ry of the pandemic’s ori­gins had to account for the fact that the out­break of the nov­el coronavirus—or, by its offi­cial name, SARS-CoV‑2—first appeared in Wuhan, on the doorstep of the lab that pos­sessed one of the world’s largest col­lec­tions of bat coro­n­avirus­es and that pos­sessed the clos­est known rel­a­tive of SARS-CoV­‑2, a virus known as RaTG13 that Shi iden­ti­fied in her lab.
    ...

    But per­haps the biggest hint that the virus could have orig­i­nat­ed in a lab is the fact that Shi Zhengli’s US col­lab­o­ra­tors told Rogin that they could­n’t actu­al­ly rule the pos­si­bil­i­ty out because they don’t know the full extent of her lab’s work. That was the opin­ion of the group of peo­ple arguably more tech­ni­cal­ly qual­i­fied to answer that ques­tion than any­one else: a sol­id ‘maybe?’:

    ...
    After I pub­lished a Wash­ing­ton Post col­umn on the Wuhan cables on April 14, Pom­peo pub­licly called on Bei­jing to “come clean” about the ori­gin of the out­break and weeks lat­er declared there was “enor­mous evi­dence” to that effect beyond the Wuhan cables them­selves. But he refused to pro­duce any oth­er proof.

    At the same time, some mem­bers of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty leaked to my col­leagues that they had dis­cov­ered “no firm evi­dence” that the out­break orig­i­nat­ed in the lab. That was true in a sense. Deputy nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Matthew Pot­tinger had asked the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to look for evi­dence of all pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios for the out­break, includ­ing the mar­ket or a lab acci­dent, but they hadn’t found any firm links to either. But absence of evi­dence is not evi­dence of absence. There was a gap in the intel­li­gence. And the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty didn’t know either way.

    Large parts of the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty also decried my report, point­ing to the fact that nat­ur­al spillovers have been the cause of oth­er viral out­breaks, and that they were the cul­prit more often than acci­dents. But many of the sci­en­tists who spoke out to defend the lab were Shi’s research part­ners and fun­ders, like the head of the glob­al pub­lic health non­prof­it Eco­Health Alliance, Peter Daszak; their research was tied to hers, and if the Wuhan lab were impli­cat­ed in the pan­dem­ic, they would have to answer a lot of tough ques­tions.

    Like­wise, the Amer­i­can sci­en­tists who knew and worked with Shi could not say for sure her lab was uncon­nect­ed to the out­break, because there’s no way they could know exact­ly what the WIV lab was doing out­side their coop­er­a­tive projects. Bei­jing threat­ened Aus­tralia and the EU for even sug­gest­ing an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the virus.
    ...

    We have Chi­nese researchers that appear to be work­ing open­ly with their US spon­sors, con­trast­ed with a Trump admin­is­tra­tion intent on con­flict with Chi­na that seem­ing­ly ignored diplo­mat­ic warn­ings about safe­ty-con­cerns and then tried to sup­press the exis­tence of those pri­or safe­ty con­cern. Both the US and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments effec­tive­ly had the knowl­edge of the exis­tence of these SARS-CoV-2-like virus­es in the years lead­ing up to the pan­dem­ic. Both had more than enough resources to make this virus if they want­ed to. But only one of those two gov­ern­ments, Chi­na, was actu­al­ly vul­ner­a­ble to charges of irre­spon­si­ble research if one of those virus­es man­aged to escape and start a pan­dem­ic. And when the diplo­mat­ic warn­ings were issued in late 2017, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion had already made it clear that con­flict with Chi­na was going to be a theme of Trump’s term. So, again, giv­en every­thing we’ve seen, where is Occam’s razor point­ing here?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 11, 2021, 4:37 pm
  4. @Pterafractyl–

    Good find! Rogin, how­ev­er, reflect­ing his tra­di­tion­al right-wing bias, fails to note DARPA’s inter­est in these virus­es (ref­er­ence the Whit­ney Webb arti­cle), does­n’t men­tion Dasza­k’s Eco­Health Alliance’s cen­tral role in all this, does­n’t men­tion the fact that Dasza­k’s EHA is financed by Pen­ta­gon, USAID, does­n’t men­tion that one of Daszak is advised by the for­mer com­man­der of Fort Det­rick, or that ANY virus can be syn­the­sized from scratch, once the genome is sequenced.

    Ali­na Chan does­n’t men­tion this either.

    Keep up the great work!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 11, 2021, 8:59 pm

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