Allegations are coming to light about funding of WIV by the US government.
New Delhi: At least three different individuals, including one US diplomatic official, an US-based corona expert and one Chinese scientist, believe that the Covid 19 virus leaked from the Wuhan institute of Virology (WIV), accidentally.
From January 2018 to March 2018, the US embassy in Beijing repeatedly sent its science diplomats to Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) after it emerged that the safety standards at the laboratory were poor. These officials later sent two diplomatic cables to Washington, confirming their bosses’ suspicion back home of the poorly managed bio-safety standards at the virology laboratory at Wuhan.
As the mystery over the origin of the coronavirus crisis is yet to settle down, reports of a poorly managed laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, that has been conducting experiments with bat viruses, have come to light, suggesting that there could have been a possible leak of the coronavirus from the laboratory in Wuhan.
Senior diplomatic officials at the US embassy in Beijing were visiting the laboratories at the WIV that was conducting risky experiments and studies on the coronavirus from bats, following which they had sent two cables to Washington DC some two years back, apprising the US government of the poorly managed bio-safety standards at the virology laboratory at Wuhan.
The visiting diplomatic officials, in their cable, had cautioned about the safety standards adopted at the WIV and had warned about the laboratory’s work on coronavirus and a potential human transmission, leading to a risk of a SARS-like pandemic.
The delegation from the US embassy was led by Jamison Fouss, the consul general in Wuhan and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment, science, technology and health.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to Rick Switzer, who is currently posted with the Department of State in the United States, to know what he saw at Wuhan. Switzer, however, declined to comment on the story while asking us to approach him through the state department press office.
Very interestingly, WIV deleted the press release of this visit from its website after the pandemic broke.
The cloud over the origin of the coronavirus gets darker after a Chinese researcher from the South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, wrote about a possible leak of the virus from the Wuhan laboratory in China.
According to the research published by the Chinese researcher Xiao Botao titled “The Possible Origins of the 2019-n-CoV coronavirus”, which became public in February, the virus did not origin from the wet sea food market in Wuhan. Botao, who has worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Harvard Medical School—with his field of study focusing on cellular and molecular biomechanics—pointed out that there were no known colonies of the bat carrying CoVZC45 present within 900 km of the sea food market and that these bats were mainly found in Yunnan or Zhejiang province.
He also pointed out in their report that he and his team had interviewed more than 70 people at the Hunan wet food market and none of them testified of a bat being sold in that market.
The study said that they had screened the area around the sea food market and had identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus and within 280 metres of the sea food market was the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control & Prevention, which was also housing a lot of animals including bats for their experiments.
“Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing. The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens. They were only 280 meters from the seafood market. The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital where the first group of doctors was infected during this epidemic. It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs,” the researchers said in their report.
“The second laboratory was also 12 km from the sea food market and the laboratory reported that the Chinese horseshoe bats were natural reservoirs for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which caused the 2002-3 pandemic 9. The principle investigator participated in a project which generated a chimeric virus using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, and reported the potential for human emergence 10. A direct speculation was that SARS-CoV or its derivative might leak from the laboratory,” the researchers further added.
The Sunday Guardian repeatedly tried contacting Botao Xiao through email, but despite reading The Sunday Guardian’s emails, he chose not to respond.
Similarly, well-know coronavirus expert, Richard H. Ebright, who is an American molecular biologist, while speaking to The Sunday Guardian pointed that the virus could have escaped or accidentally acquired by people working in these laboratories where large collection of virus are maintained.
“Wuhan CDC and Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted large research projects on novel bat viruses, maintained large research collections of novel bat viruses, and possessed the virus that is most closely related known virus in the world to the outbreak virus. Documentary evidence indicates that the novel-bat-virus projects at Wuhan CDC and Wuhan Institute of Virology used PPE and bio-safety standards that would pose high risk of accidental infection of a laboratory worker upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of the outbreak virus. Laboratory accidents and especially laboratory acquired infections are common,” Ebright told The Sunday Guardian.
Allegations are also coming to light about the funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology by the US government. It is alleged that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the bat-coronavirus research conducted at the WIV and had given a grant in fund to the tune of $3.7 million.
It is alleged that in 2015, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), had outsourced the research of bat-coronavirus to the Chinese laboratory in the Wuhan Institute of Virology and this decision was taken after the US government had placed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (GOF) research—altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious due to the rising fears of a possible pandemic due to an accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs.
US President Donald Trump has earlier said in a press conference that he is looking into this issue and that investigation would be carried on by his government on this allegation.
However, Dr Fauci in a White House press briefing denied any such allegations and said, “A group of highly-qualified evolutionary virologists looked at the sequences in bats as they evolve. The mutations that it took to get to the point where it is now is totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human.”