Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been questions about whether the virus originated in the Wuhan Virology Institute in China rather than a “wet market” where the meat of animals like the horseshoe bat is sold to consumers. Not only were these questions not answered but anyone asking them was scorned, ridiculed, and even banned from social media platforms for even asking.

Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram had all joined Facebook in taking active measures to ban, suppress any questions about the possibility that COVID-19 was a lab experiment gone wrong. It was the stuff of crackpot conspiracy theorists.  The mainstream media carried that message along for them.

After banning them for over a year, Facebook recently lifted a ban on posts that claimed COVID-19 was man-made. This change followed on the heels of an announcement by President Biden calling the intelligence community for a report on the origins of the virus. This directive is itself a reversal. Previously, President Biden had stated that the World Health Organization (WHO) should be advising the world on the origins of COVID-19.

What we are seeing now is media outlets quietly editing their own posts that had “debunked” the conspiracy theory that the “Wuhan-Flu” might have originated in a lab, while social media platforms begin lifting their bans on anyone making inquiries.

So what is the actual issue here? It’s referred to as “gain of function,” or the process of modifying a virus in the lab to make it more transmissible and able to jump between species including humans. This is how a pandemic is made.

But we should have serious doubts about whether our own government and the agencies within it, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) can be trusted to actually tell us if COVID-19 originated in a lab. We also have good reason to be very skeptical of anything the WHO tells us for reasons I will explain below.

According to a February 2018 article published in the Lancet, the NIH in October 2014 placed a moratorium on any funding of experiments regarding gain of function saying the ban, “will be effective until a robust and broad deliberative process is completed that results in the adoption of a new U.S. Government gain-of-function research policy.” The apparent reason for ceasing funding for these experiments was that in 2014 we had a couple of near-disasters in our own labs. Dozens of people at the CDC might have been exposed to Anthrax because of sloppy handling procedures. Vials of smallpox had been found just lying about in a storeroom at the NIH. Further, the CDC accidentally sent out samples of what was supposed to be influenza, but the samples were contaminated with Avian Flu H5N1, which is highly contagious. Clearly, we had some significant biosecurity issues of our own at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health.

In Our Age, Science May Be Able to Go Farther Than It Really Should

In 2011, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) tried to suppress the release of two studies involving research into the avian flu. The research presented how scientists had modified the virus so that it could be transmitted between ferrets by respiratory droplets. Believing that this research could have dangerous national security implications, should bad foreign actors, replicate the work to cause a human pandemic, the NSABB tried very hard to keep these studies under wraps.  After a great deal of internal debate, however, a decision was made to release them to the scientific community worldwide on the belief that advancing the cause of science outweighed the risk of others using it for evil purposes. This meant the gain-of-function research would be available to scientists in places like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China.

The danger was perceived to be so great that 200 scientists in what was called the Cambridge Working Group went public with their concerns saying,

“An acidental infection with any pathogen is concerning. but accident risks with newly created “potential pandemic pathogens” raise grave concerns. Laboratory creation of highly trasmissible, novel strains of dangerous viruses, especially but not limited to influenza, poses substantially increased risks. An accidental infection in such a setting could trigger outbreaks that would be diffucult or impossible to control. Historically, new strains of influenza, once they establish tranmission in the human population, have infected a quarter or more of the world’s population within two years.”

One of the people that influenced the decision to release the research was Dr. Fauci who had been appointed Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984. In 2012, he wrote that gain-of-function research was so important that the risk of bad actors using that research for malign purposes was worth it.

“Scientists working in this field might say — as I have said — that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks,” Fauci had said.

“It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky.”

“In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic? Many ask reasonable questions given the possibility of such a scenario — however remote — should the initial experiments have been performed and/or published in the first place, and what were the processes involved in this decision?” he had added.

By 2017, NIH announced it would resume funding gain-of-function experiments into influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrom, coronavirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus saying that it now had a robust system in place to oversee how such research would be done and by whom.

While the moratorium was in place Eco Health Alliance, a non-profit group, received an $82 million grant from NIH to study coronaviruses and other infectious diseases in Asia. About $600,000 of that money was given to the Wuhan Virology Insitute in China. The Wuhan lab does not conduct only scientific research for scientific purposes. It is one of only two bioweapons research facilities in China and has a close working relationship with the People’s Liberation Army.

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When the pandemic broke out in China, the PLA’s top expert in biological warfare, Major General Chen Wei, was immediately dispatched to the Wuhan lab. As the Eco Health Alliance reported in an interview with NPR in April of 2020, “The team and its collaborators at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have collected about 15,000 samples from bats. From these, they have already identified about 400 wholly new coronaviruses. About 50 of those fall into a category that caused the 2002 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Note that the Eco Health Alliance is saying that COVID-19 was not a previously unknown virus that had appeared for the first time in a food market, but one known to scientists at Wuhan and among the 15,000 samples they had taken.
News of this grant money reached the public prompting questions as to why it was given to China, especially as it was discovered that the Wuhan lab was seriously deficient in its handling of potentially dangerous viruses from the horseshoe bats it was studying. Memos from the State Department from 2018 stated that “current productivity is limited by a shortage of the highly trained technicians and investigators required to safely operate a [Biosafety Level] 4 laboratory and lack of clarity in related Chinese government policies and guidelines.”
We should remember here that these State Department memos describing serious safety deficiencies at the Wuhan lab were written three years after the Eco Health Alliance began giving China money and after the NIH restored funding in 2017 for gain-of-function research.
It is certain that both NIH and Eco Health Alliance were aware of the safety and security problems at the Wuhan labs. We can surmise as much from their reaction to public pressure to end funding to the Wuhan facility.
In April 2020, when President Trump stated that he would be looking into how U.S. grant money ended up funding this research in China, NIH contacted Eco Health President Peter Daszak. According to a Draszak interview with National Public Radio, NIH asked, “Can you not send funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology?” Draszak said his immediate response to NIH was, “Of course we won’t. Absolutely.”
Absent was any full-throated defense by Eco Health of the professionalism and competence of the Wuhan lab or of the importance of the research it was conducting. Daszak’s answer seems odd given that the consensus of scientific opinion at the time was that the outbreak occurred in a food market and not the Wuhan lab itself.
Heavy security at the Wuhan Institute of Virology while visited by members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus, February 3, 2021. Who are they guarding it against? (Photo by Hector Retamal/ TNS)

China Is the Very Definition of a “Bad Actor”

And China behaved as if it had nothing to hide.
When the outbreak was first reported, China broke its agreement with the WHO and refused to allow foreign scientists to come to Wuhan to study the origins of the virus. The WHO then proceeded to report whatever China told it to report.
Recalling that Chinese scientists are the supposed experts in horseshoe bat coronaviruses, WHO first blamed a seafood market local to the Wuhan lab, despite that the first documented cases of COVID-19 were people who never visited the place. China then attempted to put the blame on snakes, an unknown bat, and even a pangolin. Of course, the world press reported on this dutifully and without skepticism.
China then blamed the United States, claiming that U.S. servicemembers, visiting China for an international marksmanship competition, had brought the virus with them.
China locked down the city of Wuhan claiming it was part of a civil defense exercise. But in order to maintain the facade and not alarm western observers, they allowed Wuhan’s international airport to remain open leading thousands of Chinese citizens to leave the city to Europe, Asia, and the U.S. further spreading the virus.
On January 1, 2020, when COVID-19 patients began to show up in hospitals in and around Wuhan and their lab sample results showed a previously unknown viral infection of potentially deadly potency, officials at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission began calling testing labs and ordering them to not only cease testing of all samples but to destroy all existing samples they might have.
Just two days later, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) ordered labs, hospitals, medical schools, and any other facility under its control to cease any publication of any information about the unknown disease and to either turn over any samples they had to them or destroy them immediately. And as mentioned, the major general of the People’s Liberation Army, with charge over China’s bioweapons program, was dispatched to Wuhan immediately upon news of the outbreak.
When the pandemic broke out the Wuhan Institute’s database was taken offline. What is not widely known, or ever explained by China, is why the much more specifically important bat virus database at Wuhan was taken offline in September of 2019, three months before the outbreak was announced.
As recently as last week, the CDC was still placing China above suspicion. CDC head, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that COVID-19 originating in a lab was one “possibility” but that that COIVD-19 most likely came from animals. Asked if she could say how the pandemic started Dr. Walensky punted the ball, “I don’t believe I’ve seen enough data, individual data for me to be able to comment on that.” If you are paying attention you may have noted how similar her statement sounds to the WHO’s, which was also willing to discard the idea of a lab leak while admitting it didn’t have enough information to offer a plausible explanation for COVID-19’s origins.
The above is not definitive proof that COVID-19 was man-made, but neither is it an appropriate response to a virus that China claims “naturally” jumped from an animal to a human.
When the WHO was finally allowed into China to investigate a year after the outbreak, China demanded that it be allowed to pick which scientists would be allowed to be a part of the team. The WHO agreed. It also agreed to let China do the actual investigative work and just report its findings to the WHO team. The resulting WHO report was so obviously a work of Chinese propaganda that even Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who China all but handpicked for his job at the WHO, was embarrassed enough to say of the investigation that “it was not extensive enough” and “in my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data.”
In studying the virus on the limited information that China deigned to release, the WHO said about COVID-19, “the virus has been remarkable stable since it was first reported in Wuhan, with sequences well conserved in different countries, suggesting that the virus was well adapted to human transmission from the moment it was first detected.”
But the WHO report did say what the Chinese Communists most wanted to be reported to the world, that a “lab-leak hypothesis” was “extremely unlikely.”
And there didn’t seem to be anyone in the press willing to ask the follow-up question to that, which is if the Chinese would not allow you access to the raw data how can you credibly say that a lab leak was extremely unlikely?
A similarity can be seen here between the WHO and CDC. They both first claim that there isn’t enough data coming from an obstructionist China to make the case that COVID-19 has a natural origin. At the same time, they insist that this same absence of information somehow makes a lab leak scenario “extremely unlikely.”
That makes no sense.
“With all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective,” Dr. Fauci has said. A media darling, he appears to have a very good PR team working for him.

Dr. Fauci and the Science of Being a Politician

Dr. Fauci the scientist, also does a rather famous trick that seasoned politicians do all the time. They make one definitive statement on an issue and later make a conflicting statement without admitting they changed their position or why they changed it. Dr. Fauci has done this regarding whether COVID-19 could have been a lab leak or a gain-of-function creation. In May 2020, he said to the National Geographic,
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”
But on May 22, Dr. Fauci seemed to have unconvinced himself of the scientific evidence he had claimed existed last year. In an interview with PolitiFact’s Katie Sanders he replied when asked if COVID-19 developed naturally,
“No actually, I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.”
“Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he added.
When Fauci testified before the Senate a few days later he seemed to have re-convinced himself that a lab accident or gain-of-function was “extremely unlikely” before he then walked it back partially. Dr. Fauci denied that NIH funding to Wuhan was specifically intended for gain-of-function research. When pressed on whether he could rely on the promises of Chinese scientists he stated that they had proven to be trustworthy in the past and had provided research in line with the grant guidelines. Sen. John Kennedy, (R-LA),  then questioned whether Fauci’s faith in the Wuhan lab’s scientists could be misplaced. “How do you know they didn’t lie to you and use the money for gain-of-function research anyway?” the senator asked.

Fauci replied there was no way to guarantee that the scientists and grantees were being truthful saying, “You never know.”

So this is the new rigorous system of verification, checks, and regulations that NIH said justified restarting gain-of-function research in a nutshell: “You never know.’

There actually is a way to know this: don’t give money to scientists in totalitarian communist countries that lie about everything and can “disappear” any scientist that doesn’t do exactly as they are told. It was not a secret that the Wuhan Virology Institute was performing gain-of-function research in some manner. Jamie Metzl, who sits on the WHO’s Expert Advisory Committee on Human Genome Editing, has written on this extensively since the pandemic began. Metzl isn’t a crank. He holds a Ph.D. from Oxford, a JD from Harvard Law School, and was a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University. He’s also been an advisor to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Metzl and Fauci work in the same professional circles. I don’t believe that the information available to Metzl at the WHO was not also accessible to Fauci, had he any interested in knowing about it.

Can We Trust Anyone at NIH or the CDC?

Will they give us the straight dope on whether COVID-19 was a gain-of-function experiment gone bad?

Fauci made a remark that is truly incredible in its apparent naivete. When asked by Senator Kennedy whether the Chinese Communist Party exerted control over the work of scientists employed in a lab like Wuhan, Fauci answered, “I don’t have enough insight into the Communist Party in China to know the interactions between them and the scientists.” After Senator Kennedy stated he believed the WHO was under Chinese influence as well, Fauci went even further by saying he has no way of knowing the influence of the Chinese government on the WHO.

Really? There was no one that Fauci could turn to for information on whether a totalitarian regime like China’s would influence its own paid scientists with regard to their research priorities? If only the United States had an agency that served as a sort of central hub for intelligence about foreign countries. They could even call it something like that, the “Central Intelligence Agency,”  but alas, it has not been created.

It seems clear to me, in drawing these things together, that we cannot trust anyone at NIH or the CDC to give us the straight dope on whether COVID-19 was a gain-of-function experiment that got loose because if that was found to be the case, people at both of these organizations would have a lot to answer for, wouldn’t they?

As for how COVID-19 actually came into being we cannot expect the WHO to give us honest answers after the way they’ve acted so far. And given the fact that scientists running NIH and the CDC are on record as favoring gain-of-function research, it’s very unlikely they will want to get to the bottom of it either. It would be disastrous for bureaucrats, like Fauci, personally and professionally if it was discovered that China did in fact manipulate a coronavirus resulting in the deaths of upwards of four million people.

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