Security personnel gather near the entrance of the Wuhan Institute of Virology during a visit by the World Health Organization team in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province on Feb. 3, 2021. (Ng Han Guan / AP)
Michael Austin August 2, 2021 at 4:43pm
According to the findings of a newly released report, the evidence clearly shows the COVID-19 novel coronavirus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.
The ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, released the report Sunday as an addendum to a report on the pandemic’s origins he released in September.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been over 198 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and as many as 4.2 million deaths from it, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Among the report’s findings was that the WIV had been working on dangerous gain-of-function research involving novel and genetically manipulated coronaviruses; safety protocols at the WIV were in question and, at the time of the outbreak, the facility appears to have been undergoing multiple maintenance and repair projects; and the CCP had early knowledge of the COVID-19 outbreak and engaged in a coordinated cover-up.
“I believe it’s time to completely dismiss the wet market as the source of the outbreak,” McCaul said in a news release Sunday. “Instead, as this report lays out, a preponderance of the evidence proves that all roads lead to the WIV.”
Indeed, the WIV — which holds the “world’s largest collections of coronaviruses” — had been conducting gain-of-function research that included “genetically manipulating viruses specifically to make them infectious to humans,” the report found.
The head of this research, Shi Zheng-li, was one of many experts who seemed aware that the lab’s unsafe working conditions were a ticking time bomb. According to the final report released by McCaul, in public statements Shi had expressed concern that her lab may have been the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shi later expressed relief after reportedly concluding that the outbreak did not originate at the WIV, but “given that the CCP has refused to share samples from the WIV,” the report found “it is impossible for the international community to verify the results of Shi’s review.”
George Gao, the Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, had also expressed concern over the safety protocols at the WIV, noting that these unsafe procedures could lead to a coronavirus pandemic, the report found.
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“Synthetic bat-origin SARS-like coronaviruses acquired an increased capability to infect human cells. Thus, modifying the genomes of animals (including humans), plants, and microbes (including pathogens) must be highly regulated,” Gao wrote in June 2019.
Yuan Zhiming, director at the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory and Shi’s superior, claimed that maintenance costs at high-risk laboratories in China are often “neglected” and that many such laboratories often “have insufficient operational funds for routine yet vital processes.”
This falls in line with the report’s finding that the WIV had been undergoing multiple maintenance and repair projects at the time of the outbreak.
This included repairs of the hazardous waste treatment system, the air disinfection system and even the central air conditioning system, the report found.
The report hypothesized that the central air conditioning system’s need for repair could have “resulted in lower than ideal air circulation and enabling viral particles to remain suspended in the air longer.”
The report concluded that the COVID-19 virus was “accidentally released from” the WIV and “may be natural in origin or the result of genetic manipulation.”
“Its release was due to poor lab safety standards and practices, exacerbated by dangerous gain-of-function research being conducted at inadequate biosafety levels, including [Biosafety Level 2].
“The virus was then spread throughout central Wuhan, likely via the Wuhan Metro, in the weeks prior to the Military World Games. Those games became an international vector, spreading the virus to multiple continents around the world.”