A new “joint WHO-China study” into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which originated in China, claims that the theory that the coronavirus escaped from a lab in Wuhan to be the least likely theory out of four possible theories — however, U.S. officials are casting doubt on the report.
The report claims that the most likely scenario was that humans contracted the coronavirus through an animal and that the lab leak theory was “extremely unlikely.” The report contends that the most likely theory is that a bat infected another animal which then infected a human.
“The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis,” The Associated Press reports. “The report’s release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to prevent blame for the pandemic falling on China.”
However, top former and current U.S. officials are raising doubts about the credibility of the report, and some believe that the lab leak is the most likely theory.
Jamie Metzl, former NSC official in the Clinton administration and member of a WHO advisory committee on genetic engineering, told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the WHO’s trip to China was “not” an investigation and that China essentially conducted all the investigations. Metzl pointed out potential issues with the theory that the pandemic had a natural origin, saying that there would have likely been “some kind of evidence of an outbreak” between southern China, where bats that carry very similar strains of the novel coronavirus are located, and Wuhan, where the pandemic was first detected. Metzl suggested that the pandemic could have come from the lab in Wuhan.
Metzl joined more than two-dozen other signatories on a WHO letter earlier this month in demanding that the international community put in place a team to investigate the origins of the pandemic because the efforts so far “do not constitute a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.”
Former CDC Director Robert Redfield, a virologist, said in a recent CNN interview that he believes that the pandemic started in a lab in Wuhan and that it escaped. “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human. And at that moment in time, the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human to human transmission,” Redfield said. “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a CNN interview that aired on Sunday that the Biden administration has “real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it.” Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the Biden administration had “deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”
David Asher, the State Department’s former lead investigator who oversaw the Task Force into the COVID-19 virus origin, told Fox News earlier this month that he not only believes that the coronavirus escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology, BSL-4 lab, but he believes that the Chinese military was conducting bioweapons research at the lab.
Fox News’s report noted that Asher has worked for Republican and Democrat administrations on “some of the most classified intelligence investigations for the State Department and Treasury.”
“Motive, cover-up, conspiracy, all the hallmarks of guilt are associated with this. And the fact that the initial cluster of victims surrounded the very institute that was doing the highly dangerous, if not dubious research is significant,” Asher said. Asher said that he believes that the Chinese stopped engaging in biodefense research around 2017 and started to research bioweapons.
Fox News reported:
The Chinese, according to Asher, stopped talking publicly about the research into coronavirus “disease vectors which could be used for weapons” in 2017, at the same time its military began funding the research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“I doubt that that’s a coincidence,” Asher said.
After his interview with Fox News, Asher told The Australian that the pandemic could have potentially started when the Chinese were developing a vaccine for the coronavirus and that it escaped at that time. The Australian reported:
He said US intelligence that has now been declassified, along with information from public sources, has credibly confirmed that three workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell sick in early to mid-November 2019, prior to the official start of the pandemic.
Their illness was consistent with both COVID-19 and influenza and, in his personal assessment, was the likely cause of the outbreak.
“There were multiple staff members who did have to go to hospital and appeared to have had conditions of COVID-19,” he said. “You don’t normally go to the hospital with influenza, especially a cluster of people. This is the most probable source of the outbreak.”
When asked by The Australian whether the U.S. government was investigating if the coronavirus could have been a bioweapon, Asher responded, “Yes.”
“There is a high probability the Chinese government was engaged in a weaponization effort at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other institutes involving coronavirus research,” Asher said. “Whether offense or defense, which is almost impossible to tell, it was 100 per cent undeclared and that is a serious violation of the Biological Weapons Convention and the WHO International Health Regs — to the extent it spilled out and over somehow.”
China has a history of poor lab safety standards, lab leaks, and U.S. diplomatic cables from 2018 warned of serious safety issues at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was studying bat coronaviruses. The left-leaning New York Magazine published a lengthy report that made a convincing case that the coronavirus pandemic originated from a lab leak.
“There’s evidence certain scientists have found … that there was adenovirus present in the sequences posted publicly,” Asher said. “Adenovirus means that there was a vaccine present for COVID-19; that could indicate that this was a bio-defense project putting a vaccine together. People don’t normally develop a vaccine for something they are working on. That doesn’t make any sense … to develop a vaccine in advance for something that would never see the light of day makes it sort of ridiculous but is totally consistent with a biological weapons program. They develop an antidote.”
Former Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger confirmed during a CBS News interview last month much of what Asher later said.
“If you weigh the circumstantial evidence, the ledger on the side of an explanation that says that this resulted from some kind of human error, it far outweighs the- the side of the scale that says this was some natural outbreak,” Pottinger said. “We have very strong reason to believe that the Chinese military was doing secret classified animal experiments in that same laboratory, going all the way back to at least 2017. We have good reason to believe that there was an outbreak of flu-like illness among researchers working in the Wuhan Institute of virology in the fall of 2019, but right- immediately before the first documented cases came to light.”