NIH Deleted Coronavirus Sequences At Request Of Chinese Scientists; Congress Probing New Lead: Report
NIH Director Fr. Francis Collins holds up a model of the coronavirus as he testifies before a hearing looking into the budget estimates for National Institute of Health (NIH) and the state of medical research on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 26, 2021.
SARAH SILBIGER / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), led by director Francis Collins, deleted gene sequences of SARS-CoV-2 during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic after being asked to do so by Chinese scientists.

“The removal of the sequencing data is described in a new paper posted online Tuesday by Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The paper, which hasn’t been peer reviewed, says the missing data include sequences from virus samples collected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January and February of 2020 from patients hospitalized with or suspected of having Covid-19.”

As reported by The Daily Wire Wednesday, in a preprint study published Friday titled ‘Recovery of deleted deep sequencing data sheds more light on the early Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 epidemic,’ Professor Jesse Bloom, a virologist from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, “explained that he discovered a data set of 45 positive samples from Wuhan outpatients with suspected COVID-19 early in the epidemic that was ‘deleted from the NIH’s Sequence Read Archive.'”

The NIH confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that it deleted the gene sequences in June 2020 after they had been submitted three months earlier. This comes months after serious questions had been raised about the origins of the pandemic inside China and whether China was being transparent about what was really going on. The NIH said, “Submitting investigators hold the rights to their data and can request withdrawal of the data.”

Bloom said that the removal of the gene sequences is another example of China’s lack of transparency regarding the investigation into the origins of the pandemic. Vaughn S. Cooper, a University of Pittsburgh evolutionary biologist, agreed, saying, “It makes us wonder if there are other sequences like these that have been purged.”

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the U.S. Congress is now investigating whether the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan, China, was a superspreader event that allowed that coronavirus to spread around the world. The Post reported:

In October 2019, more than 9,000 international athletes from more than 100 countries traveled to Wuhan, China — and many of them later got sick with covid-19-like symptoms. But there has never been a real investigation into whether the virus that causes covid-19 was already spreading at the Wuhan Military World Games. Now, multiple U.S. lawmakers are demanding the U.S. government begin one.

The Military World Games, which are held every four years, are like the Olympics for military athletes. The games in Wuhan were the largest in the event’s history, and the Chinese government went all out. The U.S. delegation came with 280 athletes and staff representing 17 sports, ranging from wrestling to golf. (Team USA brought home the bronze in the latter competition.) During the two-week event, however, many of the international athletes noticed that something was amiss in the city of Wuhan. Some later described it as a “ghost town.”

As the covid-19 pandemic took hold worldwide in early 2020, athletes from several countries — including France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg — claimed publicly they had contracted what they believed to be covid-19 at the games in Wuhan, based on their symptoms and how their illnesses spread to their loved ones. In Washington, military leaders either dismissed the idea out of hand or weren’t aware of it. Meanwhile, no one performed any antibody testing or disease tracing on these thousands of athletes. No one even attempted to find out whether the games in Wuhan was, in fact, the first international pandemic superspreader event.

If the report is true that Wuhan, a city more populated than New York City, was a “ghost town” in October 2019 and that the reason is related to the pandemic, that would raise new questions about when the pandemic originated.

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