10 March, 2021
Last April, the Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin revealed that in January 2018, the US Embassy in Beijing “took the unusual step of repeatedly sending US science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV),” and subsequently sent two official warnings back to Washington about “inadequate safety at the lab.”
Now, Rogin is out with a new book; “Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century,” where he offers a 10,000-foot view of the evidence implicating the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also confirming that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) – headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, “had funded a number of projects that involved WIV scientists, including much of the Wuhan lab’s work with bat coronaviruses.”
The punchline hasn’t changed; if one simply connects the dots and applies a modicum of logic, the fact that COVID-19 emerged “on the doorstep of the lab that possessed one of the world’s largest collections of bat coronaviruses and that possessed the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2,” after years of performing so-called “gain-of-function” research modifying animal viruses to better infect humans (and which the Obama administration banned in October 2014 in the United States), and you have American diplomats reporting that they were “shocked” that Chinese researchers “didn’t have enough properly trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 lab,” and the likelihood of COVID-19 having escaped from WIV seems like a foregone conclusion.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology had openly participated in gain-of-function research in partnership with U.S. universities and institutions. But the official told me the U.S. government had evidence that Chinese labs were performing gain-of-function research on a much larger scale than was publicly disclosed, meaning they were taking more risks in more labs than anyone outside China was aware of. This insight, in turn, fed into the lab-accident hypothesis in a new and troubling way. -Josh Rogin book excerpt, via Politico
Rogin also notes that in July 2020, a little-noticed study by a group of Chinese researchers in Beijing, “including several affiliated with the Academy of Military Medical Science,” who said they had created a new model for studying SARS-CoV-2 “by creating mice with human-like lung characteristics by using the CRISPR gene-editing technology to give the mice lung cells with the human ACE2 receptor – the receptor that allowed coronaviruses to so easily infect human lungs.”
After consultations with experts, some U.S. officials came to believe this Beijing lab was likely conducting coronavirus experiments on mice fitted with ACE2 receptors well before the coronavirus outbreak—research they hadn’t disclosed and continued not to admit to. In its January 15 statement, the State Department alleged that although the Wuhan Institute of Virology disclosed some of its participation in gain-of-function research, it has not disclosed its work on RaTG13 and “has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.” That, by itself, did not help to explain how SARS-CoV-2 originated. But it was clear that officials believed there was a lot of risky coronavirus research going on in Chinese labs that the rest of the world was simply not aware of. -Josh Rogin
“This was just a peek under a curtain of an entire galaxy of activity, including labs and military labs in Beijing and Wuhan playing around with coronaviruses in ACE2 mice in unsafe labs,” a senior US official told Rogin. “It suggests we are getting a peek at a body of activity that isn’t understood in the West or even has precedent here.”
As a result of China’s ‘pattern of deception and obfuscation,’ about their COVID research, some Trump administration officials became increasingly convinced that CCP officials were manipulating scientific data to fit their narrative. The problem, however, is that there was so little transparency from Beijing that it was impossible for US officials to prove whether SARS-CoV-2 came from a Chinese lab or not.
“If there was a smoking gun, the CCP [Communist Party of China] buried it along with anyone who would dare speak up about it,” a US official told Rogin. “We’ll probably never be able to prove it one way or the other, which was Beijing’s goal all along.”
Read the entire excerpt here.