The Biden administration’s release Friday of a declassified nine-page intelligence report does not address COVID-19’s origins as either a Chinese lab leak or a natural occurrence.
Solving the mystery of COVID-19’s origins will depend on the quality of American and allied intelligence, including cables, emails, and original documents.
In their joint statement on the new report, Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Mike Turner, both R-Ohio, said that it was a “step toward full transparency” and lent “credence” to the lab leak hypothesis, and that congressional investigations would continue.
And indeed, they must.
Journalists and others have been relying on “off the record” intelligence briefings. However, as The Telegraph of London reports, those have often been dismissed as “unprofessional” and “unscientific.”
Sworn congressional testimony under oath, either in executive session or in public, is the right way forward.
Among 13 topic areas The Heritage Foundation recommended for congressional oversight, we called upon lawmakers to take a deep dive into China’s coronavirus research, tapping our best intelligence sources in the process. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, especially, has done just that, taking sworn testimony from leading federal officials and emphasizing the sheer gravity of the mission.
For example, in his April testimony before the select subcommittee, David Feith, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, declared: “COVID was not some immaculate infection. It was not spontaneously generated. It came from somewhere. And the details matter. If it emerged naturally, it implies certain things about human interaction with nature, where the risks are sizable enough. (Consider the Spanish Flu of 1918 or the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages.)
“But if COVID-19 emerged from a lab, particularly one conducting “gain of function” virology experiments with technologies invented only a few years ago, then it was akin to a Hiroshima-level event, revealing new and modern high-tech risks to human civilizations and even our species.”
Two recent media revelations give special urgency to the next stage of congressional oversight.
First, a team of independent American journalists claim to have identified the three initial COVID-19 patients as Wuhan lab researchers — Ben Hu, Yu Ping, and Yan Zhu — thus lending further credence to the view that the pandemic resulted from a lab leak.
That’s not the first such identification. Huang Yanling, also a Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher, was “rumored” to be “patient zero,” according to an April 2020 State Department memo, but her profile was removed from the institute’s website, and she simply disappeared, thus fueling speculation about foul play.
House and Senate lawmakers in their March resolution ordering the declassification of intelligence data specifically called for identification of Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers who became ill with COVID-like symptoms in the earliest stages of the pandemic. The administration’s report, however, names none of the researchers and claims the information concerning these illnesses neither “supports nor refutes” the competing hypotheses of COVID-19’s origins.
Second, Britain’s Daily Mail reported that Zhou Yusen, a top military scientist working on a COVID-19 vaccine, mysteriously “fell” from the roof of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in May 2020. Despite the man’s high-profile reputation as a leading scientist, who quickly launched China’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Chinese officials did not even acknowledge his death, and that has given rise to speculation that Zhou was also the victim of foul play.
Any focus on Zhou is also a focus on the specific role of the Chinese military and the communist regime’s response during the early stages of the pandemic.
The best available account thus far is outlined in an exhaustive 301-page report, sponsored by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, and compiled by Dr. Robert Kadlec and a research team for the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
That Senate Republican staff report clearly reveals that COVID-19 infection struck Wuhan residents in late October or early November 2019, and not December of that year, contradicting Beijing’s insistence that the outbreak occurred in December.
Equally important, Zhou was the director of the 5th Institute at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences — in other words, a top-ranking scientist with the People’s Liberation Army.
According to the Senate staff report, Zhou had been working with Dr. Shi Zhengli (“the Bat Woman”) at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. According to the Senate report: “There is reason to believe that Zhou was engaged in SARS-related coronavirus animal vaccine research with WIV researchers beginning no later than summer or early fall of 2019. Zhou submitted one of the first COVID-19 vaccine patents on February 24, 2020.”
Consider the timing and the substance of China’s COVID-19 vaccine patent submission. According to the Senate staff report: “The patent includes mouse-derived serological data from vaccine-related experiments, which experts — consulted with during this investigation — assess could not have been completed unless Zhou’s team began work on vaccine development before the known outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in late December 2019.
“The research required both access to the sequence of and the live SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several experts assessed that Zhou likely would have had to start this vaccine-development research no later than November 2019 to achieve the February patent submission date.”
As detailed in the Senate staff report (pp. 64-67), Chinese communist officials soon clamped down on the release of any relevant scientific data and crushed dissent.
On Jan. 1, 2020, they issued an order forbidding medical professionals and scientists from sharing any information related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Two days later, on Jan. 3, they issued an order forbidding the sharing of any information concerning the novel coronavirus without government approval and ordered the destruction of existing biological samples.
That was accompanied by inevitable social media censorship and the detention, disciplining, and humiliation of Chinese medical professionals who communicated truthful information online. Their offense: spreading “rumors.”
While the communist dictatorship was clamping down on data sharing and scientific dissent, prominent Western scientists and their media allies were busy discrediting the lab-leak hypothesis.
In the March 7, 2020, edition of The Lancet, a major professional medical journal, 26 specialists signed a letter of “solidarity” with China’s scientists – at least those in good standing with the regime.
It read, in part: “Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus.”
Among the signatories was Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance of New York, a nongovernmental organization that had secured millions of dollars in American taxpayer funding for coronavirus research, including collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Biden administration’s new declassified report does not address the relationship among the conflicted EcoHealth Alliance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and what federal officials knew when exactly about American taxpayer dollars funneled into China’s coronavirus research.
After three years of obfuscation and worse, America and her allies need the truth.
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The post COVID-19’s Origin: Only Deeper Probe Into Intelligence Data Will Finally Get Us to Truth appeared first on The Daily Signal.
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