Continued from: Was COVID-19 born in the United States? (part 10)
President Trump’s political future could be bet on toxifying any discussion about COVID-19 and China – no matter how insane and reckless. The simplistic aim was to rally American voters behind the flag and paint China as the nation’s enemy.
It did not really matter that, as Pompeo had just agreed, there was no reliable intelligence concerning the origin of the virus. This would not have been the first time that United States ‘intelligence’ would fabricate history by concocting lies for wars. The memory of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 was too close to be forgotten.
Pompeo himself, as former head of the C.I.A., had openly boasted about lying and cheating as a professional attribute of him. In fact, America’s ‘top diplomat’ has zero credibility, much like his bleach-prescribing president. (F. Cunningham, Pompeo: US Knows Nada, Information Clearing House, 02.05.2020).
The dossier stated that to the “endangerment of other countries” the Chinese government had covered-up news of the virus by silencing or “disappearing” doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence of it in laboratories, and refusing to provide live samples to international scientists who were working on a vaccine.
According to the dossier, China had been ‘refusing’ to let W.H.O. take part in COVID-19 investigation.
The dossier also purported to reveal that the Australian government had trained and funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to modify genetically deadly coronaviruses which could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure, and “was not the subject of a probe into the origins of Covid-19.”
As ‘intelligence’ agencies investigated whether the virus inadvertently leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, still according to The Saturday Telegraph, “the team and its research led by scientist [Dr.] Shi Zhengli featured in the dossier prepared by ‘western’ governments which pointed to several studies they conducted as areas of concern.” Dr. Shi was the director of the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The dossier cites their work discovering samples of coronavirus from a cave in the Yunnan province with striking genetic similarity to COVID-19, along with their research “synthesising a bat-derived coronavirus that could not be treated.” Its major themes include the “deadly denial of human-to-human transmission”, the silencing or “disappearing” of doctors and scientists who spoke out, the destruction of evidence of the virus from genomic studies laboratories, and “bleaching of wildlife market stalls”, along with the refusal to provide live virus samples to international scientists working on a vaccine.
Key figures of the Wuhan Institute of Virology team, who feature in the dossier, were either trained or employed in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory where they conducted foundational research on deadly pathogens in live bats, including SARS – Severe acute respiratory syndrome, as part of an ongoing partnership between the C.S.I.R.O. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
This partnership was continuing, according to the website of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, despite concerns that the research is too risky.
Politicians in the Morrison government were recorded as speaking out about the national security and bio-security concerns of the relationship in that the controversial research into bat-related viruses had come into sharp focus during an investigation by the Five Eyes intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, not far from the suspected Wuhan wet market, Dr. Shi and her teamwork in high-protective gear in level-three and level-four bio-containment laboratories studying deadly bat-derived coronaviruses.
At least one of the estimated 50 virus samples Dr. Shi has in her laboratory is said to be a 96 per cent genetic match to COVID-19. When Dr. Shi heard the news about the outbreak of a new pneumonia-like virus, she spoke about the sleepless nights she suffered worrying whether it was her laboratory which was responsible for the outbreak.
At this point the story about the dossier becomes rather complicated. There is the view of The Saturday Telegraph: “As she told Scientific American magazine in an article published this week: “Could they have come from our lab?” Since her initial fears, Dr. Shi has satisfied herself the genetic sequence of COVID-19 did not match any her lab was studying.” And then there is the view presented by F.R.N. – Fort Russ News in an article by J. White, titled “Renown coronavirus expert Dr. Shi Zhengli provides PROOF – SARS COV-2 NOT an accidental release from Wuhan.” The latter article carries the following “Editor’s Note (4/24/20): This article was originally published online on March 11. It has been updated for inclusion in the June 2020 issue of Scientific American and to address rumours that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from Shi Zhengli’s lab in China.”
Nevertheless, The Saturday Telegraph insisted on writing: “Yet, given the extent of the People’s Republic of China’s lies, obfuscations and angry refusal to allow any investigation into the origin of the outbreak, her laboratory is now being closely looked at by international intelligence agencies,” as if The Saturday Telegraph were sufficient evidence of anything.
The Australian government’s position is that the virus most likely originated in the Wuhan wet market but that there is a remote possibility – a 5 per cent chance – it accidentally leaked from a laboratory.
The United States’ position, according to reports as at early May 2020, was that it is more likely the virus leaked from a laboratory but it could also have come from a wet market which trades and slaughters wild animals, where other diseases including the H5N1 avian flu and SARS originated.
The position of the ‘Western governments’ research paper’ was said to be similar. There is reference to a 2013 study conducted by a team of researchers, including Dr. Shi, who collected a sample of horseshoe bat faeces from a cave in Yunnan province, China, which was later found to contain a virus 96.2 per cent identical to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which caused COVID-19.
The dossier also makes reference to work done by the team to synthesise SARS-like coronaviruses, to analyse whether they could be transmissible from bats to mammals. This – The Saturday Telegraph observed – means they were altering parts of the virus to test whether it was transmissible to different species.
A November 2015 study, done in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, concluded that the SARS-like virus could jump directly from bats to humans and there was no treatment which could help.
The dossier acknowledges the incredible danger of the work the scientists were conducting.
“The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens,” the dossier pointed out. The extreme danger presented by the work seems to be contained in the following technical passage: “To examine the emergence potential (that is, the potential to infect humans) of circulating bat CoVs, we built a chimeric virus encoding a novel, zoonotic CoV spike protein – from the RsSHCO14-CoV sequence that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats – in the context of the SARS-CoV mouse-adapted backbone.”
One of Dr. Shi’s co-authors of that paper, Professor Ralph Baric from North Carolina University, said in an interview with Science Daily at the time: “This virus is highly pathogenic and treatments developed against the original SARS virus in 2002 and the ZMapp drugs used to fight ebola fail to neutralise and control this particular virus.”
A few years later, in March 2019, Dr. Shi and her team, including Dr. Peng Zhou, a research affiliated with the Wuhan Institute Of Virology, who had worked in Australia for five years, published a study titled ‘Bat Coronaviruses in China’ in the open-access medical journal Viruses, where they wrote that they “aim to predict virus hot spots and their cross-species transmission potential”, describing it as a matter of “urgency to study bat coronaviruses in China to understand their potential of causing another outbreak.” Their review stated: “It is highly likely that future SARS or MERS like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.” The review examined which proteins were “important for interspecies transmission.”
Despite ‘intelligence’ probes into whether her laboratory may have been responsible for the outbreak, Dr. Shi plans to head a national project systemically to sample viruses in bat caves, with estimates that there are more than 5,000 coronavirus strains “waiting to be discovered in bats globally.” “Bat-borne coronaviruses will cause more outbreaks,” she told ScientificAmerican. “We must find them before they find us.”
Dr. Shi spent time in Australia as a visiting scientist for three months from 22 February to 21 May 2006. She worked at the C.S.I.R.O.’s top-level Australian Animal Health Laboratory, which has recently been renamed.
The C.S.I.R.O. would not comment on what work Dr. Shi undertook during her time in Australia, but an archived and translated biography on the Wuhan Institute of Virology website states that she was working with the SARS virus. “The SARS virus antibodies and genes were tested in the State Key Laboratory of Virology in Wuhan and the Animal Health Research Laboratory in Geelong, Australia,” it states.
TheSaturday Telegraph had obtained two photographs of Dr. Shi working at the CSIRO laboratories, including in the level-four laboratory, in 2006.
Dr. Shi’s protégé, Dr. Peng Zhou – now the head of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunity Project at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – spent three years at the bio-containment facility Australian Animal Health Laboratory between 2011 and 2014. He was sent by China to complete his doctorate at the C.S.I.R.O. from 2009-2010.
During this time, Dr Zhou arranged for wild-caught bats to be transported alive by air from Queensland to the laboratory in Victoria where they were euthanised for dissection and studied for deadly viruses.
Dr. Linfa Wang, while an Honorary Professor of the Wuhan Institute of Virology between 2005 and 2011, also worked in the C.S.I.R.O. Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader in Virology between 2008 and 2011.
Federal Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson said it was “very concerning” that Chinese scientists had been conducting research into bat viruses at the C.S.I.R.O. in Geelong, Victoria, in jointly funded projects between the Australian and Chinese governments. “We need to exercise extreme care with any research projects involving foreign nationals which may compromise our national security or bio-security.” she said.
While the United States has cut all funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the C.S.I.R.O. would not respond to questions about whether it is still collaborating with it, saying only that it collaborates with research organisations from around the world to prevent diseases.
“As with all partners, C.S.I.R.O. undertakes due diligence and takes security very seriously,” a spokesperson said. “C.S.I.R.O. undertakes all research in accordance with strict bio-security and legislative requirements.”
The United States withdrew funding from controversial experiments which make pathogens more potent or likely to spread dangerous viruses in October 2014, concerned it could lead to a global pandemic.
The pause on funding for 21 ‘gain of function’ studies was then lifted in December 2017.
Despite the concerns, the C.S.I.R.O. continued to partner and fund research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The C.S.I.R.O. refused to respond to questions from The SaturdayTelegraph about how much money went into joint research collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Science and its Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Wuhan Institute still lists the C.S.I.R.O. as a partner while the United States has cut ties since the coronavirus outbreak.
The argument is whether it is worth developing these viruses to anticipate and prevent a pandemic when a leak of the virus could also cause one. Debate in the scientific community is heated.
There have also been serious concerns about a lack of adequate safety practices at the Wuhan Institute of Virology when dealing with deadly viruses.
A ‘‘sensitive but unclassified’’ cable, dated 19 January 2018, obtained by The Washington Post, revealed that United States embassy scientists and diplomats in Beijing visited the laboratory and sent warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety practices and management weaknesses as it conducted research on coronaviruses from bats.
“During interactions with scientists at the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the cable stated.
The dossier declares: “Scientific consensus is that the virus came from a wetmarket. But the US’s top spy agency confirmed on the record for the first time [on 1 May 2020] that the United States intelligence committee is investigating whether Covid-19 was the result of an accident at a Wuhan laboratory.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence acting director Richard Allen Grenell said that the virus was not created in a laboratory.
“The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to US policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China,” he said.
“The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified. As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to US national security. The [Intelligence Community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Despite Mr. Grenell’s statement and scientific consensus that the virus was not created in a laboratory, based on its genome sequence the governments’ research paper obtained by The Saturday Telegraph notes a study which claims it was created.
South China University of Technology researchers published a study on 6 February which concluded: “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high-risk biohazards laboratories.”
“The paper is soon withdrawn because it ‘was not supported by direct proofs’, according to the author, professor Botao Xiano,” the dossier noted, continuing to point out that: ‘“No scientists have confirmed or refuted the paper’s findings’, scholar Yanzhong Huang wrote on March 5.”
TheSaturday Telegraph did not claim that the South China University of Technology study is credible, only that it has been included in the government research paper produced as part of the case against China.
The dossier obtained by The Saturday Telegraph deals with “the suppression and destruction of evidence” and points to “virus samples ordered destroyed at genomics labs, wildlife market stalls bleached, the genome sequence not shared publicly, the Shanghai lab closure for ‘rectification’, academic articles subjected to prior review by the Ministry of Science and Technology and data on asymptomatic ‘silent carriers’ kept secret.”
The Saturday Telegraph intended to paint a picture of how the Chinese government deliberately covered up the coronavirus by silencing doctors who spoke out, destroying evidence from the Wuhan laboratory and refusing to provide live virus samples to international scientists working on a vaccine.
The United States, along with other countries, has repeatedly demanded a live virus sample from the first batch of coronavirus cases. This is understood to have not been forthcoming despite its vital importance in developing a vaccine while potentially providing an indication of where the virus originated.
Out of all the doctors, activists, journalists and scientists who have reportedly disappeared after speaking out about the coronavirus or criticising the response of Chinese authorities, no case is more intriguing and worrying than that of Huang Yan Ling. (See: J. Little, How We Got Here, Part 1: The Tragic Tale of Huang Yan Ling and COVID-19, OmegaShock.com, 27.04.2020).
While Dr. Huang Yan Ling was a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the South ChinaMorning Post reported rumours swirling on Chinese social media that she was the first to be diagnosed with the disease and was ‘patient zero.’
Then came her reported disappearance, with her biography and image deleted from the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s website.
On 16 February 2020 the Institute denied that she was ‘patient zero’ and said that she was alive and well; but there has been no proof of life since then, fanning speculation.
On 31 December 2019 Chinese authorities started censoring news of the virus from search engines, deleting terms including “SARS variation, “Wuhan Seafood market” and “Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia.”
On 1 January 2020, without any investigation into where the virus originated from, the Wuhan seafood market was closed and disinfected.
It has been reported in The New York Times that individual animals and cages were not swabbed “eliminating evidence of what animal might have been the source of the coronavirus and which people had become infected but survived.” The Hubei Health Commission ordered genomics companies to stop testing for the new virus and to destroy all samples. On 3 January 2020, China’s leading health authority, the National Health Commission, ordered Wuhan pneumonia samples be moved to designated testing facilities or destroyed, while instructing a no-publication order related to the unknown disease.
Doctors who bravely spoke out about the new virus were detained. Their detentions were splashed across the Chinese-state media with a call from Wuhan Police for “all citizens not to start rumours, not spread rumours, not believe rumours.”
A tweet from the Global Times on 2 January 2020 stated: “Police in Central China’s Wuhan arrested 8 people spreading rumours about local outbreak of unidentifiable #pneumonia. Previous online posts said it was SARS.” This had the intended effect of silencing other doctors who may have been inclined to speak out.
So – according to the dossier – the truth about the outbreak in China has remained shrouded in secrecy, with President Xi Jinping aggressively rejecting global calls for an inquiry.
The dossier is damning China’s constant denials about the outbreak.
“Despite evidence of human-human transmission from early December, People Republic of China’s authorities deny it until January 20,” it states.
“The World Health Organisation does the same. Yet officials in Taiwan raised concerns as early as 31 December, as did experts in Hong Kong on 4 January.”
The dossier exposes ‘the hypocrisy of China’s self-imposed travel bans’ while condemning those of Australia and the United States, and declaring: “Millions of people leave Wuhan after the outbreak and before Beijing locks down the city on January 23.” “Thousands flew overseas. Throughout February 2020, Beijing’s authorities pressed the United States, Italy, India, Australia, Southeast Asian neighbours and others not to protect themselves through travel restrictions, even as the People’s Republic of China was imposing severe restrictions at home. According to the dossier, the western governments were busy “pushing back at what they call an assault on international transparency.”
“As European Union diplomats were preparing a report on the pandemic, the People’s Republic of China was successfully pressing Brussels to strike language on P.R.C. disinformation,” the dossier said.
“As Australia calls for an independent inquiry into the pandemic, the P.R.C. threatens to cut off trade with Australia. The P.R.C. has likewise responded furiously to United States calls for transparency.”
Chair of Australia’s Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security Andrew William Hastie, a Liberal Party member of the Australian House of Representatives, said that after ‘the cover-up and disinformation campaign from China’, the world needed transparency and an inquiry. “So many Australians have been damaged by the mismanagement of Covid-19 by the Chinese government, and if we truly are as close as Beijing suggests we are then we need answers about how this all started,” he said.
The dossier provided a list of the following ‘key dates in COVID-19 cover-up’:
“November 9, 2015: Wuhan Institute of Virology publish a study revealing that they created a new virus in the lab from SARS-CoV.
December 6, 2019: Five days after a man linked to Wuhan’s seafood market presented pneumonia-like symptoms, his wife contracts it, suggesting human to human transmission.
December 27: China’s health authorities told a novel disease, then affecting some 180 patients, was caused by a new coronavirus.
December 26-30: Evidence of new virus emerges from Wuhan patient data.
December 31: Chinese internet authorities begin censoring terms from social media such as Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia.
January 1, 2020: Eight Wuhan doctors who warned about new virus are detained.
January 3: China’s top health authority issues a gag order.
January 5: Wuhan Municipal Health Commission stops releasing daily updates on new cases. Continues until January 18.
January 10: P.R.C. official Wang Guangfa says outbreak “under control” and mostly a “mild condition”.
January 12: Professor Zhang Yongzhen’s laboratory in Shanghai is closed by authorities for “rectification”, one day after it shares genomic sequence data with the world for the first time.
January 14: P.R.C. National Health Commission chief Ma Xiaowei privately warns colleagues that the virus is likely to develop into a major public health event.
January 24: Officials in Beijing prevent the Wuhan Institute of Virology from sharing sample isolates with the University of Texas.
February 6: China’s internet watchdog tightens controls on social media platforms.
February 9: Citizen-journalist and local businessman Fang Bin disappears.
April 17: Wuhan belatedly raises its official fatalities by 1290. (S. Markson, Coronavirus NSW: Dossier lays out case against China bat virus program. (The Daily Telegraph, 02.05.2020).
To be continued…
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