Coffee Space


Listen:

Wuhan Lab Leak

Preview Image

Preview Image

NOTE: This article has been a long time in the making - I started working on this three months ago and finally only now finished it. I believe that this discussion is absolutely required, and hence have pushed on with the article anyway, despite several delays.

Disclaimer: I am not in any medical field and my only real qualification to comment here is having an opinion - something which I'm supposedly not alone on. That said, I have some ideas I would like to add here, so bare with me.

During the past year, the idea of COVID-19 coming from a lab in Wuhan has been dismissed as a Trump-driven far-right conspiracy theory 1. Facebook, Twitter, et al, will censor and ban you for 'misinformation' for even suggesting that the virus originated from anywhere near China.

Here I'm going to review an article written by Vanity Fair, addressing the idea of a China-based Wuhan lab leak more than a year after the original outbreak of the virus. I've archived the article as I believe the importance of its continued existence is important enough. It likely represents the very most we will ever discover about the origins of COVID-19, or at least the very most we will ever know about the authenticity of a Chinese-based lab leak. The hook for the article has me interested and I thought I would stream my thoughts here, as it would take more than a micro-blog to address this mammoth:

Throughout 2020, the notion that the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab was off-limits. Those who dared to push for transparency say toxic politics and hidden agendas kept us in the dark.

Some initial comments from Hacker News include glowing reviews such as:

bartart:

This is the most shocking article I have ever read in my life. I'd ask everyone to please read it because it is incredible.

One thing I did not realize is that US researchers who conducted gain of function research tried to downplay and discredit the possibility of the virus originating from the wuhan lab. There was an anti-lab theory Lancet statement signed by scientists, and "Daszak had not only signed but organized the influential Lancet statement, with the intention of concealing his role and creating the impression of scientific unanimity."

Plus there's all the stuff about the miners shoveling bat poop for weeks and then dying of coronaviruses, and the Wuhan institute collecting and doing gain of function research on these similar-to-SARS samples. And then several of the lab's gain of function researchers became ill in late 2019. And there's the weird renaming of samples to hide the unmatched closeness of the mine samples and covid. This is just the absolute surface of the article. There's too much to list here

Edit: here's another amazement for the list: "Shi Zhengli herself had publicly acknowledged that, until the pandemic, all of her team’s coronavirus research — some involving live SARS-like viruses — had been conducted in less secure BSL-3 and even BSL-2 laboratories." And the article says "BSL-2 [is] roughly as secure as an American dentist’s office."

That's an incredible review of the article and one we should really take quite seriously. Of course we shouldn't just take stranger's comments at face value and should do our own review of the original article (and I suggest you also do the same).

When reviewing this article, I'll try to quote what I consider to be important and then address it with my commentary. This won't be a full copy of the entire copy, merely a reply and commentary of sorts.

With that all said, let us get into it.

A Group Called DRASTIC

The article begins with some story fluff to set the scene, which we'll skip here. Read the original article for the full effect.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s lead coronavirus researcher, Shi Zhengli, was among the first to identify horseshoe bats as the natural reservoirs for SARS-CoV, the virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002, killing 774 people and sickening more than 8,000 globally.

We begin with a quick reminder that this isn't the first time that China has been involved in a very serious virus, not even the first time China has been involved with a very serious COVID virus. The SARS virus, which also originated in China, was never apologized for and they were never 'punished' in any sense of the word for allowing conditions that led to its creation. That is to say - they have repeatedly cocked up and have not learned from their mistakes.

More recently, Shi and her colleagues at the WIV have performed high-profile experiments that made pathogens more infectious. Such research, known as “gain-of-function,” has generated heated controversy among virologists.

To some people, it seemed natural to ask whether the virus causing the global pandemic had somehow leaked from one of the WIV’s labs—a possibility Shi has strenuously denied.

So early on we establish that the Wuhan lab has in fact been doing gain of function (GoF) research, the purpose of which is to make pathogens more infectious. The purpose is then to study these new strains and in some cases, pre-emptively figure out how to vaccinate against them.

Of course, such research is dangerous, hence the controversy of the research being done in the first place, especially in labs where lab leaks have been confirmed to have occurred in the past. Such research happening at a lab where they are known to have accidentally leaked viruses in the past, could be reasonably considered dangerous.

Shi, a key researcher at the Wuhan lab, denies that such a scenario has occurred in the case of COVID-19. Even if it has occurred, can we trust that the CCP would even allow them to say so? Consider the case of Li Wenliang - he was a 'whistleblower' early on when a report he shared privately was leaked to the public. He was then reprimanded for leaking this information, despite China and the rest of the world really needing to know this information.

He, and many of his colleagues, later died of COVID-19, despite not being in the 'at risk' category... He then died, and after media outrage on the Chinese internet, he was then put back on life-support to artificially pretend they were trying to save his life.

If I were Shi, I would also not want to suddenly die from COVID-19. Therefore I do not consider Shi's statement to even be one that Shi necessarily endorses.

On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism.

I remember this article, it essentially setup anybody who even suggested this as Asian hating, Trump supporting, vaccine denying, UFO believing, idiots. In fact, Nancy Pelosi, sweetheart of the Democrats, actively encouraged people that it was "perfectly safe to be here" in reference to San Francisco's Chinatown 2.

Trump at this time was also shutting the border to China to prevent further spread of the virus, something he was called racist for. The article by The Lancet in part helped fuel the idea that the idea of a lab leak was a conspiracy theory.

Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed "solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China" and asserted: "We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin."

And then they clapped... Of course there was no evidence to actually back up this claim. To openly speculate about at Wuhan lab leak was not only reasonable, it was required.

Looking back at this, it's actually incredible that we ever considered this any kind of valuable retort to the COVID lab leak hypothesis.

The statement struck Demaneuf as "totally nonscientific." To him, it seemed to contain no evidence or information. And so he decided to begin his own inquiry in a "proper" way, with no idea of what he would find.

And this is what annoys me. Less educated, poorer people are not stupid. They knew something was up, they were just unable to express it elegantly and lacked the tools to investigate it. You had social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter banning people left and right at any suggestion that COVID had anything but a natural origin. This only further fuelled more extreme conspiracy theories.

But Demaneuf soon discovered that there had been four incidents of SARS-related lab breaches since 2004, two occuring at a top laboratory in Beijing. Due to overcrowding there, a live SARS virus that had been improperly deactivated, had been moved to a refrigerator in a corridor. A graduate student then examined it in the electron microscope room and sparked an outbreak.

There you have it: A smoking gun that tells you that a lab leak is at least plausible and worthy of investigation. If it happened before, it can most certainly happen again. China is hardly on it's own with this either, the US reports tonnes of lab instances every year.

And these are only the incidents they were aware of! Due to the nature of the CCP, nobody wants to be seen doing anything wrong, lest them disappeared. How many lab incidents go unreported, either due to fear of job security or simply not even being aware there was an incident? Probably more than zero.

I remember not so long ago (can't find the article now) where a US-based radioactive materials processing lab had an unbelievably close incident with a criticality event. An engineer put several fuel rods (I believe) together to pose for a photo and very almost caused a criticality event. Pride aside, safety incidents happen everywhere. The absolute most important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, to help prevent them from occurring in the future.

A laboratory project director based in Paris who had previously studied and worked in China, de Maistre was busy debunking the notion that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a “laboratory” at all. In fact, the WIV housed numerous laboratories that worked on coronaviruses. Only one of them has the highest biosafety protocol: BSL-4, in which researchers must wear full-body pressurized suits with independent oxygen. Others are designated BSL-3 and even BSL-2, roughly as secure as an American dentist’s office.

Well shit. That's rather damning - and who is to suggest that GoF research wasn't going on in something the equivalent as a dentist's office (in terms of quarantine measures)?

It seems clear to me that corners were and are being cut. Imagine the scenario: The US offers some millions of dollars of funding to the Wuhan lab and the Chinese researchers happily accept, saying "yes, we have a decent BSL-4 lab". The BSL-4 lab of course will be under high-demand, but rather than give the funding back, they simply conduct the research in a lower level lab.

Together, they formed a group called DRASTIC, short for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19. Their stated objective was to solve the riddle of COVID-19’s origin.

Worth adding just for context of where the term 'DRASTIC' comes from in this article.

President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Steve Bannon, for instance, joined forces with an exiled Chinese billionaire named Guo Wengui to fuel claims that China had developed the disease as a bioweapon and purposefully unleashed it on the world.

Just because Steve Banon was involved, they couldn't be seen as agreeing. If that man said that sky is blue, there would be a fact check out within 20 minutes showing evidence to the contrary. I really hate that this investigation is nothing but partisan - if somebody Trump connected says one thing, the Democrats in unison come out and say the opposite. Absolute insanity.

In all honesty, I highly doubt COVID was a bioweapon, simply for the fact that the CCP was equally hit by it and slow to develop a vaccine, despite having access to all of the virus information months before anybody else. Their vaccine was also one of the least effective. It would be pretty dumb to release a bioweapon on purpose and not have a vaccine already prepared, even if you're going to pretend you don't.

When Trump himself floated the lab-leak hypothesis last April, his divisiveness and lack of credibility made things more, not less, challenging for those seeking the truth.

What more evidence do you need that mainstream media are political actors rather than truth seekers? They could not see past Trump's involvement. I find it quite amazing that the article has the audacity to suggest that Trump is somehow to blame because his critics are blinded by his existence - truly incredible.

"A Can of Worms"

And yet, in the wake of the Lancet statement and under the cloud of Donald Trump’s toxic racism, which contributed to an alarming wave of anti-Asian violence in the U.S., one possible answer to this all-important question remained largely off-limits until the spring of 2021.

Of course, and the article's own bias is revealed. It's actually Trump's fault they couldn't investigate a lab leak hypothesis. I would like to see this article backup the statement that Trump is racist, or even a wave of anti-Asian hate - given most places were completely in lockdown at this point. I don't doubt there were some Asian attacks, but of course, statistically speaking you would expect Asians to be the victims of crime in the US in any case.

Also contrast this with China 3, who actively kicked out black people based on skin colour alone - to the point they were not even allowed to eat inside restaurants based on the colour of their skin. On top of that they were harassed by the local police. This was covered by ADV China.

Behind closed doors, however, national security and public health experts and officials across a range of departments in the executive branch were locked in high-stakes battles over what could and couldn’t be investigated and made public.

Just casually admitting that the truth has been made political. What an absolute shame. These people should all be fired. In order for a democracy to operate correctly, we need truth and accountability. When people start selectively reporting information, truth begins to die.

But for most of the past year, the lab-leak scenario was treated not simply as unlikely or even inaccurate but as morally out-of-bounds. In late March, former Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield received death threats from fellow scientists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had originated in a lab. "I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis," Redfield told Vanity Fair. "I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science."

A little evidence that these people are absolutely insane and unstable. For telling the truth, they were sending a Scientist death threats. How is this acceptable or normal?

I believe this shows a more general problem - that Science has become political and bias has crept in - at which point is actually stops being Science at all. Science needs to be able to ask the difficult questions, it needs to be able to come to conclusions that people do not want to hear. Science needs the ability to be controversial. As Ben Shapiro has said before: "facts don't care about your feelings" - it's entirely true and if that statement makes you feel angry, you are also part of the problem. Truth will not be bended to placate your sensibilities.

With President Trump out of office, it should be possible to reject his xenophobic agenda and still ask why, in all places in the world, did the outbreak begin in the city with a laboratory housing one of the world’s most extensive collection of bat viruses, doing some of the most aggressive research?

Again, it is Trump's fault. The truth is unable to be said if it could possibly agree with anything Trump says. These people are hacks and should be fired immediately. The truth is the truth, irrespective of who says it.

I would also like to be clear that the Biden administration, despite its protests, has mostly continued Trump's pressure against China, albeit more quietly. The CCP is an ongoing problem that no administration has the luxury to ignore.

Then came the revelation that the Lancet statement was not only signed but organized by a zoologist named Peter Daszak, who has repackaged U.S. government grants and allocated them to facilities conducting gain-of-function research—among them the WIV itself. David Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, ran the State Department’s day-to-day COVID-19 origins inquiry. He said it soon became clear that “there is a huge gain-of-function bureaucracy” inside the federal government.

And there you have it, a link. The people who helped fund these labs also broke the story in the Lancet that there is no lab leak - despite there not being evidence to conclusively suggest either way. How can a conclusion ever possibly be reached when the CCP have simply refused to allow any external investigation at Wuhan? They have even gone as far as to threaten Australia for suggesting that an investigation should even be done at all! For a Country claiming to be innocent, they sure act in a guilty way.

And given how aggressively China blocked efforts at a transparent investigation, and in light of its government’s own history of lying, obfuscating, and crushing dissent, it’s fair to ask if Shi Zhengli, the Wuhan Institute’s lead coronavirus researcher, would be at liberty to report a leak from her lab even if she’d wanted to.

China actively blocked the WHO from investigating the possibility of a lab leak, as well as every other Country. They even got into a spat with Australia when they insisted they really wanted to do an independent investigation. Even after an entire year of the WHO being blocked from the Wuhan lab - only a small team of people were allowed to "look around" the lab for a few escorted hours, before being scooted off to their next pre-arranged location 4.

The other point here about Shi is one I had earlier, their ability to even report a leak is extremely limited. Imagine the scenario where it is reported that a leak occurred, potentially it puts China on the hook for trillions of dollars in damages.

"Smelled Like a Cover-Up"

The group had recently acquired classified intelligence suggesting that three WIV researchers conducting gain-of-function experiments on coronavirus samples had fallen ill in the autumn of 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak was known to have started.

So three researchers working on GoF COVID, fall ill with COVID symptoms just before the COVID-19 outbreak... I'm getting real Epstein levels of coincidences here. That's an extreme coincidence and very unlikely. And these coincidences have a habit of piling up around COVID...

[..] members were repeatedly advised not to open a "Pandora’s box," said four former State Department officials interviewed by Vanity Fair. The admonitions "smelled like a cover-up," said Thomas DiNanno, "and I wasn’t going to be part of it."

Usually, when you get the feeling of a 'cover-up' - it usually is. People generally want to trust one another, so when something feels untrustworthy, it tends to be in negative faith. I'm glad there were at least some people in the room who were not insane.

Also, one cannot overlook how threatening the 'advice' was in nature. Not always, but when an animal is scared or wounded, they can become aggressive, almost in an overreaction to hide a weakness. If somebody says "don't look in the box", you can bet there's something real interesting in that box, dangerous or not.

An "Antibody" Response

No one at the State Department had much interest in Wuhan’s laboratories at the start of the pandemic, but they were gravely concerned with China’s apparent cover-up of the outbreak’s severity.

I remember this - the CCP directly lied to the WHO about the transmission of the virus, suggesting that it could not spread person to person. They then used this 'fact' to push the idea that it came from eating infected food at the local market.

The government had shut down the Huanan market, ordered laboratory samples destroyed, claimed the right to review any scientific research about COVID-19 ahead of publication, and expelled a team of Wall Street Journal reporters.

In the most favourable view of why the CCP would prevent external investigations of the Huanan market, you can only consider really a few possibilities:

In any case, even these favourable interpretations offer zero acceptable excuse for not cooperating in a global pandemic. These are all very selfish and anti-cooperative reasons for destroying lab samples and preventing journalism on the ground.

On the other hand, in a less favourable view, having nosey journalists that are free to publish as they like hanging around, would be awfully inconvenient if you actually have something to hide. Destroying lab samples is hardly a non-suspicious behaviour, especially when investigations at the time must have been ongoing, even internally. Unless, of course, there was something to hide as quickly as possible.

In January 2020, a Wuhan ophthalmologist named Li Wenliang, who’d tried to warn his colleagues that the pneumonia could be a form of SARS was arrested, accused of disrupting the social order, and forced to write a self-criticism. He died of COVID-19 in February, lionized by the Chinese public as a hero and whistleblower.

This is truly saddening. They literally made him write a false statement claiming he was lying about the virus and its seriousness, only to later die of it. There was no public enquiry about this in China, this is simply how Communism operates.

As I mentioned previously, what was truly horrific is that he actually died from COVID and there was massive public outcry. The CCP then ordered that his dead body be put back on a ventilator so that they could delay his death for a few days and better control the narrative, probably with some careful internet filters and misinformation.

“You had Chinese [government] coercion and suppression,” said David Feith of the State Department’s East Asia bureau. “We were very concerned that they were covering it up and whether the information coming to the World Health Organization was reliable.”

The WHO is entirely under the thumb of China, despite entirely getting its funding from the US. Trump was entirely correct to threaten them with pulling their main source of funding - don't bite the hand that feeds you. Why they did nothing to investigate their suspicions is beyond me.

Trump’s premature statement poisoned the waters for anyone seeking an honest answer to the question of where COVID-19 came from. According to Pottinger, there was an “antibody response” within the government, in which any discussion of a possible lab origin was linked to destructive nativist posturing.

The revulsion extended to the international science community, whose “maddening silence” frustrated Miles Yu. He recalled, “Anyone who dares speak out would be ostracized.”

Again, the rhetoric that just because Trump supports something or believes something, everybody must believe and stand for the opposite. Bare in mind, it was Trump's Operation Warp-speed that led to the funding of and quick turnaround of vaccine production for the US, despite heavy criticism from the Democrats.

As the article has previously pointed out, this very idea of opposing something simply because Trump suggests it is anti-Science. The article appears to back the idea that this was Trump's fault, and not the fault of the people pushing such a narrative of opposition. These people did everything in their power to delay Trump and possibly have thousands of deaths on their hands as a result.

"Too Risky to Pursue"

The next quotes in the article get really juicy!

The idea of a lab leak first came to NSC officials not from hawkish Trumpists but from Chinese social media users, who began sharing their suspicions as early as January 2020. Then, in February, a research paper coauthored by two Chinese scientists, based at separate Wuhan universities, appeared online as a preprint. It tackled a fundamental question: How did a novel bat coronavirus get to a major metropolis of 11 million people in central China, in the dead of winter when most bats were hibernating, and turn a market where bats weren’t sold into the epicenter of an outbreak?

It doesn't matter where in the world you live or how oppressive your regime is, internet users will always be an incredibly sceptical bunch when they put their minds together. I really am glad that even internally to China that there is some idea that the CCP may be lying to people, but unfortunately this percentage of people is not nearly great enough.

The line of enquiry by those Chinese Scientists was of course extremely prudent, and I'm sure they were rewarded appropriately for it by the Party that doesn't ask questions. Of course, it's undeniably exactly the correct line of questioning in order to warrant further investigation.

The paper offered an answer: “We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus.” The first was the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which sat just 280 meters from the Huanan market and had been known to collect hundreds of bat samples. The second, the researchers wrote, was the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

It's incredible now thinking back to it that the CCP were suggesting that rather than COVID leaking from one of two local labs, possibly being introduced to the market place by one of the staff members of the labs - that instead it arrived on a frozen fish, despite China doing most of its own fishing via illegal means. It's just incredibly the frozen fish theory was ever really taken seriously. One of the labs literally was tasked with collecting COVID samples from bats!

The paper came to a staggeringly blunt conclusion about COVID-19: “the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.... Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.” Almost as soon as the paper appeared on the internet, it disappeared, but not before U.S. government officials took note.

The outcome conclusion of the paper is not even unreasonable, there have been known leaks from these labs previously... They likely should be relocated away from populated areas. They very clearly pose a high infection risk.

As they combed open sources as well as classified information, the team’s members soon stumbled on a 2015 research paper by Shi Zhengli and the University of North Carolina epidemiologist Ralph Baric proving that the spike protein of a novel coronavirus could infect human cells. Using mice as subjects, they inserted the protein from a Chinese rufous horseshoe bat into the molecular structure of the SARS virus from 2002, creating a new, infectious pathogen.

They were literally doing the exact research to create COVID as would be required to create the current global pandemic. It's absolutely incredible to me that the idea of a lab leak was disposed of so quickly. Honestly the most impressive thing here is that a lab leak hasn't happened sooner.

This gain-of-function experiment was so fraught that the authors flagged the danger themselves, writing, “scientific review panels may deem similar studies…too risky to pursue.” In fact, the study was intended to raise an alarm and warn the world of “a potential risk of SARS-CoV re-emergence from viruses currently circulating in bat populations.”

As Goldie Hawn reportedly said: "You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it." In this case it may be disastrously true.

The paper’s acknowledgments cited funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and from a nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance, which had parceled out grant money from the U.S. Agency for International Development. EcoHealth Alliance is run by Peter Daszak, the zoologist who helped organize the Lancet statement.

And here is one of the more important quotes from the article, showing that Daszak directly had a conflict of interest when he initially published his statement in the Lancet, suggesting that COVID was not leaked from a lab - that he himself funded.

That a genetically engineered virus might have escaped from the WIV was one alarming scenario. But it was also possible that a research trip to collect bat samples could have led to infection in the field, or back at the lab.

I believe that the idea of the virus being naturally made would be truly impossible to conclude on, you would need to somehow say with high confidence that it's impossible it came from natural sources, or only possible it came from natural sources (given current technology). From my understanding, the Science is currently at the point where the modified strains are indistinguishable from those produced in nature.

The other thing we need to consider is, whether it really makes a difference. In any case a good argument could be mounted that it is Scientific negligence that created a global pandemic if either lab is somehow involved.

The NSC investigators found ready evidence that China’s labs were not as safe as advertised. Shi Zhengli herself had publicly acknowledged that, until the pandemic, all of her team’s coronavirus research—some involving live SARS-like viruses—had been conducted in less secure BSL-3 and even BSL-2 laboratories.

As I suggested before, rather than returning the funding due to having insufficient resources to conduct the dangerous research in a BSL-4 level facility, they instead conducted it in BSL-2 and BSL-3. This is incredibly dangerous and should lead to the instant cancellation of all of China's funding to these virology labs until the CCP is able to be more transparent about the conditions in the labs being run. There needs to be safe guards in place, accountability, etc. You can't bullshit this stuff.

In 2018, a delegation of American diplomats visited the WIV for the opening of its BSL-4 laboratory, a major event. In an unclassified cable, as a Washington Post columnist reported, they wrote that a shortage of highly trained technicians and clear protocols threatened the facility’s safe operations. The issues had not stopped the WIV’s leadership from declaring the lab “ready for research on class-four pathogens (P4), among which are the most virulent viruses that pose a high risk of aerosolized person-to-person transmission.”

When I read this, I'm reminded of the Soviet Union's Chernobyl incident, where inexperienced staff are forced to perform work they are unqualified to do, so that the Communist leaders can save face and maintain their pride. Of course, this also had disastrous consequences. The only good thing regarding the Soviet Union is that it had the good sense to die 5.

On February 14, 2020, to the surprise of NSC officials, President Xi Jinping of China announced a plan to fast-track a new biosecurity law to tighten safety procedures throughout the country’s laboratories. Was this a response to confidential information? “In the early weeks of the pandemic, it didn’t seem crazy to wonder if this thing came out of a lab,” Pottinger reflected.

I imagine several different scenarios as to why Xi Jinping rushed through such a law:

  1. Lab-leak - He realised that one of the local labs had in fact leaked the COVID strain and that there was the very real possibility it could happen elsewhere anywhere in China, especially as people were panicked about COVID at the time.
  2. Safe guarding - There was no leak, but it was a wake-up call that they only got lucky this time and the possibility of a global pandemic is something to be taken seriously.
  3. Pride and/or pacify - He had to be seen doing something in order to maintain the 'strength' of the CCP and prevent public protests/outcry. He would have had a hard time enforcing authoritarian lockdowns if his own people were after blood.

In any case, it really doesn't bode well for Xi Jinping. At best he looks weak, at worst he is directly complicit in one of the largest cover-ups ever conducted on the world stage. Given his recent heavily authoritarian Communist policies, going as far to essentially prevent Chinese people from learning English, it looks like he is struggling to stay in power 6.

[S]he frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves. “That really took a load off my mind,” she says. “I had not slept a wink for days.”

Let's give Shi the benefit of the doubt for a moment and suggest that she was acting in entirely good faith. Just because COVID-19 was not in any of the sequenced samples of COVID from the bat caves, does not mean that one of the sample collectors did not get ill whilst there, or even carry COVID on their shoes. The only thing it could possibly suggest is that it did not leak from the lab itself due to error of protocol. If I were Shi, I would be still very much worried.

That does assume the Shi is acting in good faith of course. As we see with our good friend Peter Daszak, we cannot trust people involved not to act selflessly, especially when their career is on the line.

As the NSC tracked these disparate clues, U.S. government virologists advising them flagged one study first submitted in April 2020. Eleven of its 23 coauthors worked for the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, the Chinese army’s medical research institute. Using the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR, the researchers had engineered mice with humanized lungs, then studied their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2. As the NSC officials worked backward from the date of publication to establish a timeline for the study, it became clear that the mice had been engineered sometime in the summer of 2019, before the pandemic even started. The NSC officials were left wondering: Had the Chinese military been running viruses through humanized mouse models, to see which might be infectious to humans?

Firstly, why the fuck is the US government funding the Chinese military, the same military that is actively hostile towards the US and its allies? This is exactly the same military that forcefully took over Tibet, who got into a fight with the Indian army in a border dispute and whom regularly threatens to shoot US military craft during freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea. It seems like these are exactly the people you should not be funding.

I believe it's also worth noting here that CRISPR gene-splicing is exactly the same technology China got into trouble about just a few years ago, when they did gene-editing to a real human. This is banned under every convention you can imagine for the same reason BSL-4 labs are required to work with highly infectious diseases - you really cannot afford to make any mistakes.

In this case though it looks like they only made a mouse with human-like lungs, so I guess that is a slight ethical improvement. One must of course wonder what else these human property sharing mice are used to test - it sure sounds like a great platform for the Chinese military to test bioweapons for example.

Sticklers for Accuracy

He began to receive anonymous calls and notice strange activity on his computer, which he attributed to Chinese government surveillance. “We are being monitored for sure,” he says. He moved his work to the encrypted platforms Signal and ProtonMail.

As somebody who actively avoids using my phone at all costs, when I suddenly start getting phone calls, I am immediately suspicious. If you start getting 'silent' phone calls there is a good chance that either you are part of a mass marketing scam (they drop all but the first person that picks up when they mass call) or under surveillance. Sometimes agencies will call people and hope they answer with their butt, allowing the caller to listen in to their activities.

I have warned many people in person, but I feel I must do so again here: It is well known that Chinese devices running software such as Android is backdoored. Stop buying them. It introduces an incredibly large security threat to your daily life. Saving a few dollars is simply not worth it. That isn't to say that all Chinese manufacturers are like this though, some like Pine64 actively work towards increasing phone security and privacy.

For anybody interested, Signal and ProtonMail are only so secure, they too have their limitations. In some ways you are better off simply sending encrypted data via public channels. I would also suggest using a wide variety of communications platforms and changing regularly as it creates a massive data-collection headache.

On December 11, 2020, Demaneuf—a stickler for accuracy—reached out to Metzl to alert him to a mistake on his blog. The 2004 SARS lab escape in Beijing, Demaneuf pointed out, had led to 11 infections, not four. Demaneuf was “impressed” by Metzl’s immediate willingness to correct the information. “From that time, we started working together.”

This is what Science is supposed to be about. The purpose of collaboration is to enhance public knowledge. It says a lot about the current state of Science when people are impressed by people simply following the Scientific method.

No, COVID-19 was not a bioweapon used by the Chinese to infect American athletes at the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019.

Again, it's worth pointing out here that I fully believe it was not a bioweapon. If it was, it was released too early or by accident, as China has suffered greatly from the spread of COVID. That said, I still believe that it should be investigated as a possibility, unless it can be ruled out, it should remain as an unlikely but possible scenario.

She noted that a September 2019 paper in an academic journal by the director of the WIV’s BSL-4 laboratory, Yuan Zhiming, had outlined safety deficiencies in China’s labs. “Maintenance cost is generally neglected,” he had written. “Some BSL-3 laboratories run on extremely minimal operational costs or in some cases none at all.”

You really don't want to the director of a BSL-4 lab publicly telling people that their lab is extremely under-funded, to the point where it operates on zero budget. This is a massive failure of investment and is indicative of the sort of corner-cutting one would expect from the Communist Country.

This appears to be a cultural problem with China in general, where nobody really wants to continually invest into maintenance, or even take responsibility for a thing. This means that public infrastructure can become neglected if nobody is strictly responsible, which sometimes even includes building repair to deathly consequences. Most recently, this includes a major dam collapse.

Alina Chan, a young molecular biologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, found that early sequences of the virus showed very little evidence of mutation. Had the virus jumped from animals to humans, one would expect to see numerous adaptations, as was true in the 2002 SARS outbreak. To Chan, it appeared that SARS-CoV-2 was already “pre-adapted to human transmission,” she wrote in a preprint paper in May 2020.

This may be as close to a smoking gun as we will ever find - the fact that the virus had so little initial mutation should indicate that either it was pre-adapted or already spreading for some time before detection. It's not impossible for it to have a low initial mutation rate, but highly unusual for anybody who has any kind of experience with genetic algorithms. When a new beneficial mutation is made that drastically increases fitness (i.e. the ability to spread to humans), then you expect high levels of initial mutation as the evolution process grapples with how to best utilize on it. After a while, the best solutions win out and the number of variations reduce.

What we saw with COVID-19 was essentially a variant that was already maximally suitable for a high spread rate. The Alpha variant of COVID took a long time to mutate, despite apparently being very new. The probability that an optimal adaptation of COVID was accidentally evolved near-first time is astronomically low. What is infinitely more likely was that it had already undergone many rounds of evolution in a controlled lab setting, i.e. the process of Gain of Function (GoF).

The Mojiang Miners

In 2012, six miners in the lush mountains of Mojiang county in southern Yunnan province were assigned an unenviable task: to shovel out a thick carpet of bat feces from the floor of a mine shaft.

Somebody has to do this shit. (Jokes aside, what an awful job.)

After weeks of dredging up bat guano, the miners became gravely ill and were sent to the First Affiliated Hospital at the Kunming Medical University in Yunnan’s capital. Their symptoms of cough, fever, and labored breathing rang alarm bells in a country that had suffered through a viral SARS outbreak a decade earlier.

Sounds incredibly familiar. As we'll soon learn, that may be for very good reason.

Within months, three of the six miners were dead. The eldest, who was 63, died first. “The disease was acute and fierce,” the thesis noted. It concluded: “the bat that caused the six patients to fall ill was the Chinese rufous horseshoe bat.” Blood samples were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which found that they were positive for SARS antibodies, a later Chinese dissertation documented.

What we have here is a COVID strain that acts like COVID-19 with a high death rate and was sent to Wuhan for analysis, who then went on to conduct Gain of Function research with US funding in unmaintained and inadequate labs by unqualified staff. If that isn't a recipe for disaster, what is?

In an October 2013 Nature study, Shi Zhengli reported a key discovery: that certain bat viruses could potentially infect humans without first jumping to an intermediate animal. By isolating a live SARS-like bat coronavirus for the first time, her team had found that it could enter human cells through a protein called the ACE2 receptor.

In fact, we have seen that COVID has been exceptionally successful in cross-species jumping, including infecting dogs and tigers!

On February 3, 2020, with the COVID-19 outbreak already spreading beyond China, Shi Zhengli and several colleagues published a paper noting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic code was almost 80% identical to that of SARS-CoV, which caused the 2002 outbreak. But they also reported that it was 96.2% identical to a coronavirus sequence in their possession called RaTG13, which was previously detected in “Yunnan province.” They concluded that RaTG13 was the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2.

In the following months, as researchers around the world hunted for any known bat virus that might be a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2, Shi Zhengli offered shifting and sometimes contradictory accounts of where RaTG13 had come from and when it was fully sequenced. Searching a publicly available library of genetic sequences, several teams, including a group of DRASTIC researchers, soon realized that RaTG13 appeared identical to RaBtCoV/4991—the virus from the shaft where the miners fell ill in 2012 with what looked like COVID-19.

Here you have Shi acting shady when recalling the origins of a closely related strain of COVID - something you would not expect from somebody who has nothing to hide. Researchers were left to bridge the gap themselves, that RaTG13 is identical to RaBtCoV/4991.

In July, as questions mounted, Shi Zhengli told Science magazine that her lab had renamed the sample for clarity. But to skeptics, the renaming exercise looked like an effort to hide the sample’s connection to the Mojiang mine.

Again, this is a great point - why would they rename the sample for 'clarity' and then get some kind of collective amnesia about its origin? Why would they not remember it was related to COVID-19 like symptoms from a bat mine? This is incredibly strange behaviour.

In October 2020, as questions about the Mojiang mine shaft intensified, a team of journalists from the BBC tried to access the mine itself. They were tailed by plainclothes police officers and found the road conveniently blocked by a broken-down truck.

The CCP have a bit of a habit of preventing the BBC from accessing places, especially when they have something to hide. For example, when the BBC attempted to investigate the Xinjang Muslim camps, they were also stopped by plain clothes police officers in the road. I'm sure there is nothing of interest in those 'education' camps.

US citizens, and likely British citizens too, still can't travel to Tibet either. You can hear them claim excuses like "it is not easy to travel", and I imagine you would also receive a warm visit by some plain clothes police officers if you attempted the journey.

So when I hear that the BBC were blocked from visiting the Mojiang bat cave - this also indicates that there is something being hidden. One could imagine an awkward scenario where samples from the cave have an extremely high shared genetic code with the current strain, conclusively proving that it originated in China, despite the CCP's claims. It would also be extremely inconvenient if the predominant strains were not as infectious as the Alpha variant, showing that it had in fact been modified in a lab to be more infectious.

It sure is a shame that an external investigation cannot be conducted due to a series of inconvenient truck engine issues that happen to be very common in the area. It's a good job that the plain clothes police are there to assist the journalists in navigating away from the dangerous path that leads to the cave, and any potential evidence of foul play.

The Gain-of-Function Debate

But when Redfield saw the breakdown of early cases, some of which were family clusters, the market explanation made less sense. Had multiple family members gotten sick via contact with the same animal? Gao assured him there was no human-to-human transmission, says Redfield, who nevertheless urged him to test more widely in the community. That effort prompted a tearful return call. Many cases had nothing to do with the market, Gao admitted. The virus appeared to be jumping from person to person, a far scarier scenario.

Right, it was entirely obvious that this was a highly infectious disease and not spread via some market food. It's pretty incredible that an external US health official figured this out with very little information before the Chinese based health official did. Bare in mind also, that Gao told the WHO exactly the same story, and the WHO swallowed it too.

Redfield immediately thought of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. A team could rule it out as a source of the outbreak in just a few weeks, by testing researchers there for antibodies. Redfield formally reiterated his offer to send specialists, but Chinese officials didn’t respond to his overture.

Yet another way in which an external investigation could have been conducted efficiently to rule out a lab leak - simply testing the Wuhan lab staff for antibodies. The fact that the CCP rejected this offer and have not since offered data on such testing should be extremely telling.

Redfield, a virologist by training, was suspicious of the WIV in part because he’d been steeped in the yearslong battle over gain-of-function research. The debate engulfed the virology community in 2011, after Ron Fouchier, a researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, announced that he had genetically altered the H5N1 avian influenza strain to make it transmissible among ferrets, who are genetically closer to humans than mice. Fouchier calmly declared that he’d produced “probably one of the most dangerous viruses you could make.”

When a Scientist is scared by their own research, people should really take notice. I remember a while back working on some humanoid robotics code that had motor safety angle limits put in place to stop the robot from removing my fingers. The code have never been tested and I didn't really trust what my sleep-filled brain had wrote, but my colleagues blindly did. It turned out there was actually some bug (not of my making) meaning that the angle limits could actually be bypassed - meaning at any time it could have simply lopped off somebody's fingers.

When the creators of these things are not confident or are scared of what they have created, we should really take pause and consider safety. When the researchers of Gain of Function research calmly declare they have made one of the most dangerous viruses possible, I think that warrants reflection.

In October 2014, the Obama administration imposed a moratorium on new funding for gain-of-function research projects that could make influenza, MERS, or SARS viruses more virulent or transmissible. But a footnote to the statement announcing the moratorium carved out an exception for cases deemed “urgently necessary to protect the public health or national security.”

Love or hate the Obama administration, it was fully correct of them to be concerned about Gain of Function research. The footnote to the moratorium was very unfortunate, especially the wording about public health and national security, two things that can essentially be used to bypass any sense or reason.

In the first year of the Trump administration, the moratorium was lifted and replaced with a review system called the HHS P3CO Framework (for Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight). It put the onus for ensuring the safety of any such research on the federal department or agency funding it. This left the review process shrouded in secrecy. “The names of reviewers are not released, and the details of the experiments to be considered are largely secret,” said the Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Marc Lipsitch, whose advocacy against gain-of-function research helped prompt the moratorium.

I'm sure this article would love to blame Trump for the COVID outbreak. Outright banning all Gain of Function research is likely not the best option, and given it was still happening based on public health and national security grounds anyway, it's better there is a panel to oversee the research. Bare in mind this was also very likely a result of Dr Fauci protesting to the Trump administration.

Of course the panel was not implemented in an ideal way. As with any government run operation, transparency is often the best policy. That all said, at least there was at least then oversight and accountability.

Inside the NIH, which funded such research, the P3CO framework was largely met with shrugs and eye rolls, said a longtime agency official: “If you ban gain-of-function research, you ban all of virology.” He added, “Ever since the moratorium, everyone’s gone wink-wink and just done gain-of-function research anyway.”

This attitude is astounding. This is exactly the problem with the permanent state, where they believe the current administration's rules do not apply to them, as they have been there longer and will be there after them.

A week later, an NIH official notified Daszak in writing that his grant had been terminated. The order had come from the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci later testified before a congressional committee. The decision fueled a firestorm: 81 Nobel Laureates in science denounced the decision in an open letter to Trump health officials, and 60 Minutes ran a segment focused on the Trump administration’s shortsighted politicization of science.

I literally don't care how many Nobel Laureates there were, cancelling the funding to something that very possibly created the global pandemic, that had failed in its mission to stop/prevent/predict it and had been funded under the table anyway - was exactly what should have been done. Politicization of Science was exactly what all of these people were doing when they rejected Trump's claims on the basis that Trump said them, and not based on evidence or reason.

Daszak appeared to be the victim of a political hit job, orchestrated to blame China, Dr. Fauci, and scientists in general for the pandemic, while distracting from the Trump administration’s bungled response. “He’s basically a wonderful, decent human being” and an “old-fashioned altruist,” said the NIH official. “To see this happening to him, it really kills me.”

But as well see later, neither Daszak or Fauci are innocent - and Trump's response was actually very good. Again the US can thank Trump for closing the borders despite protests from the Democrats and implementing operation Warp-speed that successfully delivered a vaccine programme.

Moreover, Ebright believed that Daszak’s research had failed in its stated purpose of predicting and preventing pandemics through its global collaborations.

It was implemented to prevent a global pandemic and most likely actually fuelled one. The entire world needs to take a very detailed look at Gain of Function research and decide whether or not it is safe enough to be conducted, and if it is conducted, how to reduce the risk and maximize the benefit of such research.

It soon emerged, based on emails obtained by a Freedom of Information group called U.S. Right to Know, that Daszak had not only signed but organized the influential Lancet statement, with the intention of concealing his role and creating the impression of scientific unanimity.

Bare in mind, Daszak was actively defended by NIH officials as a good guy - whilst he actively worked to conceal his involvement in research that was supposed to have prevented this exact scenario from occurring.

Under the subject line, “No need for you to sign the “Statement” Ralph!!,” he wrote to two scientists, including UNC’s Dr. Ralph Baric, who had collaborated with Shi Zhengli on the gain-of-function study that created a coronavirus capable of infecting human cells: “you, me and him should not sign this statement, so it has some distance from us and therefore doesn’t work in a counterproductive way.” Daszak added, “We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice.”

These are not the actions of an innocent man. All of these people were caught actively conspiring to hide their involvement. The Lancet were complicit in this - we should most definitely not trust them. The Lancet were also responsible for publishing data about Russia's Sputnik vaccine being highly effective, where the data was later questioned and quite likely to have been falsified.

Dueling Memos

Three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, all connected with gain-of-function research on coronaviruses, had fallen ill in November 2019 and appeared to have visited the hospital with symptoms similar to COVID-19, three government officials told Vanity Fair.

While it is not clear what had sickened them, “these were not the janitors,” said the former State Department official. “They were active researchers. The dates were among the absolute most arresting part of the picture, because they are smack where they would be if this was the origin.” The reaction inside the State Department was, “Holy shit,” one former senior official recalled. “We should probably tell our bosses.” The investigation roared back to life.

This is truly an amazing admission and fits the lab leak hypothesis, exactly as you would expect to see it. Given how infectious COVID has been, I would then want to see more information regarding which hospital they went to and what protocols were used for their treatment. If they were treated normally (without some form of quarantine), one would expect that hospital staff and other patients would have also been infected.

What strikes me possibly the most is how late this entire investigation was in the grand scheme of things - people online in the West were left to piece together their own information, often from unreliable sources. The reason the West has such a large problem with misinformation is that the 'reliable' sources were so unbelievably behind the curve.

I remember back in March or so being sent Umbrella Corporation memes about Wuhan, a reference to the zombie outbreak in the Resident Evil franchise. Back then I was being sent information about the Wuhan labs, most of which I could not verify, other than the fact they existed.

Their suspicion intensified when Department of Energy officials overseeing the Lawrence Livermore lab unsuccessfully tried to block the State Department investigators from talking to the report’s authors.

Why on earth state departments were actively blocking investigations in beyond me. This appears purely political and anti-Trump, pro-China partisan support.

The State Department team, for its part, believed that Ford was the one trying to impose a preconceived conclusion: that COVID-19 had a natural origin. A week later, one of them attended the meeting where Christopher Park, who worked under Ford, allegedly advised those present not to draw attention to U.S. funding of gain-of-function research.

This is almost an admittance of guilt, they knew the optics would look bad and would implicate the people involved.

With deep distrust simmering, the State Department team convened a panel of experts to confidentially “red team” the lab-leak hypothesis. The idea was to pummel the theory and see if it still stood. The panel took place on the evening of January 7, one day after the insurrection at the Capitol. By then, Ford had announced his plan to resign.

I'm glad they pushed forward, despite the political environment and despite the 'insurrection' at the Capitol. If Ford hadn't resigned, he should have been fired for his part in actively attempting to prevent proper investigations.

The 2012 infections of six miners was “worthy of banner headlines at the time.” Yet those cases had never been reported to the WHO.

This was much more hot off the heels of the original SARS outbreak, I imagine the CCP were trying to downplay this event for internal and external credibility. They also hadn't "taken over" the WHO by this point and couldn't influence the investigations that would take place as a result, that would have likely have seen the Wuhan labs shutdown due to safety issues.

In the memo, Ford criticized the panel’s “lack of data” and added, “I would also caution you against suggesting that there is anything inherently suspicious—and suggestive of biological warfare activity—about People’s Liberation Army (PLA) involvement at WIV on classified projects. [I]t would be difficult to say that military involvement in classified virus research is intrinsically problematic, since the U.S. Army has been deeply involved in virus research in the United States for many years.”

Ford criticized a lack of data in the panel, whilst he was actively involved in squashing an investigation to collect more data. Incredible.

The Chinese military's involvement in research is fundamentally problematic, it means that US funding is being directly used to fund the Chinese military. By extension, it could be said that the US is then supporting any action the PLA takes. By the PLA not funding the research themselves, they then have leftover money for developing a nuclear programme and invading Taiwan.

Thomas DiNanno sent back a five-page rebuttal to Ford’s memo the next day, January 9 (though it was mistakenly dated “12/9/21”). He accused Ford of misrepresenting the panel’s efforts and enumerated the obstacles his team had faced: “apprehension and contempt” from the technical staff; warnings not to investigate the origins of COVID-19 for fear of opening a “can of worms”; and a “complete lack of responses to briefings and presentations.” He added that Quay had been invited only after the National Intelligence Council failed to provide statistical help.

I believe DiNanno is fully correct in his assessment of the situation. Thanks to the efforts of Ford and his team, any investigation into a lab leak was always going to be hindered and restricted in scope.

On January 15, five days before President Joe Biden’s swearing in, the State Department released a fact sheet about activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, disclosing key information: that several researchers there had fallen ill with COVID-19-like symptoms in autumn 2019, before the first identified outbreak case; and that researchers there had collaborated on secret projects with China’s military and “engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”

Bare in mind, Trump was suggesting this the whole time, with reduced information. He was ridiculed, fact-checked and discredited, for what would later be somewhat supported by the Biden administration as a highly possible theory. Again, I think it's really worth noting the partisan nature of this all, and how quickly the entire narrative flipped on the subject of a lab leak.

A Fact-Finding Mission to Wuhan

Within weeks, the U.S. government submitted three names to the WHO: an FDA veterinarian, a CDC epidemiologist, and an NIAID virologist. None were chosen. Instead, only one representative from the U.S. made the cut: Peter Daszak.

This appears to have been done in bad faith by both the CCP and WHO, not even a single US selected 'independent' investigator was chosen. Not one. The only man from the US they chose was Daszak, a man that had a vested interest in ensuring the lab leak hypothesis is completely ignored. The WHO should have pushed for at least one of the US selected investigators be chosen in good faith, but of course, the conclusion was arrived at before the investigation was started.

On January 14, 2021, Daszak and 12 other international experts arrived in Wuhan to join 17 Chinese experts and an entourage of government minders. They spent two weeks of the monthlong mission quarantined in their hotel rooms. The remaining two-week inquiry was more propaganda than probe, complete with a visit to an exhibit extolling President Xi’s leadership. The team saw almost no raw data, only the Chinese government analysis of it.

So bare in mind, the CCP has had a year to perform this investigation, why did they need to send 17 of their 'experts'? Why were there more Chinese people than international people in an international investigation? I can answer that quite simply, they were there to bias the vote at the end and to edit the report as they like.

Of the one month investigation, they spent two weeks in isolation, I believe in spite of pre-isolating before arriving to China and testing negative at every possible step. Of the remaining two weeks, they went on a propaganda tour, I believe only spending a few hours at the WIV lab itself. The only got to see the CCP's conclusions of data, not the data itself.

The investigation had zero credibility, any report produced as a result cannot be taken seriously even in the slightest. They were not free to investigate at all.

They paid one visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where they met with Shi Zhengli, as recounted in an annex to the mission report. One obvious demand would have been access to the WIV’s database of some 22,000 virus samples and sequences, which had been taken offline. At an event convened by a London organization on March 10, Daszak was asked whether the group had made such a request. He said there was no need: Shi Zhengli had stated that the WIV took down the database due to hacking attempts during the pandemic. “Absolutely reasonable,” Daszak said. “And we did not ask to see the data…. As you know, a lot of this work has been conducted with EcoHealth Alliance…. We do basically know what’s in those databases. There is no evidence of viruses closer to SARS-CoV-2 than RaTG13 in those databases, simple as that.”

Why on earth did they not get a copy of their database when they visited? It's entirely obvious that is is what should have been done. Daszak is either incompetent or complicit, they are the only possibilities. Given his prior emails, he looks to be entirely acting in bad faith.

In fact, the database had been taken offline on September 12, 2019, three months before the official start of the pandemic, a detail uncovered by Gilles Demaneuf and two of his DRASTIC colleagues.

We know of three WIV COVID researchers who got ill with COVID-like symptoms in November, but the timing of this database being taken down for "hacking attempts" is simply too much of a coincidence. I suspect that somebody noticed a COVID like strain back in September 2019, or the "hacking attempts" were real, but then used as an excuse to not reinstate the database online in November 2019.

In any case, the continued lack of access to the database is entirely in bad faith by the CCP. This information should be made available immediately with foreign health departments to perform their own analysis. They will surely come to the same conclusion that RaTG13 is the only similar COVID strain on file. Surely?

The report also recounted how Shi rebutted conspiracy theories and told the visiting team of experts that “there had been no reports of unusual diseases, none diagnosed, and all staff tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.” Her statement directly contradicted the findings summarized in the January 15 State Department fact sheet. “That was a willful lie by people who know it’s not true,” said a former national security official.

Shi once again caught in a web of lies. There are simply too many inconsistencies in her stories. I imagine the CCP will want to prevent her from talking to foreign investigators in the future as she appears to be a liability for them.

The report’s most surprising critic was the WHO’s director himself, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia. With the credibility of the World Health Organization on the line, he appeared to acknowledge the report’s shortcomings at a press event the day of its release. “As far as WHO is concerned all hypotheses remain on the table,” he said. “We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do.”

His statement reflected “monumental courage,” said Metzl. “Tedros risked his entire career to defend the integrity of the WHO.” (The WHO declined to make Tedros available for an interview.)

This article's framing of Tedros as a hero is quite strange. There is no way that the WHO or Tedros could stand behind the report and appear to be credible - why on earth they ever agreed to the terms in the first place created by the CCP is truly insane.

One thing to note about Tedros is that he is believed to have been a former member of the Communist party in Ethiopia, something I am yet to see refuted. If so, this would naturally align him politically to the CCP. Apparently he was elected to his position in the WHO with support by China, after he helped cover up a cholera outbreak.

A major argument against the lab-leak theory hinged on the presumption that Shi was telling the truth when she said the WIV was not hiding any virus samples that are closer cousins to SARS-CoV-2. In Metzl’s view, if she was lying about the military’s involvement, or anything else, then all bets were off.

Shi has been caught lying multiple times, there is no reason to accept a single word she has spoken as truth. It should all be treated with doubt now.

Inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology

NOTE: I skipped a bunch of pre-text in this section as it simply seemed over-dramatised and didn't add anything to the lab leak hypothesis.

But her ascent came at a cost. There is reason to believe she was hardly free to speak her mind or follow a scientific path that didn’t conform to China’s party line. Though Shi had planned to share isolated samples of the virus with her friend James LeDuc in Galveston, Beijing officials blocked her. And by mid-January, a team of military scientists led by China’s top virologist and biochemical expert, Major General Chen Wei, had set up operations inside the WIV.

Very strange indeed. I believe that Shi's intentions to be transparent work greatly in her favour and add to her credibility, but the CCP's insistence on being as opaque as possible negates from it. It's hard to tell what parts of her decisions are influenced by the CCP and what she truly believes about this situation. It seems entirely clear that she is not free to speak about the lab as she likes.

I think that given Shi's prominent position in the lab, in the field of virology, she personally wouldn't have released COVID maliciously. In any case, I think her standing and future cooperation in the global Scientific community will be heavily watched ultra carefully. What could and should have been a defining time in her career has probably been destroyed by the CCP.

Under scrutiny from governments including her own, with bizarre conspiracy theories and legitimate doubts swirling around her, she began lashing out at critics. “The 2019 novel coronavirus is a punishment from nature for humanity’s uncivilized habits,” she wrote in a February 2 post on WeChat, a popular social media app in China. “I, Shi Zhengli, guarantee on my life that it has nothing to do with our lab. May I offer some advice to those people who believe and spread bad media rumors: shut your dirty mouths.”

This is a very strange and non-Scientific rant from Shi. This sounds like somebody under enormous amounts of pressure, and doesn't particularly sound like somebody that is directly guilty of intentionally spreading COVID.

But a former national security official who reviewed U.S. classified materials told Vanity Fair that inside the WIV, military and civilian researchers are “doing animal research in the same fricking space.”

While that, in and of itself, does not prove a lab leak, Shi’s alleged lies about it are “absolutely material,” said a former State Department official. “It speaks to the honesty and credibility of the WIV that they kept this secret…. You have a web of lies, coercion, and disinformation that is killing people.”

Again as previously stated, Shi doesn't appear to be able to speak freely about the research that was being conducted at the WIV. It's unclear whether or not she was even fully aware of all the research being conducted within her own lab - and if so - that would reflect poorly upon her. The military involvement at the lab very much complicates the picture.

Vanity Fair sent Shi Zhengli and the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology detailed questions. Neither responded to multiple requests for comment by email and phone.

There seems to be a lot of that going around...

Claiming that terrorists using gene editing had created SARS-CoV-1 as a bioweapon, the book contained some alarming practical trade craft: “Bioweapon aerosol attacks are best conducted during dawn, dusk, night or cloudy weather because ultraviolet rays can damage the pathogens.” And it cited collateral benefits, noting that a sudden surge of hospitalizations could cause a healthcare system to collapse. One of the book’s editors has collaborated on 12 scientific papers with researchers at the WIV.

I have speculated about Artificial Intelligence and the potential destruction of humanity, but that doesn't mean I'm actively working on it. If anything, I find it a useful exercise to consider how a person's research may be used maliciously, if nothing else but to mentally prepare for it. I believe it is purely coincidental that one of the authors also published some material on bioweapons. I can certainly see how such speculation of weaponisation could be a useful exercise in preventing a worst-case scenario. The UK and US for example create plans for an emergency response crisis briefing regarding zombie outbreaks - not only is it fun, but it also helps frame an absolute worst case bioweapon attack at the same time.

Shi’s own comments to a science journal, and grant information available on a Chinese government database, suggest that in the past three years her team has tested two novel but undisclosed bat coronaviruses on humanized mice, to gauge their infectiousness.

As I stated previously, there is absolutely no reason as to why the CCP has not shared the WIV database of COVID strains, including the new ones mentioned in this research. This can be done in a completely "hacker-proof" way, even entirely offline if required. The fact that they have not done so is suspicious.

Out of the Shadows

NOTE: I skip some stuff in this section, specifically relating to anti-Trump crap that the article tries to shoe-horn into the discussion. There is a space for such a discussion, but it's awkwardly injected into the article.

In a CNN interview on March 26, Dr. Redfield, the former CDC director under Trump, made a candid admission: “I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped.” Redfield added that he believed the release was an accident, not an intentional act. In his view, nothing that happened since his first calls with Dr. Gao changed a simple fact: The WIV needed to be ruled out as a source, and it hadn’t been.

True. Due to the CCP's lack of cooperation, it is absolutely impossible to rule out the idea of a lab leak. It still remains a highly likely possibility given all evidence so far.

Not surprisingly, China’s government fired back during the conference, saying that it would not participate in further inquiries within its borders.

It was entirely obvious this would be the case, this decision was made before the conference was held. As far as the CCP is concerned, the conclusion is reached. At least they didn't call the previous 'inquiry' an 'investigation' - it simply wasn't one.

China obviously bears responsibility for stonewalling investigators. Whether it did so out of sheer authoritarian habit or because it had a lab leak to hide is, and may always be, unknown.

The conclusion is sad, but true. Due to the immense opaqueness of the CCP, we will likely never know. Every minute that goes by, potential evidence disappears. At this time it would be impossible to conclude either way without full cooperation of the CCP, something they are unwilling to offer.

The CCP still has a lot to answer for in any case. I believe the world has a right to demand accountability, and I suggest that each Country pulls their virology funding and investment from China at the very least in response.

Takeaway

And finally, my personal unprompted notes on the idea of a lab leak.

This is likely one of the longest articles I may ever end up writing for this website, but I cannot think of too many things that better warrant such a reply.

At the time of writing, there are some 225 million (and rising) COVID cases around the world, including 4.6 million attributed deaths. This likely does not even begin to encapsulate the full scope of the global pandemic, and I suspect that the echoes will be felt for many years to come as yet. Only in the future can be hope to even grasp the full magnitude of what has occurred and continues to occur.

Our children and our children's children will still be paying back the debts we created when dealing with this pandemic. For that, I think we at least owe them honesty and a good story to learn about in history books.

If you are reading this in the future, know that we are terribly sorry. If there is consensus about nothing else, it's that we mishandled the pandemic response and it could have been done better. Please study this and learn from our mistakes. A future repeat of this is not just likely, it is inevitable. Invest now.

There is of course one question we set out to answer: How likely is the lab leak hypothesis? The true answer is, highly likely, it is one of the leading theories of the COVID-19 origin. China's CCP have done everything in there power to be opaque and non-cooperative, which is highly likely to be indicative of some level of guilt.

That said, I believe we will also likely never know without the cooperation of CCP insiders. To anybody in the CCP with a conscious and courage: If you have evidence that proves of disproves the lab leak theory without any doubt, defect and come forwards. The world needs as much help as humanly possible in concentrating its limited resources into preventing such a catastrophe happening in the future.

If we are unable to learn from this, it will definitely occur again. It may be you or your family who die in the next global pandemic - perhaps none of us survive at all. For the continued existence of humanity, please, come forwards. This duty to your species and planet comes above all else.

The CCP has responded to COVID as you would expect a Communist dictatorship to do: wide internet censorship and denial of any wrong-doing. They have increased efforts to cut themselves off from the rest of the world, banning children from playing video games, banning tutoring of English, have increased crackdowns of VPNs, etc. It could not be more obvious that they do not want the Chinese people talking to external people - they want to control all information and dialogue.

It is quite likely that China will become even more hostile in the near future. There is very good reason to believe they have a very serious food supply problem and many of their actions, such as their ongoing disputes in the South China Sea, are directly related to resource concerns. The CCP also have an ageing population and are encouraging people to have more children, something that will only make resource concerns even worse.

Add to that an increasingly harder to invest economy due to Communist restrictions, an already dubious economic evaluation, many Western Countries looking to decentralize production and supply away from China - there will likely be hardship in the near future. It is very likely that the CCP's push towards increased nationalism is a pre-emptive measure to prevent a complete and utter collapse of the government.

In the future, I propose the following actions should be taken:

I watch and hope that serious changes are made. I remain somewhat cautiously optimistic, the human memory is limited by a human life time and we are doomed to repeat history if we are unable to learn from it.

As always, dear reader, take care. Thank you for your time.


  1. This narrative has since changed since I started writing this article, with the idea of a lab leak being taken more seriously. It's amazing how much more palatable exactly the same idea is depending on who is suggesting it.

  2. I'm not ignorant to the fact that there have been anti-Asian attacks in response to COVID, but if we exercise proportionality, we can see this was a minority response. Bad actions also never justify lying or fabricating truths.

  3. To be clear, the point here is not "what-about-ism" - it's simply context.

  4. I imagine if a WHO representative suddenly claimed "ah look, evidence!" they may have just been instantly executed on the spot. It's much easier to explain a death than to explain away direct evidence.

  5. Although a very strong argument could be made that Communism is alive and well with Putin in Russia. That said, Putin appears to pose less risk to the world than his predecessors - but the power vacuum he leaves after his death will be biblical.

  6. If anybody comes for Xi Jinping, it will be somebody within the CCP itself. He has demolished all opposition, so the only people are left are people that are close to him and looking to wear his shoes. It's very difficult to detect the enemy that embraces you. I highly suspect an internal CCP purge is on its way, or "anti-corruption" as they call it...