The American public deserves answers to pressing questions about the origins of Covid.
The United States paid for the work that may have created the Covid virus. That research, into a virus genetically engineered for the highest possible infectivity for human cells, was subcontracted to the Chinese at Wuhan by an American organization named EcoHealth. And now, a new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report says the National Institute of Health, the originator of the grant, failed to exercise its oversight over EcoHealth, and EcoHealth over Wuhan.
It's not a smoking gun, but it is pretty close. Senator Rand Paul will take up the contents of the OIG report soon in hearings. Here are five questions he may want to focus on.
Question 1: Though the new OIG report does not mention Covid specifically, it is scathing in its denunciation of EcoHealth and the NIH in failing to properly oversee the research and other work it paid for at the Wuhan National Lab in China. Not touched on at all is the question of why bioweapon engineering-type research was subbed out to China, an ostensible adversary of the U.S. So—why was it? Did NIH not know that the editorial board of the lead researcher's virology journal included members of the Chinese military?
Question 2: The OIG stated, "Despite identifying potential risks associated with research being performed under the EcoHealth awards, we found that NIH did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth’s compliance with some requirements. Although NIH and EcoHealth had established monitoring procedures, we found deficiencies in complying with those procedures limited NIH and EcoHealth’s ability to effectively monitor Federal grant awards and subawards to understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action. Using its discretion, NIH did not refer the research to HHS for an outside review for enhanced potential pandemic pathogens.
“With improved oversight, NIH may have been able to take more timely corrective actions to mitigate the inherent risks associated with this type of research.” One timely corrective action missed was not insisting EcoHealth produce a required progress report about its subgrants in the summer of 2019, just months before the advent of the coronavirus.
What may have been missed?
Though gain-of-function research does not leave a physical marker to prove origin, to date, there is no evidence Covid was of a natural origin (this is surprising because both the SARS1 and MERS viruses [related to Covid] had left copious traces in the environment.) There is much to show it was not.
We do know Wuhan conducted research aimed at doing what Covid does, making a virus originally not dangerous to humans into a super-infector designed to spread quickly while resisting existing cures and vaccines. We know the first cases of the virus were in Wuhan, and include researchers at the virology lab who were infected in November 2019. We know precautions at the lab were insufficient to contain the virus. In a murder case, this evidence would be enough to show means and method beyond a reasonable doubt.
Question 3: The Wuhan lab was already a nexus of attention before Covid. Following a controversial September 2019 coronavirus lecture the lead researcher gave in Mozambique, Wuhan pulled their virus database offline. The Chinese government still refuses to provide any of its raw data, safety logs, or lab records (the OIG report criticized EcoHealth’s inability to obtain scientific documentation from Wuhan despite having paid for it with U.S. tax dollars). Another Wuhan scientist was forced to leave a Canadian university for shipping deadly viruses, including Ebola, back to China. The lab also tried to steal intellectual property regarding remdesivir, a class of antiviral medications used to treat Covid prior to the vaccine.
As early as 2018, Wuhan alarmed visiting U.S. State Department safety inspectors. “The new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” the State inspectors wrote. They warned the lab’s work on “bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.” The Chinese worked under mostly BSL2-level safety conditions far too lax to contain a virus like Covid.
So a key question for Senator Paul to ask is, given this background, why did the NIH fund a place like Wuhan?
Question 4: What was the role of EcoHealth and others in promoting the as-yet-to-be-proven natural origin theory?
Now years after the pandemic began, Chinese researchers have failed to find the original bat population, or the intermediate species to which Covid might have jumped, or any serological evidence that any Chinese population, including that of Wuhan, had ever been exposed to the virus prior to late 2019. The search in China for the natural origin of the virus, the zoonotic animal-to-human spillover, included testing more than 80,000 different animals from across dozens of provinces.
Not a single case of Covid in animals in nature was found (according to a study published in the journal "Nature Medicine" in March 2020, the Covid virus has genetic elements that are not commonly found in naturally occurring zoonotic viruses, suggesting that it may have been engineered or manipulated in a laboratory). Chinese researchers did find primordial cases in people from Wuhan near the laboratory with no link to that infamous wet market China claims sold an infected bat eaten by Patient One.
So why does the natural origin theory persist? One of the strongest shows of support was a letter from dozens of scientists published in early 2020 in the British medical journal Lancet. The letter had actually been written not by the scientists, but by Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth, the grantee who subcontracted with Wuhan. If the virus had indeed escaped from research they funded, EcoHealth would be potentially liable, as of course would the American government. EcoHealth went on to plant never-challenged stories in the MSM labeling anyone who thought Wuhan was to blame a conspiracy crank. Then, when the pandemic began, Daszak argued that criticizing the zoonotic hypothesis would only stoke xenophobia toward China.
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Meanwhile, a Chinese-affiliated scientific journal at the University of Massachusetts Medical School commissioned commentary to refute that Covid originated in the Wuhan lab, the same position held by the Chinese government. Mirroring the American media, the journal called anything to the contrary “speculations, rumors, and conspiracy theories.” Chinese officials also objected elsewhere to any name, such as the Wuhan Flu, linking the virus to China.
Question 5: Did Dr. Anthony Fauci participate in a cover-up and/or did he perjure himself before Congress? In an answer to Senator Rand Paul at a hearing in the midst of the pandemic, Fauci stated, “you are entirely and completely incorrect—that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain-of-function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” Fauci later admitted that “there’s no way of guaranteeing” American taxpayer money routed to Wuhan didn’t fund gain-of-function research, and the recent OIG report confirms it in fact did. Fauci also reversed himself completely in saying he is no longer convinced Covid developed naturally. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene accused Fauci of complicity in gain-of-function experiments and called for his firing as the nation’s top infectious disease expert. Fauci has since retired.
And, just for kicks, a bonus Question 6, should Senator Paul call any member of the mainstream media to his hearings: "Do you now have any regrets over your coverage of the origins of Covid given all of this information, some which existed when you mocked laboratory origin as a conspiracy theory?"