Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology got ill enough to seek medical treatment back in November 2019. The date of their symptoms and hospital visits occurred the night before a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body regarding the virus.
China has denied that the virus escaped from one of its laboratories on many occasions. A WHO-led committee concluded that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely,” which has been repeatedly cited by China’s foreign ministry. The Wuhan Institute hasn’t released any raw data, safety logs, or lab documents from its extensive research on coronaviruses in bats, which many experts believe is the virus’s most likely source. Several researchers at the facility felt unwell in fall 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness” and sought medical help, according to a US State Department information sheet. One official stated the material was of “excellent quality,” but it didn’t tell you “why they got sick.”
Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist on that team told NBC News in March that some WIV staff did fall sick in the autumn of 2019, but she attributed that to regular, seasonal sickness. “There were occasional illnesses because that’s normal. There was nothing that stood out,” she said. “Maybe one or two. It’s certainly not a big, big thing.”
David Asher, a former U.S. official who led a State Department task force on the origins of the virus for then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told a Hudson Institute seminar in March that he doubted that the lab researchers became sick because of the ordinary flu. “I’m very doubtful that three people in highly protected circumstances in a level three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in the hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week, and it didn’t have anything to do with the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the researchers’ illness may represent “the first known cluster” of Covid-19 cases.
Despite the negative publicity surrounding its own laboratories, Beijing has asked the WHO to look into early Covid outbreaks in other nations. All members of the WHO-led team of investigators who visited Wuhan earlier this year to explore the virus’s origins tested negative for Covid-19 antibodies.
According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus was most likely introduced naturally to people by an animal.The Biden administration declined to comment on the intelligence, but stated that the WHO and international specialists should study all technically viable possibilities about the pandemic’s origin. The top bat coronavirus expert at WIV, Shi Zhengli, has said the virus didn’t leak from her laboratories, and there was no turnover of staff.
Due to a recently released State Department fact sheet, many individuals believe the US has cause to believe researchers inside the WIV were sick in autumn 2019, before the first documented case.The fact sheet “raises questions about the credibility” of Dr, Shi Zhengli’s lab, and also chastised Beijing for its “deception and distortion.” The Biden administration hasn’t disputed any of the assertions in the fact sheet, which current and former officials say was vetted by U.N. intelligence agencies.
“We continue to have serious questions about the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its origins within the People’s Republic of China,” said a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2,” the spokeswoman said. “As a matter of policy we never comment on intelligence issues.”
A WHO team flew to Wuhan a year after Covid-19 first appeared in the Chinese metropolis to study the virus’s origins, which had spread to other nations. The team concluded in a joint report with Chinese experts in March that the virus most likely spread from bats to humans via another animal, and that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely.”
However, team members said they didn’t view raw data or original lab, safety and other records. On the same day the report came out, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team hadn’t adequately examined the lab leak hypothesis, and called for a fuller probe of the idea.
Dr. Fauci, a top advisor to President Biden, was asked during a recent event, “United Facts of America: A Festival of Fact-Checking,” about his level of confidence that COVID-19 developed naturally.
“No actually. I am not convinced about that. I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said, according to Fox News.
China has detected 92 probable Covid-19 instances among 76,000 people, according to the WHO-led study. China has refused to release raw statistics on the larger group. The United States, the European Union, and a number of other nations have asked for a more open probe. They have specifically requested improved access to data and samples from potential early cases. China has repeatedly denied them access to this data in the name of national security.