Stacking the Wuhan Coronavirus Inquiries

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As some sort of global hysteria about the continuing spread of the novel Coronavirus takes us over, investigations into the origins of the virus look set to further aggravate the accompanying economic disaster, as China reacts to the unreasonable accusations of responsibility for the disease epidemic. With its acute dependence on trade and interchange with China, Australia might be expected to tread carefully in this area, yet was the first country to call for an “international investigation” into the Virus’ alleged origins in Wuhan.

The Australia-China relationship has now reached breaking point as Australia refuses to back down on its demands. But some new revelations about the origin of the outbreak should cause it to reconsider whether tagging along with US warships in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits is such a good idea.

In mid-February and just weeks after the first case of a novel Coronavirus was recorded in Australia, the Lancet published an open letter from an international group of 27 scientists commending China’s rapid identification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and their sharing of its genetic code with other countries, enabling the rapid development of treatments and vaccines. But this letter of solidarity also included a surprising warning:

“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin… Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise our global collaboration in the fight against this virus. We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture.”

Given that the novel virus had only been given a name by the WHO – COVID 19 – a week earlier, and there had been little discussion of its origins beyond the “wet market” in Wuhan where early cases had appeared, the strong condemnation of “conspiracy theories” looked rather pre-emptive, and might even have suggested to sceptical observers that such conspiracies were worth investigating. Fear, rumours and prejudice were already threatening global collaboration thanks to a Sinophobic media and Western government dog-whistling, but this was rather focused on insinuations of unsanitary practices and habits in Chinese markets.

It wasn’t until later in March that much mention was made in mainstream media of a possible “non-natural” origin for the virus, and justifiable questions were asked about the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan research facilities located close to the Hunan market. This lab was known to be conducting research into animal coronaviruses and particularly those from bats, to which the new SARS virus strain bore some similarities. The majority of scientific opinion however denied that the virus’ genetic code bore any signs of genetic engineering, even though it was unable to satisfactorily explain quite how “natural” mutation or recombination had enabled the cross-species transition.

Significantly I think, it still can’t, being unable even to conclude whether an intermediate host was involved. Humans can become infected with a bat Coronavirus, but cannot then transmit the infection to other people without the virus gaining this transmissible function through mutation or modification in an intermediate host. Yet the idea that this can be the only explanation for the origin of the novel Coronavirus is now firmly entrenched, particularly amongst those most concerned about environmental destruction and climate change.

The reason this has happened, and that discussion of alternative explanations for the origins of SARS-CoV-2 has been banished from the mainstream as “conspiracy theory” is partly or largely thanks to a few influential and high-profile individuals. The influence of two such men – German virologist Christian Drosten and US ecologist Peter Daszak, has been of critical importance in creating the “accepted narrative” on the origins and nature of the Coronavirus pandemic, so a close examination of their background and allegiances is in order. That both men are members of teams now investigating the Virus’ origins makes it doubly important to establish their bona fides.

But those bona fides are already in question following recent discoveries by a US group “pursuing truth and transparency for Public Health” – the US Right To Know. Following FOI requests, the USRTK has discovered that the open letter published in the Lancet mentioned above was not a call from diverse scientists around the world but was in fact drafted by the chairman of the Eco Health Alliance, Peter Daszak, while the signatories included five other members of the EHA.

This mightn’t seem odd or controversial to those who have seen or heard Peter Daszak and his Chinese colleague the “bat woman” Shi Zhengli expounding on their research into Horseshoe bat colonies in China, or have simply heard the green-sounding name. But Daszak and his “eco-health” alliance has a very different face that he sought to conceal from this global audience by drafting this letter. As the USRTK puts it, the:

“influential statement in the Lancet was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).” 

While this shocking revelation may not be believable to Daszak’s target audience, it is a mere statement of fact, and corroborated by the most basic of researches, both into the US funding provided by NIAID under Dr Anthony Fauci’s direction and by Daszak himself. Indeed the pursuit and promotion of this dangerous GOF research by Dr Fauci has long been controversial as well as public, leading to its official banning in the US back in 2013 under the Obama administration. It was following this ban that GOF research was conducted jointly between the University of North Carolina and the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the aegis of the EcoHealth Alliance. The collaboration between Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli that developed a chimaeric Coronavirus in 2015 continued until funding was cut in late April, but appears to have now restarted despite protests from some circles.

So it seems clear that those involved in this joint research activity are keen to obscure it from view, along with any suggestion the virus may be genetically engineered and may have escaped from the Wuhan lab. While such an escape may be blamed on China, and already has been by the US administration, the US funding of the research would shift the blame squarely onto its US sponsors and researchers. Moreover it appears that Daszak and his collaborators are so intent on avoiding the blame should real evidence of the novel virus’ engineered origins come out that they have somehow infiltrated and stacked both inquiries now underway.

Half of the members of the Lancet COVID Commission inquiry led by Peter Daszak are from the EcoHealth Alliance, while the recently convened WHO investigation team is dominated by specialists in animal diseases and epidemiology, with a focus that already reflects Daszak’s influence. As a member of both investigations however, the misdirection of their inquiries looks inevitable.

While Chinese scientists and Government have given their permission to the WHO for an open investigation into the origins and handling of the SARS-2 outbreak, they may also seek to divert attention away from the Wuhan research labs, whose cooperation with US, French and other Western countries might be an embarrassment. But there is another possible origin of a genetically engineered SARS virus which the Chinese authorities will certainly want investigated, and on which they have long made clear their suspicions – the Fort Detrick military research labs in Maryland.

The evidence for the novel virus’ origins in a leak from the US labs in July 2019, and subsequent appearance in Wuhan with the US team for the World Military Games in October is fairly compelling, given cases and deaths from a COVID-like illness in an aged care village near Washington in July, as well as apparent early incidences in a number of countries following the return of their athletes from the Wuhan games. This “conspiracy theory”, implicating the US as directly and even intentionally responsible for the Coronavirus pandemic they and their allies have blamed on China, is most likely the one that Peter Daszak and his EcoHealth Alliance colleagues actually had in mind back in February.

In the current climate of fear and blame in Australia, sensible discussion of such problematic issues has become virtually impossible, with the “conspiracy theory” label used to devalue and denounce anyone straying from the accepted narrative. But we would do well to remember that many millions of Chinese citizens – on whom we depend for so much to keep our society functioning – also believe their leaders and spokesmen, and likely consider this particular theory of the Virus’ US origins as quite feasible. And if we were to exercise the same degree of scepticism towards our own influential opinion leaders and scientists as we do towards China’s foreign ministry spokespersons, we might finally shed some light on the truth.

Failing that, 2021 will surely turn out to be even worse than the annus horribilis of 2020.

*(Top image: Peter Daszak. Credit: NASEM Health and Medicine Division/ YouTube/ YouTube)