Despite WHO proclamation, Chinese lab is likely source of COVID-19

Peter Ben Emerek of the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaims it "extremely unlikely" that the coronavirus-causing COVID-19 leaked from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).  According to the WHO, the issue warrants no further study. 

But evidence is emerging that the Wuhan lab deliberately engineered the virus.  The story begins in Canada. 

This month, Canada removed Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, a virologist from Tianjin, China, and her husband, Keding Cheng, from the nation's Public Health Agency because, as Karen Pauls of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported on February 6, the pair had previously been removed from Canada's National Microbiology Lab (NML) over a possible "policy breach."  

According to the CBC report, in 2017–18, Qiu made at least five trips to China, including one to train scientists at the WIV, "which does research with the most deadly pathogens."  In her June 14, 2020, report, Pauls listed the viruses Qiu exported from the Canadian lab to China: Ebola Makona (three different varieties), Mayinga, Kikwit, Ivory Coast, Bundibugyo, Sudan Boniface, Sudan Gulu, MA-Ebov, GP-Ebov, GP-Sudan, Hendra, Nipah Malaysia, and Nipah Bangladesh. 

The case caught the attention of Canada's National Post, which headlined an August 2, 2019 report "Canadian lab immersed in RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] probe sent Ebola and another deadly virus to China."  As author Tom Blackwell noted, of the viruses Qiu sent to the WIV, Nipah attracted the most attention. 

Nipah, Blackwell wrote, was transmitted from animals to people and was "also able to jump between humans — it can cause acute breathing problems and encephalitis, potentially fatal brain inflammation."  In cases in Bangladesh and India, death rates ranged between 50 and 100 percent.  Blackwell cited a 2018 NML paper stating that Nipah's "threat to cause a widespread outbreak and its potential for weaponization has increased." 

The removal of Qiu and Cheng had nothing to do with COVID-19, the NML contended, and there was no danger to the public.  That prompted a statement from Amir Attaran, a law professor and epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa.

"We have a researcher who was removed by the RCMP from the highest security laboratory that Canada has for reasons that government is unwilling to disclose," Attaran told Karen Pauls.  "The intelligence remains secret.  But what we know is that before she [Qiu] was removed, she sent one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, and multiple varieties of it to maximize the genetic diversity and maximize what experimenters in China could do with it, to a laboratory in China that does dangerous gain of function experiments.  And that has links to the Chinese military." 

The export of dangerous viruses to the Wuhan lab without any scientific justification, Attaran told the CBC, is "a deeply suspicious transaction that deserves powerful, but not politicized, parliamentary scrutiny[.]"  Such powerful scrutiny is unlikely in Canada or the United States, however, since both are highly compliant with the WHO, which in turn is highly compliant with China. 

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  The WIV conducts dangerous "gain of function" research that involves manipulating viruses in the lab to explore their potential for infecting humans, according to the National Institutes of Health

Anthony Fauci earned a medical degree in 1966, but his bio shows no advanced degrees in molecular biology.  The WHO's Emerek is a food safety and nutrition specialist and not a virologist.  Contrary to Emerik, and based on evidence from Canada, it is extremely likely that the Wuhan Institute of Virology engineered the virus that causes COVID-19.

Lloyd Billingsley is a policy fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.

Image: WHO.