Monday, 18 January 2021
Was fugitive virus from Wuhan Institute of Virology research cause of worldwide COVID19 pandemic?
A year ago tomorrow the National Health Service saved my life in a near six hour bowel cancer operation at St. Helier Hospital (https://www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/) in Sutton, around fifteen minutes’ drive from my home. I will be eternally grateful to the surgeons, doctors, nurses and other hospital support staff. While I lay in bed recuperating, I recall watching on my tv an odd story from far away China, a report from a city called Wuhan ( with 12 million residents) of which I had never heard. The report was of a mysterious virus that had swept through the city, and the emergency action taken by the city authorities, including the construction of a brand new giant hospital in a week. The day-to-day progress was beamed back to the UK, as first bulldozers cleared the site; then giant cranes were positioned on the concrete base, then the walls went up, and the inside was kitted out with medical equipment. I wondered what was it about this virus that demanded such urgent action? And I a vaguely recalled an earlier viral outbreak in China, called SARS, from 17 years earlier. After leaving hospital, I began to watch intently – and with increasing alarm - this developing story, as the virus escaped China and spread across the world. How did this fugitive virus escape into Wuhan? The official story promoted by the Chinese government and the World Health Organization- following a report it received from Beijing on 31 December 2019- was that there had been a transfer of the virus from wild captured bats to pangolins, two sad creatures on sale at the wet live food market in central Wuhan, in a transfer process known as zoonosis.( A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from a non-human animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human.) But could there have been any other origin? In public, the British Government showed a complete disinterest in this possibility. For example, on 10th March a question (number HL1839) from Lord Alton of Liverpool asked ministers what assessment they had made of the number and location of microbiology laboratories in China that handle advanced viruses; and what assessment they have made of the role any such laboratories may have had in the initial spread of the Wuhan coronavirus?” It was was extraordinarily answered by Lord Bethell with a brush off retort: “We do not hold this information.” https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2020-02-25/HL1839/ It was Lord Bethell’s second day as a minister. His previous role before becoming a Conservative peer and health minister was to run nightclubs in London. Labour's youngest MP, Nadia Whittome, was similarly given a brush-off by junior health minister, Jo Churchill , on 26 March in a written answer (29268) to a question I suggested to her that she might usefully submit, saying "We have no plans to authorise research into the security control of viruses under investigation at the Wuhan State Institute of Virology." Why was the UK Government so ignorant? In formation is readily available in the public domain. Then on 5 April 2020, the Mail on Sunday published fascinating investigative article on the possible origin of the virus coming from a leak out of the Institute of Virology Research in Wuhan. It seemed plausible. It reported: “that British Government Ministers had been briefed on intelligence which ‘did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory’.” The internationally respected science journal, Nature journal reported three years ealier that a major maximum-security biolab was being developed by the Chinese Government part of plan to build network of biosafety-level four (BSL-4 facilities) across China: the first was to be opened in Wuhan. It was planned to focus on the control of emerging diseases, store purified viruses and act as a World Health Organization ‘reference laboratory’ linked to similar labs around the world. (“Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens,” Nature, 22 February 2017: www.nature.com/news/inside-the-chinese-lab-poised-to-study-world-s-most-dangerous-pathogens-1.21487) Two years later, the US Centers for Disease Control issued a press briefing note in May 2019 (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/5/18-0220_article) on the ‘Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory User Training Program, China’ prepared by seven authors from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Wuhan branch). The authors stressed: “According to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the chance that exotic pathogens could be brought into the country has dramatically increased Our new BSL-4 facility will play an integral role in preventing and controlling highly pathogenic microbes.” And concluded ominously “Microbes contained in BSL-4 laboratories pose a significant risk for transmission and are frequently fatal; most have no reliable cure.” What went so catastrophically wrong? Last week the outgoing US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, issued details of a report that seemed to confirm that the US had evidence of just such a leak that had been of so little interest to incurious British health ministers 8 months earlier. It said: “The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” (Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin; Press Statement, US Department of State, January 15, 2021) (https://www.state.gov/ensuring-a-transparent-thorough-investigation-of-covid-19s-origin/) Full circle? Backstory America points finger at Chinese lab: US claims researchers at Chinese institute in Wuhan fell ill WEEKS before the world knew of Covid • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid symptoms in autumn 2019, weeks before alarm raised • He claimed scientists were experimenting with a bat Covid similar to one that causes coronavirus and worked on secret military projects • Allegations come as WHO investigators land in Wuhan looking at Covid origin By Glen Owen and Ian Birrell In Amsterdam For The Mail On Sunday https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9155237/US-claims-researchers-Chinese-institute-fell-ill-weeks-world-knew-Covid.html Mail on Sunday: 22:03, 16 January 2021 | Updated: 08:48, 17 January 2021 The Chinese government is under growing pressure to reveal the true origins of the coronavirus pandemic after US intelligence placed a Wuhan lab at the centre of the mystery. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in autumn 2019 – weeks before the alarm was raised about the contagion ravaging the city. He also claimed its scientists were experimenting with a bat coronavirus very similar to the one that causes Covid, and had worked on secret military projects. The Mail on Sunday first revealed concerns about the secretive lab on April 5 last year – some 287 days ago. Now the new allegations from the top of the US administration come as investigators from the World Health Organisation (WHO) land in Wuhan to look into the pandemic’s origins. However, the team will be under the close scrutiny of Beijing officials and have no plans to visit the institute. They have also been accused of downplaying concerns that a leak was to blame. Last night Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, called for full transparency, saying: ‘The secrecy surrounding Covid has cost millions of lives and destroyed people’s futures. It has to stop. It’s time we pushed for greater access from the WHO and joined others to sanction those keeping secrets.’ Mr Pompeo, who will leave office next week when Joe Biden succeeds Donald Trump in the White House, said: ‘Beijing continues to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.’ The Wuhan site was one of just five laboratories in the world carrying out controversial ‘gain of function’ research, which artificially speeds up the evolution of viruses and, in some cases, enhances their ability to infect humans. As The Mail on Sunday revealed last year, the scientists were manipulating corona–viruses sampled from bats in caves nearly 1,000 miles away – the same caves where Covid-19 is suspected to have originated. In some cases they used a method of cloning that leaves no trace of lab engineering. This newspaper has also now unearthed minutes from a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party branch at the institute from November 2019 which warned that the lab was dealing with ‘highly pathogenic micro-organisms’ and states that ‘once the test tube containing the virus is opened it is like opening a Pandora’s Box’. Matthew Pottinger, who stood down as Trump’s Deputy National Security Adviser this month, recently said the most ‘credible’ theory about the origin of this new coronavirus was that it escaped from a laboratory in China – and that the Wuhan institute was the most likely source. The British Government has been cautious about speculating on the causes of the pandemic before the conclusion of the WHO investigation, which could take years Yet critics have called the probe a ‘whitewash’ since its composition and access to data are dictated by the Chinese regime. Beijing has backed away from its original claim that the virus originated in Wuhan’s wet market, but no plausible alternative theory has yet emerged. Many prominent scientists still think there was natural transmission from an animal. The US government does not believe the leak was deliberate, but was a catastrophic accident caused by poor safety procedures surrounding the high-risk experiments. One of the leading Wuhan scientists, ‘Batwoman’ Shi Zhengli, admitted her first thought on hearing about the virus was to wonder if it was a leak from her lab. A British security source said: ‘If the US claims can be substantiated, it would finally give the lie to the theory that a bat travelled 1,000 miles to infect a pangolin in a Wuhan wet market which then somehow jumped the species barrier to people – and just a few miles from the only laboratory in China which manipulates bat viruses to make them contagious to humans.’ In its statement released late on Friday, the US State Department said that it was ‘sharing new information’ about the lab, outlining its belief that ‘several researchers inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses. ‘This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students.’ The statement added that the institute has ‘not been transparent’ about its work on bat coronaviruses, and that far from being a purely civilian lab, it 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’. The statement criticised China’s clampdown on ‘doctors, scientists, and journalists who tried to alert the world’, and said vital data was still being withheld. It concluded that the credibility of the WHO inquiry would suffer without unfettered access ‘to virus samples, lab records and personnel, eyewitnesses, and whistleblowers’. Many experts now believe that the virus was brought into the Wuhan market by customers, rather than originating there. Despite intensive efforts, researchers have failed to find a clear ‘intermediate host’– an animal that would have allowed the virus to jump from bats to humans. The WHO is still dismissive of suggestions the pandemic could have started with a lab leak. Peter Ben Embarek, head of the ten investigators who landed in Wuhan last week, insisted that Covid-19 ‘is clearly a natural virus’, and that the lab leak theory was ‘unlikely’ to be true. He conceded his team would investigate the possibility of a leak, but his pre-emptive statement will fuel fears that the WHO, long criticised for its complacency and complicity with the Chinese regime, is engaged in a whitewash. Lab we first spotlighted in April... and have been investigating ever Lab we first spotlighted in April... and have been investigating ever since Fear that the pandemic may have originated with a leak from a laboratory first erupted on April 5 last year after The Mail on Sunday revealed that a government source believed this explosive concept was ‘no longer being discounted’. This senior figure pointed out: ‘Perhaps it is no coincidence that there is that laboratory in Wuhan.’ Since then, the story has taken off around the world, despite being dismissed as a conspiracy theory by the scientific establishment and those with links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Last April, we also exposed links between China and World Health Organisation boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and his body’s complicity in Beijing’s initial cover-up of the pandemic. The issue was picked up instantly by Donald Trump, who later severed funding from America, the WHO’s biggest financial supporter. The following week, we revealed that the US government was backing high-risk research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Again, this led to the termination of funding, sparking huge debate. In May, we ran exclusive reports on a pair of landmark scientific studies that cast doubt on China’s claims that the new disease had erupted in a wild animal market. Later that month, the nation’s top scientist confirmed their theory was misplaced. We have also obtained censored Chinese reports suggesting the disease started significantly earlier than claimed and disclosed how the head of biosecurity at the secretive Wuhan lab had confessed to serious safety concerns. In recent weeks, we have disclosed how leading scientists closed ranks to dismiss ‘conspiracy theories’ over the idea of a lab leak, and revealed growing concerns over the Wuhan links of British scientist Peter Daszak, a member of the critical WHO inquiry into the origins of this pandemic. We were also the first mainstream paper to set out the full theory of a Wuhan lab leak, the issue now being debated around the world. Lab girl who has vanished from the face of the earth A year-long hunt by The Mail on Sunday and Western intelligence officials for a Chinese lab researcher believed to be the world’s first Covid-19 patient has been thwarted by a suspected state cover-up. Huang Yanling, who worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was named as Patient Zero in online reports that were widely shared inside China in the early weeks of the outbreak last February. The revelation created a direct link between the pandemic and the lab suspected to have accidentally unleashed it while conducting dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses. 'PATIENT ZERO’: The only picture thought to show missing former Wuhan lab worker Huang Yanling (left) The reports did not say when she contracted the virus or if she survived. However, they support the US State Department’s belief she was the first of several researchers at the controversial institute who fell ill with Covid-19 in the autumn of 2019, before it was officially acknowledged. Chinese government and lab officials stepped in swiftly to deny the reports at the time and remove them from the internet, claiming Huang was safe and well elsewhere in China. A post purporting to be from Huang appeared on WeChat, China’s equivalent of WhatsApp, telling colleagues and teachers at the institute she was alive and insisting the reports were false. The message read: ‘To my teachers and fellow students, how long no speak. I am Huang Yanling, still alive. If you receive any email [regarding the Covid rumour], please say it’s not true.’ A separate post by her former boss, Professor Wei Hong Ping, claimed Huang left the institute in 2015 and had contacted him by phone to deny the reports. A day later, a Chinese news agency made a vague claim to have spoken to her new employer without providing details. Inexplicably, however, Huang has disappeared from social media and has not been heard from since being identified as Patient Zero, while her biography and research history have been scrubbed from the institute’s website. Almost one year on, the only trace of the student researcher is a grainy picture of her salvaged from the institute’s website and circulated on the internet. Wuhan team bitten by bats Scientists at the Wuhan lab admitted being bitten while collecting samples in a cave which is home to coronavirus-infected bats. One researcher said one animal’s fangs went through his rubber gloves ‘like a needle’. Researchers in thin overalls and rubber gloves handle bats while gathering samples in a clip filmed by a Chinese television crew Staff inside the top-secret facility were also shown handling bats without gloves and working on ‘live viruses’ without masks in apparent breach of strict World Health Organisation safety rules on PPE, according to footage captured by a Chinese TV crew and broadcast in 2017. The revelations will raise further questions for the WHO team which is investigating the origins of Covid-19 following months of wrangling with Beijing over access to the Wuhan site. In the days after the initial reports, bloggers and internet users in China suspicious of officials’ denials pleaded with Huang to make a public appearance to prove she was alive. ‘To stop this rumour spreading, Huang should just come forward and do a blood test,’ said one. Another posted: ‘No matter where you live, Huang, you will be found.’ China’s internet censors quickly stamped out discussion of Huang, and extensive enquiries within the country by The Mail on Sunday, including messages to her former colleagues, have failed to turn up any trace of her. Huang remains an enigma, the only picture of her showing a woman in her 20s with long hair, peeking out from behind a colleague. Her name is included among the writers of three scientific papers issued by the Wuhan institute between 2013 and 2015, including research into staphylococcus bacteria. Western governments and intelligence agencies are also understood to have tried and failed to locate Huang amid a ferocious crackdown on any challenge to China’s official narrative that the outbreak has no link to the Wuhan facility. In its statement yesterday, the US State Department complained that the Chinese Communist Party had prevented investigators and global health authorities from interviewing researchers at the Wuhan institute ‘including those who were ill in the fall [autumn] of 2019’ ‘Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus and the next one,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added. China’s reluctance to produce Huang to quash the alleged rumours has fuelled the belief that she is either dead or is being held by the state to cover up the institute’s culpability for the pandemic. It has also generated lurid speculation about her fate, with some claiming Huang must have been hastily cremated. ‘Everyone on the Chinese internet is searching for Huang. Most believe she is dead,’ said one blogger. In the same month that Huang was named as Patient Zero, a user of Chinese social-media platform Weibo, claiming to be a researcher in Wuhan, alleged the virus had leaked from the institute. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The world needs to know exactly what happened in Wuhan Mail On Sunday Comment , 17 January 2021 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9155489/MAIL-SUNDAY-COMMENT-world-needs-know-exactly-happened-Wuhan.html The mystery of Wuhan – did the Covid-19 outbreak originate in a state laboratory there? – has now reached a new level. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has added his powerful voice to those asking for the truth. The US State Department, in a document of great sobriety and caution, did not suggest that the virus was intentionally engineered or released on purpose. Even so, it flatly accused China’s ruling Communist Party of systematically preventing a proper investigation into the origin of the pandemic. It complained that China’s authorities have a ‘deadly obsession with secrecy and control’ and have chosen instead to ‘devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation’. The mystery of Wuhan – did the Covid-19 outbreak originate in a state laboratory there? – has now reached a new level. Pictured: Shi Zhengli works with other researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Washington also suggested that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been involved in military work, even though it poses as a civilian institution. The State Department said that the WIV had collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military and had done classified research, including animal experiments, on behalf of China’s defence sector. It said it had ‘a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV’. This is extraordinarily tough language at such a high level. Mr Pompeo was careful not to make any specific allegations about what may have happened. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has added his powerful voice to those asking for the truth But he revealed, in a major development, that the US has ‘reason to believe’ that several researchers inside the WIV fell ill in the autumn of 2019, weeks before the first officially identified case of Covid. They had symptoms consistent with both Covid and common seasonal illnesses. US experts also claim that Wuhan scientists were working with a bat coronavirus that is 96.2 per cent similar genetically to the virus that causes Covid. Could this autumn 2019 outbreak have been the first case of Covid? Could this have resulted from a laboratory accident or unintended cross-infection between animals in laboratories and human researchers? It is vitally important that we should know, and high time, too. The Mail on Sunday first reported on April 5 last year that British Government Ministers had been briefed on intelligence which ‘did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory’. Those who cast doubt on this revelation at the time have some explaining to do. The evidence is now piling up that serious independent investigation is required. With a death toll of two million already, even the suggestion that this disaster may have had origins in human error must be pursued until we have clear answers. The World Health Organisation is looking into events in Wuhan. But will this probe be adequate? Questions have been raised about one of the inquiry members, Peter Daszak, who has been accused of important conflicts of interest. The WHO team also cannot be sure of full co-operation from China. As of last night, there was no certainty that the team would even be permitted to visit the WIV itself. Shockingly, neither China nor the WHO will say exactly where they will go. This is simply not good enough. The world needs to know exactly what happened in Wuhan. If it was a disastrous accident leading to a pandemic, then urgent steps must be taken as quickly as possible to prevent a repeat. And China has to understand that, as a great and growing power, it needs to accept much higher standards of transparency and frankness than it has shown so far. Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin Press Statement https://www.state.gov/ensuring-a-transparent-thorough-investigation-of-covid-19s-origin/ MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE JANUARY 15, 2021 The United States has repeatedly called for a transparent and thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19. Understanding the origin of this pandemic is essential for global public health, economic recovery, and international security. To assist the vital work of the World Health Organization (WHO) investigative team that arrived in China this week, the United States government is today sharing new information concerning the activities inside China’s government laboratories in 2019. In particular, we urge the WHO to press the government of China to address the following: 1. Illnesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV): The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses. 2. WIV Research on “RaTG13” and “gain of function”: Starting in at least 2016, WIV researchers studied RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar). Since the outbreak, the WIV has not been transparent nor consistent about its work with RaTG13 or other similar viruses, including possible “gain of function” experiments to enhance transmissibility or lethality. 3. Secret WIV Links to Military Research: Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic was avoidable. Any responsible country would have invited world health investigators to Wuhan within days of an outbreak. China instead refused offers of help – including from the United States – and punished brave Chinese doctors, scientists, and journalists who tried to alert the world to the dangers of the virus. Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one. The United States reiterates the importance of unfettered access to virus samples, lab records and personnel, eyewitnesses, and whistleblowers to ensure the credibility of the WHO’s final report. Until the CCP allows a full and thorough accounting of what happened in Wuhan, it is only a matter of time until China births another pandemic and inflicts it on the Chinese people, and the world. Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Fact Sheet OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON JANUARY 15, 2021 HTTPS://WWW.STATE.GOV/FACT-SHEET-ACTIVITY-AT-THE-WUHAN-INSTITUTE-OF-VIROLOGY/ For more than a year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin, choosing instead to devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation. Nearly two million people have died. Their families deserve to know the truth. Only through transparency can we learn what caused this pandemic and how to prevent the next one. The U.S. government does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus—known as SARS-CoV-2—was transmitted initially to humans. We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic. Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection. Scientists in China have researched animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure. The CCP’s deadly obsession with secrecy and control comes at the expense of public health in China and around the world. The previously undisclosed information in this fact sheet, combined with open-source reporting, highlights three elements about COVID-19’s origin that deserve greater scrutiny: 1. Illnesses inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV): • The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses. • Accidental infections in labs have caused several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people, killing one. • The CCP has prevented independent journalists, investigators, and global health authorities from interviewing researchers at the WIV, including those who were ill in the fall of 2019. Any credible inquiry into the origin of the virus must include interviews with these researchers and a full accounting of their previously unreported illness. 2. Research at the WIV: • Starting in at least 2016 – and with no indication of a stop prior to the COVID-19 outbreak – WIV researchers conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar). The WIV became a focal point for international coronavirus research after the 2003 SARS outbreak and has since studied animals including mice, bats, and pangolins. • The WIV has a published record of conducting “gain-of-function” research to engineer chimeric viruses. But the WIV has not been transparent or consistent about its record of studying viruses most similar to the COVID-19 virus, including “RaTG13,” which it sampled from a cave in Yunnan Province in 2013 after several miners died of SARS-like illness. • WHO investigators must have access to the records of the WIV’s work on bat and other coronaviruses before the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of a thorough inquiry, they must have a full accounting of why the WIV altered and then removed online records of its work with RaTG13 and other viruses. 3. Secret military activity at the WIV: • Secrecy and non-disclosure are standard practice for Beijing. For many years the United States has publicly raised concerns about China’s past biological weapons work, which Beijing has neither documented nor demonstrably eliminated, despite its clear obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention. • Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017. • The United States and other donors who funded or collaborated on civilian research at the WIV have a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV. Today’s revelations just scratch the surface of what is still hidden about COVID-19’s origin in China. Any credible investigation into the origin of COVID-19 demands complete, transparent access to the research labs in Wuhan, including their facilities, samples, personnel, and records. As the world continues to battle this pandemic – and as WHO investigators begin their work, after more than a year of delays – the virus’s origin remains uncertain. The United States will continue to do everything it can to support a credible and thorough investigation, including by continuing to demand transparency on the part of Chinese authorities.