Wuhan laboratory ‘most likely’ coronavirus source, U.S. government analysis finds

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A Wuhan laboratory is the “most likely” source of the COVID-19 outbreak now ravaging the globe, according to a U.S. government analysis that catalogs the evidence and concludes that other explanations for the origin of the coronavirus are less credible

there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

But “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” the document concludes.

Chinese authorities have said the origin of the virus is unknown but initially stated that it came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meat is butchered and sold. They said the virus may have jumped from bats to animals sold at the market last year and then infected humans.

The government analysis says the animal host explanation doesn’t hold up well because the first human diagnosis of COVID-19 was for a person who had no connection to the wet market. According to reports from China, no bats were sold at the market.

“The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off from outside inquiry by the CCP,” said the document, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

“A gag order to both places was issued on Jan. 1, 2020, and a major general from the PLA who is China’s top military microbiologist essentially took over the since mid- January.”

Both of the labs under scrutiny in the report have conducted extensive research on bat coronaviruses, including those that have close molecular similarities to SARS-Cov-2, the full designation of the new pathogen.

Among the most significant circumstantial evidence identified in the report are the activities of Shi Zhengli, a leader in bat coronavirus research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s only high- security, level four research laboratory.

A medical doctor named Wu Xiaohua launched an online campaign to expose Ms. Shi’s work.

The document also points to a 2015 academic report in Nature Medicine by Ms. Shi and 14 other scientists who said that while researching the potential for bat coronaviruses to infect humans, “we built a chimeric virus encoding a novel, zoonotic spike protein … that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats.”

Dr. Wu also asserted that the institute’s virus-carrying animals had been sold as pets, dead laboratory animals were not properly disposed of, and lab workers were known to boil and eat laboratory-used eggs.

Ms. Shi has worked closely with several U.S. virologists, and some American scientists have defended her and the institute from critics who point to her work with bat viruses as a needed focus of an investigation

Another piece of circumstantial evidence cited in the paper is the mysterious disappearance of Huang Yanling. Those seeking the origin of SARS-CoV-2 suspect the laboratory worker is “patient zero,” the first known human infected with the virus.

“Huang worked at WIV but she is the only WIV employee whose biography, profile and picture have been deleted by WIV on its website, fueling speculation of foul play,” the report said.

China in March imposed restrictions on all publication regarding the origin of the virus.

Chen Wen, a senior Chinese diplomat in Britain, told the BBC on Friday that China has rejected international calls for an investigation into the virus. He said the demands were politically motivated and an attempt to divert China’s attention to fighting the pandemic. – READ MORE

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