Amidst the World Health Organization (WHO) calling for China to allow for the phase two probe into the origin of Covid-19, a top Texas Republican on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, on August 1 said it had obtained new evidence that Chinas Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) created the virus and dismissed the claim that it originated from bats.
According to the new evidence, scientists at the WIV have been able to genetically modify coronaviruses without leaving a trace of that modification since 2005. Scientists at WIV successfully modified coronaviruses without leaving a trace as early as 2016 – three years before the outbreak.
McCaul underlined it as the "greatest cover-up of all time" and has caused the deaths of more than four million people around the world, and people must be held responsible.
The report claimed that the researchers at WIV were also able to successfully modify coronaviruses without leaving a trace as early as 2016. Therefore, it is no longer appropriate for anyone to dismiss the notion that this virus could have been genetically modified before it leaked from WIV, he added.
He also said that the WIV took their virus database offline on September 12, 2019.
It is now evident why China was fussing about allowing a proper probe to investigate the origin of the virus that could bring a sigh of relief.
On July 27 in Geneva, the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the first phase of the investigation, released in March 2021, had shed light towards a "better understanding" while at the same time posing some challenges.
Ghebreyesus called for more access and transparency in the probe after the first phase of the WHO's investigation ended in February of this year. After the first investigation, he said that although a lab leak was the least likely cause, more research was needed.
"Let me say clearly that, as far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table," the WHO chief stressed.
He rightfully said that the WHO should address this challenge in the second phase, which is related to sharing of raw data, and hoped that China would participate. He pointed out that they could not prevent the next pandemic without tracing the origin of this virus, and this cooperation is important.
He called it science and the world owes this to more than four million people who lost their lives and more than 180 million under-reported cases, all of whom are suffering.
The second phase of the WHO's proposed probe into the origins of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories and markets in the city of Wuhan, calls for transparency from authorities.
On the accusations, the Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) Vice Minister Zeng Yixin had reiterated Beijing's position that some data could not be completely shared due to privacy concerns.
It is a mystery why China does not allow a full-fledged probe into the origin of the virus despite witnessing the whole world, including China, paying a heavy price in human misery. Unless the origin of Covid-19 is found, global health experts cannot be ready nor prevent the next possible outbreak of another virus from spreading.
McCaul points to efforts by Chinese officials to cover up the leak.
He said scientific papers written by WIV researchers not only prove that WIV was doing dangerous genetic modification research on coronaviruses at unsafe bio-safety levels, but also that their researchers could genetically modify coronaviruses as early as 2016 without leaving any trace of that modification.
He pointed out that the researchers of the WIV, along with Peter Daszak, a British zoologist who heads the EcoHealth Alliance, tried to cover up the research being done at the WIV.
Based on the released addendum report to the Origins of Covid-19 in September 2020, McCaul also believes it's time to completely dismiss the wet market as the source of the outbreak. Instead, a preponderance of evidence proves that all roads lead to the WIV.
"We knew gain-of-function research was happening at the WIV and we knew it was being done in unsafe conditions. We also now know that the head of the Chinese CDC and the director of the WIV's BSL-4 lab publicly expressed concerns about safety at PRC labs in the summer of 2019. It is our belief the virus leaked sometime in late August or early September 2019. When they realized what happened, Chinese Communist Party officials and scientists at WIV began frantically covering up the leak, including taking their virus database offline in the middle of the night and requesting more than $1 million for additional security," he added.
He said their cover-up was too late as the virus was already spreading throughout the megacity of Wuhan.
The US government now has all the tools to continue to root out the full truth of how this virus came to be and demanded that the US government bring Daszak before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer the many questions his inconsistent – and in some instances, outright and knowingly inaccurate – statements have raised.
He also called for sanctions on scientists at the WIV and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials who participated in this cover-up. The Highlights from the Covid-19 Report Addendum by McCaul are that: There were significant concerns about the lax safety protocols in PRC labs, including from the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the head of the WIV's BSL-4 lab. Also, There were multiple requests for maintenance at the WIV, including in their new facility that had been operational for less than two years. Some of those requests included maintenance on "environmental air disinfection system" and "hazardous waste treatment system" – which would indicate concerns about how these systems meant to prevent lab leaks were functioning.
McCaul continued that the Director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Shi Zhengli, had repeatedly lied about the functions of the research at the WIV and denied the People's Liberation Army's presence at the WIV.
Initially, WHO was backing the Chinese and concluded that it was highly unlikely that Covid-19 came from a laboratory in Wuhan, and it may have originated in bats and was subjected to severe criticism.
It is shocking that more than 18 months after the initial Covid-19 outbreak, there is still no international process in place to fully investigate the origins of the pandemic— nor is one planned.
As digital technology is advancing, NASA sent its fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, that landed on the Red Planet Mars in February 2021. Following that, China sent its remote-controlled rover, the Zhurong robot, which landed on Mars in May 202, but not bringing closure on the virus' origin is a sad state of affairs.
China, as expected, keeps arguing with WHO about agreeing to the second stage of the international probe into the origin of the virus. "Why not?" is the question raised by countries that doubt whether it was a bio-war set up by the ruling Chinese Community Party (CCP).
China said WHO showed "disrespect" and "arrogance towards science".
As the Quad countries pushed for a fresh probe into China to determine how the Wuhan virus created a global pandemic, the CCP remained apprehensive about the probe call by the West.
US President Joe Biden ordered an intelligence investigation into Covid-19's possible origins in Wuhan after a Wall Street Journal report claimed that workers at the WIV had become ill in November 2019. This later wrecked the world economy with over 4.16 million and 194 million cases being reported, with a colossal death in the US standing at 610,000, followed by another Quad country, India, with 421,000 and the UK with 120,000.
Biden, since coming to power, has taken the matter of the Wuhan virus as seriously as his predecessor Donald Trump was.
Many countries have accused China of the pandemic and still insist it first address the global issue without any delay.
Over the new evidence, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said it was based on concocted lies and distorted facts without providing any evidence, which is not credible or scientific.
The spokesperson cited that in February, the China-WHO joint expert team visited the WIV and had in-depth and candid exchanges with experts and that the joint expert team spoke highly of the Institute's openness and transparency, and reached a major conclusion in the joint study report that the allegation of lab leaking is extremely unlikely.
Despite such verbal exchanges, China should let these doubts clear without politicizing the global pandemic. All concerned countries should join hands and endorse the massive orchestrated cover-up by China and bring forth sanctions on China if the evidence is proved beyond all doubt. (IANS)