After Beijing vehemently denied carrying out research to weaponise the coronavirus at the maximum-security Wuhan Institute of Virology, a US intelligence report has revealed that several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in November 2019 and had to be hospitalized.
The report with this new piece of information hinted at the severity of their symptoms that could intensify the debate about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic further.
It is interesting to note that the Trump administration in January had said that the researchers at Wuhan lab had become sick in autumn 2019, however, did not mention hospitalization. China, opposing every bit of such information, continues to report that the first patient with Covid-like symptoms was recorded in Wuhan only on December 8, 2019.
The intelligence community, however, still does not know what the researchers were actually sick with. “The intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially,” added the Director of National Intelligence.
According to the CNN report, the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has been on top of the investigations to find the origins of the pandemic, received a classified briefing on the matter last week.
Several current and former intelligence officials concur that the idea of the virus being unleashed ‘accidentally from the Wuhan lab is reasonable, however, there is no high-confidence assessment of that possibility as yet.
Trump administration’s fact sheet
Just before Trump’s administration came to an end, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had suggested the possibility of the virus leaking from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Putting out a fact sheet, Pompeo had claimed that said the US had evidence of researchers at the Wuhan Lab falling sick in the fall of 2019 with Covid-like symptoms and that the lab had a history of military research.
WHO report conclusion
WHO released the much-awaited report into the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus last month concluding that it’s “extremely unlikely” the virus originated from a laboratory. The other likely option as per the report is a spillover from an animal reservoir host to human, followed by direct person-to-person transmission.
However, it is imperative to note that China had withheld raw data which was acknowledged by WHO Chief himself. “In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data. I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing,” Tedros said in the statement.
As many as 14 countries have disregarded the WHO study and have called for a continued scientific and collaborative approach to be taken to be able to trace the origins of COVID-19 successfully and conclusively.
Military research at Wuhan Lab
We had reported earlier about how at the behest of a state body a countrywide plan was launched in China 9 years ago to investigate the origins of the new viruses and uncover the “dark matter” of biology responsible for the spread of diseases.
The recent findings by The Mail jibes with the longstanding accusations leveled by the United States that the Chinese Army had used the Wuhan Institute of Virology for bequeathing the intractable coronavirus to the world.
The project headed by five leaders included Cao Wuchun, a senior army officer and government advisor on bioterrorism. Wuchun is among those listed on project reports as a researcher from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army and works in close collaboration with other military scientists. He is also the director of the Military Biosafety Expert Committee.
In the last few years, under the leadership of Premier Xi Jinping, the Chinese military has scaled up its hiring of scientists, as a part of the country’s efforts to attain global supremacy.