The U.S. State Department announced last Friday it has evidence that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a laboratory in Wuhan, China, became sick in fall 2019 with flu-like symptoms. This has led U.S. officials to believe the researchers may have been infected with COVID-19 as a result of a lab experiment.
“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,” reads the State Department “Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
The main theory pushed by the Chinese government and health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, and World Health Organization is that the virus jumped from an animal to a human in Wuhan before spreading around the world. However, the new information from the State Department adds evidence that the virus may have accidentally leaked from the WIV, a hypothesis that has been dismissed by China, the corporate media, and health officials as a “conspiracy theory.”
The fact sheet says WIV began conducting experiments in 2016 on a coronavirus that originated in bats and is closely related to the virus currently spreading. The State Department also says WIV has collaborated on “secret projects” with the Chinese military.
“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 fact sheet says. “The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”
Even with the new information, the State Department says it is hard to make definitive conclusions about the virus’s origins because of China’s lack of transparency from the very beginning of the outbreak. According to the fact sheet, CCP officials have prohibited independent journalists, investigators, and global health authorities from interviewing WIV researchers, including those who became sick prior to the pandemic. “The CCP’s deadly obsession with secrecy and control comes at the expense of public health in China and around the world,” says the State Department.
In response, China is again accusing the United States of spreading “lies” and “conspiracy theories.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denounced the fact sheet as “full of fallacies” and slammed Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, saying this is his “last madness.”
“The so-called fact sheet is another lie sheet produced by the U.S. side,” said the Communist Party member. “This fully demonstrates that some U.S. politicians are keen on violating science, hyping up conspiracy theories, spreading political viruses for their personal gains, while paying no attention to public security and people’s lives. This is also the last madness of Pompeo — Mr. Lies.”
Disinformation, deception, and secrecy have abounded from China from the onset of the pandemic. Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed “more and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world.” Chinese diplomats have supported unfounded theories linking the origin of the virus to U.S. athletes at the Military World Games. State-backed Chinese media outlets have also claimed the virus could have entered the country via imported frozen food.
The World Health Organization sent a team of researchers to Wuhan last week to study the origins of the virus after more than a year of delays courtesy of the Chinese government and to the embarrassment of WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. In reference to the upcoming WHO investigation, the state department asserts that “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.”
“For more than a year, the 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,” says the fact sheet. “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.”