A study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and overseen by China reportedly concluded the coronavirus lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely,” despite the lack of transparency, shady conflicts of interest and the Biden administration’s concerns over China’s overt influence on the investigation.
The draft of the report is based on a visit by WHO experts to Wuhan, according to the Associated Press (AP). The AP obtained the draft copy from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member country. The report found that transmission from bats directly to humans was likely and the spread through “cold-chain” frozen food products was a possibility.
Despite conflicts of interest and the fact that China’s ministry of foreign affairs monitored the WHO experts, the report claimed to have “debunked” the likelihood the virus escaped from a Wuhan lab. The report said lab accidents as such are rare and Wuhan labs working on coronaviruses and vaccines are managed properly. The report also found there were no closely-related viruses to COVID-19 being examined in any laboratory before December 2019, according to the AP.
Former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield said in a recent interview he believes the virus escaped from a lab.
“I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human,” Redfield told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. “Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoo, not to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human to human transmission.”
Despite a lack of clear evidence, former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a CNN documentary clip released Friday that he believes the novel coronavirus began transmitting in fall 2019 and that the virus may have originated in a lab in China. https://t.co/r4CpbrNsBl pic.twitter.com/GZl1BbM5ZO
— New Day (@NewDay) March 26, 2021
Redfield said he believes the virus began spreading in Wuhan in September or October of 2019 because of a leak from a lab.
“Now, I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped,” he said.
However, the still-unreleased report offers no definitive answer as to where the virus originated.
“No firm conclusion therefore about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced into the market, can be currently drawn,” the report said, according to the AP.
The first major outbreak was reported at the market, but cases were detected as early as December. The report said while there was concern the virus spread through packaged frozen food coming into the country, researchers were skeptical it could have triggered the outbreak, according to the AP.
“While there is some evidence for possible reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 through handling of imported contaminated frozen products in China since the initial pandemic wave, this would be extraordinary in 2019 where the virus was not widely circulating,” the report said.
The Biden administration is hesitant to accept the WHO report, noting Beijing’s outsized influence on the report, according to The New York Times (NYT).
“We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into the report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it,” Blinken said in an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
Dr. Peter Daszak, the only U.S. citizen on the WHO team investigating the origins of the virus, has deep ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and went so far as to organize a PR campaign in the early months of 2020 to portray the lab leak hypothesis as a “conspiracy.”
Daszak said in a recent “60 Minutes” interview that officials with China’s ministry of foreign affairs kept a close eye on the WHO team’s meetings with scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Daszak later said there was a “limit to what you can do and we went right up to that limit.”
Further, the Wuhan Institute of Virology deleted public databases that had information on at least 16,000 virus samples in September of 2019, just three months before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported. The WHO did not request to review the data as part of their investigation because Daszak personally vouched for it.
“We did not ask to see the data,” Daszak said during a discussion in early March. “A lot of this work is work that has been conducted with EcoHealth Alliance. I’m also part of those data and we do basically know what’s in those databases … I got to talk with both sides about the work we’ve done with Wuhan Institute of Virology and explained what’s there.”
Daszak even encouraged people not to trust U.S. intelligence after National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the administration had “deep concerns” about the WHO’s investigation into the virus.
Well now this????. @JoeBiden has to look tough on China. Please don’t rely too much on US intel: increasingly disengaged under Trump & frankly wrong on many aspects. Happy to help WH w/ their quest to verify, but don’t forget it’s “TRUST” then “VERIFY”! https://t.co/ukaNAkDfEG
— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) February 10, 2021
The White House and Senate Republicans were also skeptical in December of the WHO’s trip to investigate the coronavirus, the Daily Caller exclusively reported. A senior official in former President Donald Trump’s administration said the investigation was “too late” and “ridiculous.”
The organization also expressed doubt over whether the virus actually originated from China. (RELATED: China Asked The WHO To Help Cover Up Coronavirus, German Intelligence Concludes)
“I think we have to say this quite plainly; all hypotheses are on the table and it is definitely too early to come to a conclusion of exactly where this virus started either within or without China,” executive director of the WHO’s health emergency programs Michael Ryan said in January.
However, the draft copy of the report confirms China’s preferred narrative on the virus’s origin.
China pressured the WHO against declaring the coronavirus a global health emergency, a senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also delayed declaring the virus a global health emergency by one day.
China has frequently tried to suggest the virus originated from outside of China and was imported through frozen food, according to The New York Times (NYT). Chinese media published false stories that misrepresented the findings of foreign scientists and claimed the scientists said the virus did not come from China, according to the NYT.
China has also tried to point fingers at the U.S., alleging the U.S. military brought the virus to Wuhan, according to the report.
Whistleblowers who tried to warn the world about the outbreak during the early days were quickly silenced and punished.