The claims come in a 300-page document, which concluded that the pandemic most likely came from a lab leak and was the result of a “research-related incident” in Wuhan.
It said the theory that COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans in a market no longer deserved the “presumption of accuracy”.
The report argued that Chinese researchers appeared to begin development of at least two Covid vaccines at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in November 2019, meaning “SARS-CoV-2 would have been present at the WIV before the known outbreak of the pandemic”.
The claims give further credence to the lab leak theory and support accusations that China covered up early cases of the outbreak.
The 300-page report, released to Axios, was the full version of a 35-page summary published in October by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
It said: “The COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.
“New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment.
“However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.”
The report suggested that advocates of the natural transmission theory “must provide clear and convincing evidence” for their argument.
It concluded: “The preponderance of information affirms the plausibility of a research-related incident that was likely unintentional resulting from failures of biosafety containment during vaccine-related research.”
Scientists, and U.S. intelligence, have been divided over whether the pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV], which had been collecting and manipulating bat viruses, or from a natural spillover at a Wuhan market selling live animals.
The report said there were “anomalies” between Covid-19 and other diseases that have spilled over naturally from animals to humans.
And it said, three years on, no critical evidence had been found proving there was a natural spillover.
It added that there had not been spillovers of the virus in numerous places at numerous times, as might be expected if that was the cause.
The report also noted that the type of bats carrying the closest virus to COVID-19 lived over 1,000 miles away from Wuhan.
However, the lab had collected over 200 coronaviruses, and employees had been photographed handling bats with inadequate protective gear, the report said.
Scientists there had been involved in research aimed at preventing future pandemics, and had sought funding to engineer coronaviruses, it said.
The report said: “A research-related incident is consistent with the early epidemiology [of Covid-19] showing rapid spread of the virus in Wuhan, with the earliest calls for assistance being located near the WIV’s original campus in central Wuhan.”
Worth reading in full.
Personally I remain sceptical of this report. The lead author is Dr. Robert Kadlec, a long-time U.S. biodefence bigwig and architect of the vaccines and biodefence ‘Manhattan Project’ as described in detail by Paula Jardine here. Dr. Kadlec’s involvement taints the report as being very much the angle that those in the U.S. biodefence establishment want you to read, meaning it’s all about what was (allegedly) happening in China and nothing about what was happening in the U.S., whose scientists have also been the opposite of cooperative with origins investigations.
The virus was almost certainly created in a lab, but the evidence that that lab was the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it was released by accident is much weaker and some of the evidence summarised in the new report is internally inconsistent (for example, it can’t decide whether the Covid outbreak was producing a large spike in influenza-like hospital cases in early October or not until several weeks later). I have explored these issues at length (see here), but the fact remains that U.S. intelligence has failed to produce clear documentary evidence that SARS-CoV-2 or a precursor was at the WIV before December 2019 or that specific vaccines were being developed before the outbreak was officially known. In addition, the documentary evidence we do have suggests that the first samples from Wuhan hospitals were only sent to labs for testing and identification in the last week of December and that when the virus was first detected the Chinese authorities remained unsure whether it was spreading between humans. Their actions at the time were consistent with that uncertainty as countermeasures were not adopted until late January, after a team of Government experts had visited Wuhan and concluded it was spreading.
The WIV published in mid-January 2020 the sequence of the new virus alongside that of RaTG13, which it already held, and admitted that it did not appear that the new virus had emerged naturally from RaTG13. These are not the actions of an institution trying to cover up the fact that it created SARS-CoV-2 from RaTG13 or a similar virus. The Senate report repeats the claim that the WIV virus database was “public” before it was taken offline in September 2019, but if it was public why does U.S. intelligence not have a copy of something so obviously relevant to national security? It’s not clear that the database was ever public, and it also went back online (behind a security wall) intermittently after that date. I have no interest in defending China, I only want to know the truth. I’m just not convinced that Robert Kadlec is the man to give it to me.
Here is the summary table from the report.