In a dramatic development, the United States Energy Department and the director of the country’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have both separately concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic was likely the result of a laboratory leak. This follows reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has controversially abandoned plans for the crucial second stage of its own investigation into the origins of the outbreak. With media speculation now rife that COVID-19 may have begun in a laboratory, the sharing of this view by a government agency and a senior intelligence and security service official represents a major turnaround for a hypothesis that was once effectively banned from being shared on social media.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Energy Department’s assessment came in a classified intelligence report that was provided to the White House and key members of the US Congress. The conclusion is seen as significant due to the agency having considerable scientific expertise and the fact that it oversees a network of laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research.
While the FBI had already previously concluded in 2021 that the pandemic was likely the result of a laboratory leak, the statement by its director, Christopher Wray, is the first public confirmation of its judgement regarding the origins of the virus. Speaking to Fox News, Wray accused the Chinese government of trying to block investigative work into the cause of the outbreak. He also specifically cited Wuhan as being the city where the laboratory leak took place. The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which conducts coronavirus research, is located a short distance from the wet market where the first infections are said to have emerged.
The FBI chief’s allegation follows hot on the heels of reports that the WHO has controversially abandoned plans for the crucial second stage of its own investigation into the origins of the outbreak. Having previously admitted that a deeper probe was required in order to ascertain whether a laboratory accident was to blame, the WHO now appears to be backtracking and blaming difficulties in conducting the necessary studies in China.
The suggestion that COVID-19 had unusual origins is hardly a new one, of course. As early as January 2020, a research group from India published a paper suggesting that aspects of the coronavirus bore an “uncanny similarity” to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Taken together, the researchers said their findings suggested the virus had an “unconventional evolution” and that further investigation was warranted. While the researchers subsequently retracted the paper, they were reportedly put under pressure to do so.
Days later, in February 2020, a separate paper published by scientists from the South China University of Technology suggested the virus “probably” came from a laboratory in Wuhan. As with the paper published by the Indian researchers, however, this paper was also quickly withdrawn.
But of all the people to conclude early on in the pandemic that the virus had been created in a laboratory, arguably the most prominent was Professor Luc Montagnier, the French scientist who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of HIV. Interviewed on the CNews channel in France in April 2020, Montagnier asserted that the coronavirus had been designed by molecular biologists. Stating that it contains genetic elements of HIV, he insisted its characteristics could not have arisen naturally.
Since then, other prominent figures from the fields of intelligence and health have added their own voices to those who believe the virus was created in a laboratory. Notable examples include Richard Dearlove, a former head of MI6, the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, who says he has seen an “important” scientific report suggesting the coronavirus was created by Chinese scientists and that it escaped from a laboratory, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Given the dramatic extent to which the lab leak theory has now gone mainstream, it seems increasingly absurd that, early on in the pandemic, Facebook and other social media sites had effectively banned discussion of the subject on their platforms. Facebook didn’t lift its ban on such posts until midway through 2021. As tempting as it may now be to pin sole blame for the pandemic on China, however, and to blindly assume the outbreak began in December 2019 as we have been told, there are several other threads to the story that should also be taken into account.
Firstly, while a Lancet Commission report published in September 2022 confirmed that the coronavirus could have emerged from a “research-related incident,” it also suggested American scientists could be culpable. Moreover, it noted that “independent researchers have not yet investigated” US labs and that the US National Institutes of Health has “resisted disclosing details” of its work.
Even prior to the release of this Lancet report, however, the chair of the Commission, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, had gone on record saying he was already “pretty convinced” the virus came from a US biotechnology lab. Intriguingly, therefore, genetic material owned by US vaccine maker Moderna – that was patented three years before the pandemic began – has reportedly been found in the coronavirus’ spike protein. Nevertheless, the mainstream media has mostly paid little attention to any of this.
But the claim of US involvement is not new. As early as March 2020, Chinese authorities were alleging the virus was brought to China by members of the US military who had visited Wuhan in October 2019. With scientists in Italy having since found COVID-19 antibodies in blood samples taken in September 2019, and Chinese researchers suggesting the virus was similarly circulating in the US at this time, it seems possible the pandemic may have started even earlier than originally thought. The apparent discovery of the virus in a Barcelona wastewater sample from March 2019, nine months before the pandemic is believed to have started, provides still further food for thought.
Finally, there is also evidence that the United States has been funding so-called ‘gain-of-function’ research in Wuhan, whereby viruses are intentionally made more pathogenic or transmissible. Taxpayer grant money for these experiments came from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which was headed at the time by the infamous Dr. Anthony Fauci. The experiments were organized by the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based outfit led by Peter Daszak, a controversial British zoologist with close links to the Wuhan Institute and Anthony Fauci.
With support for the COVID-19 lab leak theory continuing to grow, the possibility that the virus may have been manmade is firmly on the table. As the many pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, the conclusion that the people of the world may have been misled over the origins of the virus is becoming inescapable. Given the devastating personal and economic costs of lockdowns and other draconian health policy responses, we now have a right to know why, and by whom.