Top WHO Consultant Who Works for US Intelligence Helped Downplay COVID Lab Leak Theory: Official

Consultant captured on tape promoting the view of scientist who worked with the Chinese.
Top WHO Consultant Who Works for US Intelligence Helped Downplay COVID Lab Leak Theory: Official
The P4 laboratory, designated as the highest level of biological safety, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, on April 17, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

A top U.S. intelligence official who also serves as a consultant with the World Health Organization played a key role in downplaying the theory that COVID-19 came from a laboratory in China, a former official says.

Adrienne Keen was “very involved in discrediting the information that we were trying to present to the secretary of state,” Thomas DiNanno, a former U.S. acting secretary of state, told Sky News.

He said that Ms. Keen was an advocate for zoonosis, or the idea that COVID-19 comes from animals, even though no animal has been identified as the origin years after the disease first appeared.

Mr. DiNanno, who helped efforts to probe the COVID-19 origins, said he learned later that Ms. Keen held a job with the World Health Organization (WHO), which is part of the United Nations (UN).

“They are a political agency. They’re a UN agency. So it’s just not appropriate to do work for a foreign power. And that would include the United Nations,” he said.

Ms. Keen is listed on LinkedIn as holding multiple positions, including being a consultant for WHO, director for global health security for the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and an adviser for the U.S. State Department.

The COVID-19 pandemic started in Wuhan, China, the same city in which a high-level laboratory funded in part by the United States is located.

In audio from a Jan. 6, 2021, meeting involving Ms. Keen, she promoted the viewpoint of Ralph Baric, a U.S. scientist who has worked closely with scientists at the lab, according to Sky News. Ms. Keen was responding to an analysis from Dr. Steven Quay, who has said evidence points to COVID-19 coming from the lab.

“I think Ralph pointed out some of the issues with the probabilities you’ve come up with Dr. Quay. I share a lot of those concerns,” Ms. Keen was quoted as saying during the meeting.

“It would be in the best interest of the public to know what were ’the comments of a natural origin advocate, Ralph Baric' during the January 6, 2021 meeting mentioned,” Bryce Nickels, a professor of genetics at Rutgers University and co-founder of the group Biosafety Now, told The Epoch Times via email.

Ms. Keen and Dr. Quay did not respond to requests for comment. On X, Dr. Quay said that Mr. Baric’s concerns “showed that he failed to have a high school AP-level understanding of statistics.”

The Epoch Times has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the audio and related materials.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to dispute the quote.

A spokesperson for the office told The Epoch Times in an email that the office’s work on the COVID-19 origins “complied with all of the intelligence community’s analytic standards, including objectivity.”

Those standards include assigning an individual or entity to make sure intelligence products “are timely, objective, independent of political considerations, based on all sources of available intelligence, and employ the standards of proper analytic tradecraft.”

Public Information

The State Department said in an assessment made public in 2022 through a Freedom of Information Act request that circumstantial evidence pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic being caused by a leak from the Wuhan lab complex.

“All other possible places of [the] virus’s origin have been proven false,” the unsigned assessment stated.

The U.S. intelligence community in April 2020 said in a brief statement that it “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified” and that it was working “to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”

Despite the consensus claim, some scientists believed, and still do to this day, that the virus may have been manmade or modified.

In May 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that the intelligence community was divided between an animal origin and a lab origin, with two elements leaning toward the former and one leaning toward the latter. The majority of elements said there was insufficient information to lean one way or another.

Most of the community said in August 2021 that there was still not enough information to assess.
In June 2023, the community was still divided on the matter.

Inside the community, the Department of Energy and FBI have been identified as the two elements that assess the evidence supports a lab leak, while a majority of other agencies have determined that a natural origin was most likely.

Two agencies, including the CIA, remained unable to lean one way or another.

John Ratcliffe, who headed the community until early 2021, has said that the available evidence only supports a lab origin.

Citing evidence largely withheld from the public, he said that “were this a trial, the preponderance of circumstantial evidence provided by our intelligence would compel a jury finding of guilt to an accusation that the coronavirus research in the Wuhan labs was responsible for spawning a global pandemic.”

A Senate investigation also concluded that the lab was the origin, although it said the leak was not intentional.
In another interview released by Sky News as part of a new program, Robert Kadlec, who led that investigation, said he worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who helped fund the Wuhan lab but repeatedly downplayed the possibility of a leak, to downplay the leak theory.

“I wake up at usually about 2 or 3am and think about it honestly, because it’s something that we all played a role in,” Dr. Kadlec told the Australian broadcaster.

He said the reason the leak was initially downplayed was to encourage China to cooperate early in the pandemic, but that he thinks Dr. Fauci’s goal was to divert attention from the Wuhan lab since Dr. Fauci’s agency, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided funding to it.

“That would be a natural reaction of him or anybody, particularly I think, for him saying, what could this do to me and to our institute as a consequence if we were found to have some culpability or some involvement in this?” Dr. Kadlec said.

Dr. Fauci did not respond to a request for comment.