Chinese Military May Have Had COVID-19 Virus in Its Possession as Early as September 2019

People’s Liberation Army scientists applied for COVID vaccine patent in February 2020

Chinese Military May Have Had COVID-19 Virus in Its Possession as Early as September 2019
The P4 laboratory (L) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on May 27, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Wang
According to the World Health Organization, there have been 6,947,192 confirmed COVID-19 deaths globally as of June 28. Of those, 1,127,152 occurred in the United States, making the number of Americans killed by the virus more than 19 times the number of American soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.

And yet, over three years since the beginning of the pandemic, we still don’t know where the virus originated. The fear is that the next time around, the number of deaths could be much higher; because we didn’t learn from this pandemic, we wouldn’t be as prepared as we should for the next one.

This fear is shared by all Americans. That is probably why in March, the U.S. Congress unanimously passed the “COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023,” requesting that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) “declassify all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19.” “The ODNI must submit to Congress an unclassified report with all such information with redactions only as necessary to protect sources and methods,” the new law says.
On June 23, ODNI released a 10-page report titled “Potential Links Between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Origin of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” As someone who has been following this development closely, ODNI’s report told me nothing beyond what I already knew, except for one little gem on page 5: that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) had developed a technique that “left no traces of genetic modification of SARS-like coronaviruses.”

“Some of the WIV’s genetic engineering projects on coronaviruses involved techniques that could make it difficult to detect intentional changes,” the report stated.

Why did the WIV want to develop such a technique? Scientists at the institute had been publishing their research on viruses in the best scientific journals, including on “genetic modification of SARS-like coronaviruses,” so it didn’t look like they wanted to hide what they had been doing. Maybe what they published was only part of their research, and they wanted to conceal the research they didn’t publish? What would that be?

Before the ODNI report, U.S. investigative journalists revealed in early June that three WIV researchers, Ben Hu, Ping Yu, and Yan Zhu, were allegedly the first COVID-19 patients, having fallen ill in the fall of 2019. They were reportedly conducting research on SARS-like viruses and engaging in "gain-of-function" experiments. Gain-of-function, which involves altering the properties of a pathogen in order to study its potential impact on human health, increases the infectiousness of viruses and/or makes them more lethal.
The WIV denied such allegations. “The recent news about so-called ‘patient zero’ in WIV are absolutely rumors and ridiculous,” Ben Hu told the journal Science in June.

I was hoping that the ODNI report would shed more light on the origin of SARS-CoV-2. It didn’t, but a patent application I found through a web search strongly suggests that the Liberation Army (PLA) had the genetic sequence of the virus in its possession as early as September 2019. This would fit well with the allegation that the three WIV scientists were infected by the virus in the fall of 2019.

It’s worth noting that the same allegation was made by the Department of Justice in a fact sheet published Jan. 15, 2021, which said the U.S. government had “reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak.”

Officially, World Learned of Virus in January 2020

The first cases of the atypical pneumonia (later known as COVID-19) were reported in Wuhan in December 2019. The news was soon supressed by the Chinese Communist Party, as China was preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year—a time that no bad news is allowed. Whistleblowers like Dr. Wenliang Li were punished. Officially, Chinese virologists did not have a chance to study the novel virus until early January 2020.
On Jan. 11, 2020, Professor Yong-Zhen Zhang’s group from Fudan University in Shanghai submitted the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 to GenBank (accession number MN908947.1) in Maryland. Prof. Zhang obtained the virus by collecting bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from a 41-year old male patient in Wuhan, who had been admitted to hospital on Dec. 26, 2019. Chinese state media reported his death on Jan. 11, 2020.
Jan. 11, 2020, was the day that SARS-CoV-2 officially became known to the world. WHO announced that it had received the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus from the Chinese regime and would soon make it public.
 (Dana Brillante)
(Dana Brillante)

PLA’s Warp Speed Vaccine Research

On Feb. 24, 2020, Dr. Yusen Zhou and 10 other inventors from the PLA’s Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology in Beijing filed a patent application (number 202010112679.9) titled “Novel coronavirus titled “COVID-19 vaccine, preparation methods and applications.” The application described in detail the design of the vaccine, the method to produce the vaccine, and the immunogenicity of the vaccine.

I am a vaccine scientist who worked for one of the world’s largest vaccine companies for more than 10 years, and I spearheaded SARS-CoV-1 vaccine development in 2003. I was stunned by the speed these PLA inventors were able to not only study the new virus and develop and test a vaccine so quickly, but also put together a patent application in merely 44 days (from Jan. 11 to Feb. 24)!

Vaccine development is an arduous process, usually taking about 10-15 years on average to accomplish. Before COVID-19, the fastest a vaccine that had ever been developed was the mumps vaccine in 1967, which took four years.
Of course, the U.S. government’s “Operation Warp Speed” made it possible for vaccine companies to accelerate their processes, which we now know compromised safety and effectiveness. Moderna published their Phase I/II clinical data on July 14, 2020, and Pfizer published theirs on Aug. 12, 2020. Then in December of that year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines Emergency Use Authorization.

When I worked in the vaccine industry, I was the liaison between R&D (Research and Development) scientists (which I was also a member of) and our in-house lawyers in the IP (Intellectual Property) office. I was personally involved in the filing of dozens of patent applications. Normally, patent applications should be filed as soon as scientists discover something new, useful, and non-obvious—the three properties patent lawyers stress that scientists keep an eye out for and document.

A patent application can be filed before a vaccine is tested and granted for distribution. One could argue that the PLA’s application was “provisional,” meaning it would serve as a placeholder so that experimental results could be added later when available, hence it is possible that it only took 44 days to draft their patent application.

Yes, when things move extremely smoothly, a patent application could be put together in about one and a half months. However, the PLA’s filing contains real experimental data that would take time and effort to perform and collect. This makes it extremely unlikely that the scientists only received access to the virus information on or after Jan. 11, 2020.

Telling Timeline

If the PLA did have access to the virus, maybe they got the information from Prof. Zhang before he submitted the genetic sequence to GenBank, or maybe they got it elsewhere. Or it could be that since the scientists are with the PLA, how they obtained the virus constitutes a military secret.

The scientists’ application described that the vaccine composition is an RBD-Fc recombinant protein. It was used to immunize mice to generate (antibody-containing) serum samples. These serum samples were collected 7 and 12 days after immunization, respectively. These details were given on all phases of their vaccine development.

Drawing from my 10-year experience with vaccine development and patent filing, in my estimation the following amounts of time would be needed to carry out what the PLA scientists described in their patent application:
  • Design of the vaccine: 1 month
  • Develop a method to produce the vaccine: 2 months
  • Test immunogenicity of the vaccine: 2 months
  • Prepare patent application: 1.5 months
The likely time that the PLA scientists first got their hands on the virus and its genome sequence would be around September 2019—six and a half months before they filed their patent application on Feb. 24, 2020.

Mysterious Death of PLA Scientist

Dr. Zhou, the lead author of the PLA patent application, died at age 54 under mysterious circumstances in May 2020, three months after he filed the application. Zhou was one of the most well-known virologists in China, who had worked closely with the WIV as well as with U.S. scientists, yet there were no tributes to mark his passing. The news was only casually mentioned in an article published in July 2020. It was obvious that the authorities did not want to publicize his death.

To the Chinese authorities, everything related to COVID-19 is a state secret. But COVID-19 is not only a China issue, it is a global issue. More knowledge and information about what happened could literally save millions of lives.

Here’s what we know to be fact:

Fudan University’s Prof. Zhang published the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence on Jan. 11, 2020; PLA’s Dr. Zhou and his team filed a patent application for a COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 24, 2020; Dr. Zhou passed away in May 2020; On June 23, 2023, ODNI published a report stating that the WIV had developed a technique that leaves “no traces of genetic modification of SARS-like coronaviruses.”

Is it possible that from early 2019, the PLA’s scientists were working with WIV scientists to develop coronaviruses that could infect humans, while simultaneously developing vaccines against such viruses? If that’s the case, it would explain why Dr. Zhou was able to file the patent application in February 2020. And because Dr. Zhou’s application revealed too much information, the CCP was unhappy with him and he had to be gotten rid of.

Given how the CCP operates, and its obfuscation, coverups, and lack of cooperation with other countries that has gone on around discovering the origin of the virus outbreak, I think it’s a plausible scenario.
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Joe Wang, Ph.D., was a molecular biologist with more than 10 years of experience in the vaccine industry. He is now the president of NTD Television Network (Canada), and a columnist for The Epoch Times.