Evidence Overwhelmingly Pointed to Leak From Wuhan Lab From Day One

Evidence Overwhelmingly Pointed to Leak From Wuhan Lab From Day One
The P4 laboratory on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on May 13, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Hans Mahncke
Jeff Carlson
A recent assessment from the U.S. Energy Department found that the COVID-19 virus likely emerged from a Chinese laboratory. News of this development has caused major media organizations to sharply pivot in their coverage of the origin of the pandemic.

Previously, any information about a lab origin was rigorously avoided, but now corporate media organizations are reporting on the likelihood of a lab origin as if their suppression of the evidence over the past three years had never happened.

One media organization that did cover the origin story from the outset is The Epoch Times. In April 2020, Epoch TV broadcast a documentary on the lab origin that continues to stand the test of time. In dozens of investigative articles published during the past three years, The Epoch Times has laid out the overwhelming evidence for the lab leak scenario. The paper also published a detailed timeline that captured over 200 data points indicative of a lab origin.

In short, information pointing to a lab leak, which the corporate media claims to be new, isn’t new at all.

The high likelihood of a lab origin was known from the early days of the pandemic but was suppressed by a combination of corporate media, science journalists, and social media companies. The originator of this massive campaign of disinformation and suppression was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who in early February 2020 organized a meeting that would become the start of a coverup of lab leak evidence. The media’s new narrative that a lab leak scenario has only recently become more likely, because of the emergence of new information, is false. The information on a lab origin was always readily available and shows that, from the very beginning, the lab leak theory was the only viable theory.
The most obvious evidence, which has always been available, is that a highly unusual coronavirus with engineered-looking features appeared on the doorsteps of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), the world’s premier laboratory for coronavirus engineering. This peculiar coincidence didn’t escape the attention of politicians or journalists at the time, nor did it escape the attention of a handpicked group of scientists who Fauci had selected to assist in the coverup.
“Given the scale of the bat CoV research pursued [at the Wuhan Institute of Virology] and the site of emergence of the first human cases we have a nightmare of circumstantial evidence to assess,” Dr. Ian Lipkin, one of those scientists, wrote in a Feb. 11, 2020, email.
Equally troubling, is that the Wuhan lab was overseen by a senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official, Yuan Zhiming. While it’s expected that Chinese organizations such as the virology institute are run by the CCP, in this case, Fauci’s organization, the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID), knew before the pandemic that the Wuhan lab was directly connected to the CCP. It was also known by Fauci and NIAID that Yuan was both the CCP’s representative at the lab and in charge of biosafety.
On Feb. 9, 2020, shortly after the global emergence of COVID-19, the director of NIAID’s stateside laboratory, James Le Duc of the Galveston National Laboratory, emailed Yuan to alert him to the fact that Le Duc suspected that COVID-19 had leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them,” he told Yuan, and also asked Yuan a series of probing questions in connection with the suspected lab leak. While Le Duc didn’t receive a reply, it doesn’t appear that Le Duc pursued the matter further.

Another director at the Wuhan lab was Dr. Shi Zhengli, whose history of reckless coronavirus experiments was well known at the time of the outbreak, not only to NIAID but to anyone who searched for her many publications on the internet. Her obsession with coronaviruses began in 2003, shortly after the original SARS outbreak.

Shi’s tenure from 2004 to 2019 with the Wuhan lab paints an alarming picture of ever more dangerous experiments, with ever more advanced biotechnology being conducted at the facility. Crucially, some of that biotechnology came from the United States and its transfer to China was directly facilitated by Fauci.

Specifically, Fauci enabled Shi by conferring prestigious NIAID grants that were understood by potential Western collaborators as a seal of approval. Again, this information was always in the public domain, and wasn’t, recently uncovered.

The Rise to Prominence of the Wuhan Lab

In 2007, Shi published a paper on how to manipulate bat viruses to allow them to attack human cells. In 2008, Shi’s soon-to-be collaborator, Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance, received a grant from Fauci’s NIAID to collect bat viruses with the goal of examining them for their potential to infect humans.
In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development established PREDICT, an early pandemic warning program that would later form a collaboration with Shi’s WIV. In 2010, Shi showcased the facility’s increasing technical prowess, by manipulating SARS viruses to increase infectiousness for humans.
The wider public first became aware of the dangers of such gain-of-function experiments in 2011, when Fauci funded an experiment that created an airborne version of the H5N1 avian influenza. Dismissing the public outcry about the grave risks of such experiments, Fauci argued in a Washington Post op-ed, titled “A Flu Virus Risk Worth Taking,” that while labs could now create dangerous viruses that didn’t exist in nature, the benefits outweighed the risks in the form of insights gained.

However, there’s no evidence that these experiments provided any civilian benefit: the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t averted, nor was a vaccine developed in advance. Instead, scientists used these types of experiments to raise their profiles and boost their grant allocation.

“The only impact of this work is the creation, in a lab, of a new, non-natural risk,” one scientific critic later noted,
At about the same time that Fauci-funded scientists were manipulating dangerous viruses to make them airborne–and, therefore, highly transmissible between humans–another Wuhan scientist, Tian Junhua, a virologist at the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention started collecting bats from remote locations in China for further study at the Wuhan CDC. That meant that as of 2012, there were two separate groups of scientists in Wuhan—Shi Zhengli’s group and Tian’s group—who were fully immersed in bat virus collection and manipulation.
Tian would later acknowledge that he captured about 10,000 bats without taking any safety precautions and that he was often sprayed with bat urine and blood. To what extent NIAID was involved with Tian isn’t known, although it is known from numerous co-authored publications that Eddie Holmes, a British virologist with close ties to both Fauci and the Wuhan lab, collaborated with Tian in the run-up to the pandemic. Holmes would later collaborate with Fauci on the fraudulent Proximal Origin paper, which Fauci used to advance his natural origin narrative.
Shi made a big scientific breakthrough in 2013 when her team isolated a SARS-like coronavirus that could target human ACE2 cell receptors. In 2014 Shi had another breakthrough when was awarded an NIAID grant via Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance. Daszak, in 2016 and 2019, was recorded bragging about the advanced manipulation of SARS viruses carried out at the Wuhan lab.

Raised International Profile

The prestigious NIAID project raised the international profile of the WIV, which in turn opened the doors to collaboration with Western gain-of-function pioneers, as well as providing access to U.S. biotechnology. As a result, the so-called godfather of gain-of-function, Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina, started collaborating with WIV’s Shi on a study that was published in November 2015.

The Shi and Baric experiment resulted in the “synthetic construction of chimeric mutant and full-length” SARS viruses. Put in simple terms, they had manufactured artificial viruses put together by combining parts of different viruses.

That experiment immediately caused an outcry from other scientists who warned that the coronavirus experiments at the WIV may cause a pandemic.

It’s worth noting that after public outcry over making the avian flu virus airborne, as well as after a series of lab accidents at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, President Barack Obama had instituted a national moratorium on gain-of-function experiments earlier in 2014.
While Fauci’s collaborative Wuhan lab project, titled Understanding the Risk of Bat Coronavirus Emergence, didn’t explicitly call for gain-of-function experiments to be conducted in Wuhan, by 2016, such experiments were being conducted under the umbrella of an NIAID grant. When an NIAID program officer discovered in May 2016 that the lab was conducting prohibited gain-of-function work, funding was temporarily halted. However, within a few weeks, the work was restarted.
It isn’t known why NIAID reversed itself after initially suspending the work. Daszak personally thanked NIAID for lifting the ban.
With the gain-of-function pause out of the way, Shi and Daszak continued their quest to experiment with ever more dangerous viruses. A 2017 WIV thesis supervised by Shi detailed how the institute performed experiments that replaced parts of SARS viruses without leaving any traces.
As Shi’s work became more risky, a 2017 article published in the journal Nature warned the scientific community about possible lab leaks from the WIV’s new biosafety level 4 laboratory. The article further questioned whether it was possible to maintain the required openness of information in China to be able to conduct high-risk experiments.
What the author didn’t know at the time was that the institute didn’t conduct its coronavirus experiments in biosafety 4 labs, but instead performed the risky work in low biosafety level 2 labs. This information was uncovered in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic.

A Smoking Gun

The true smoking gun however relates to events that unfolded in 2018. While these events weren’t known to the general public at the time of the outbreak in 2020, they were known to the U.S. government—because they involved the U.S. government. They were later disclosed to the public in September 2021 via a whistleblower who provided a trove of documentary evidence.

That evidence shows that in 2018, the Wuhan lab, Daszak’s EcoHealth, and the University of North Carolina’s Baric collaborated on a research project with the goal of inserting human-specific furin cleavage sites into SARS virus backbones.

In other words, the WIV had a blueprint for making a highly unusual virus that looks exactly like the highly unusual COVID-19 virus that emerged in Wuhan just two years later.

The Daszak–Baric–Wuhan lab project was pitched to the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for funding, but was rejected by Pentagon scientists because of concerns that the gain-of-function experiments would create a pandemic virus. While the rejection has been cited as a reason to dismiss the smoking gun evidence, the chairman of the Lancet’s COVID commission, Jeffrey Sachs, revealed that the work had already been done by the time the project was pitched for funding.

This isn’t an unusual occurrence in the area of science funding and aligns with the fact that the blueprint was highly detailed, indicating that, at a minimum, preliminary work was being done while the project was being pitched for funding.

At the same time that Shi and Daszak were trying to obtain funds from DARPA, they also created a synthetic virus that showed extremely high infectivity when tested in mice that mimic human cells.
They did so using Fauci’s grant.

Deleted Database

The following year, Shi Zhengli published several more studies showcasing the Wuhan lab’s prowess. But in September 2019, the institute suddenly took its entire database of more than 22,000 virus samples offline.

This database of samples had been put together to help scientists trace the source and spread of novel viruses but was taken down at about the time that COVID-19 likely began its destructive global journey.

After the database was taken offline, a sequence of strange events unfolded in Wuhan. The virology institute was reportedly shut for a number of weeks in October. At the same time, the U.S. consul general in Wuhan reported that the city was hit by an unusually vicious flu season. Hospitals also marked a significant increase in traffic. Three lab workers from the virology institute were also said to have been hospitalized with a COVID-like illness.
Huang Yanling, a researcher at the institute who was speculated to be “patient zero,” suddenly disappeared from public view, and her profile on the institute’s website was immediately scrubbed. By November 2019, “U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region.”
Varying reports put the date of the first confirmed COVID-19 infection on Nov. 17, Dec. 1, or Dec. 8 in 2019.
Notably, all of these infection dates precede the timing of the alleged animal–to–human jump of COVID-19 at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market, as would later be claimed by Fauci-funded scientists.
Daszak, who appears to have been unaware of unfolding events, confirmed in a Dec. 9, 2019, interview that the Wuhan lab was experimenting with coronaviruses, some of which “get into human cells in the lab.”
By Dec. 31, Daszak had changed his tune when he tweeted a 19-tweet thread claiming that the Wuhan outbreak was the result of a natural virus. The timing is notable as Wuhan authorities didn’t report any problems until the day of his tweets. The statement made by Chinese authorities also didn’t specify that a virus was involved, only stating that they had ruled out common bacterial and viral pathogens.

It appears likely that Daszak realized what had happened at Shi’s lab and was preemptively shifting the blame to nature.

It’s important to note that Daszak’s thread was written at a time when no one outside of China knew anything about the virus, let alone its origins. Just a few weeks later, on Jan. 27, 2020, Daszak emailed a response to David Morens, a colleague of Fauci’s at NIAID, providing talking points “for when” Fauci is “being interviewed” regarding COVID-19. In the email, Daszak informed Morens that “NIAID has been funding coronavirus work in China for the past 5 years through” a grant to Daszak.

Fauci Made Aware

Fauci was scheduled to participate in a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services news conference the next day, Jan. 28. The department had requested that Fauci’s talking points for the news conference be submitted by 8:30 p.m. Washington time on Jan. 27.

Among the preliminary talking points that were sent internally to Fauci was an email from Fauci’s chief of staff, Greg Folkers, noting that “folks we fund” include “Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, and lan Lipkin.” Folkers went on to inform Fauci of Daszak’s earlier same-day email conversation with Morens, telling Fauci that “NIAID has funded Daszak’s group for coronavirus work in China for the past 5 years.” Folkers also cut and pasted Daszak’s email to Morens in the email he sent to Fauci.

While he almost certainly was aware much earlier, we now know with certainty that Fauci knew no later than Jan. 27, 2020, that NIAID had funded bat coronavirus work at the Wuhan lab, including gain-of-function experiments.

Then, on Jan. 31, 2020, Jon Cohen, a writer at Science Magazine who had ties to Fauci, wrote an article pushing the Natural Origin narrative that cited many scientists funded by Fauci’s NIAID in the process. However, Cohen’s article contained an indirect link to a 2015 paper proving that the NIAID under Fauci had funded gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab. It was this disclosure that would lead to a secret teleconference on Feb. 1, 2020.
Despite Fauci’s later repeated denials that he had never funded gain-of-function experiments at the Wuhan lab, the 2015 paper clearly states that “Research in this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease.” We also know that Fauci saw the 2015 paper that was indirectly linked in Cohen’s article because Fauci sent the paper to NIAID’s then-principal deputy director, Hugh Auchincloss, on the morning of Feb. 1, 2020.

“It is essential that we speak this AM. Keep your cell phone on,” Fauci told him.

Auchincloss, who is Fauci’s successor at NIAID, responded later that day.

“The [2015] paper you sent me says the experiments were performed before the gain of function pause but have since been reviewed and approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

A Secret Teleconference

Almost immediately after the Science article was published in the early evening of Jan. 31, 2020, Fauci began sharing it among colleagues at NIAID and with Jeremy Farrar, the head of the UK’s Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest pharmaceutical trust. Fauci also forwarded the article to Kristian Andersen, an NIAID-funded scientist from Scripps Research, noting that it was “of interest to the current discussion.”

In a prelude to the hastily convened Feb. 1, 2020 teleconference, Andersen and Fauci discussed the virus’s unique genomic sequence, with Andersen telling Fauci that the virus looked engineered. This topic of discussion would be carried into the teleconference the next day with one participant emailing other participants: “We need to talk about the backbone too, not just the insert?”

The mention of the virus backbone is particularly important because in 2018, as previously noted, the WIV, Daszak’s EcoHealth, and Baric collaborated on a research project with the goal of inserting human-specific furin cleavage sites into SARS virus backbones. During the teleconference, at least two presentations were made, with Andersen telling Fauci’s group that he was “60 to 70 percent” sure the virus came from a laboratory. Edward Holmes, a scientist who worked for and with the head of the Chinese CDC from 2014 to 2020, told the teleconference group that he was “80 percent sure the virus came out of a lab.”

Paper Promoted Natural Origins Narrative

On the same day that Andersen and Holmes were telling Fauci that the virus likely came out of a lab, they, along with two other members of the teleconference group, completed a draft research paper that promoted the natural origins narrative. That paper, Proximal Origin, published on Feb. 16, 2020, would be used by Fauci, along with other scientists and the media, to promote the natural origins narrative, while simultaneously condemning any lab leak theories as conspiracy theories.
We now know through recently released emails that our earlier research-based theory that Fauci was instrumental in prompting the drafting of the fraudulent Proximal Origin paper was indeed correct.
Members of Fauci’s teleconference group would later claim that their acceptance and promotion of the natural origin theory began over a period of weeks and months following the teleconference, once they had a chance to more fully examine the evidence. But the fact that four members of the teleconference group finalized a draft of the paper that would be used to promote the natural origins narrative on the same day as the teleconference shatters the group’s excuse. They realized that the COVID outbreak had almost certainly originated from a lab directly funded by Fauci’s NIAID—and set about constructing a natural origins theory that would be used in their attempt to disguise the pandemic’s origin.
Another important data point disproves the group’s claims. Just two days after Fauci’s teleconference, on Feb. 3, Fauci’s group attempted to mislead the White House on the virus’s origins. White House Director of Science and Technology Policy Kelvin Droegmeier had directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), to “help determine the origins of 2019-nCoV.” Andrew Pope, a director at NASEM, organized an in-person conference to discuss the White House’s request.
The NASEM meeting, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 3, included a 10-minute presentation from Fauci and also included Daszak and Andersen. Although the NASEM meeting took place just two days after Fauci was told that a lab leak was likely, this information wasn’t disclosed to NASEM. Instead, Fauci and his scientists actively promoted their false natural origin narrative.
Meanwhile, Fauci’s efforts to shape the Proximal Origin paper to fit his desired narrative continued. During a Feb. 4 email exchange among Fauci, Farrar, and Fauci’s boss Dr. Francis Collins, Collins pointed out that while the draft of the paper argued against an engineered virus, serial passage was “still an option.” Fauci appeared to share Collins’s concerns, noting in a one-line response: “?? Serial passage in ACE2-transgenic mice.”

Serial passage is a process in which a virus is manipulated in a lab by repeatedly passing it through human-like tissue such as genetically modified mice that mimic human lung tissue.

The reference by Fauci is notable, given that during the Feb. 1 teleconference, at least three of the paper’s authors had advised Collins and Fauci that the virus may have been manipulated in a lab through serial passage or by genetic insertion of certain features. Eleven days later, on Feb. 16, 2020, “Proximal Origin” was published online. The paper argued aggressively for a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2. But curiously, the published online version omitted any mention of the ACE2-transgenic mice that Fauci had initially flagged in his Feb. 4 email to Collins and Farrar.

‘Very Destructive Conspiracy’

Collins wrote Fauci several months later on April 16, 2020, telling him that he had hoped that Proximal Origin would have “settled” the virus’s origin debate, but that it apparently hadn’t, since Bret Baier of Fox News was reporting that sources were confident the virus had come out of a lab. Collins asked Fauci whether the NIH could do something “to help put down this very destructive conspiracy” that seemed to be “growing momentum.”
Fauci told Collins that the lab leak theory was a “shiny object” that would go away in time. However, the next day, Fauci decided to personally take direct action to shut down any investigation into a lab leak when he categorically dismissed the possibility of a lab origin of COVID-19 during an April 17, 2020, White House press conference.

Fauci cited the “Proximal Origin” paper–that he had helped edit and shape–as corroboration of his claims. Despite his personal involvement in the paper’s creation, Fauci feigned independence from Proximal Origin, telling reporters that he couldn’t recall the names of the authors.

At about the same time, the U.S. State Department opened its own investigation into the origin of the pandemic; a task force on the matter was led by David Asher. When Asher asked the National Institutes of Health  to provide its expert views on the matter, he was given a copy of Proximal Origin, the paper which Fauci and the head of the NIH had shaped to advance their coverup of the origin.
Fauci’s intervention was highly effective, since corporate media interest in the lab leak theory quickly waned. It didn’t resurface until May 2021, when former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade published an article discussing the likelihood of a lab leak. Wade noted that Fauci controlled “a large portion of the funds available for virological research in the Western world. A virologist keen to continue his career would be very attentive” to Fauci’s wishes.
Wade’s words aren’t mere hyperbole. Fauci and NIH controlled $32 billion in annual grants to the scientific community, controlling the careers of countless scientists in the process. In the months that followed Fauci’s Feb. 1, 2020, conference call, Fauci’s NIAID awarded several of the scientists who helped establish and publicly support the natural origin narrative more than $50 million in taxpayer-funded grants.

With the exceptions of Fauci’s coverup efforts, which became known in June 2021 when his heavily redacted emails were released as a result of Freedom of Information Act litigation, and the 2018 DARPA project that a whistleblower leaked in September 2021, every fact laid out here was publicly known at the time of the outbreak of the pandemic.

While any honest media organization could have easily ascertained and reported these facts, that they didn’t is almost as immense a scandal as Fauci’s coverup.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.