The virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic could have been the result of a bioweapon leak in China, according to David Asher, former lead COVID-19 investigator at the U.S. State Department.
“This might have been a weapons vector gone awry; not deliberately released, but in development and then somehow leaked,” Asher said on March 12 during a panel discussion at the Hudson Institute.
“This has turned out to be the greatest weapon in history. You’ve taken out 15 to 20 percent of global GDP. You’ve killed millions of people.”
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, first surfaced in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. A lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists have conducted extensive research on bat coronaviruses, has long been speculated to be the source of the outbreak, possibly due to an accidental leak.
That theory was declared “extremely unlikely” by World Health Organization (WHO) expert Peter Ben Embarek on Feb. 8, following a two-week fact-finding mission in Wuhan. However, within days, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appeared to walk back the statement, saying that “all hypotheses remain open and require further study.”
A fact sheet released by the U.S. State Department in January stated that it “had reason to believe” several researchers at the institute fell ill with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses in autumn 2019. A senior researcher at the institute said in July 2020 there was “zero infection” among lab staff and students.
Asher noted that China stopped talking publicly about its research at the Wuhan lab in 2016. He recalled that in 2016, he heard a Chinese military commentator speak on China’s state-run media about how China has “entered into an area of Chinese biowarfare … including using things like viruses.”
“They made a public statement to their people that this is a new priority under [Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s] national security policy,” Asher said.
He said he doubted this was a coincidence and added that 2016 could be the year when the Chinese military became involved in biological programs at the Wuhan lab.
“You need to understand that the nature of the communist state in China and its secretive, dual-use approach to everything military to be able to appreciate it,” Asher said. He added that he believed nobody in the WHO understood China well enough to know that it could “obfuscate” its classified programs.
China was also uncooperative during the early stage of the outbreak. Asher said the United States and its allies made nearly 100 requests to China, whether to ask for its assistance or to offer help.
China rejected them all and repeatedly said the virus wasn’t contagious, even though it knew it was being spread from human to human, according to Asher.
The WHO initially parroted Beijing’s claim that the virus wasn’t contagious, dismissing an email warning from Taiwan.
A scientific paper published in 2020 concluded that Beijing concealed the virus’s transmissibility for at least three weeks before publicly acknowledging that the virus was contagious on Jan. 20, 2020.
Jamie Metzl, a WHO adviser and senior fellow for the Atlantic Council, also spoke on the panel, criticizing the WHO fact-finding mission as “not a real investigation.”
“It was more of a chaperoned two-week study tour, where they were given highly curated information,” Metzl said.
On March 4, Metzl organized an open letter calling for a “full and unrestricted international forensic investigation” into the origins of the virus. The letter pointed to how experts on the WHO team weren’t “adequately” screened for conflicts of interest.
Two foreign experts on the WHO team—Peter Daszak and Marion Koopmans—have been found to have clear ties to the Chinese regime.