The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) willingness to enter into agreements with Chinese labs shows a level of corruption, because it’s clear these labs are limbs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), says Natalie Winters, an investigative reporter at The National Pulse.
“I think that just kind of shows you how deep the rot goes, right? Something is very rotten at the NIH in terms of their ‘okayness’ with sending taxpayer funds to fund Chinese Communist Party research,” Winters said during an interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.
“And you can see that a lot of the groups that they’re funding are branches of the People’s Liberation Army. I’m not even saying military-linked entities, I’m saying explicitly military entities.”
Winters has researched the relationship between the NIH and CCP-linked labs such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). One of the relationships she finds most alarming is the Chinese lab’s contract with the University of Texas–Galveston, which was made possible with NIH funding.
Even if there was some opposition, “The fact that the Galveston contract got through with that confidentiality clause on there, and there was not a single person in that entire agency who raised any red flags about that … I think it just really makes you wonder that it’s both a personnel problem and a policy problem,” she said of the memorandums of understanding (MOU) and agreements with China.
Galveston National Laboratory (GNL), at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), entered into an MOU with the WIV, which made it obligatory for each of the two labs to delete “secret files” or materials upon request of the other party.
“The party is entitled to ask the other to destroy and/or return the secret files, materials, and equipment without any backups,” states the MOU obtained by U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit investigative research group focused on public health, through a Freedom of Information Act request.
GNL is one of two national biocontainment laboratories constructed under grants awarded by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Five years after the GNL agreement was first made with China’s WIV, Fauci’s deputy director broadened the agreement, signing off on clauses that would allow the Wuhan lab to request that the GNL delete files, pathogens, materials, and backups of collaborative research, Winters said, “giving [the CCP] essentially a free-for-all and allowing them to dictate what’s going on at American laboratories.”
In response to an email from The Epoch Times seeking comment, UTMB replied: “Although MOUs are nonbinding and do not serve in any way as contractual agreements, upon learning of the error, the University of Texas System immediately directed UTMB to terminate any MOU that contained language that conflicts with law and policy.
“The University of Texas System recently launched a review of processes and practices at UTMB and is putting into place new levels of oversight for procedures. UTMB confirms no documents or confidential information has been destroyed, nor have requests been received to do so.”
In addition to the NIH’s partnering with WIV, Dr. Francis Collins, the recently retired director of the NIH, was on the advisory board of a conference called the International Conference on Genomics, which was sponsored by the China-based company BGI Genomics.
Winters said that while BGI Genomics has been flagged by the FBI “as trying to steal Americans’ genetic information, harvest their DNA,” with the agency recommending state governments not use BGI’s products for COVID-19 tests, there has been a disconnect in the government on recognizing the national security risk, given that Collins had served “essentially on their advisory board.”
Winters posed the question: Are these partnerships with CCP-backed science organizations just made out of ignorance on the part of the NIH, or “is there something more dangerous going on?”
“Are we now getting into the territory of compromise and collusion [with] foreign influence groups that come out of China targeting some of the most powerful voices in the United States?” she asked.
Science Organizations Aligned With CCP
In February 2020, one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet, published an official statement about the origin of the COVID-19 virus, the content of which mimicked the CCP’s talking points and had the “most influence” in squelching the origin debate, Winters said.
The Lancet’s statement “basically dismissed [the lab leak] … if you dared to say the word lab, you [were labeled] a conspiracy theorist,” Winters said.
Some of the signatories of the Feb. 19 Lancet statement include Charles Calisher, Dennis Carroll, Rita Colwell, Ronald B. Corley, Peter Daszak, and Christian Drosten, some of whom had professional ties to the CCP. Daszak initially said he didn’t have a conflict of interest but later corrected that to say he did have ties to the Wuhan lab and was removed from the U.N. World Health Organization’s origins investigative committee.
The Lancet paper should have been impartial, Winters said.
“But instead, it was premature judgment, premature dismissal of the lab leak theory.
“Every major mainstream media outlet sort of uses this document. They predicated their coverage of COVID-19, they used it as an excuse to censor people who supported the COVID-19 lab leak theory,” she said.
“So I think it’s really interesting when you see both Big Tech having ties to a lot of the people who had signed that statement, but also the CCP having ties to people who had signed that statement.”
Winters said it’s important to ask why U.S. organizations would put so much effort into squelching the origin debate and amplifying the CCP’s narrative “if these ideas had no merit, if they were so bogus, so ridiculous … why would you have to work so hard to suppress them?”
Legacy Media Reporting Swayed by CCP
Winters believes that the bulk of evidence now points to the pandemic being caused by a lab leak, but that the origin debate was, in large part, shut down by the legacy media.
“It makes you wonder, it’s probably more likely that a pathogen escaped [from a lab] either intentionally or by accident, [rather] than [from] a wet market where they weren’t even selling these alleged pangolins or bats or whatever animal that the Chinese Communist Party wants us to believe it was.”
The wet market origin theory is preposterous, Winters said. The CCP puts out that theory with no outside corroboration, and instead of trying to seek the truth about the origin of the virus, mainstream media outlets copied the CCP-approved narrative and labeled anyone who suggested that the virus could have come from a lab leak as a conspiracy theorist, she said.
The CCP’s official narrative was backed by claims from CCP-run scientific organizations and then “mainstream media outlets in the West totally picked up that narrative, uncritically, and shared it,” Winters said.
She said that instead of helping Chinese citizens get to the truth, Western mainstream media companies further victimized the Chinese people by amplifying the CCP’s faulty narratives.
“You know, the fact that these mainstream media outlets just ran with the line of the Chinese Communist Party, you know, unwaveringly at that, and actually dismissed people who were criticizing them for doing so as conspiracy theorists, I think really should make us wonder, where exactly do the allegiances of the mainstream media lie?”
Fact-Checker Conflicts of Interest
Many of the organizations or individuals providing fact-checking didn’t help ward off the pro-CCP bias pushed in early reports about the origins of the virus. According to Winters, these entities have shown themselves to be heavily partisan, often with ties to either Big Tech or the CCP.
“I think social media fact-checkers really are the next front in terms of the information warfare that we see going on right now in this country and frankly, the entire world,“ she said.
In her own independent reporting, Winters uncovered the fact that pharmaceutical company Pfizer was funding Facebook’s fact-checking partner—a clear conflict of interest. In addition, one of the fact-checkers included a company called Lead Stories, which is run by a former CNN employee and funded by companies including Facebook, Google, and China-owned TikTok.
“No company that’s receiving funding from TikTok could be a neutral arbiter in terms of the origins of COVID-19. … So I think people really need to understand that these fact-checkers are not fact-checkers—they’re the antithesis of fact-checkers,” she said. “They’re narrative enforcers, and I think the most prime example that we saw of that was throughout the origins of COVID-19, and the sort of evidence that they were using to suppress a lot of these stories.”
Representatives of Lead Stories didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.