On Wednesday, the Republican members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released their report “COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology” as part of their exposing “the growing threat to America posed by the Communist Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army.” It is largely a rehash of previously failed slanders.
The interim report by the team delegated by the World Health Organization, with which China agreed to work, reported back that the SARS-CoV2 virus likely originated from bats or civets—but, if it did, the virus would have had to evolve through at least one or two other species. An extensive effort of tracking, testing, and tracing has failed so far to establish the trail, but the team recommended more such efforts in China and other parts of southeast Asia. The idea of an accidental escape of an engineered virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) was found to be very remote, though not impossible. One of the problems is that every employee of the WIV was regularly given sera tests, with never a trace of the viral infection.
Now, the WIV, as a world-class, high-level lab (a new one, set up with the help of the United States) has been under routine and constant electronic surveillance by US intelligence since years before Covid. (What is called “Gain of Function” manipulations of viruses is also the work where biological warfare research would go on, as with the various US labs.) Mobile phone signals, overhead satellite imagery, and communication intercepts have been pored over, for a hint of a lab shutdown due to accidental infections inside, to no avail.
Now, for some examples of the rehash. First: “On January 15, 2021, the Department of State publicly revealed that several WIV researchers became sick in the fall of 2019 with COVID-like symptoms prior to the first confirmed case.” For this, it footnotes Pompeo’s infamous 1/15/2021 “Fact Sheet, Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” However, all that propagandistic release claimed was that there was illness—nothing about the newly-added “COVID-like symptoms.” In actuality, Pompeo’s claim of illness was based upon alleged sightings of fewer cars in the WIV parking lot, interpreted as more illnesses of personnel. This new report slips further, claiming the speculative illnesses were actually "COVID-like.
Second example: “Additionally, uncorroborated media reports indicate there was no cellphone activity at the WIV between October 7, 2019 and October 24, 2019.” It’s footnote is to a Daily Mail article from 5/5/20, explaining that an NBC News’ “London-based verification unit” obtained a largely discredited “private analysis” from an unknown source, claiming that cell phone data was completely missing from high-security areas of the WIV in October, 2019—meaning a shutdown of the lab. However, the Daily Mail notes that the “document also appears to account for only a small number of cellphones that one would expect to be located in a facility that employs hundreds of people. It’s unclear who put together the document. A US official who has looked at the document told NBC News that the report’s data ‘looks really weak to me and some of the conclusions don’t make sense.’” But that doesn’t give the Republicans on the Intel Committee pause for thought.
Finally, to claim that the lab was accident-prone, it cites a 3/8/21 article by Josh Rogin, in which Rogin employs an oft-repeated claim that a 2018 cable from the US Embassy in Beijing proves the lab was unsafe. In reality, the Chinese welcomed the scientists from the US Embassy to visit the WIV, the lab modeled on one in Houston, TX, and the visitors were impressed. The cable does say that, in the lab’s early days, the Chinese scientists had asked for any support they [U.S.] could offer as they expanded and tried to get and train more and more technicians. It was a routine request, entirely coherent in the context of the build-up of the lab, and not the “warning” of the hyperventilating Rogin. There’s more, but the point is made.
Near the end, there is one footnote to a competent report, one examining the characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as to whether it was more likely to have been lab-engineered; however, the report makes no attempt to explain it, as there is no intent to conduct a discussion with the Chinese along such lines. (It would open up the question of military biological labs around the world, such as the infamous Ft. Detrick.) Rather, the Chinese must prove to us that they are not guilty, by opening up any and all facilities the US wants to examine, with no Chinese around to observe what we do. It concludes: “The world deserves unrestricted access to all this information, without Chinese meddling, in order to come to an informed scientific conclusion about the origins of COVID-19.” Such geopolitical games have nothing to do with a collaboration to get at the truth and/or win a war against COVID-19. In fact, should such a dangerous ‘wet-dream’ ever come to pass, the quality of this report pretty much insures that “informed scientific” practices would not be involved.