China

China Denies Leak: Embassy Cables Say Otherwise

Responding to accusations that the coronavirus originated from a Wuhan, China lab, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had nothing to say on Thursday, other than the World Health Organization hasn’t found any evidence of that yet. Maybe the WHO didn’t, but some diplomatic scientists found some very scary things a couple years ago and the cables were leaked to prove it.

WHO has no evidence but they aren’t the only ones looking

WHO officials “have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory,” Zhao insisted at his daily Beijing briefing. Then again, the WHO has been so friendly to China lately that President Trump stopped sending voluntary donations.

There may not be any evidence, but it’s way too soon to rule out the possibility and there’s no evidence to the contrary either. The People’s Republic may very well be responsible for the epidemic which has infected more than 2 million people around the world.

Not only was Wuhan the epicenter of the outbreak in late 2019, it’s also home to some spooky bioweapons labs. One spookier than others. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Beijing they need “to come clean” and tell us what they know. There may not be conclusive proof yet, government officials say, but they’re looking into what they already do know about that lab with a high power microscope.

Inspecting the Level 4 lab gave scientists nightmares

As the Washington Post reports, in January 2018, a full two years before coronavirus swept the globe, U.S. diplomatic scientists “took the unusual step,” of touring the Wuhan Institute of Virology. They didn’t inspect the Level 4 bioresearch laboratory just once, they visited “repeatedly.”

On March 27, 2018 the lab got a visit from Jamison Fouss, the U.S. consul general in Wuhan, China, and Rick Switzer, the embassy’s counselor of environment, science, technology and health. Afterward, they cabled two “Sensitive But Unclassified” official warnings home to Washington, complaining about the “inadequate safety at the lab,” which was performing “risky studies on coronaviruses from bats.”

The January 19, 2018, cable states there were “safety and management weaknesses” that required “more attention and help.” It detailed how “the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.”

Not only that, the lab had “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians.” The “high-containment laboratory” was so short handed they weren’t able to “safely operate.”

A little assistance please

At the time, the researchers in China were getting some technical assistance from “the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations,” but it wasn’t enough. The cables strongly suggested “the United States should give the Wuhan lab further support, mainly because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but also dangerous.”

Shi Zhengli, head of the China research project, had recently traced the 2003 SARS coronavirus to “horseshoe bats they had collected from a cave in Yunnan province.” Most importantly, the diplomats wired home, “the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus.” This finding “strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases.”

“From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention.”

Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley makes it perfectly clear, China saying there is no evidence “is not the same as saying it didn’t come from the lab.” According to Qiang, “The cable tells us that there have long been concerns about the possibility of the threat to public health that came from this lab’s research, if it was not being adequately conducted and protected.”

As one senior official told the Post, “the idea that it was just a totally natural occurrence is circumstantial. The evidence it leaked from the lab is circumstantial. Right now, the ledger on the side of it leaking from the lab is packed with bullet points and there’s almost nothing on the other side.”

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