World faces another pandemic if it doesn’t solve riddle of Covid’s origins and put checks and balances on China’s ‘dangerous’ virus research, author of bombshell ‘lab leak’ book warns
- Australian journalist Sharri Markson said 18-month probe left her ‘beyond doubt’
- She called for China to come clean about Covid’s origins and future pandemics
- Her book ‘What really happened in Wuhan’ hit the shelves in Australia today
China must come clean about Covid’s origins or its controversial experiments on viruses may spark another pandemic, the author of an explosive new book warns.
Australian journalist Sharri Markson said her 18-month investigation into the ‘lab leak’ hypothesis left her ‘beyond doubt’ that the virus spilled out of a biomedical facility.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which specialises in manipulating dangerous coronaviruses, is the high-security laboratory at the centre of an alleged cover-up.
Markson called for this so-called ‘gain of function’ research to either be shut down or Chinese labs put under more scrutiny to avoid future pandemics.
The risky experiments involve engineering viruses to make them more infectious or lethal, in the hope of developing treatments and vaccines to get ahead of outbreaks.
Markson’s book ‘What really happened in Wuhan’ which makes a compelling case for the lab leak hypothesis, hit the shelves in Australia today and is available in the UK and US from Thursday.
It includes testimonies from senior security officials and high-ranking diplomats, including an ex-MI6 chief and the US’ former head of national intelligence.
They claim the evidence points ‘singularly’ to Covid spilling from the WIV, with the pathogen showing all the hallmarks of one that has been ‘mucked around with’.
Governments around the world are taking the ‘lab leak’ theory increasingly seriously after it was initially dismissed as a conspiracy in the early stages of the pandemic.
Recent revelations about the type of research that went on at the WIV and China’s attempt to censor vital information about the virus’ origins have raised suspicions.
Australian journalist Sharri Markson said her 18-month investigation into the ‘lab leak’ hypothesis left her ‘beyond doubt’ that the virus spilled out of a biomedical facility
Her book, ‘What really happened in Wuhan’, hit the shelves in Australia today and is available in the UK and US from Thursday
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, told Markson’s documentary of the same name about his probes into the origin of the pandemic. They concluded that Covid had all the signs of ‘taking a natural virus and mucking around with it’
David Asher, a former Covid investigator for the US State Department, said he feared the virus was borne out of experiments into biological weapons
The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is the high security lab which specialises in manipulating dangerous coronaviruses at the centre of the alleged cover-up. Pictured: Researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province, February 2017
Promoting her book, she told the Sun Online last night: ‘This is so important, this has not only claimed 4.7 million lives – it has shut down our lives as we know it.
‘People have lost their jobs, businesses have shut down, kids aren’t in school, all our lives have been turned upside down. To prevent another pandemic, we absolutely need to know how this started.
The World Health Organisation will start a new investigation into the origins of the Covid outbreak and probe whether the virus came from a Wuhan lab.
A new team of experts will be appointed, including experts on biosecurity, laboratory safety, genetics, and how viruses spread to humans.
They will look into whether coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, at the end of 2019 – a claim denied by China, which also wants the WHO to examine if the virus originated in another country.
It comes after US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the ‘lab leak’ theory.
A WHO spokesman said the new team’s ‘priority needs to be data and access in the country where the first reports were identified’.
The earlier investigation recommended China examine the earliest suspected coronavirus cases, with the team claiming in its final report that the data provided by the country was insufficient.
But out of the more than 400 page report, just three were allocated to the lab leak hypothesis.
The original investigation was mired in controversy because it was spearheaded by Peter Daszak who had undisclosed ties to the Wuhan lab.
‘And the fact is there has been dangerous biological research undertaken in labs in China which are not up to the same standards as Australian, British and American labs and where there is no oversight.’
Gain of function involves modifying organisms to enhance how they work, such as making a virus more deadly or more transmissible.
And the and the project might have gone ahead despite failing to get US funding, he said.
Markson has also made a documentary which first aired in Australia last week and has now been uploaded to YouTube, where she speaks to a number of high-profile officials.
David Asher, a former Covid investigator for the US State Department, said he feared the virus was borne out of experiments into biological weapons.
He said: ‘My concern was that the Chinese were doing research and as we learned later, under quite uncontrolled circumstances, that was almost definitely related to biological warfare ambitions in the future.
‘[What if] they had an accident that they never wanted anyone to know about because it was a weapon, and the weapon got released errantly.’
The communist Government in China has stymied efforts for independent investigations into how the virus first jumped to humans in epicentre Wuhan.
It has silenced journalists, wiped scientific databases and ‘disappeared’ WIV staff who were struck down with a mystery illness in autumn 2019.
Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State under President Trump, said intelligence about the origins of Covid pointed to the Wuhan lab being the ‘centre point’.
Speaking to Markson in the documentary, Pompeo said: ‘There is enormous – albeit indirect – evidence that the WIV was the centre point for this.
‘Remember too there were 14 American diplomats on the ground in Wuhan at this time [late 2019], watching and observing what was taking place on the ground.
‘I’m hoping one day we’ll be able to get that information out more broadly but… the cumulative evidence… points singularly to the WIV.’
Former President Donald Trump told Markson he was ’95 per cent’ sure that Covid emerged at the WIV and he believed it was ‘gross incompetence’ rather than intentional.
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, told the documentary about his probes into the origin of the pandemic.
He said that Covid had all the signs of ‘taking a natural virus and mucking around with it’.
Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State under President Trump, said intelligence about the origins of Covid pointed to the Wuhan lab being the ‘centre point’
Trump told Markson that he was ’95 per cent’ sure that Covid emerged at the WIV and he believed it was ‘gross incompetence’ rather than intentional
John Ratcliffe, former director of national intelligence between 2020 and 2021, told the documentary: ‘If there was really no blame here, if this was really some naturally occurring virus because someone ate a bat from a wet market, then China would not have done what it did
China’s official timeline of the coronavirus pandemic vs counter-claims
Dec 8, 2019 – Earliest date that China has acknowledged an infection
Dec 31 – China first reported ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’ to the World Health Organisation
Jan 1, 2020 – Wuhan seafood market closed for disinfection
Jan 7 – President Xi Jinping discusses coronavirus outbreak with his politburo
Jan 9 – China makes public the genome of the coronavirus
Jan 11 – China reported its first death
Jan 13 – First case outside China is confirmed
Jan 20 – China’s National Health Commission confirms human-to-human transmission
Jan 23 – Wuhan locked down
Jan 31 – WHO declared ‘outbreak of international concern’ as China admitted having thousands of cases
Feb 23 – Italy reports cluster of cases in first major outbreak in the West
May 29 – China claims virus did not originate in wet markets but in Chinese bats before it jumped to humans via an ‘intermediary animal’
July 31 – Chinese researcher admits some coronavirus experiments conducted in lower biosafety labs
Dec 16 – WHO announces it will travel to Wuhan to probe origins of virus in January
Jan 5, 2021 – China denies entry to WHO’s investigatory team
Feb 9 – WHO dismisses theory virus leaked from lab – backs China’s claim it was imported from frozen meat
Mar 28 – Former US national security officials says intel shows ‘there was a direct order from Beijing to destroy all viral samples’ at Wuhan lab
Sep 2019– Blood samples are taken in a lung cancer screening trial in Italy which later test positive for coronavirus
Oct – Whistleblower Wei Jingsheng claims China deliberately spread Covid at The World Military Games in Wuhan in October, two months before the rest of the world knew about the virus
Oct – Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime tried desperately to shut down whistle-blowers like Mr Jingsheng. Any references made in social media about a new SARS virus or ‘outbreak’ were censored
Oct-Dec – Rise in ‘flu and pneumonia’ cases in northern Italy which could be linked to coronavirus
Nov – Whistleblower Mr Jingsheng claims he took his concerns about the military games to senior figures within the Trump administration but was ignored
Nov – Intelligence report passed to agencies in Washington claims three members of staff at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital treatment in November 2019 after experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid
Nov – Sewage samples taken in Florianópolis, Brazil, suggest virus was present
Nov 10 – Milanese woman has a skin biopsy, producing a sample which later shows signs of the virus
Nov 17 – Leaked documents suggest case detected in China on this date
Dec – Doctors in China, including Li Wenliang, report existance of new type of respiratory infection. But Chinese police arrested him and eight of his colleagues for questioning – instead of publicising reports and warning public
Dec 1 – Chinese researchers report an infection on this date in a peer-reviewed study, but it has not been acknowledged by Beijing
Dec 18 – Sewage samples taken in Milan and Turin suggest virus was circulating in the cities
Dec 26 – Samples analysed suggested a new type of SARS was circulating as early as December 26, but Wuhan was not locked down until January 22
Jan 2020 – Sewage samples from Barcelona suggest virus was in the city
Jan 3 – Covid-19 infections begin sweeping across other nations including the U.S. as the WHO labelled the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
May – Scientists at a government lab in California concluded that Covid-19 may have escaped from a facility in Wuhan
July – WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China failed share vital raw data during their investigation in Wuhan. China rebuffed those claims
August 2021: The world’s first Covid-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working for a Wuhan lab in China, WHO chief Dr Peter Embarek said
August: A damning report by Republicans in the US claims coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, shortly after the facility tried to improve air safety and waste treatment systems
The report also cited ‘ample evidence’ that lab scientists were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden
Since China alerted the world to a mysterious virus circulating in Wuhan in December 2019, a debate has been raging over its true source.
China has repeatedly insisted the virus spilled naturally into humans from bats, with some scientists agreeing Covid most likely had natural origins.
But John Ratcliffe, former director of national intelligence between 2020 and 2021, told the documentary: ‘If there was really no blame here, if this was really some naturally occurring virus because someone ate a bat from a wet market, then China would not have done what it did.
‘The Chinese communist party would not have shut down Wuhan, they would not have silenced journalists and doctors and disappeared some of them.’
The book and documentary also include claims from a Chinese defector that he tried to warn top US officials about a deadly new virus in Wuhan in November 2019 — five months before the World Health Organization declared Covid a pandemic.
Wei Jingsheng revealed he expressed concerns about the unfolding situation to senior figures within the Trump administration but was subsequently ignored.
The long-time democracy campaigner, who has served time in prison for ‘counter-revolutionary activities’, said he made the approach in November 2019, as whispers of a ‘new SARS virus’ began circulating on WeChat and other Chinese social media platforms.
‘I felt they were not as concerned as I was, so I tried my best to provide more detail and information,’ he told the Sky News Australia documentary.
‘They may not believe that a government of a country would do something like that (cover up a virus), so I kept repeating myself in an effort … to persuade them.’
Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime tried to silence any discussion of the virus in the early stages of the Wuhan outbreak — even when an untold number of corpses started flooding the city’s hospitals.
Any references made in social media about a new SARS virus or ‘outbreak’ were censored and brave medical staff who tried to speak out and warn the world were detained and forced to sign false confessions of panic-stirring.
Mr Jingsheng, who was exiled to the US years earlier, said he was aware of what was happening through Beijing Communist Party insiders who shared their fears about the situation and described the central government cover-up.
But despite the impending health crisis set to devastate the US and the rest of the globe, his message was not being taken seriously, he claims.
Meanwhile, it emerged last week that scientists in Wuhan planned to alter coronaviruses and release them into bat caves 21 months before the pandemic kicked off.
Leaked documents show Dr Peter Daszak, president of New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, proposed working with a group of scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology to carry out the research.
The experts wanted to genetically enhance coronaviruses and release them among bats in Yunnan — around 1,240miles (2,000km) south west of Wuhan — in the hopes it would stop new viruses jumping from bats to humans.
The proposals set out plans to release a bat coronavirus featuring ‘novel chimeric spike proteins’ — which are spotted on Covid — as part of a plan to inoculate them against the virus.
They also wanted to create a genetically-enhanced virus that could infect humans easier, according to papers unearthed last night.
Researchers asked the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) for $14.2million (£10.4million) cash to fund the project. But it turned the proposal down over concerns it would put ‘local communities at risk’.
The documents, published by a team of academics investigating the origins of the pandemic, will add to growing suspicions that the coronavirus may have accidentally leaked from the high-level biosecurity laboratory in Wuhan.
The EcoHealth Alliance submitted the proposals in March 2018, which the US agency subsequently rejected.
EcoHealth Alliance is headed by British scientist Dr Peter Daszak, who denounced the lab leak theory in medical journal the Lancet towards the start of the pandemic.
Dr Daszak was initially part of a team gathered by the World Health Organization to investigate how the virus originated, but stepped back from the role after it emerged he had links to the Wuhan lab.
The proposals — called the DEFUSE project — were released by Drastic, a group of international scientists looking into the origins of the pandemic, which were passed details of the plans by a whistleblower.
Scientists have said the documents are genuine, but it is impossible to confirm.
Drastic said the documents show that EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology ‘attempted to carry out advanced and dangerous human pathogenicity bat coronavirus research that would clearly qualify as gain of function’.
‘Peter Daszak and the EcoHealth Alliance proposed injecting deadly chimeric bat coronaviruses collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into humanised and “batified” mice,’ Drastic said.
The project aimed to determine the risk of coronaviruses and develop methods to prevent outbreaks.
The US agency Darpa refused to fund the work because it was ‘clear the proposed DEFUSE project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk’.
Dr Daszak and his team failed to consider gain of function, regulatory requirements and ethical, legal and social issues, Darpa said.
Drastic called on the wider scientific community to examine the origins of the virus in light of the leaked documents.
So far, only one group of WHO scientists have have been given permission to investigate Covid’s origins in Wuhan. In their report published in March, they did not determine how the virus originated.
It followed a three-week investigation in Wuhan during which the researchers were carefully managed and only given access to certain data.
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