PIERS MORGAN: If COVID did leak from lab, China needs to be punished

PIERS MORGAN: If COVID-19 did leak from that Wuhan lab, then Trump was right, China needs to be severely punished for mass manslaughter – and Dr Fauci’s reputation will be destroyed

Was Donald Trump right all along about covid-19?

Did the world’s worst pandemic for 100 years emanate from a laboratory in Wuhan, China?

If so, where does all this leave Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, and the face of the nation’s response to Covid, who vehemently dismissed the engineered theory but has close and potentially conflicting ties to China’s top scientists and the very lab under suspicion?

These are some of the very uncomfortable questions now gathering ferocious momentum following President Biden’s decision to order a new 90-day investigation by US intelligence agencies to ‘redouble their efforts’ in determining how the coronavirus started.

And there’s a fourth even bigger question if the answers to the first two are ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, which is this: if China knew the virus erupted from one of its labs, either accidentally or nefariously, and then covered it up to the world, how should it be punished?

These are all vitally important questions because this is potentially shaping up to be the biggest scandal and mass manslaughter case in modern history.

At the centre of it is The Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of China’s top virus research labs, which built a huge amount of genetic information about coronaviruses after the 2003 outbreak of SARS.

Was Donald Trump right all along about covid-19? Did the world’s worst pandemic for 100 years emanate from a laboratory in Wuhan, China? If so, where does all this leave Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, and the face of the nation’s response to Covid, who vehemently dismissed the engineered theory but has close and potentially conflicting ties to China’s top scientists and the very lab under suspicion?

At the centre of it is The Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of China’s top virus research labs, which built a huge amount of genetic information about coronaviruses after the 2003 outbreak of SARS

The official theory of how COVID-19 started, leaping from a bat to a human in a live animal wet market in Wuhan, always seemed a bizarre and convenient – for China – coincidence given that just a few kilometres away from the market lies the huge WIV laboratory run by scientists performing constant tests on coronaviruses.

China’s credibility in this crisis was already severely damaged from the start by its refusal to be transparent about the rapid spread of the virus, lies about its soaring infection numbers while setting up temporary hospitals, denials it could be transmitted from human-to-human even when it was happening, and decision to allow international travel to continue when it knew that was likely to export a global outbreak.

Since then, Chinese officials have continued to spread disinformation in a desperate effort to avoid blame, even suggesting that COVID-19 could have started in myriad other countries from Italy and India to the US or arrived in China via frozen food.

In fact, they’ve said anything and everything to deflect attention from the WIV lab-leak theory which would, if proven, make China directly culpable for the ruinous pandemic.

Those who have screamed loudest about the theory, led by Donald Trump who dubbed COVID-19 the ‘China virus’, have been berated and belittled as conspiracy theorists and nutjobs.

That view was encouraged by experts like Dr Fauci who repeatedly publicly dismissed the theory, insisting that coronavirus mutations which led to COVID-19 are ‘totally consistent with a jump of a species from an animal to a human rather than a lab leak.’

Now, thanks to a massive news dump of 3,200 pages of Fauci’s emails, following a FOIA request by BuzzFeed, we can see how vital his opinion was to those with a vested interest in the WIV lab and what a tangled web starts to emerge about exactly what America’s own involvement might have been in the lab’s work.

What is clear from the emails is that from near the start of the pandemic, Fauci was being sent repeated warnings about the lab-leak theory.

On April 16, 2020 Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health, emailed him a link to a Fox News report news supporting the theory under the subject line ‘conspiracy gains momentum.’

Fauci’s response to Collins is entirely blacked out, which in itself is suspicious.

What did he say in response?

Why can’t we know it?

Perhaps the reason is connected to an email he received two days later from Peter Daszak, president of nonprofit pandemic-research group EcoHealth Alliance, in which he thanked Fauci for supporting ‘evidence’ that COVID-19 came from an animal rather than the Wuhan lab.

‘I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,’ Daszak wrote.

He lauded the NIAID director’s comments as ‘brave,’ saying they would ‘help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’s origins.’

‘Many thanks for your kind note,’ responded Fauci.

Daszak had every reason to be very grateful because he was right in the crosshairs of the lab-leak allegations.

EcoHealth Alliance was given a $600,000 federal grant from NIAID which then paid the WIV to study the risk that bat coronaviruses could infect humans.

It’s been alleged by Senator Rand Paul and others that this funding may have contributed to dangerous ‘gain-of-function’ research which involves altering an organism or a disease to increase its development, transmissibility or range of hosts it can affect.

Fauci has previously, in a 2012 paper, lauded such research, saying: ‘In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?’ he wrote at the time. Scientists working in this field might say – as indeed I have said – that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks.’

Many now think that is exactly what may have happened with COVID-19.

‘It’s a good conspiracy theory,’ Daszak said. ‘Foreigners designing a virus in a mysterious lab, a nefarious activity, and then the cloak of secrecy around China.’

He added that attacking scientists ‘is not only shooting the messenger, it’s shooting the people with the conduit to where the next pandemic could happen.’

There’s just one problem with his indignant response: it might be the messenger who shot the virus out of the lab and into the rest of the world, killing more than three million people to date.

The finger of suspicion is certainly pointing more and more to that possibility.

The State Department said in January 2021 that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019 with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence documents that found some of those WIV workers who fell ill required hospital care.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think this is very suspicious.

After spending just 12 days at in Wuhan, which included a visit to the WIV laboratory, a team of WHO-appointed scientists concluded the lab-leak theory was ‘extremely unlikely’, dismissing it in just a few pages of a several-hundred-page report which, surprise surprise, Beijing is accused of having had a heavy hand in writing.

Earlier this year, a team of World Health Organisation-appointed scientists flew to Wuhan tasked with investigating the source of the pandemic.

But after spending just 12 days there, which included a visit to the WIV laboratory, the team concluded the lab-leak theory was ‘extremely unlikely’, dismissing it in just a few pages of a several-hundred-page report which, surprise surprise, Beijing is accused of having had a heavy hand in writing.

A prominent group of scientists criticised the WHO report for not taking the theory seriously enough.

‘We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,’ they wrote in Science Magazine.

And now, finally, it appears that everyone is.

Even the WHO’s own director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called for a new investigation, saying: ‘All hypotheses remain open and require further study.’

And Dr Fauci now says he’s ‘not convinced’ the virus originated naturally.

But that’s a screeching U-turn from what these two men have said previously, and the unpalatable reality for them is that Donald Trump may be proven right, and they may be proven embarrassingly wrong.

Unsurprisingly, Trump is revelling in the latest developments.

In a statement to the New York Post, he said: ‘To me it was obvious from the beginning, but I was badly criticised, as usual. Now they are all saying: ‘He was right.’

They’re not.. yet.

But more and more experts are coming round to the idea that Trump’s theory might the correct one.

And it would be truly ironic if the guy who got most things wrong in the way he handled this pandemic turns out to be the one who called the cause of it as the experts rubbished him.

But if he is, then what should be done to punish China?

The world has suffered a catastrophic loss in both human life and multi-trillion-dollar economic downturn.

When private companies are responsible for disasters like oil spills or toxic water, they get hit with severe financial penalties.

Trump has repeatedly said China should ‘pay a big price’ for the damage wrought by covid, and if it turns out that COVID-19 escaped from the WIV lab, and China knew that and lied to the world about it, then it should be slammed with the biggest financial punishment ever seen.

It should also be compelled to put all its laboratories like WIV under tight international regulatory control to prevent anything like this happening again.

But in the eventuality of the lab-leak being verified, the question of whether Dr Fauci approved US funding for the lab which may have directly contributed to the pandemic, and then tried to cover up what happened, may reach career-ending velocity. 

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