Wuhan COVID-19 lab leak hypotheses are ‘absolutely legitimate’ and ‘plausible’, expert says

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The U.S. intelligence community is almost halfway through a 90-day review of the origins of COVID-19[female[feminine. Investigators are investigating whether the virus emerged naturally from human contact with an infected animal or if it accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Former State Department officials told CBS News that important information about the activities of the Wuhan lab in 2019 was buried in government databases and did not reach their offices for nearly a year. .

In southwest China, the closest known relatives of the COVID-19 virus were discovered in caves nearly ten years ago, more than 900 miles from Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic began.

“It’s impossible to say whether this latest development took place in the laboratory or in nature,” Stanford professor and microbiologist David Relman told CBS News’s Catherine Herridge.

Relman is no stranger to complex affairs. When Anthrax was mailed in 2001, Relman reviewed the science behind the FBI investigation. Now he is advising the government on the science behind the origins of the pandemic.

He told CBS News that the laboratory leak hypotheses are “absolutely legitimate” and are “plausible.” Relman said the Wuhan lab housed a large library of bat coronaviruses, including cave specimens.

“They weren’t just studying these viruses. They were actually collecting samples from nature in the greatest number with the greatest diversity of almost any place on the planet,” he said.

Seventeen months ago, as COVID-19 went global and even less was known about the virus, a group of scientists called the laboratory leak theory a “conspiracy.”

“The letters that made very provocative or firm statements about the high probability of a natural origin. I think it hurt. They forced a lot of people to adopt only one way of thinking,” Relman said.

Dr Anthony Fauci, who supports the path from infected animal to human, recently told CBS News that an accidental lab leak was worth investigating.

“We’ve always said to keep an open mind and keep watching. So I think it’s a bit of a distortion to say that we’ve deliberately removed that,” Fauci said.

The theory of laboratory leaks gained ground in January after the State Department released a fact sheet accusing the Chinese Communist Party of “deception and disinformation.” David Feith, a former Assistant Under Secretary of State, helped write the backgrounder.

Among the findings, researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in the fall of 2019 before the Chinese Communist Party made the virus public. Feith said the information was solid and credible.

“The information from the US government about this, about this fact, about lab workers being sick was completely reliable,” Feith said. State Department investigators also found that the Wuhan lab had military ties and was doing high-risk coronavirus research. Feith added that the lab “hides the lab records, they hide the medical records.”

CBS News has also learned that one of the top U.S. government labs, Lawrence Livermore, released a classified report last year that found the lab leak theory to be plausible.

“We read it. And we were instantly both alarmed and in awe of its quality, but alarmed by its findings,” said David Asher, who recently led a coronavirus task force at the State Department .

“What I can say is that it was important and persuasive. We needed to do more due diligence, including the potential that it came out of a lab,” Asher said.

When a group of scientists brought together by the World Health Organization went to the Wuhan lab earlier this year, their access was limited. Feith said the scientist’s findings were not enough.

“These results were completely inadequate. They weren’t at all scientific. They weren’t forensic,” Feith said.

This lack of transparency rings true Condoleezza Rice, who was the White House’s national security adviser at the start of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“We couldn’t get answers from the Chinese. And so if we don’t want to keep repeating this problem, we have to be a little more aggressive with the Chinese on the need to cooperate,” Rice said.

With nearly four million dead, including more than 600,000 Americans, Professor Relman said solving the COVID-19 puzzle will combat future pandemics.

“The better we understand the origins of this one, the better we can anticipate the origins of the next,” said Relman.

In response to questions from CBS News, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “the so-called” obstruction of China investigation “by the US State Department is a” conspiracy theory “concocted by the States. United to shirk their responsibilities in their failed fight against the epidemic – no basis in reality and this is purely political manipulation. “


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