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Tags: wuhan | lab | warnings | covid-19 | pandemic | niaid | ebola

Vanity Fair: 'Secret Warnings' About Wuhan Before COVID

By    |   Tuesday, 21 November 2023 10:48 AM EST

There were secret warnings about the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic hit, Vanity Fair is reporting.

A U.S. health official from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) arrived at the WIV to view work on China's first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory. The lab, which was to be operated with the highest safeguards, would enable scientists to study some of the world's most lethal pathogens, Vanity Fair noted.

The project was supported by Western governments looking for a stronger partnership with top scientists from China. NIAID sent grant money through a U.S. group, EcoHealth Alliance, to help fund coronavirus research.

The funding arrangement permitted the NIAID official from the U.S. embassy in Beijing to view the lab.

The NIAID official, in emails obtained by Vanity Fair, reported back to her bosses that the lab was not fully operational and was having difficulties developing expertise among the staff. Vanity Fair said the information came from the lab's tour guide, who also served as a technician.

"According to [the technician], being the first P4 [or BSL-4] lab in the country, they have to learn everything from zero," she wrote. "They rely on those scientists who have worked in P4 labs outside China to train the other scientists how to operate."

The NIAID official said she learned that scientists at the lab had intended to conduct research on Ebola, but were prevented from doing so by government restrictions, so instead, they were looking into using a technique called reverse genetics to engineer Ebola.

She added: "I don't want the information particularly using reverse genetics to create viruses to get out, which would affect the ability for our future information gain."

In an email dated Jan. 10, 2018, the NIAID official wrote: "I was shocked to hear what he [the technician] said [about reverse engineering Ebola]. I also worry the reaction of people in Washington when they read this. The technician is only a worker, not a decision maker nor a [principal investigator]. So how much we should believe what he said?" She concluded, "I don't feel comfortable for broader audience within the government circle. It could be very sensitive."

F. Gray Handley, then NIAID's associate director for international research affairs, agreed with the official's statement and told her: "As we discussed. Delete that comment."

According to Stanford microbiologist David Relman, "When you are reverse engineering Ebola, you have now established a platform from which you can do 1 million different things with Ebola, or something that you call Ebola. It means you can now make any variant or construct that is Ebola-like at will."

On January 19, the U.S. embassy in Beijing issued an unclassified cable that included details from the NIAID official's tour, Vanity Fair said.

It noted that WIV scientists had revealed a "serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate" the lab, according to an unredacted copy obtained by Vanity Affair. The cable did not include the information that her NIAID colleagues apparently found most concerning.

Vanity Fair did not name the NIAID official after an NIH spokesperson raised concerns about her safety.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence agencies found no direct evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic stemmed from an incident at WIV, a report declassified in June said, according to Reuters.

The four-page report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said the U.S. intelligence community still could not rule out the possibility that the virus came from a laboratory, however, and had not been able to discover the origins of the pandemic.

"The Central Intelligence Agency and another agency remain unable to determine the precise origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, as both (natural and lab) hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reporting," the ODNI report said.

Jeffrey Rodack

Jeffrey Rodack, who has nearly a half century in news as a senior editor and city editor for national and local publications, has covered politics for Newsmax for nearly seven years.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

There were secret warnings about the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the pandemic hit, Vanity Fair is reporting.
wuhan, lab, warnings, covid-19, pandemic, niaid, ebola, research, china, viruses
Tuesday, 21 November 2023 10:48 AM
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