US study gives further credence to Wuhan Lab leak theory
After US President Joe Biden revealed that the intelligence community is now exploring the lab-leak hypothesis, a US government national laboratory has backed the theory postulating SARS-CoV-2 virus leaking from the virology labs in Wuhan, according to The Wall Street Journal report. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California based its finding on the genomic analysis of the COVID-19 virus initiated in May 2020.
US intelligence agencies are exploring two primary scenarios. Either the virus spread through a lab accident or it jumped naturally from an infected animal to humans. Biden, however, emphasized that no conclusion has been reached on the matter.
Scientists haven't found a bat, pangolin, or any other animal species infected with the virus even 18 months since the outbreak. That's strange considering scientists identified the civet cat as the host species of the original SARS virus within four months, whereas the MERS virus host took nine months to identify. There's no evidence supporting the theory that COVID-19 may have propagated through zoonosis.
Interestingly, a classified US intelligence report from former President Donald Trump's term explores the theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has likely leaked from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The report cites three researchers from the Chinese viral research establishment being hospitalized with COVID-19-like symptoms in November 2019—well before the disease was supposed to originate in the wet markets as per Chinese claims.
The Trump-administration theory was also corroborated by David Asher, the former lead of a State Department task force investigating origins of the virus. He emphasized how three WIV staff being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms in the same week is highly suspicious. Asher believes that these WIV researchers getting sick in November 2019 potentially represents "the first known cluster" of COVID-19 infections.
"I'm very doubtful that three people in highly-protected circumstances in a level-three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in the hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week," said Asher hinting those cases could be COVID-19-related.
The takeaway of Asher's statement is the fact that the infected researchers could've been handling the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a level-three (BSL-3) lab, which is negligent because deadly viruses are supposed to be handled in BSL-4 labs only. In fact, several global scientists have raised concerns about inadequate safety and virus-handling standards used in Chinese virology labs, with US State Department warning the same.
Separately, several scientific papers have cast doubt on China's wet market origin theory. A Lancet paper published in January 2020 showed that 50 out of 99 confirmed COVID-19 cases at the Jin Yin-Tan Hospital had no history of exposure to the seafood market. Similar study from New England Journal had confirmed that 45 of the 425 infections had no exposure to the same market.
Further, Daniel Lucey, a renowned epidemiologist at the University of Georgetown, referred to the aforementioned Lancet Paper and calculated that the patient zero of COVID-19 would have most likely been infected in November'19. Based on the incubation period between infection and onset of symptoms, he postulated that virus could already have been spreading in Wuhan prior to December 15 timeline purported by Chinese authorities.
The confirmation of lab-leak hypothesis would not only open China for global reparations but also raise questions about its role in propagating the pandemic, given how it shut down all domestic traffic by January 2020, while allowing international flights out of Wuhan until March-end. The role of the World Health Organization in denying the disease's contagious nature and mask usage has also been condemned.