Vanity Fair and ProPublica downloaded more than 500 documents from the WIV website, including party branch dispatches from 2017 to the present. To assess Reid’s interpretation, we sent key documents to experts on CCP communications. They told us that the WIV dispatches did indeed signal that the institute faced an acute safety emergency in November 2019; that officials at the highest levels of the Chinese government weighed in; and that urgent action was taken in an effort to address ongoing safety issues. The documents do not make clear who was responsible for the crisis, which laboratory it affected specifically or what the exact nature of the biosafety emergency was.
The interim report also raises questions about how quickly vaccines were developed in China by some teams, including one led by a military virologist named Zhou Yusen. The report called it “unusual” that two military COVID-19 vaccine development teams were able to reach early milestones even faster than the major drug companies who were part of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program.
Vanity Fair and ProPublica spoke to experts who said that the timeline of Zhou’s vaccine development seemed unrealistic, if not impossible. Two of the three experts said it strongly suggested that his team must have had access to the genomic sequence of the virus no later than in November 2019, weeks before China’s official recognition that the virus was circulating.
The authors of the interim report do not claim to have definitively solved the mystery of COVID-19’s origin. “The lack of transparency from government and public health officials in the [People’s Republic of China] with respect to the origins of SARS-CoV-2 prevents reaching a more definitive conclusion,” the report says, adding that its conclusion could change if more independently verifiable information becomes available.
Throughout the pandemic, the WIV has largely remained a black box, owing to the Chinese government’s refusal to cooperate with international probes. By mining the WIV’s own records, Toy Reid and Senate researchers unearthed new clues that support the interim report’s assessment that a lab accident was “most likely” responsible for the pandemic.
More on that “Acute Safety Emergency in November 2019” from Jim Geraghty:
Separately, ProPublica and Vanity Fair question how Yusen Zhou could have applied for a patent for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on February 24, 2020. Yusen Zhou is the director of the State Key Laboratory of Pathogen and Biosecurity at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology, in Beijing. The top experts in vaccine development conclude that it is impossible to start from scratch and have a vaccine ready in three months. A South China Morning News report said that the Chinese government traced the first case of Covid-19 back to November 17, but other reports said that Chinese doctors only came to realize that they were dealing with a new and serious virus in late December; the first public statement about a “cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause” from Chinese health authorities was dated to December 21, 2019. Yet the evidence suggests that the Chinese military and medical authorities would’ve had to have started the research on their vaccine before the first cases emerged:
Vanity Fair and ProPublica consulted two independent experts and one expert adviser to the interim report to get their assessment of when Zhou’s research was likely to have begun. Two of the three said that he had to have started no later than November 2019, in order to complete the mouse research spelled out in his patent and subsequent papers.
Larry Kerr, who advised on the interim report, called the timeline laid out in Zhou’s patent and research papers “scientifically, technically not possible.” He added, “I don’t think any molecular biology lab in the world, no matter how sophisticated, could pull that off.”
Rick Bright, the former HHS official who helped oversee vaccine development for the U.S. government, told Vanity Fair and ProPublica that even a four-month timetable would be “aggressive,” especially when the virus in question is new. “Things aren’t usually that perfect,” he said.
You wanted a smoking gun? I smell smoke, and that gun barrel feels awfully warm.
As David Strom of Hot Air adds: The COVID coverup begins to unravel. “It was remarkable how quickly the Narrative™ settled on the zoonotic origin of the virus, since warning signs that the virus didn’t originate naturally were everywhere. Even scientists who confidently declared in private their belief that the virus was engineered publicly stated the opposite–after having been directed to by Anthony Fauci, the keeper of the keys to the kingdom’s treasury when it comes to research dollars. Fauci in recent months has been backtracking on whether or not the virus could have been engineered, but he sure expended enormous effort maintaining the fiction that an animal origin was certain. There is a simple reason for Fauci’s reluctance to consider a lab leak hypothesis–if it came from the Wuhan Institute for Virology, the US government likely funded the research. Obviously nobody wants that on their record, and Fauci has quite the pension to protect, as well as an unearned reputation as The Science™.”