About a year ago, Zero Hedge was “permanently” banned from Twitter for daring to suggest that the outbreak of the new coronavirus that is shaking the world could originate from a lab called the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a level biosafety facility. 4 where scientists were – as fate would have it – researching coronaviruses, including viruses gleaned from bats.
When Chinese authorities identified a huge “wet market” in the city as a zero point for infections, suggesting the virus was coming from certain market goods, which including civets and live bats, considered delicacies tricky by many Chinese, it was a scientist who first pointed out the lab’s proximity to the market, and noted the likelihood that the virus likely leaked from the lab via an unsuspecting scientist.
What followed was a barrage of articles in the US media claiming that the laboratory leak hypothesis was “unfounded” and a “conspiracy theory”. NPR went so far as to publish an article citing a handful of scientists (nearly all of whom had deep financial and professional ties to China) citing Chinese lab security protocols and dismissing the theory as completely baseless. Yet reports since then have confirmed official complaints about safety at the lab.
Yet here we are, a year later, and after at least two attempts to send teams of WHO scientists to investigate the origins of the virus, no outsider has ever been allowed to investigate freely.
Despite this, the team compiled a report on the origins of the coronavirus – a report that essentially confirms the “official narrative” that was reported early last year: that the virus likely originated from bats with a ” intermediate ”unknown (some have suggested a civet) probably transferring it to humans. The report, which has been reviewed and, according to reports, heavily censored by Chinese authorities, insists that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely,” according to an advanced copy leaked to the PA.
Well, after speaking out from Beijing for this (with a few exceptions) for the past year, the US press is finally showing some skepticism about the origins of the virus. Case in point: On Sunday night, CBS’s “60 Minutes” ran a report questioning the official account of the virus’ origins, citing the latest delay in the WHO report (which, again, leaked overnight last), as suspect.
Lesley Stahl interviewed Jamie Metzl, who complained on Friday that the report was ‘compromised’, and Wuhan Lab affiliate Peter Daszak, as she poked holes in the official narrative more effectively than any tall reporter audience that we’ve seen.
Metzl began by asserting that the WHO “investigation” was totally unnecessary, comparing it to a “study tour” where scientists saw only “what the CCP wanted them to see.”
Jamie Metzl: I wouldn’t really call what has happened now an investigation. It is essentially a highly supervised and organized study trip.
Lesley Stahl: Study trip?
Jamie Metzl: Study trip. Everyone in the world thinks this is some kind of full investigation. It’s not. This group of experts saw only what the Chinese government wanted them to see.
As 60 Minutes points out, Metzl, a former NSC official in the Clinton administration and a member of a WHO advisory committee on genetic engineering, is one of more than two dozen scientists and officials (including virologists) who signed an open letter earlier this month calling for a new return to China investigation. Obviously, at this point, Beijing has had over a year to carry out a cover-up.
During their conversation, Metzl explained how much control Beijing had over what investigators saw and were not allowed to see.
Jamie Metzl: We should ask ourselves the question: “Well, why in Wuhan?” To quote Humphrey Bogart, “Of all the gin joints in all the cities of the world, why Wuhan?” What Wuhan has is the level four Chinese Institute of Virology, with arguably the largest collection of bat viruses in the world, including bat coronaviruses.
Lesley Stahl: I had seen that the World Health Organization team spent only 3 hours in the laboratory.
Jamie Metzl: While there, they did not request access to records, samples and key personnel.
This is because of the ground rules that China has established with the WHO, which has never had the power to make requests or apply international protocols.
Jamie Metzl: It was initially agreed that China would have veto power over who would even be on a mission. Secondly –
Lesley Stahl: And the WHO has accepted that.
Jamie Metzl: WHO has accepted this. On top of that, the WHO agreed that, in most cases, China would do the primary investigation.
And then just share his findings –
Lesley Stahl: No.
Jamie Metzl: – with these international experts. These international experts were therefore not allowed to conduct their own primary investigation.
Lesley Stahl: Wait. You say this China conducted the investigation and showed the results to the committee and that’s it?
Jamie Metzl: About that –
Lesley Stahl: Whoa.
Metzl followed this up with a powerful comparison: Imagine if the United States had let the Soviets conduct an international investigation into Chernobyl? Metzl added: Despite evidence of deadly lab leaks in China, Metzl said no one on the team has been trained to identify signs of a lab leak.
Additionally, as the team left on a four-week mission, two of those weeks were spent locked up in this quarantined hotel. Once out, they had tense discussions with their counterparts, a team of Chinese experts, over their refusal to provide raw data. If the virus originated from animals, the key unanswered question is: How did the virus travel the thousands of miles between the bat caves in southern China and Wuhan?
Unsurprisingly, the WHO team thinks they have another explanation for this that does not involve a laboratory leak. The infected animals were simply captured from farms near the bat caves and shipped the stock to the Huanan Market in Wuhan.
To argue from the other side, 60 Minutes appealed to Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team. Daszak has close ties to Chinese labs and has appeared in the US press frequently to argue against the leak story. But after several minutes of equivocation, Stahl forced Daszak to admit the indisputable truth: that the WHO has no real evidence to refute the lab leak. In essence, the team is just taking China’s word for it, according to Daszak. What choice did they have?
Additionally, Daszak said Chinese government “monitors” were still in the room with investigators.
Peter Daszak: We have met them. We said, “Are you doing an audit of the lab?” And they said, “Every year”. “Did you audit it after the epidemic?” “Yes.” “Has anything been found?” “No.” “Are you testing your staff?” “Yes.” No one was …
Lesley Stahl: But you just take your word for it.
Peter Daszak: Well what else can we do? There is a limit to what you can do and we have gone up to that limit. We asked them tough questions. They were not checked in advance. And the answers they gave we found to be credible – correct and convincing.
Lesley Stahl: But weren’t the Chinese engaged in a cover-up? They destroyed evidence, they punished scientists who tried to testify on this very question of origin.
Peter Daszak: Well, it was not our task to find out whether China had covered the question of origin.
Lesley Stahl: No I know. I’m just saying that doesn’t make you wonder?
Peter Daszak: We have not seen any evidence of false reporting or cover-up in the work we have done in China.
Lesley Stahl: Were there Chinese government assistants in the room whenever you asked questions?
Peter Daszak: There were Foreign Ministry staff in the room throughout our stay. Absolutely. They were there to make sure everything was going well on the Chinese side.
Lesley Stahl: Or to make sure they weren’t telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth –
Peter Daszak: You sit in a room with people who are scientists and you know what a scientific statement is and you know what a political statement is. We had no problem distinguishing between the two.
Admittedly, Metzl acknowledged that the WHO theory is “plausible”, and that his own theory has some flaws (“it is incomplete”, he says, adding that he would need more data from Beijing, than the CCP hesitated to transmit). Most importantly, Daszak has a conflict of interest, Metzl said, due to his long-standing collaboration with the Wuhan lab.
“60 Minutes” also interviewed Matt Pottinger, the former Trump administration national security official and Asian policy chief who was one of the official narrative’s most vocal skeptics. Beijing has not shared the genetic sequences of the WIV virus. Pottinger also said Beijing has ordered scientists to destroy all virus samples.
Now, none of this in itself is proof that the virus has leaked from the lab. But it’s a clear sign that a major cover-up has taken place. And the reluctance (so far) of the US media to heed this has been difficult to explain.
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