U.S. government officials have admitted that the first patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus were researchers working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, despite claims by former director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Anthony Fauci, MD that “we may never know” the true origin of the novel coronavirus.1
Ben Hu, Yu Ping and Yan Zhu, researchers working at the WIV, were the first to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 in November 2019. All three men were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.2 At the time they came down with COVID, these lab workers were adding gain-of- function features to a virus closely related to SARS CoV-2.3 While this information was first revealed in January 2021 by the U.S. State Department, it has largely been ignored until now.4
According to molecular biologist Alina Chan, PhD of the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, Hu was the leader of the gain-of-function research (GOFR) at the WIV and worked closely with Shi Zehengli, who was in charge of WIV’s coronavirus research.
He [Ben Hu] was her star pupil. He had been making chimeric SARS-like viruses and testing these in humanized mice. If I had to guess who would be doing this risky virus research and most at risk of getting accidentally infected, it would be him.5
In 2017, two years before the start of the pandemic, a video was run on Chinese state-run television that showed Hu with a lab worker, absent any protective gear or other safeguards, handling specimens and hunting for bat viruses.6
Jamie Metzel, a former member of the World Health Organization (WHO) expert advisory committee on human genome editing and now Senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, was one of the first to connect COVID to the WIV back in 2020. She said that Hu having been patient zero would be the “smoking gun” behind the Chinese lab leak theory.7 Reportedly, sources within the U.S. government claim to be 100 percent certain that Hu, Ping and Zhu were the first people to have been infected with SARS-Cov-2, which led to the COVID pandemic.8
In written testimony for a Mar. 8, 2023 hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on “Investigating the Origins of COVID-19,” Metzel wrote:
Over three years ago, in the earliest days of the pandemic, I began looking at the available evidence and became convinced that a COVID-19 lab origin was at very least a serious possibility needing to be fully investigated. By late January 2020, it was already clear that the Wuhan market was likely not where the pandemic began but rather a place where it spread rapidly.9
Lab Leak Theory Was Heavily Censored
In 2020, Li-Meng Yan, a former researcher at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, posted on Twitter that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from the Wuhan lab, but his account was immediately suspended by the social media platform for allegedly violating its rules. Yan had co-authored a non-peer reviewed paper that explained how SARS-CoV-2 could be created in a lab within six months.10 11
An investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 by the WHO in 2021 led COVID investigator Peter Ben Embarek to conclude that it was “extremely unlikely” that SARS-CoV-2 spread from the WIV. Emberek claimed that even though he did not understand how it happened, that the virus had a “natural reservoir” in bats and that is where it most likely originated, rather than from work conducted on the virus in a nearby lab. The WHO said that there was, “no indication” that anyone suffered from COVID prior to December 2019.12
In late February 2023, FBI director Christopher Wray confirmed that COVID “most likely” started from a lab leak at the WIV. Wray said:
The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.13
The U.S. Energy Department came to the same conclusion as the FBI, but rated the finding as “low confidence.”14 This conclusion updated their earlier report published in May 2021 in which the FBI did not take a position as to whether COVID originated from a lab or from an animal. It is unclear where new information came from to change the Energy Department’s position.15
Inherent Risks of Gain of Function Research
The point of GOFR is to turn dangerous viruses even more deadly so that scientists may have an understanding of what to do should the virus naturally mutate and infect humans one day. A paper published in Advanced Applied Microbiology in July 2022 explained GOFR as follows:
Gain-of-Function research on viruses is enhancing transmissibility, virus replication, virulence, host range, immune evasion or drug and vaccine resistance to get insights into the viral mechanisms, to create and analyze animal models, to accelerate drug and vaccine development and to improve pandemic preparedness.16
GOFR essentially mutates a virus often making it more easily transmissible and more deadly to humans.17 Critics point out that even if a virus might mutate to be deadlier one day, it might not be for thousands of years and that scientists are often conducting that type of research funded by taxpayer money with little oversight on what they are doing.18 GOFR labs inherently pose a risk that the mutated virus could escape the lab and affect the population. Although former U.S. president Barak Obama banned GOFR in 2014, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials bypassed the ban by outsourcing the research to China.19
Coronavirus Research at Wuhan Lab Was Funded by U.S. Government
The coronavirus gain-of-function research at the WIV was funded by the NIH and the NIAID led by NIH director Francis Collins, MD and NIAID director Dr. Fauci,20 both of whom have retired from government. It is estimated that NIH/NIAID gave the WIV between $2-3 million to fund research on coronavirus in bats. The true amount of the funding may be even higher.21 22 These agencies gave money to EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based company which, in turn, transferred funds to the WIV for research on coronaviruses.
U.S. Representative Mike Turner of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic said in a joint statement:
Today, the GAO confirmed that US taxpayer dollars awarded from the National Institutes of Health and USAID were ultimately used for research by entities in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was known to be doing coronavirus research. This revelation is very concerning due to the increased focus on the ‘lab leak’ theory, which suggests that the virus may have originated from the Wuhan laboratory rather than through natural means. We have long argued that the American people deserve the truth about COVID-19’s origin and continue to take concrete actions to declassify intelligence related to the pandemic.23
In May 2021, the U.S. Senate approved amendments to the Endless Frontier Act that blocked U.S. funds from going to the WIV and GOFR in China.24
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1 Shellenberger M, Tainni M, Gutentag A. First People Sickened By COVID-19 Were Chinese Scientists At Wuhan Institute Of Virology, Say US Government Sources. Public. June 13, 2023.
2 Ropek L. U.S. Funded Scientist One of Several Wuhan Lab Researchers Sickened During Early Covid Outbreak. MSN Jun. 20, 2023.
3 Shellenberger M, Tainni M, Gutentag A. First People Sickened By COVID-19 Were Chinese Scientists At Wuhan Institute Of Virology, Say US Government Sources. Public. June 13, 2023.
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5 Shellenberger M, Tainni M, Gutentag A. First People Sickened By COVID-19 Were Chinese Scientists At Wuhan Institute Of Virology, Say US Government Sources. Public. June 13, 2023.
8 Shellenberger M. We now know the first three people to get COVID worked in the Wuhan lab: Will the US government act? New York Post June 15, 2023.
9 Metzel JF. Written Statement of Jamie F. Metzel Submitted to the US House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, Hearings on “Investigating the Origins of COVID-19”. Mar. 8, 2023.
10 Salo J. Twitter suspends Chinese virologist who says COVID-19 was made in Wuhan lab. New York Post Sept. 16, 2020.
11 Srikanth A. Twitter suspends account of Chinese virologist who claimed coronavirus was made in a lab. The Hill Sept. 16, 2020.
12 BBC News. Covid: WHO says ‘extremely unlikely’ virus leaked from lab in China. Feb. 9, 2021.
13 Mallin A. ‘Potential lab incident’: FBI director Wray speaks publicly for 1st time on COVID-19 origin. ABC News. Feb. 28, 2023.
14 Dellato M. Timeline: How The Covid Lab Leak Origin Story Went From ‘Conspiracy Theory’ To Government Debate. Forbes 26, 2023.
15 NPR. Energy Dept. says with ‘low confidence’ that lab leak may be origin of COVID-19. eb. 27, 2023.
16 Saalbach KP. Gain-of-function research. Adv Appl Microbiol. 2022;120:79-111. doi: 10.1016/bs.aambs.2022.06.002. Epub 2022 Jul 13. PMID: 36243453.
17 Fink J. What Is Gain Of Function Research and Why Is It Controversial. Newsweek July 22, 2021.
18 Fox News. Norman, G. Wuhan lab scientists were first to catch COVID-19: report. June 14, 2023.
19 Salo J. Twitter suspends Chinese virologist who says COVID-19 was made in Wuhan lab. New York Post Sept. 16, 2020.
20 Shellenberger M, Tainni M, Gutentag A. First People Sickened By COVID-19 Were Chinese Scientists At Wuhan Institute Of Virology, Say US Government Sources. Public. June 13, 2023.
21 Rapoza K. Wuhan lab As Coronavirus Source Gains Traction. Forbes May 1, 2020.
22 Christenson J. US taxpayers funded $2M worth of research in Wuhan, government watchdog reports. New York Post June 23, 2023.
24 Spencer C. Senate votes to defund Wuhan animal lab and ‘gain-of-function’ experiments in China. The Hill May 26, 2021.