WHO chief admits ‘premature push’ to rule out COVID lab leak

By Art Moore

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (screenshot)

Taking the lead of a scientist who had a clear conflict of interest in opining on the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, establishment health care officials, politicians and media arrogantly dismissed anyone who suggested the virus came from a lab in China as an ignorant, anti-science conspiracy theorist.

But now, amid strong circumstantial evidence, the head of the World Health Organization has acknowledged it was premature to rule rule out a lab leak.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted to reporters Thursday there was a “premature push” to dismiss the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan.

That acknowledgment undermines his organization’s March report, which declared a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.”

The WHO chief said he is “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”

He noted he was once an immunologist who worked in a lab and “lab accidents happen.”

“It’s common,” he said.

He said information is needed from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and China’s cooperation was critical.

China, however, has blocked access to the lab. Nevertheless, during the pandemic Tedros has praised China.

Conflict of interest
The scientist with the conflict of interest is the U.S.-based British zoologist Peter Daszak, who received funding from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to conduct risky “gain-of-function” research on bat coronaviruses in collaboration with Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In February 2020, Daszak organized a letter published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet stating there was no possibility the virus came from a lab in Wuhan, dismissing the idea as a “conspiracy theory.”

Earlier this year, Daszak was the sole U.S. representative on the WHO fact-finding mission to Wuhan that concluded the virus likely emerged from animals. But the researchers didn’t examine the lab, accepting the communist government’s word that there was nothing to see. And even WHO’s director general criticized the probe.

Two months after Daszak’s original February 2020 statement was published, the zoologist emailed Fauci to thank him for “publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

“From my perspective, your comments are brave, and coming from your trusted voice, will help dispel the myths being spun around the virus’s origins,” Daszak wrote April 18, 2020.

Fauci, according to emails obtained recently through a Freedom of Information Act request, had been told by a top virologist in late January that the novel coronavirus may have been “engineered.”

But he replied to Daszak’s April email with, “Many thanks for your kind note.”

Overwhelming circumstantial evidence
The lab-leak theory gained traction in early May when former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade published a nearly 11,000-word analysis concluding the circumstantial evidence clearly points to a lab leak.

The Wall Street Journal later reported three researchers at the Wuhan lab were hospitalized with possible COVID symptoms in November 2019, when the outbreak in the city of 11 million began.

In May, House Intelligence Committee Republicans released a report concluding there is “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” the novel coronavirus came from the Wuhan lab and that scientists there were secretly working with the Chinese military, conducting gain-of-function research. The report noted the People’s Liberation Army has “a documented biological weapons program.”

A recent poll by Politico and Harvard University found a majority of Americans believe the COVID-19 pandemic began with a leak from a laboratory.

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