US congressional committee: Beijing ‘covered up’ leak from Wuhan laboratory

US congressional committee: Beijing ‘covered up’ leak from Wuhan laboratory. By Adam Creighton.

A report by staff of a powerful US congressional committee has alleged a massive “cover up” by the Chinese Communist Party and American scientists about the origins of Sars-Cov2, arguing the virus leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan as early as September 2019, and spread globally by infecting hundreds of international athletes.

In a bombshell report that “completely dismisses” the idea Sars-Cov2 emerged in a wet market, Republicans on the foreign affairs committee have accused China of removing a database about viruses “without explanation” in September 2019 in the Wuhan Virology Lab, where safety standards were “similar to a dentist’s office”.

“Satellite imagery of Wuhan in September and October 2019 that showed a significant uptick in the number of people at local hospitals surrounding the WIV’s headquarters, coupled with an unusually high number of patients with symptoms similar to Covid-19,” the report added.

Texas congressman Michael McCaul, the lead Republican on the House committee, accused the Chinese Communist Party of the “greatest cover up in human history”.

“They were playing with fire … They were genetically manipulating at the lab this gain-of-function that was taking place,” he said on Monday.

The analysis, which comes weeks before US intelligence services are expected to deliver their own report on the origins of the virus, also found “ample evidence” the Wuhan lab was pursuing controversial “gain of function” research, where viruses are artificially created or enhanced, in collaboration with American scientists. …

Here’s what happened:

The Republican-authored report said the “preponderance of evidence” was in favour of the idea SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released “sometime prior” to September 12, 2019.

“The virus, or the viral sequence that was genetically manipulated, was likely collected in a cave in Yunnan province, PRC, between 2012 and 2015,” it added.

The Seventh International Military World Games, to which Australia and New Zealand did not send athletes, drew more than 9000 military personnel from more than 100 nations to Wuhan, China.

“Athletes at the Military World Games held in Wuhan in October 2019 became sick with symptoms similar to Covid-19 both while in Wuhan and also shortly after returning to their home countries,” the report said.

Athletes said the city appeared to be in “lockdown” during the games.

“We were told this was to make it easy for the Games’ participants to get around,” one Canadian athlete said at the time. Italy, France, Brazil, and Sweden, which all sent athletes, have since confirmed Covid-19 cases within their borders in late 2019.

How do they know the release was accidental? Did they dare consider that some group — possibly just a rogue cell of Chinese spooks — did it deliberately? Isn’t the initial release at a worldwide games in a locked down city just a little bit too convenient?