Covid 'most likely' leaked from lab, explosive Senate says

COVID ‘most likely’ leaked from lab, explosive Senate report concludes, as lawmakers say China ‘no longer deserves benefit of doubt’ over animal transmission theory

  • Policymakers said ‘substantial’ evidence pointing to lab accident has emerged
  • But evidence for a natural spillover ‘is missing’ even after three years of probes 
  • Unwillingness to cooperate means China ‘should no longer get benefit of doubt’ 
  • Findings come in an interim report pubished by the Senate Committee on Health
  • Origins of Covid still shrouded in mystery with no concrete evidence either way
  • But China has shut down independent probes into lab and silenced scientists

The Covid pandemic was most likely the result of a lab leak, according to an explosive Senate report.

Policymakers said ‘substantial’ evidence pointing to a research accident has emerged while evidence for a natural spillover ‘is missing’.

The interim report concluded that China ‘s unwillingness to cooperate or open up the lab in question meant it ‘no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt’.

GOP members of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions reviewed hundreds of studies into the origins of Covid and interviewed ‘several dozen’ experts over the past 15 months.

Writing in the report, they conclude: ‘Based on the analysis of the publicly available information, it appears reasonable to conclude that the COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.’

They add: ‘Nearly three years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, critical evidence that would prove that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and resulting COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a natural zoonotic spillover is missing.’

The report accepts there is still crucial missing information about how the pandemic truly came to be — with no direct evidence for either natural or synthetic origin.

But ‘the lack of transparency and collaboration’ from China ‘prevents reaching a more definitive conclusion’, the senate committee adds.

Proponents of the lab leak theory — including former President Donald Trump were initially dismissed as conspiracy theorists or denounced as xenophobes.

The Covid pandemic was most likely the result of a lab leak, according to an explosive Senate report

Pictured: The Wuhan Institute of Virology, where crucial data was wiped by Chinese scientists

Virologist Shi Zheng-li – nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ – is pictured in the lab. She hunted down dozens of deadly Covid-like viruses in bat caves and studied them at the WIV

The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. New studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbor Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)

The report, chaired by North Carolina GOP Senator Richard Burr, highlights there is some indirect evidence that Covid emerged naturally.

Policymakers point out that a third of Covid cases were linked back to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan – an animal slaughter market where exotic animals were kept in squalid conditions.

A series of studies published earlier this year appeared to trace the first cluster of cases back to one specific corner of the wet market, where animals known to harbor Covid including raccoon dogs, hedgehogs, rats and squirrels were kept.

Chinese scientists also found positive samples of an ancestral Covid strain on floors, counters and equipment in the market. 

But to date ‘there is no published genetic evidence that Covid was circulating in animals prior to the start of the pandemic’, the Senate report says.

And the Republicans claim the samples collected from the market’s stalls are too similar to the virus that circulated in humans to have been shed by animals.

‘There also do not appear to have been subsequent spillovers of the virus’ from animals to humans or vice versa in the past three years.

‘It is also noteworthy that the earliest variants of SARSCoV-2 were well-adapted for human-to-human transmission,’ the report adds.


Policymakers said ‘substantial’ evidence pointing to a research accident has emerged while evidence for a natural spillover ‘is missing’

Meanwhile, the report found there had been at least six research-related incidents involving Covid at biosecurity labs in China, Taiwan and Singapore.

It also cites claims the 1977 H1N1 flu outbreak was the result of a research-related incident, which remains a theory but has the backing of many scientists.

The committee writes: ‘In short, human errors, mechanical failure, animal bites, animal escapes, inadequate training, insufficient funding, and pressure for results can lead to an escape of virulent pathogens, which could, in turn, infect animals and humans and lead to a release of a virus from a lab.’

Questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s links to the pandemic have never been answered.

Chinese officials were found to have wiped crucial databases from the lab and stifled independent investigations into the facility.

Researchers who fell ill with a mysterious flu-like virus months before the official Covid timeline were silenced or disappeared.

The WIV specialized in dangerous viruses and one of its chief scientists was nicknamed the ‘Bat Lady’ for her extensive work on coronaviruses like Covid.

It received funding from the federal Government to conduct gain-of-function research, which involves tinkering with viruses to make them more infectious or deadly to get ahead of future outbreaks. 

China’s official pandemic timeline of the coronavirus pandemic and the evidence that undermines it

Official timeline 

Dec 8, 2019 – Earliest date that China has acknowledged an infection

Dec 31 – China first reported ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’ to the World Health Organisation

Jan 1, 2020 – Wuhan seafood market closed for disinfection

Jan 7 – President Xi Jinping discusses coronavirus outbreak with his politburo 

Jan 9 – China makes public the genome of the coronavirus 

Jan 11 – China reported its first death 

Jan 13 – First case outside China is confirmed

Jan 20 – China’s National Health Commission confirms human-to-human transmission  

Jan 23 – Wuhan locked down

Jan 31 – WHO declared ‘outbreak of international concern’ as China admitted having thousands of cases

Feb 23 – Italy reports cluster of cases in first major outbreak in the West  

May 29 – China claims virus did not originate in wet markets but in Chinese bats before it jumped to humans via an ‘intermediary animal’

July 31 – Chinese researcher admits some coronavirus experiments conducted in lower biosafety labs

Dec 16 – WHO announces it will travel to Wuhan to probe origins of virus in January

Jan 5, 2021 – China denies entry to WHO’s investigatory team

Feb 9 – WHO dismisses theory virus leaked from lab – backs China’s claim it was imported from frozen meat

Mar 28 – Former US national security officials says intel shows ‘there was a direct order from Beijing to destroy all viral samples’ at Wuhan lab   

New evidence 

2012: Six miners struck down with  with a mysterious flu-like illness in Mojiang cave in Yunnan.

They were found to have been infected with the closest known relative to Covid, sharing 97% of its genes.

Samples RATG13 are sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to be studied. 

Sep 2019– Blood samples are taken in a lung cancer screening trial in Italy which later test positive for coronavirus

Oct Whistleblower Wei Jingsheng claims China deliberately spread Covid at The World Military Games in Wuhan in October, two months before the rest of the world knew about the virus  

Oct – Xi Jinping’s authoritarian regime tried desperately to shut down whistle-blowers like Mr Jingsheng. Any references made in social media about a new SARS virus or ‘outbreak’ were censored 

Oct-Dec – Rise in ‘flu and pneumonia’ cases in northern Italy which could be linked to coronavirus 

Nov – Whistleblower Mr Jingsheng claims he took his concerns about the military games to senior figures within the Trump administration but was ignored

Nov – Intelligence report passed to agencies in Washington claims three members of staff at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital treatment in November 2019 after experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid 

Nov – Sewage samples taken in Florianópolis, Brazil, suggest virus was present

Nov 10 – Milanese woman has a skin biopsy, producing a sample which later shows signs of the virus  

Nov 17 – Leaked documents suggest case detected in China on this date

Dec – Doctors in China, including Li Wenliang, report existance of new type of respiratory infection. But Chinese police arrested him and eight of his colleagues for questioning – instead of publicising reports and warning public 

Dec 1 – Chinese researchers report an infection on this date in a peer-reviewed study, but it has not been acknowledged by Beijing 

Dec 18 – Sewage samples taken in Milan and Turin suggest virus was circulating in the cities  

Dec 26 – Samples analysed suggested a new type of SARS was circulating as early as December 26, but Wuhan was not locked down until January 22 

Jan 2020 – Sewage samples from Barcelona suggest virus was in the city

Jan 3 – Covid-19 infections begin sweeping across other nations including the U.S. as the WHO labelled the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern 

May – Scientists at a government lab in California concluded that Covid-19 may have escaped from a facility in Wuhan 

July – WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China failed share vital raw data during their investigation in Wuhan. China rebuffed those claims

June 2021: Leading US virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci was warned Covid may have been engineered in a lab, emails publicly released reveal.  

August: The world’s first Covid-19 patient may have been infected by a bat while working for a Wuhan lab in China, WHO chief Dr Peter Embarek said

August: A damning report by Republicans in the US claims coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, shortly after the facility tried to improve air safety and waste treatment systems

The report also cited ‘ample evidence’ that lab scientists were working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans and such manipulation could be hidden.

October: US intelligence review into origins of pandemic does not reach a judgement on whether the virus emerged via animal-to-human transmission or a lab leak.

Chinese officials branded the report ‘political and false’. 

January 2022: Leaked emails from top UK scientist Sir Jeremy Farrar showed he admitted in February 2020 that it was a ‘likely explanation’ that the virus could be man-made. But he went on to brand the theory a ‘conspiracy’. 

February: Sir Farrar is called to be interviewed under oath at the US Congress. Officials want him to explain why he shifted away from the lab leak theory. 

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