Many experts in the scientific and intelligence communities — and a majority of Americans — now believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is the result of an accidental leak from a Chinese Communist Party-run lab in Wuhan that was conducting dangerous coronavirus experiments on animals using U.S. tax dollars. This wouldn’t be the first deadly lab leak, and it likely won’t be the last.
Fortunately, new legislation introduced by Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley called the National Biosecurity Improvement Act will help determine how federal agencies ensure that the research they fund with taxpayer dollars does not threaten national security and public health.
Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been several COVID-related accidents in animal labs. In April 2020, a University of North Carolina experimenter was bitten by a mouse infected with a genetically engineered strain of SARS-CoV-2 — their sixth accident involving coronaviruses in five years. In November 2021, an animal experimenter in Taiwan contracted a breakthrough case of COVID after being exposed to the Delta variant in her lab — and being bitten (twice) by COVID-infected mice. Recently, experts from Harvard and other institutions have even begun to suggest that the unique genetic ‘fingerprints’ of the rapidly-spreading ‘omicron variant’ indicate a potential lab origin.
A March 2021 piece for USA Today identified 450 accidents in U.S. laboratories working with dangerous pathogens — just from 2015 until 2019. Experimenters would sometimes get infected without knowing it, or would carry pathogens on their clothing in and out of labs. Equipment failures were common; the author, investigative journalist Alison Young, revealed that doors to some of the government’s most dangerous labs had only been sealed with duct tape. Samples of extremely dangerous viruses were routinely mishandled.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner under President Trump, was honest about the frequency of lab leaks, stating bluntly that “lab leaks happen all the time, actually.” He noted that “in China, the last six known outbreaks of SARS-1 have been out of labs, including the last known outbreak…China initially wouldn’t disclose that it came out of lab.”
Dr. Gottlieb also pointed out that “by assembling a large repository of dangerous coronaviruses into a single lab in a densely populated city, and experimenting on animals, Chinese researchers greatly increased the risk of a lab leak. To improve our safety, we must recognize these dangers.“ We now know that the U.S. State Department warned about safety issues at WIV as far back as 2018. And, of course, China has been obstructing all investigations into a potential lab leak at WIV.
Did SARS-CoV-2 leak from a taxpayer-funded animal lab? No one can answer conclusively yet…but given the available evidence and the widespread history of lab leaks in China and worldwide, it sure seems likely.
Kudos to Senators Ernst and Grassley for their efforts to investigate COVID’s origins and crack down on dangerous taxpayer-funded virus research to help prevent another pandemic.