China Responds to Report of Wuhan Lab Staff Becoming Sick Before COVID-19 Outbreak

The Chinese regime denied on Monday that lab staff in Wuhan were infected with COVID-19 before the pandemic, in response to a question about a WSJ report.

On May 23, the Wall Street Journal reported on an undisclosed U.S. intelligence report about three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) who sought hospital care with COVID-19-like symptoms in November 2019—one month before the onset of the “patient zero” identified by the CCP regime.

The regime asserted again that the CCP virus originated outside China.

Zhao Lijian, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, accused the United States of releasing the CCP virus from Fort Detrick military base in Maryland during a news briefing in Beijing on May 24.

Zhao ignored the fact that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, started infecting people in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, where the WIV is located, in late 2019. All of the first patients in other countries were infected weeks later and were connected to Wuhan directly or indirectly.

Zhao repeated the CCP’s claim that: “The WIV hadn’t been exposed to novel coronavirus 2019 before Dec. 30, 2019. Until now, the staff and students at WIV keep a zero-infection record.”

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli
Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei Province, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

On Jan. 15, the U.S. state department released a fact sheet about the WIV, in which it said: “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told PolitiFact on May 11 that he is now “not convinced” that COVID-19 developed naturally.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in Senate testimony on May 19 that it “certainly” was “one possibility” that the CCP virus could have originated in a laboratory.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing on May 24 that the government still needs to do more research. “We don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion of the origins. There is a need to look into a range of options. We need data, we need independent investigation.”

Epoch Times Photo
Security personnel are seen as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The WSJ Report

WSJ reported on Sunday that the undisclosed intelligence report provides fresh details on the number of researchers affected, the timing of their illnesses, and their hospital visits, which “adds to calls for probe of whether [the] virus escaped [the] lab.”

The newspaper spoke to two different unnamed current and former officials who are familiar with the report.

One described the report as “potentially significant but still in need of further investigation and additional corroboration,” while the other said: “The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality. It was very precise. What it didn’t tell you was exactly why they got sick.”

WSJ reported that the three researchers received hospital treatment in November 2019, more than one month before the first announced COVID-19 patient by the Chinese regime.

This isn’t the first time information about three WIV researchers getting sick in autumn 2019 has been released.

Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans told NBC News on March 11 that she had learned of three researchers falling sick at the lab, but felt it “is certainly not a big, big thing.”

David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute who specializes in financial policy and Asian strategy, said at a Hudson Institute seminar on March 17: “I’m very doubtful that three people in highly protected circumstances in a level three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in a hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week.”

Asher said: “We have to understand that they were nagged in bat borne, live bat research at the Wuhan Institute,” There’s a possibility that this is “the first known cluster that we’re aware of, of victims of we believe to be COVID-19.”

Epoch Times Photo
This general view shows the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the early stage of the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, there has been a hot discussion about whether the CCP virus escaped from the WIV.

Facing such questions, the WIV refused to share its raw data, safety logs, and lab records about their work on coronaviruses in bats.

Shi Zhengli, the WIV virologist nicknamed “Bat Lady” for her research on coronaviruses of bat origin, rejected the lab leak hypothesis, as well as denied the connection between the WIV and military.

In February 2020, Chinese researchers wrote in a research article (pdf) that the CCP virus is “96 percent identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus,” which Shi’s team collected from Yunnan Province. Official documents show that Shi and the WIV have participated in the project that cooperated with military leaders for years.

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Nicole Hao
Author: Nicole Hao

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