Jamie Metzl, a former staffer to both Senator Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton has asserted that the novel coronavirus came not from a wet market, but from a Chinese lab.
He has also served as a World Health Organization administrator.
Metzl recently declared in an interview on CNN that “it seems pretty likely” that the virus was released from the lab through an unfortunate security breach, which the CCP have suffered routinely.
He is also quick to point out the virus could’ve been studied for “very good reasons”, and remains careful not to point any fingers at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Metzl is no political friend of the Trump administration, and suggests the failures of the CCP were “massively exasperated by the failures of the Trump administration.”
Nevertheless, his intervention will raise eyebrows from establishment colleagues who have been keen to tamp down ideas like his as “conspiracy theories“.
In a Newsweek article, Metzl contends:
It my view that Chinese researchers at these institutes were studying these viruses with the best intentions of developing surveillance systems, treatments, and vaccines for the good of humanity. Countries make mistakes, even terrible and deadly ones. I was in the White House when the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. We believed it was an accident but many Chinese people thought it was a deliberate act. I understood why.
Moments like these are inherently difficult and we should all do our very best to find the answers to our most important questions in the most honest, careful, and considered manner possible.
In this spirit, I have compiled this summary of the preliminary evidence, drawn from Project Evidence and, to a lesser degree, the other sources. Because China is still restricting access to the relevant data and people, the case remains speculative by necessity. Those restrictions themselves should concern us all.
Metzl then lays out in long-form detail a timeline of events that explain his thesis (below).
And for the deniers like Bill Gates, who have urged the world to wait before finding out more about the origins of the virus, Metzl says: “Just as we wouldn’t imagine having a plane crash and not immediately trying to figure out what happened, we can’t let the COVID-19 crisis unfold without urgently understanding how our systems have so spectacularly failed.”
Below is a timeline from Metzl of why he believes the coronavirus came from a Wuhan lab, not a wet market. You can visit his website for all the source information.
- Beginning on December 10, 2019, increasing numbers of people, many of who had visited the Hunan Seafood Market in Wuhan, fell ill due to a new disease.
- There is strong evidence that the novel coronavirus outbreak did not originate in the seafood market (Lancet)
- The Huanan Seafood Market didn’t have bats for sale, and most bats species in Wuhan would be hibernating at the time of outbreak. It was reported that 34% of cases had no contact with the market, and ’No epidemiological link was found between the first patient and later cases.’ (Lancet)
- This market is less than 9 miles away from The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Chinese Academy of Sciences, which:
- Developed chimeric SARS-like coronaviruses
- Conducted ’dangerous’ gain-of-function research on the SARS-CoV-1 virus
- Established a 96.2% match with SARS-CoV-2 and a virus they sampled from a cave over 1,000 miles away from Wuhan
- Injected live piglets with bat coronaviruses as recently as July 2019
- Published a paper on a close descendant of SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, in November 2019
- Was hiring researchers to work on bat coronaviruses as recently as November 2019
- United States embassy and consular officials who visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in January 2018 were deeply concerned. Their cable sent to the State Department noted:
- “the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory”
- “the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases. From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention.” (Washington Post)
- The market is also less than 3 miles away from the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control, which:
- Was accused of being the source of the outbreak from a now-withdrawn academic paper from a notable Chinese scholar at the South China University of China
- Once kept horseshoe bats, a known reservoir of SARS-CoV-1, within its labs
- Once performed surgery on live animals within its labs
- Had a researcher who quarantined on two separate occasions; once upon coming into contact with bat blood after being ’attacked’ and another time when he was urinated upon in a cave while wearing inadequate personal protection
- Even before this outbreak, China had a very poor safety record at many of its biosecurity facilities.
- In the years since the SARS outbreak, many instances of mishaps involving the accidental release of pathogens have taken place in labs throughout the world. Hundreds of breaches have occurred in the U.S., including a 2014 release of anthrax from a U.S. government lab that exposed 84 people. The SARS virus escaped from a Beijing lab in 2004, causing four infections and one death. An accidental release is not complicated and doesn’t require malicious intent. All it takes is for a lab worker to get sick, go home for the night, and unwittingly spread the virus to others. (Newsweek)
- Although it does not appear likely this virus was engineered (Nature Medicine), trying to determine the exact pattern and genomic ancestry of the virus is difficult, particularly as many of the recombinant regions may be small and are likely to change as more viruses related to SARS-CoV-2 are sampled. (Cell)
- According to a DIA report, “about 33 percent of the original 41 identified cases did not have direct exposure” to the market. That, along with what’s known of the laboratory’s work in past few years, raised reasonable suspicion that the pandemic may have been caused by a lab error, not the wet market. (Newsweek)
- China has taken a series of steps since the beginning of this crisis which seem consistent with a coverup. These include:
- On January 1, an employee of a genomics company in Wuhan received a phone call from an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, ordering the company to stop testing samples from Wuhan related to the new disease and to destroy all existing samples. (Caixin Global)
- On January 3, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease and ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions or destroy them. (Caixin Global)
- Beijing did not notify the World Health Organization of the outbreak for at least four days after Wuhan officials were notified. A WHO investigation team was not allowed to visit Wuhan until three weeks after that, and the team was not given full and unrestricted access even during this preliminary field visit
- On Jan. 14, the head of China’s National Health Commission said in a confidential teleconference with provincial health officials that the situation was “severe and complex,” that “clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible,” and that “the risk of transmission and spread is high.” The Commission issued a 63-page document on response procedures that same day that was labeled “internal” and “not to be publicly disclosed.” The next day, the head of China’s disease control emergency center, announced on state television that “the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low.” This same message was delivered to the World Health Organization. (Washington Post)
- Offers from the United States to send medical experts Wuhan in early January were rejected by the central government. (Diplomat)
- Although WIV officials have commented publicly about social media posting alleging that one of their prior researchers may be “patient zero,” the WIV has not provided any information about that person
- A WIV researcher who publicly accused the director of the Institute of selling infected lab animals to vendors on Weibo (with pictures of herself and her employee ID included) later claimed she was ’hacked’ and disavowed her prior allegation
- In contrast to its earlier (and in my view probably inaccurate) assertion that the outbreak originated in the Wuhan seafood market, a Ministry of foreign Affairs spokesperson on March 12 accused the United States Army of intentionally bringing SARS-CoV-2 to Wuhan
- Beijing disinfected the Wuhan market before a full international investigation could be conducted and has yet to provide U.S. experts with samples of the novel coronavirus collected from the earliest cases.
- The Shanghai lab that published the novel coronavirus genome on Jan. 11 was quickly shut down by authorities for “rectification.” Several of the doctors and journalists who reported on the spread early on have disappeared. (Washington Post)
- On Feb. 14, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a new biosecurity law to be accelerated. On Wednesday, The Chinese government has placed severe restrictions requiring approval before any research institution publishes anything on the origin of the novel coronavirus. (Washington Post)
- Labs analyzing the pathogen were instructed to destroy samples, a health center that had published the virus’s genome sequence was temporarily shut down the following day, and doctors were prevented from submitting case information to the country’s infectious disease tracking network. (Diplomat)
- Reports of health care workers falling ill, an early indicator of human-to-human transmission, were suppressed. More indirectly, state media coverage of doctors being penalized reportedly had a chilling effect on other medical professionals who might have sounded the alarm. (Diplomat)
- In March 2020, Beijing announced the expulsion of American journalists working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, the media organizations who have exposed some of the most significant misdeeds and coverups by the Chinese government over recent decades
- In April 2020, with the outbreak in full swing, the WIV deleted a press release detailing the January 2019 U.S. State Department visit
- The Chinese government has now banned any researcher from publishing anything on the origins of this crisis without prior approval of the Ministry of Science and Technology (Nature)
- On April 24, the New York Times reported that Beijing has successfully pressured European Union officials to water down references to China an an EU report. The original language had stated, “China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image… Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.”
- On April 18, 2020, Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an interview that “there is no way this virus came from us.”
- “At this stage, it is not possible to determine precisely the source of the virus which caused the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the World Health Organization in a statement to Newsweek.
Derek Dunn contributed to this report