Anthony S. Fauci, Bloomberg.com, CCP Virus, coronavirus, COVID 19, Danielle Anderson, gain-of-function research, Im-Politic, lab leak, Michelle Fay Cortez, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, NIH, Ralph Baric, Shi Zeng-li, virologists, virology, WIV, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Wuhan virus
That was some scoop by Bloomberg.com’s Michelle Fay Cortez the other day, bagging an interview with the last (and only) non-Chinese scientist to work in the Wuhan, China lab suspected of being the origin point of the CCP Virus and the pandemic it’s spawned.
Danielle Anderson apparently wasn’t working on coronaviruses per se, but her views are of special interest not only because she has first-hand knowledge of the Chinese researchers who were, and of the safety standards at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Her views are of special interest because she’s the only person with such knowledge who isn’t vulnerable to Chinese regime threats against herself or her family or friends.
So when the Australian virologist speaks highly of the integrity of Wuhan colleagues and of the lab’s safety policies, she deserves to be taken seriously. Ditto for her claim that, although U.S. intelligence agencies are reported to have determined that three WIV researchers became sick enough with flu-like symptoms to have sought hospitalization in November, 2019 – about a month before physicians in Wuhan first reported to Chinese health officials the appearance of a novel coronavirus – she knew of no such illness among Institute staff. So that appears to undercut the argument that the three researchers’ illness tightly connect the pandemic to work done at the lab.
Nonetheless, in many ways, Anderson’s statements generally leave the lab leak theory – as opposed to the contention that the virus’ emergence had nothing to do with the WIV and jumped naturally from animals to humans – decidedly alive and kicking.
For example, Anderson’s praise of the WIV’s safety culture seems retricted to its BSL-4 facility – a lab that supposedly met the highest internationally used standards for handling dangerous pathogens. But Dr. Shi Zheng-li, China’s lead bat virus expert, has stated on the record that she’s conducted her coronavirus research in facilities at the Institute that meet less exacting safety requirements.
Moreover, her suggestion that using a form of gain-of-function research known as reverse genetics to increase the infectiousness of viruses is too difficult to have taken place at the WIV is contradicted by two important facts. First, this is precisely the kind of work at that lab that was paid for grants from the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (the latter of course headed by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci). Second, the WIV doubtless got the grants largely because Shi and a U.S. coronavirus researcher named Ralph Baric had in fact used the technique to create a novel coronavirus as early as 2015. (See this post for documentation.)
Perhaps most important, although she doubts the WIV gave the world the CCP Virus, Anderson made clear that she “could foresee how [an accident spawning the virus] could maybe happen, declared that “I’m not naive enough to say I absolutely write this off,” and said that she thinks, in Cortez’ words, that “an investigation is needed to nail down the virus’s origin once and for all.”
Which leaves me with only one criticism of Cortez’ interview: Given her distinctive vantage point, why didn’t she ask Anderson why she thought China has done everything possible to prevent such a probe?