Risk of bioweapons from Wuhan ‘very real’: Pompeo

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Mike Pompeo said China “covered up” the origins of COVID-19 and that evidence continues to mount despite their efforts to deny access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reports Asian Lite News

The evidence suggests that the coronavirus originated from the lab in Wuhan city of China, said former US Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, adding that the risk of bioweapons and bioterror arising from the region is “very real”.

Pompeo told Fox News that the Chinese Communist Party “covered up” the origins of COVID-19 and that evidence continues to mount despite their efforts to deny access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“We worked to get every bit of evidence that we could, we tried to deliver this to the CDC, tried to work with the Chinese. They covered it up terribly,” Pompeo said.

He said the combination of circumstantial evidence and China’s intense effort to deny any information relating to the lab suggests to him that the virus originated in that lab.

“I haven’t seen a shred of evidence to suggest anything to the contrary,” Pompeo said.

“The risk that something like this happens again from that laboratory or another Chinese laboratory is very real,” Pompeo said. “They [China] are operating and conducting activities that are inconsistent with their capacity to secure those facilities. And the risk of bioweapons and bioterror emanating from this region is very real.”

Pompeo also warned that similar scenarios could happen in the future, pointing to the possibility of biological warfare.

Recently, findings in a report in an Australian daily has yet again reinforced the call that international investigators must dig deeper to rule out whether COVID-19 is a made-in-China bioweapon.

The controversy about Covid-19 origins has resurfaced after the Weekend Australian newspaper revealed that Chinese scientists were thinking about bioweapons, visualising a World War-3 scenario.

The daily cited a Chinese government document that discussed the weaponisation of SARS coronavirus. Titled the Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons, the 2015 paper was authored by Chinese scientists, Chinese public health officials and members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Last month, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken launched a scathing attack against China for a lack of transparency during “the early stages” of the coronavirus pandemic and called for a more thorough investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Blinken’s remarks come as a report of a joint inquiry by the World Health Organisation and China published in March did not conclusively establish how or when the virus began spreading and did little to address Western concerns that the Chinese Communist Party bent the investigation to its advantage.

The WHO report determined that the possibility the virus came from a lab was “extremely unlikely,” noting there was “no record” any lab had closely related viruses.

After the report was released, several countries including the United States, Australia and Canada released a statement, saying that they “fully” supported the WHO’s efforts to bring an end to the pandemic, including understanding how it “started and spread”.

But they added it was “essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples”.

Scientists call for probe

A team of 18 scientists from Universities in the US, Canada, the UK and Switzerland said that more investigation is needed to determine the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable,” they wrote in a letter published on Thursday in the journal Science.

“Knowing how Covid-19 emerged is critical for informing global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks,” said the researchers led by Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Washington, US.

The Coronavirus disease, which was first documented on December 1, 2019 from Wuhan City in China, has since spread like wildfire throughout the globe. The overall global Covid-19 caseload has topped 160.8 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 3.34 million, so far.

The team of researchers lauded the efforts of scientists in understanding SARS-CoV-2 — its transmission, pathogenesis, and mitigation by vaccines, therapeutics, and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Yet, even after 17 months, how the coronavirus pandemic exactly began still remains a mystery.

The researchers highlighted a joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) report into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, some results of which were released in November 2020.

“WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus commented that the report’s consideration of evidence supporting a laboratory accident was insufficient,” they noted.

“As scientists with relevant expertise, we agree with the WHO director-general, the United States and 13 other countries, and the European Union that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve,” they said. They call for an investigation that is “transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed.”

“In this time of unfortunate anti-Asian sentiment in some countries, we note that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was Chinese doctors, scientists, journalists, and citizens who shared with the world crucial information about the spread of the virus — often at great personal cost. We should show the same determination in promoting a dispassionate science-based discourse on this difficult but important issue,” they said. (ANI/IANS)

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