As COVID origin secrets near declassification, Wuhan lab's ties to China military burst into focus

Evidence suggest U.S. has known since 2017 about ties between Wuhan lab and Beijing's bioweapons program, yet federal agencies still funded research there.

Published: March 16, 2023 9:07pm

Updated: March 16, 2023 11:31pm

As President Joe Biden weighs whether to sign a law passed unanimously by Congress to declassify U.S. intelligence on the origins of the COVID-19 virus, new evidence has emerged that the State Department and National Institutes of Health routed at least $1.7 million in tax dollars to a Wuhan virology lab despite evidence it was tied to the Chinese military — and possibly the communist nation's bioweapons program — according to government documents reviewed by Just the News.

The United States first declared in a 2005 State Department document that communist China maintained an offensive biological weapons program in violation of its treaty commitments and that it was run in part by an arm of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS). That report specifically cited the AMMS' Fifth Institute as the epicenter of the country's bioweapons program.

You can read that document here:

A decade later, multiple medical publications emerged from China that linked the AMMS to research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the very lab that the FBI, the Energy Department and other U.S. intelligence agencies believe was the source of a leak that started the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019.

It's also the same lab that received grants from a contractor working for Dr. Anthony Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the foreign aid arm of the Stpostedate Department.

The ties between AMMS and the Wuhan lab sat in plain view for years before the pandemic started, federal documents show.

For instance, a 2015 study posted on the NIH's National Library of Medicine site shows collaboration between the Wuhan lab and AAMS on anthrax spores. Several other studies between 2015 and 2019 also listed both Chinese science organizations as collaborators.

One of the most troubling links — cited in an unclassified report released in December by the House Intelligence Committee — was a 2015 book in which China scientists tied to both AMMS and the Wuhan lab declared that coronaviruses were the leading edge of a new era of genetic weapons warfare.

"In 2015, the official publishing house of the AMMS released a book titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Artificial Humanized Viruses as Genetic Weapons," the committee reported. "The book was produced and edited using 18 experts, 16 of whom were officers at AMMS or other PLA research centers. Indeed, one of the editors not only works for the Fifth Institute but also has a long history of collaboration with the WIV, having coauthored 12 scientific papers with personnel from it.

"The central premise of the AMMS book is that SARS-CoV-1, the strain of coronavirus that caused the 2002 SARS outbreak, did not emerge naturally but was a chimeric virus artificially engineered as a genetic weapon to infect humans. The book described the PLA researchers' broader belief that other nations are developing chimeric coronaviruses to use as genetic weapons. The authors described how to create weaponized chimeric SARS coronaviruses, the potentially broader scope for their use compared to traditional bioweapons, and the benefits of being able to plausibly deny that such chimeric coronaviruses were artificially created rather than naturally occurring."

You can read the full House Intelligence Committee report here:

While tantalizing, the declassified information about China's military ties to bioweapons research and the Wuhan lab "understates the problem" compared to what is known in secret, said Sen. Roger "Doc" Marshall (R-Kan.), a medical doctor and one of the first members of Congress to dispute claims that COVID-19 could have evolved naturally from the wild.

He said that a lab-created COVID virus may be scary but far less lethal than what an engineered bird flu virus might one day unleash on humanity and there's far too little oversight of how U.S. agencies are funding such research.

"There's gross abuse of our grant research dollars and so much commingling," he told the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday. "USAID is doing research on viral gain of function in Wuhan, China. USAID was for international development. They are way outside of their lane.

"But ultimately, what China's goal here is to get the DNA of every person, of every animal, of every plant. And you can just imagine what you could do with that. There's some incredibly good things you can do about it. … But then you could also have a COVID virus, a Frankenstein virus that came from a lab in Wuhan, China, and everything in between. So what we're dealing with here is really something a million times more powerful than a nuclear weapon."

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Just the News on Thursday night that the vast open-source intelligence that highlighted the risks of the Wuhan lab and its ties to China's military should have been a red flag for Fauci at NIH and the intelligence community.

Fauci's subsequent effort to downplay the possibility COVID-19 leaked from a lab and instead came from nature had long-ranging consequences, Meadows added, including stifling intelligence community efforts to alert the public on the lab leak theory.

"In the intelligence community we had concerns, most of Americans would have concerns if they knew," Meadows said. "... It is troubling because Dr. Fauci not only knew, but Dr. Fauci should have known about a number of other things. And then all of a sudden he went on kind of a PR tour in defense of this natural contagion that supposedly happened from a market there.

"Listen, we've got two agencies that say right now that they have some degree of confidence that it was a lab leak, as you reported accurately. Myself and President Trump mentioned this long ago that we had seen information that led us to believe that this was not  just a coincidence."

There is clear evidence that the intelligence community, the State Department and NIH knew for years before the pandemic of the ties between a body suspected of Chinese biowarfare research and the Wuhan lab.

For instance, the State Department released a fact sheet on the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2021 that disclosed that the United States was aware that the lab had been conducting risky research on coronaviruses since 2016 and had been tied to secret Chinese military research for years.

"Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China's military," the State Department said. "The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017."

The House Intelligence Committee disclosed that NIH and its parent HHS also knew of serious risks tied to projects it was funding both through AAMS and the Wuhan lab.

"Based on our investigation, we conclude that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was aware of serious national security risks associated with AMMS," the report said. "Nevertheless, public reporting has claimed grant money from HHS components flowed to AMMS researchers."

There are several grants from federal agencies that flowed to the Wuhan Institute of Virology that have been confirmed to date.

NIH has admitted it funded the EcoHealth Alliance, which in turn issued subgrants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research that NIH belatedly acknowledged had enhanced a bat coronavirus to make mice "sicker."

A recent audit conducted by the HHS inspector general estimated more than $598,000 of the money that NIH gave EcoHealth ultimately was paid to the Wuhan lab. That audit also found the Chinese had refused to provide documentation on how the money was spent.

"EcoHealth requested the information from WIV," the report stated. "However, based on records reviewed, we did not see evidence that EcoHealth obtained the scientific documentation. EcoHealth officials confirmed to us that WIV had not been responsive to its request to provide the scientific documentation and indicated it was unlikely to receive the requested information. As a result, EcoHealth has been unable to comply with NIH's request on this matter."

You can read the full audit here:

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) reported that his team uncovered a second pot of money that EcoHealth Alliance routed to the Wuhan lab from USAID. "Between October 2009 and May 2019, USAID provided a total of $1.1 million to the EcoHealth Alliance for a sub-agreement with the WIV," the congressman disclosed last year. "The funding went toward advancing research on viruses that could pose harm to human and animal health."

The House Intelligence Committee now says that the Government Accountabillity Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, has uncovered other monies from federal and military agencies that flowed to both the Wuhan lab and other AMMS entities, including the bioweapons-centered Fifth Institute that was first flagged by the State Department in 2005.

A final total and list of federal grants to those entities is expected to be made public in a few weeks.

"At the Committee's request, GAO is conducting a comprehensive accounting of all public funds the United States Government disbursed, whether directly or indirectly, from January 2014 through December of 2021 to AMMS and the WI," the recent House Intel report said.

"In November of 2022, GAO provided Committee staff an update on its work, confirming that grant money from HHS components flowed to the AMMS Fifth Institute via subawards from certain U.S. universities," the report revealed. "The Committee does not know if the scientists who funneled this money to the Fifth Institute, a known component of China's bioweapons program, were among the experts the IC consulted regarding COVID-19's origins."

The extensive ties between China's military and the Wuhan lab are likely to come into sharper focus if Biden signs the declassification law, or if Congress overrides him should he veto the bill. Officials said the classified version of the House Intelligence Committee report is one of the richest catalogs of the ties and should be among the first released to the public.

In the meantime, an essential question has already arisen from the documents reviewed by Just the News: How could multiple federal agencies dispense taxpayer monies to Chinese institutions linked to research and military entities that posed so much national security risk to America?

Former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Just the News on Thursday night that the answer lies in the unchecked power that a large federal "administrative state" now wields, including the power to act without political overseers' blessing.

"A lot of these decisions are done below political leadership in many of these departments, by career bureaucrats who take it upon themselves to make some very difficult and very high-level decisions about sending money to certain places, and the like," Wolf said on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "And I think that's something that we need to take a look at."

Security experts also say the U.S. intelligence community shares some blame for not more aggressively policing U.S. funding for dangerous research projects or publicly challenging the narrative that COVID-19 emerged through natural evolution when so much of its evidence conflicted with it.

Former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler recently declared that U.S. intelligence has failed to adequately safeguard Americans from China's bioweapons aspirations.

"American spy agencies, when pressed by the House intelligence committee on what they knew about the deadly virus, failed to come clean," she wrote in a recent New York post column. "The agencies concealed from the oversight panels, and therefore the American people, that COVID-19 is consistent with China's biological warfare doctrine and the long-term programs Beijing has invested in to weaponize viruses.

"Most curiously, they withheld key intelligence from the oversight committees regarding the extent of China's much-discussed gain of function research — programs aimed at increasing the transmissibility and virulence of highly dangerous pathogens through genetic manipulation. If they are so sure of their conclusion, why withhold this crucial information."

Evidence from the House Intelligence Committee's full report, if released through declassification, is likely to bolster her argument.

"We conclude that there are indications that SARS-CoV-2 may have been tied to China's biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology," it wrote in its unclassified summary."The IC should be transparent," it added, "regarding what it does or does not know regarding the relationship between the PLA's Fifth Institute of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS), which China has publicly admitted conducts bioweapons research and coronavirus experiments, and the WIV, particularly during 2019."

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