Early Chinese vaccine patent adds to evidence of COVID lab leak
Chinese scientists affiliated with the People's Liberation Army filed a patent for a COVID-19 vaccine in February 2020, with their research indicating they began working on a vaccine at least by November 2019.
Early COVID-19 vaccine patents filed by Chinese scientists and patents meant to prevent the escape of pathogens from labs is the latest evidence to emerge suggesting that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as early as August 2019.
Chinese scientists affiliated with the People's Liberation Army filed a patent for a COVID-19 vaccine in February 2020, with their research indicating they began working on a vaccine at least by November 2019, nearly two months before Beijing disclosed the COVID outbreak, according to a report on the virus compiled by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his staff.
Additionally, Wuhan researchers filed for a patent in December 2019 for an "integrated system for use in biological protection" that would detect air pressure changes to maintain negative airflow and ensure that the lab operates safely.
The patent application also included data from between September and December 2019 indicating that the WIV was experiencing serious issues with its ventilation systems.
”The outbreak of an airborne viral pneumonia is one way that such problems could have become evident to the WIV leadership," the Rubio report states.
While a Harvard study suggested in June 2020 that COVID may have started spreading as early as August 2019, the report found that Wuhan researchers were raising the alarm about safety problems starting in late 2018.
Chen Xinwen, who directed the WIV until late 2018, said at a September 2018 goals and challenges meeting that there were unspecified "shortcomings and inadequacies in the current work" at the lab, according to meeting notes published in the report.
In October 2018, Wuhan Laboratory official Yuan Zhiming and four other researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences published an article calling for greater oversight, stating that "it is urgent to establish and implement standardized management measures for biosafety laboratories."
Rubio's report comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray said in February that his agency "has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan."
A report late last year from House Intelligence Committee Republicans alleged that the COVID-19 virus may have been linked to a Chinese weapons program.
Rubio's report supports this idea, stating that Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng told congressional staffers that he had first heard about the virus in October 2019 when Chinese Communist Party sources said it had been accidentally released during biological weapons research in Wuhan. The report also states that China has a history of being interested in developing bioweapons.
President Joe Biden signed a bill into law in March requiring the declassification of government intelligence related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.