'Six smoking guns': Why doctor-turned-US-senator believes COVID-19 came from Wuhan lab
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) had pointed to a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology long before the FBI and other intel agencies.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
- argued early and often
- Fauci told CNN last week.
- suggestion the virus leapt from raccoon dogs.
- Researchers have found that a sequence of eight amino acids
- Nobel laureate David Baltimore
Long before key components of the intelligence community acknowledged they believed COVID-19 came from a lab leak, Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall had drawn a bull's-eye around the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Marshall, a doctor turned politician, argued early and often that the virus' emergence and genetic characteristics did not seem like those of a naturally evolving animal-to-human virus. But senators like him and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul were marginalized and even demeaned early on by detractors ranging from Dr. Anthony Fauci to TV comedian Stephen Colbert.
Today, Marshall's analysis is gaining widespread acceptance, as the the FBI, House Intelligence Committee and Energy Department have all concluded the most likely source of the pandemic was a leak from the Wuhan research lab.
China and the lab continue to deny such allegations. But even Fauci, who pressed often to portray the virus as naturally evolving from wild animals, has begun to change his tune, saying he has an open mind while still suspecting natural evolution.
"A lab leak could be that someone was out in the wild, maybe looking for different types of viruses in bats, got infected, went into a lab, and was being studied in a lab, and then came out of the lab," Fauci said last week on CNN. "But if that's the definition of lab leak, then that's still a natural occurrence.
"The other possibility is someone takes a virus from the environment that doesn't actually spread very well in humans, and manipulates it a bit, and accidentally it escapes or accidentally infects someone and then you get an outbreak."
Some researchers continue to press the idea of natural evolution, most recently last week with a suggestion the virus leapt from raccoon dogs.
In a wide-ranging interview last week, Marshall described the "six smoking guns" that led him to believe the virus emerged from an accident at the WIV, a lab in Wuhan closely tied to the Chinese military's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, which the State Department first identified in 2005 as a home to an illicit offensive bioweapons program run by Beijing.
"There's just too many coincidences," the senator declared in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.
You can listen to the full podcast here:
Here are the six factors Marshall said convinced him the virus came from a lab leak at WIV:
1. The proximity of the lab to the initial outbreak: "There's only three labs in the world doing research on this type of virus," Marshall said, "and this virus breaks out right next to it, a thousand miles away from where that virus is supposed to be" located in a cave of bats. "That's smoking gun number one."
2. No intermediate species: After three years, Marshall noted, China is still unable to "show that there's an intermediate species" via which the virus passed in its leap from bats to humans. "I'm a biochemistry major, nuclear engineering, physician — I get the science, I've always got the science of it," Marshall said, explaining that the virus "should have jumped from bats to some type of an animal and then to humans."
3. The virus' protein spike: The protein spike's ability to extraordinarily and preferentially bind to human lung cells over bats points directly to genetic lab engineering, Marshall said. Researchers have found that a sequence of eight amino acids on a critical part of the virus' spike protein is identical to an amino acid sequence found in cells that line human airways.
4. Furin cleavage site: "The furin cleavage site would be the fourth smoking gun: a perfect junction at the S1/S2 part of this virus that the human lung cells just happened to have the cleaver in there to cleave it, so it dumps its genetic information into you," Marshall said.
Nobel laureate David Baltimore agrees. "When I first saw the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, I said to my wife it was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus," he said, according to the New York Post.
"These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for SARS2," he said.
5. Database deletion: China deleted a key DNA database from its COVID research. In September 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology takes its entire genomic data bank offline, keeping it from the rest of the world just before the outbreak, Marshall said.
6. Lack of natural progenitor: No progenitor to COVID-19 has been found showing its natural ancestry. "We've never found that progenitor," the senator said. "There should be a cousin, a grandfather, an uncle of COVID-19. And we've never found it."
Marshall said the mathematical chance a virus evolved with these coincidences is astronomically small. "Your six coincidental events is one in a million each, and that just happened to work perfectly for this virus," he said.
The House Intelligence Committee in December and the Senate Health Committee Republicans in September came to similar conclusions. You can read their reports here: