China has blocked access to biological records and research data that would help determine if the coronavirus escaped from a lab, according to multiple scientists, casting doubt that the lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely” as a WHO report found. A Wuhan lab in question had lax security, a State Department cable warned, and virus being studied by researchers could have escaped the lab, whether the virus was natural or manmade, critics say. The Chinese military was doing virus research at the Wuhan lab, according to a State Department statement.
A World Health Organization-led investigation found in its March report on COVID-19’s origins that a lab leak is an “extremely unlikely” cause, but officials and scientists have given many reasons to question that investigation and to continue considering the lab leak theory.
The head of the WHO said March 30 that the lab leak theory needs more investigation because the WHO team was not granted access to relevant data. The WHO report has been criticized by the White House, scientists and others for lacking scientific rigor. (RELATED: There Are A Lot Of Reasons To Be Skeptical Of WHO’s Report On COVID-19 Origins)
A State Department statement issued Jan. 15 offers three main points supporting the lab leak theory, although it does not draw a conclusion on the origins of the COVID-19 virus. All three points are countered or ignored by the WHO-led report in March. A senior State Department official told The Washington Post that the Biden administration does not dispute the information in the Jan. 15 statement, produced during the Trump administration.
The State Department memo says “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” China has blocked interviewing the previously ill researchers at the WIV, the statement says. Only a “small fraction” of WIV lab staff appear to have been tested for antibodies that would reveal possible coronavirus exposure, according to an open letter by 24 scientists issued Wednesday.
WIV researchers were also studying viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2,