US-China Collaboration at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?

US-China Collaboration at the Wuhan Institute of Virology

There are some things we will never know. One of them is perhaps the true extent of the U.S. government—via the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) biomedical and public health research agency known as the National Institute of Health (NIH)and its’ involvement with the Wuhan Virology Institute. International collaborations, Ceteris paribus, make the world a far better place. In fact, many present responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are illuminated, inspired, and instructed by multinational collaborative initiatives. The world was impacted by a tragic event that appears to have emanated out of Wuhan. TrialSite News has already raised the question about how transparent, or not, our government has been in this pandemic. Few realize that the U.S. and Wuhan have collaborated in the past. What follows is a summary that obscure story.

Wuhan: Hi-Tech Center 

An article from Nature in 2015 explains that Wuhan, at the crossing of the Han and Yangtze rivers, is both a provincial capital and the largest city in central China. In 2013, “six of Wuhan’s top universities spent nearly…(US $855 million) on research and development” in an effort to keep up with China’s better-known academic centers. The city’s East Lake High-Tech Zone, informally known as “Optics Valley,” gets heavy government investment. Per Nature, “The Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Wuhan Branch, 58 universities and more than 27,000 companies (98% of which are small-scale start-ups) share the 518km2 Optics Valley. 70% of annual government investment in Optics Valley goes to innovation and it has become an incubator for science and technology companies in central China.” The area gets its name from being, “home to the world’s largest fiber optics production.

US Ties to Virology Institute

A center of speculation in this city (and the world) has been the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Per Wikipedia, this “[l]aboratory has strong ties to the Galveston National Laboratory in the University of Texas. It also had strong ties with Canada‘s National Microbiology Laboratory until WIV staff scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng, who were also remunerated by the Canadian government, were escorted from the Canadian lab for undisclosed reasons in July 2019.” NIH documents from 2006 state, “NIH – Chinese Academy of Sciences Agreement [.] Since 1983, NIH has had an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) for cooperation in the basic biomedical sciences. The Fogarty International Center [an NIH project] serves as Executive Agent for the U.S. and the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, CAS, for the Chinese.”

As reported on the NIH website in 2018, NIH and NIAID have partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, among others, on research relating to SADS-CoV, a swine-infecting coronavirus. The work involved four pig farms in the Guangdong Province; NIH noted that as of 2018, “six coronaviruses are known to cause disease in people, but so far only two of them—SARS-CoV and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus—have caused large outbreaks of fatal illness in people.” Citing Forbes, Wikipedia notes that,documents dating back to 2015 reveal how the U.S. government was worried about safety standards at that Wuhan lab. […] At the very least, for a government that likes to save face, the fact that the U.S. government helped build and fund the Wuhan virology lab in question should be enough for China to open that info vault to scientists at the World Health Organization.”

Dr. Fauci in Charge for Outsourcing?

Finally, an April 22 Asia Times article raises more questions about WIV. After noting that NIH funding to WIV amounted to $3.7 million, they state that the US passed a federal moratorium on gain-of-function (“altering natural pathogens to make them more deadly and infectious”) research in 2014 “as a result of rising fears about a possible pandemic caused by an accidental or deliberate release of these genetically engineered monster germs.” They say the now-famous Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIAID “outsourced” this research in 2015 to the Wuhan lab and licensed the lab to continue receiving US government funding.

“Also, if there was a government ban in 2014 on federal funding being used for GOF research, what are the federal compliance and ethical issues surrounding the fact that the NIH still gave federal funding instead of private funding to the Wuhan lab to continue the experiments? Moreover, could some strains of the coronavirus have originated in US labs, given the fact the US government lifted the ban in December 2017 on GOF research without resolving lab-safety issues?”

Some Final Thoughts

Overwhelming evidence points to a natural pathogen that viciously attacked the world thanks overwhelmingly to Mother Nature and perhaps, with the help from deficient public health practices associated with the wet markets in places such as Wuhan. Perhaps this actually results from a profoundly deeper set of issues associated with the practices of profit-seeking firms, since the late 1970s actively involved in the formation, development and exploitation of wild game markets. From ageless rural practices in a world of post-modern urban concentration, paired with uneven public health standards set in a vast overarching economy actually sets the stage for nuanced layers of geopolitical economic and scientific deal making—and intrigue—obscures the true root cause of COVID-19—one we will likely never know.