If the White House doesn’t change course, the next pandemic could come from a lab too


Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and top virologist, had one of the highest levels of access to classified information among members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.

He couldn’t reveal everything he knew to me in June 2021 then I interviewed himbut it was clear even then that he harbored deep suspicions based on what he knew SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab.

His opinion was drowned out by the unyielding dogmatic story of Dr. Anthony Fauci that COVID must have come from nature.

More recently, Redfield told me the FBI was best placed to report what had happened — which is why it came as no surprise to me last week when FBI Director Chris Wray told Fox News that COVID most likely came from a lab incident. .

Yet the White House still strongly supports the dangerous gain-of-function research that makes viruses more transmissible — which Fauci helped fund at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Dr. Robert Redfield had one of the highest levels of approval of classified information among members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The White House also fails to acknowledge what the FBI knows, a grave mistake at this late hour, especially as we think about how to prepare for the next pandemic, which may very well be artificially created.

Consider the facts.

  • Most coronavirus-carrying bats are found in caves in southern China, where some are captured for their viruses and taken to laboratories (including the Wuhan Institute of Virology) to study.
  • Despite his relationship with Dr. George Gao, China’s own CDC director, was not allowed to put “boots on the ground” in early 2020, when he might have found out what really happened.
  • Studies by a Defense Ministry contractor and others found that there was an influx of patients from the area around the lab to Wuhan hospitals in the summer of 2019.
  • The virus itself has a furin cleavage site (lacking in bat coronaviruses) that allows it to easily attach to human cells. How did it get there?
  • SARS-CoV-2 no longer infects bats well, according to Redfield, but is spreading widely among humans, including sustained asymptomatic spread.
  • While studies indicate that there was significant proliferation in the seafood market in Wuhan, the more important question is how it got there, as bats are generally not sold in this market. All fingers point to the lab’s origins — and not just the lab’s accidental origins, but deliberate manipulations of a bat coronavirus to test its potential.

Why is it important to know for sure if COVID came from a lab?

Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Virologist Shi Zheng-li, left, works with her colleague in the P4 lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2017.
Future publication via Getty Images

Because, as Redfield says, it fuels concerns that the next pandemic could also come from a lab.

This is especially concerning in the case of H5N1 bird flu.

Bird flu continues to infect millions of birds, both domestic and wild, and has a very high mortality rate.

There is spillover to mammals, but no sustained human-to-human spread.

Gain-of-function study in ferrets conducted by Ron Fouchier and his colleagues in the Netherlands in 2012 showed that H5N1 bird flu was still several mutations away (in nature) from being easily transmitted from human to human, and the virus has not made a major shift in that direction show From then on.

Unfortunately, generating these exact mutations provided a roadmap that a rogue scientist could use to manipulate the exact mutations we are trying to avoid and introduce a very dangerous virus into the human community.

Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Redfield says it’s important to know if COVID came from a lab because it fuels concerns that the next pandemic could also come from a lab.
EcoHealth Alliance

Meanwhile, we are not doing enough work to contain avian flu in the bird population, where millions of infections increase the likelihood of major mutations.

The Fouchier experiments — which engineered the virus until ferrets (which respond to flu like humans) could transmit it through the air — led to a moratorium on function enhancement research for H5N1 that even Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and then-Director of Infectious Diseases and proponent of research into function gains, endorsed.

Unfortunately, this moratorium was lifted in 2019, amid outcry in the scientific community – with Fauci’s NIAID funding research.

David Swayne, a top bird flu researcher, told me many years ago that high levels of hemagglutinins (including H5) are not conducive – by nature – to human-to-human spread. Still he believes by closely monitoring and trying to control the spread in birds.

Hemagglutinin is the protein on the surface of the flu virus that allows it to attach to cells.

Dr.  Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president, testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants, Tuesday January 11, 2022
Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 on January 11, 2022.

H5N1 is highly lethal to chickens, but is housed relatively asymptomatically in duckswho then pass it on widely, but not generally to humans.

Unfortunately, the same fortune tellers who missed COVID now think they are capable of predicting the next big threat.

But the greatest future threat to us is not a specific virus, but the manipulations we do with it to supposedly protect ourselves by probing its potential to harm us.

It is likely that COVID came from a lab, and it is also likely that without an immediate change in global policy, so will the next pandemic.

Marc Siegel, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health and a medical analyst at Fox News.

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