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Biden Asks US Intel Officials To Investigate COVID-19 Origin

 May 26, 2021 at 10:15 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 While the state of the pandemic has begun to stabilize in San Diego as the counties, hospitalization number dips below 100 for the first time, since April of last year, many questions on the origins of the virus remain unanswered just today. President Biden has instructed the intelligence community to report on the origins of the virus within 90 days. What remains the most controversial theory on the emergence of COVID-19 is that it was not the product of a natural transmission between humans and animals. But instead that the virus was manmade and escaped containment from China's Wu Han Institute of virology, joining me to discuss this story is author Alan editor of California health line author. Welcome. Thank you for having me now, Arthur, you spoke to Peter de shack, the only American on a 10 member team that the world health organization sent to China this winter to investigate the origins of the virus. He said that while he can't disprove the lab leak theory, he remains unconvinced of it. Uh, de Shaq has a long history studying bat Corona viruses. How has that influenced his opinion on the origins of this virus? Well, Speaker 2: 01:13 There are some people who feel that he has a conflict of interest and that he shouldn't have participated in this who visit to try to that occurred during the winter, because he didn't really disclose to the world that, you know, he helped fund this laboratory, which is the center of these suspicions, that there might've been a leak, but in any case, he, you know, has committed a huge amount of his career to investigating these viruses and showing just how dangerous they are and how close they were to sort of jumping over to humans and causing the kind of pandemic that the world has seen. Um, he has said that he doesn't see any evidence that this occurred in the lab in [inaudible] that he was working with. I should clarify he doesn't personally work in the lab, but he thinks that he's satisfied that he has seen enough of their data to be sure that they weren't working on a virus similar to this Speaker 1: 02:11 Notion that COVID-19 was created in a lab, began as speculation. How did this theory emerge and why have we seen it gain traction in recent months? Speaker 2: 02:21 It emerged initially because of some intelligence reports that, uh, people had gotten sick at the [inaudible] laboratory. And also just the fact that this virus was known to be associated with bats that are often found in caves 600 miles away from Wu Han. So the fact that this laboratory was working with them and was sort of the world's leading laboratory for this kind of research, you know, made people wonder. And then what added to that is the fact that there hasn't been really any evidence found of this, of missing link between bats carrying hundreds of different Corona viruses, but none that similar to the one to SARS cov two, the one that is, you know, has plagued the world. And so that, that missing link and the fact that they've sampled many animals since then, and nothing has been found that would indicate that this might've been the means for some kind of virus to go from bats, maybe to an intermediate species or, or directly to people. There's just no evidence of that. And the fact that there's no evidence I think has added to suspicions or to the feeling that really this other hypothesis, which isn't the mainstream, but this hypothesis that had came from the lab sort of has grown or, or the feeling that it needed to be investigated more, has grown as the other hypothesis, sort of just isn't paying off Speaker 1: 03:51 U S intelligence report confirming the illness of a number of researchers at the UConn Institute of virology contracted COVID-19 like symptoms before the disease was actually reported in the general public has actually raised more questions. How has this news further polarized the debate on COVID origins? Speaker 2: 04:11 Well, I mean, it's another, it's a, it's a piece of evidence by no means definitive, but it's another piece of suggestive evidence that maybe the virus might've jumped and that it was sort of covered up. I'd seen people hypothesizing that maybe there was an outbreak. Somebody at the lab got sick and then there were several cases in the community and they thought they had controlled it back in the fall and that it busted out again. And the idea is that this was very embarrassing and that it might've been covered up. I mean, you got to figure this, if it really is a cover up of these dimensions, there have to be a lot of people who know about it. I mean, we really are talking about a conspiracy and I think de Shaq feels that he trusts these scientists. He's worked with him for years. Speaker 2: 04:55 He doesn't. And many other virologists that I've spoken with in the U S they say, these are some of the leading scientists in the world working on viruses. And they don't believe that they would just hush something up like this. But on the other hand, China has a different system and you really can't say anything without, uh, authorization at this level in China. What's also interesting to me is that, you know, our relationship or the relationships among us scientists and Chinese scientists working in this field were really reduced by the Trump administration. And, uh, we went from having 45 public health, us public health service scientists there to 10 during his period in office. And, you know, having fewer people on the ground means you don't pick up as much of the scuttlebutt. I mean, even if people aren't going to directly tell you what's happening, you don't see that they're looking nervous, they're running around, you know, something's going on. And then you ask questions. So we might have been heard. And we, you know, we might have, if indeed the lab is factual, we would have been in a much better position to have found it out. If we had, you know, continued to strengthen our presence in China, which was reduced quite a bit during the Trump administration Speaker 1: 06:09 This month, a group of scientists asked for the [inaudible] Institute of virology to open its database for more scrutiny. They said, no, what other information do scientists need to come to a definitive conclusion to this case? Speaker 2: 06:22 Well, it's difficult because what we're asking or what the people that I've seen are some of these investigators who are scientists sort of unofficially working in spreading information on Twitter, that they find that are saying that they've found things like research papers that show that some Chinese scientists in Wu Han are working with viruses that weren't reported to these international sort of databases where it's customary to report your findings if you're working in genetics or in virology. And so you're saying that the fact that these viruses or virus sequences weren't registered is one thing that leads to suspicion that they're hiding something. And that's that, you know, this database that they shut down in September might have more clues as to sort of the intermediate species or the, or the work that was being done at the Wu Han lab that could have led either to the creation of this virus, but more likely just to it's somebody being infected with it in the laboratory. And then it leaking. And by leak, we mean somebody got sick and they went out and infected. Other people, Speaker 1: 07:33 De Shaq says he has received threats and lost scientific funding as a result of his work on bat. Coronaviruses he says attacking scientists is quote, shooting the people with the conduit to where the next Corona virus might happen. How has this debate impacted public trust in the scientific community? And in government Speaker 2: 07:53 Trust in science has come under strain during this pandemic. And many of these questions have become so politicized because they're used as political tools because of, you know, all the pressure that people feel under economically and so on because of these public health measures. And I think this lab leak hypothesis, unfortunately, in addition to being, you know, a really important question to answer has also become a political football, Speaker 1: 08:19 Say a lot of scientific conflict over this question is related to a debate over the risks associated with lab experiments involving deadly infectious disease. And just today, the Senate passed amendments to the endless frontier act, which would affect funding for these kinds of experiments. Can you talk about how the roots of this debate are affecting what we're seeing play out now? Speaker 2: 08:42 Yeah. I mean, there's a number of scientists. We're worried about some of the research that's done with viruses that involves creating sort of hybrids that always you, these are not nobody's out trying to make monster viruses, but they might create a Hybris hybrid in order to test whether a drug will work against a certain type of virus or a certain piece of the virus. But a lot of scientists feel like there hasn't been much that's come out of this kind of research that's been useful, and that it's potentially dangerous because of the kind of nightmare scenario that we're discussing in regard to COVID. So there are a number of scientists who were sort of suspicious of this kind of research. And, um, some of them suspect that this kind of research was going on at move-on, although not all of them, for many of them, it's still the separate issues, but they have become sort of inmeshed one and another, because some of the same people who were questioning this kind of research are now asking questions about whether this kind of research was being done in UConn and whether it might have led to this leak. Speaker 2: 09:52 I've been Speaker 1: 09:53 Speaking with author Alan editor for California health line author. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me.

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President Joe Biden is asking U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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