Report: U.S. warned of ‘safety issues’ at Wuhan lab in 2018

by WorldTribune Staff, April 16, 2020

The U.S. State Department in 2018 specifically warned about “safety issues” at a virology lab in Wuhan, China, a report said.

Researchers had determined as early as 2013 that bats and their possible contact with humans through China’s wet markets could be breeding grounds for the next SARS-like pandemic. / YouTube

Two cables from the State Department warned there were too few trained technicians and safety measures in place for the type of research that was being done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The State Department also warned that the type of research conducted at the lab — the transmitting of bat-carried viruses to humans — posed a risk, The Washington Post reported.

According to the report, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing sent science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and sent a cable back to the U.S. following each of two visits.

The first cable, dated January 19, 2018, was drafted after embassy officials from the environment, science and health sections met with scientists. “During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”

State Department officials also met with Shi Zhengli, the head of the WIV’s project, who has been studying bat coronaviruses for years in an effort to predict and mitigate the next possible pandemic. Other researchers had determined as early as 2013 that bats and their possible contact with humans through China’s wet markets could be breeding grounds for the next SARS-like pandemic — research that appeared to be borne out by Shi’s team as well.

“Most importantly, the researchers also showed that various SARS-like coronaviruses can interact with ACE2, the human receptor identified for SARS-coronavirus. This finding strongly suggests that SARS-like coronaviruses from bats can be transmitted to humans to cause SARS-like diseases. From a public health perspective, this makes the continued surveillance of SARS-like coronaviruses in bats and study of the animal-human interface critical to future emerging coronavirus outbreak prediction and prevention,” according to the State Department cable obtained by the Washington Post.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted on April 14: “This story is a DAMN big deal. State Dept cables warn ‘that the [Chinese] lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.’ ”

Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy told Fox News host Martha MacCallum on April 14 that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has claimed that the coronavirus made the jump from bat to human when a Chinese national ate a bat from a Wuhan wet market. The problem, as Kennedy noted, was that the bats reportedly carrying the disease were not sold at the market in question.

Fox New host Tucker Carlson had reported on the topic last week, citing a report that said the horseshoe bats that had been found to carry the virus were not native to the Wuhan region — and had not been observed migrating the hundreds of miles from their natural habitat. Carlson’s report also noted that a virology lab in Wuhan, just blocks from the wet market at the center of the initial outbreak, did house a number of infected bats.


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