Where did the lab leak theory come from? Who first promoted the idea and why? The answer to this question is surprising – and may be the key to unlocking the mystery of the origin of COVID-19.
The first known mention of the idea that the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese lab appeared on January 9th 2020 in a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA). This was just days after the virus had first entered public consciousness, and at the time, no deaths had yet been reported and few people were worrying about the virus – including, it seems, the Chinese, who were claiming it wasn’t even clear whether it was spreading between humans.
Seemingly unhappy about the lack of alarm, RFA ran a comment from Ren Ruihong, former head of the medical assistance department at the Chinese Red Cross, who said she was confident it was spreading between humans. She also asserted it was a “new type of mutant coronavirus”, and immediately, without pausing for breath, raised the possibility it was a result of a Chinese biological attack on Hong Kong using a virus developed in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Bear in mind this was before a single person had been reported as dying from the virus, and no solid evidence was presented for the claim. It is the first time the WIV and the idea of a lab origin of the virus are mentioned in the media. The report then implies the WIV is hiding its involvement – though the basis for this insinuation is tenuous, to say the least.
Ren said. “They haven’t made public the genetic sequence, because it is highly contagious. From what I can tell, the patients caught it from other people. I have thought that all along.”
She said the lack of fatalities didn’t indicate that the virus was less deadly than SARS, just that antiviral medications have improved in the past 10 years or so.
Ren said she also regarded the relatively high number of infections in Hong Kong with suspicion, given that there had been no reports of cases anywhere in between the two cities, in the southern province of Guangdong, for example.
“Genetic engineering technology has gotten to such a point now, and Wuhan is home to a viral research center that is under the aegis of the China Academy of Sciences, which is the highest level of research facility in China,” she said.
Repeated calls to various numbers listed for the Wuhan Institute of Virology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences rang unanswered.
However, an employee who identified herself as a senior engineer said she knew nothing about the virus.
“Sorry, I… I don’t know about this,” the employee said.
Over the following two weeks RFA pushed hard on the idea of a Chinese biowarfare lab origin, and its reporting was picked up by the Washington Times on January 24th, which quoted Dany Shoham, an “Israeli biological warfare expert”.
The deadly animal virus epidemic spreading globally may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory linked to China’s covert biological weapons programme, according to an Israeli biological warfare expert.
Radio Free Asia this week rebroadcast a local Wuhan television report from 2015 showing China’s most advanced virus research laboratory known [as] the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Radio Free Asia reported.
The laboratory is the only declared site in China capable of working with deadly viruses.
Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese biowarfare, said the institute is linked to Beijing’s covert biological weapons programme.
“Certain laboratories in the institute have probably been engaged, in terms of research and development, in Chinese [biological weapons], at least collaterally, yet not as a principal facility of the Chinese [biological weapons] alignment,” Mr. Shoham told the Washington Times.
Why did Radio Free Asia and the Washington Times introduce and promote the idea of Covid as a Chinese bioweapon? RFA appears to have done so in order to counter the Chinese lack of concern about the virus, hence the heading: “Experts Cast Doubts on Chinese Official Claims Around ‘New’ Wuhan Coronavirus.” The Washington Times report indicates at one point it is in response to rumours “circulating on the Chinese Internet claiming the virus is part of a U.S. conspiracy to spread germ weapons”, citing an unnamed “U.S. official”.
One ominous sign, said a U.S. official, is that false rumours since the outbreak began several weeks ago have begun circulating on the Chinese Internet claiming the virus is part of a U.S. conspiracy to spread germ weapons.
That could indicate China is preparing propaganda outlets to counter future charges the new virus escaped from one of Wuhan’s civilian or defence research laboratories.
Why is the report anticipating “future charges” of a lab leak – particularly when it is in the process of making such charges?
The words of the anonymous U.S. official appear to state the Chinese rumours began “several weeks ago”, right back at the beginning of January or end of December; however, oddly, the article was soon updated to delete the words “since the outbreak began several weeks ago”, for reasons that are unclear.
In any case, the really strange thing about these “rumours circulating on the Chinese Internet” is that no evidence of them has ever been produced or found. Indeed, all the places you might expect to mention them do not. For instance, in February 2021 the DFRLab of the Atlantic Council published a lengthy document in conjunction with the Associated Press summarising all the “false rumours” and “hoaxes” regarding the origins of Covid. Its large research team scoured the internet for all rumours connected with Covid origins – yet the section on China doesn’t mention anything about these alleged January rumours of U.S bioweapons.
Another example is Larry Romanoff, an activist who writes on various ‘conspiracy theories’ and who has lived in China for many years. His columns in early 2020 on the Global Research website attacking the American position were tweeted out by senior Chinese figures, but he never mentions anything about these alleged early rumours on the “Chinese Internet”, which he surely would have done.
In addition, the rumours claim has never been repeated by any intelligence sources; this was the only time it was made.