So apparently the origin of Covid is in Laos, where the viral samples collected from bats were originally found, and then sent to Wuhan.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying coronaviruses found in bats from Laos in the months before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, providing fuel for the theory that Sars-Cov-2 escaped from a lab.
US government documents, released under Freedom of Information, suggest the bat origin and the lab escape stories might not be competing theories after all – in fact, they may both be true.
In September, scientists discovered Banal-52, a coronavirus found in Lao bats, which shares 96.8 percent of its genome with Sars-Cov-2.
Fauci’s argument, as you may remember, is that even if it’s 96.8% identical, and that seems like a lot, it really isn’t when we’re talking about genetics. After all, humans share 60% of their DNA with bananas. I guess the real and significant differences in DNA are in those final few percentage points.
The striking similarity between the two coronaviruses led scientists to speculate that the Lao bat strain could have somehow given rise to Sars-Cov-2.
But there was one glaring problem: how could a virus originating in bats living in Laos spark an outbreak in Wuhan over 1000 miles away?
That puzzle might now have been solved, as leaked emails between EcoHealth Alliance and US government funders reveal viral samples from Lao bats were being collected and sent for study in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Viral DNA from ‘bats and other high-risk species’ were sent to Wuhan between June 2017 to May 2019, according to the emails, uncovered by a Freedom of Information request made by a US-based campaign group called White Coat Waste Project.
One could reasonably assume from this that Covid was “in the works” dating all the way back to 2017, maybe even earlier. Although that’s if you feel the “lab leak” wasn’t accidental.
As well as working in Laos, EcoHealth Alliance were investigating cave bat viruses in Yunnan, China, and sending the samples off to scientists in Wuhan for further study.
The virus RaTG13, also strikingly similar genetically to Sars-Cov-2, was found in a horseshoe bat in a mineshaft in Yunnan.
Records of the genetic sequences collected from both Yunnan and Laos were removed from an online database at the Wuhan institute in September 2019, leaving experts in the dark about the strains that had been studied there.
Gilles Demaneuf, a New Zealand-based data scientist and member of the pandemic-origins research group Drastic, said the revelation provided a ‘plausible’ route for the viral spread from Lao bats to people in Wuhan.
Mr Dermaneuf wrote in a recent blog: ‘Now we have a very plausible direct route with two options.
‘Number one, a Wuhan bat sampler infected on a field sampling trip. Number two, a research accident in Wuhan when manipulating a Laos Banal-like bat coronavirus.’
Lord Matt Ridley, co-author of a book on SARS-CoV-2’s origin, says if the pandemic’s backstory really did start in Laos, it gives hope to western researchers, whose search for the truth has been frustrated by an intransigent China.
And an intransigent US government as well.
Another leaked document revealed in September by Drastic, a group of open-source data analysts, revealed the head of EcoHealth Alliance, Dr Peter Daszak, had pitched to the US government for funding to artificially insert cleavage sites into Sars-like coronaviruses collected in the field and studied in Wuhan.
Dr Peter Daszak’s 2018 request for $14.2 million for the viral manipulation work was turned down over fears of the danger such alterations could pose.
Lord Matt Ridley, co-author of Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19, said the plan to insert cleavage sites into Sars-like coronaviruses, although turned down by the US government, may still have gone ahead.
In a recent column for the Spectator, Lord Ridley wrote: ‘Most of the funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology comes from the Chinese not the American government, after all; so the failure to win the US grant may not have prevented the work being done.
‘Moreover, exactly such an experiment had already been done with a different kind of coronavirus by — guess who? — the Wuhan Institute of Virology.’
Addressing the proposed link with Laos bats, Lord Ridley emphasised the hope it could give western researchers, whose search for the truth about SARS-CoV-2 has been frustrated by an uncooperative China.
Lord Ridley wrote: ‘If the trail to the source of the pandemic leads through Laos, it is possible western countries can find out more.
The problem is, Laos is a communist country with strong ties to China. I would exactly expect Laos to be cooperative with Western investigators.