Sen. Tom Cotton: Public Health Champion Or Conspiracy Monger?

Feb 18, 2020 |

Fox News – Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. stood by his earlier suggestion that the deadly coronavirus may have originated in a high-security biochemical lab in Wuhan, China, telling “The Story” Tuesday that we “need to be open to all possibilities” in exploring the origins of the outbreak that has sickened more than 75,000 people around the world.

When host Martha MacCallum pressed the Senator on his startling and unverified claim, Cotton cited a study published by Chinese scientists in The Lancet, which he called a “respected international science journal” _

“I’m suggesting we need to be open to all possibilities and we need to demand that China open up and be transparent so a team of international experts can figure out exactly where this virus originated.”

He also brought up the “questions” surrounding the biosafety level 4 “super laboratory” in Wuhan, the city where the virus is believed to have originated –

“We know it didn’t originate in the Wuhan food market based on the study of Chinese scientists … I’m not saying where it started, I don’t know. We don’t know because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won’t open up to international experts. That’s what we need to do so they can get to the bottom of where the virus originated and hopefully can effect a diagnostic test and vaccine for it.”

Cotton also pushed back against critics, specifically Rutgers University chemical biology professor Richard Ebright, who said he found no indication in the genome sequence of the virus to indicate it was engineered –

“Let’s take the professor. He was …in fact today cited in the Asia Times saying that it was quite possible that it was a laboratory incident.”

“That’s not saying this is a bioweapon,” Cotton clarified, “but we do know they were investigating and researching coronavirus in that laboratory. It could’ve been an accidental breach, it could’ve been a worker that was infected.”

“Until we get all the evidence from the Chinese Communist party, it is only responsible, not irresponsible to keep an open mind about the hypotheses.” Read more | Watch Video

Wuhan Institute of Virology: Source of 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Predecessor:
    • Wuhan Microbiology Laboratory
    • South China Institute of Microbiology
    • Wuhan Microbiology Institute
    • Microbiology Institute of Hubei Province
  • Formation: 1956
  • Founder: Chen Huagui, Gao Shangyin
  • Headquarters: Jiangxia, Wuhan, Hubei, China
  • Director-General: Wang Yanyi
  • Parent organization: Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Website: whiov.cas.cn

The Wuhan Institute of Virology is a research institute administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on virology, and is located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan, Hubei, China. In 2015, the Institute opened the first biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory to be built in mainland China, the institute played a central role in analysing the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak.

History

The Institute was founded in 1956 as the Wuhan Microbiology Laboratory under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). In 1961, it became the South China Institute of Microbiology, and in 1962 was renamed to Wuhan Microbiology Institute. In 1970, it became the Microbiology Institute of Hubei Province when the Hubei Commission of Science and Technology took over the administration. In June 1978, it was returned to the CAS and renamed Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In 2015, the National Bio-safety Laboratory was completed at a cost of 300 million yuan ($44 million) at the Institute in collaboration with French engineers from Lyon, and was the first biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory to be built in mainland China.

The laboratory took over a decade to complete from its conception in 2003, and scientists such as U.S. molecular biologist Richard H. Ebright expressed concern of previous escapes of the SARS virus at Chinese laboratories in Beijing, and the pace and scale of China’s plans for expansion into BSL–4 laboratories.

The Laboratory has strong ties to the Galveston National Laboratory in the University of Texas.[4] In 2020, Ebright called the Institute a “world-class research institution that does world-class research in virology and immunology”.

2019–20 coronavirus outbreak

In January 2020, the Institute was rumored as a source for the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak as a result of allegations of bioweapon research, which was debunked as a conspiracy theory by The Washington Post in a piece titled: “Experts debunk fringe theory linking China’s coronavirus to weapons research”.

The Post cited U.S. experts who explained why the Institute was not suitable for bioweapon research, that most countries had abandoned bioweapons as fruitless, and that there was no evidence that the virus was genetically engineered.

In February 2020, The Financial Times reported from virus expert and global lead coronavirus investigator, Trevor Bradford, who said that “The evidence we have is that the mutations [in the virus] are completely consistent with natural evolution”.

In February 2020, the New York Times reported that a team led by Shi Zhengli at the Institute were the first to identify, analyze and name the genetic sequence of the Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and upload it to public databases for scientists around the world to understand, and publishing papers in Nature.

In February 2020, the Institute applied for a patent in China for the use of remdesivir, an experimental drug owned by Gilead Sciences, which the Institute found inhibited the virus invitro;[11] in a move which also raised concerns regarding international intellectual property rights.

In a statement, the Institute said it would not exercise its new Chinese patent rights “if relevant foreign companies intend to contribute to the prevention and control of China’s epidemic”.

During January and February 2020, the Institute was subject to further conspiracy theories, and concerns that it was the source of the outbreak through accidental leakage, which it publicly refuted. Members of the Institute’s research teams were also subject to various conspiracy theories, including Shi, who made various public statements defending the Institute.

While Ebright refuted several of conspiracy theories regarding the WIV, he told BBC China that this did not represent the possibility of the virus being “completely ruled out” from entering the population due to a laboratory accident. Read more. 

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