'Souped-up' Covid may have leaked from lab during 'secret Chinese bioweapons' programme, bombshell Senate report claims | The Sun

COVID might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan during a secret Chinese bioweapons programme, a bombshell Senate report has claimed.

The report released by Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said there are "indications" Covid might have "spilled over" during an incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

The Wuhan Institute of Virology – a high security lab specialising in coronaviruses – has been in the eye of the storm as questions rage over whether Covid could have escaped from its lab.

Both China and the lab have furiously denied any allegations – but evidence of a lab leak has been piling up over the last two years as scientists, researchers and governments hunt for answers and step forward with evidence.

Dozens of experts have suggested Covid could have escaped from the Wuhan lab through an infected researcher, improper disposal of waste, or potential breaches in the security at the site.

Now a Senate report has claimed Covid might have been linked to a Chinese bioweapons programme – and accidentally leaked from the lab in Wuhan.

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The Senate report said: "Based on our investigation involving a variety of public and non-public information, we conclude that there are indications that SARS-CoV-2 may have been tied to China’s biological weapons research program and spilled over to the human population during a lab-related incident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

The report noted the committee had "not seen any indications that the Chinese military intentionally released" Covid.

And the committee said it did not claim to have found the "smoking gun" to solve the question of the origins of Covid "beyond all doubt".

"However, the information is important to furthering the public’s understanding, and we will seek to declassify the classified version of our report in the next Congress to further the conversation," the report said.

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The report also blasted the intelligence community – alleging it has withheld information from Congress and "downplayed" the possibility of Covid being linked to a Chinese bioweapons programme.

A group of Republicans praised the committee's work and vowed to continue to probe the origins of Covid.

“Americans are owed answers about the origins of Covid and future health threats, and they deserve leaders in Washington who remain steadfast in finding the truth,” a statement said.

"The findings identify more culpability from the Chinese Communist Party, highlight the failures of the Intelligence Community to share pertinent information with the American public and their authorised representatives, and give more credibility to the lab leak theory – which many government officials, Big Tech platforms, and media outlets were quick to label a ‘conspiracy theory'."

Representative Brad Wenstrup told Fox News that Americans deserve answers regarding the origins of Covid.

"As a physician and Army veteran, I believe it is vitally important that we understand the origins of the Covid pandemic and strive to do everything within our power to pursue policies that will help prevent our country from being vulnerable like this in the future," he said.

A report on the origins of Covid by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in October 2021 concluded Covid was "probably not a biological weapon".

"We remain sceptical of allegations that SARS-CoV-2 was a biological weapon because they are supported by scientifically invalid claims," it added.

It comes after Dr Andrew Huff, former vice president of EcoHealth Alliance, claimed Covid was genetically engineered – and leaked from the facility.

He claimed to have had a ringside seat to what he brands one of the greatest cover-ups in history – and the "biggest US intelligence failure since 9/11".

In his new book – The Truth About Wuhan – whistleblower Dr Huff claims the pandemic was the result of the US government's funding of dangerous genetic engineering of coronaviruses in China.

The epidemiologist said China’s gain-of-function experiments – carried out with shoddy biosecurity – led to a lab leak at the US-funded Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Dr Huff, from Michigan, said the organisation taught the Wuhan lab the "best existing methods to engineer bat coronaviruses to attack other species" for many years.

And he claimed "China knew from day one that this was a genetically engineered agent".

"The US government is to blame for the transfer of dangerous biotechnology to the Chinese," he said.

Speaking to The Sun Online, Dr Huff added: "I was terrified by what I saw. We were just handing them bioweapon technology."

In 2009, the Wuhan lab started working with the EcoHealth Alliance on a USAID programme – called PREDICT – focusing on emerging pandemic threats.

PREDICT was designed to help detect and find zoonotic viruses with pandemic potential – including coronaviruses.

Shi Zhengli – the Wuhan virologist who famously became known as "Batwoman" – hoped the programme would create an early-warning system for pandemics.

But in 2014, Dr Huff was asked to review a funding proposal which revealed that gain of function work was being carried out to create SARS-CoV-2 – which causes Covid.

Gain of function work sees viruses souped up to more easily infect humans to help researchers test scientific theories, develop new technologies and find treatments for infectious diseases.

But the risky research method can pose safety and security concerns – and it's banned in many countries.

It was originally banned in the US in 2014 — but was reintroduced by the NIH in 2017.

Dr Huff realised the EcoHealth Alliance was working closely with the Wuhan lab on gain of function research, with the support of USAID – a US government department.

He soon realised the virus would never occur in nature and had been developed into a much more powerful pathogen in the lab.

Dr Huff believes Covid was genetically engineered in Wuhan through gain of function research funded by the US government – and poor biosafety led to a lab leak.

"EcoHealth Alliance developed SARS-CoV-2 and was responsible for the development of the agent SARS-CoV-2 during my employment at the organisation," he said.

Dr Huff also pointed out he had seen no evidence China deliberately released the virus.

He has filed a lawsuit with Renz Law LLC against EcoHealth Alliance in the state of New York.

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