A 2018 report by US diplomat Rick Switzer – alongside US consul-general Jamie Fouss claimed the Chinese lab had “poor safety practices and no US oversight”. This was despite American taxpayers shelling out hefty sums to fund the project along with the French.
Despite helping pay for the lab, few international researchers were welcome to work inside the facility and China effectively cut it off for itself, the report claimed.
This lack of collaboration on a supposedly international research project may have led to the poor practises and lack of oversight, it has been claimed.
In his report, Mr Switzer detailed how the National Institutes of Health (NIH), headed by Dr Anthony Fauci, was experimenting with coronaviruses.
According to the Times, his cable read: “NIH was a major funder, along with the National Science Foundation of China, of Sars research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
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It added: “In the last year, the institute has also hosted visits from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation and experts from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.”
As well as this, it said that “Institute officials said there would be ‘limited availability’ for international and domestic scientists who had gone through the necessary approval process to do research at the lab.”
According to a new book, What Really Happened in Wuhan: the Cover-Ups, the Conspiracies and the Classified Research, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was creating a database of potentially lethal viruses.
Shi Zhengli – dubbed “batwoman” – was helping compile the list, according to author Sharri Markson.
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Ms Zhengli earned her nickname for collecting 19,000 samples from bats while at Wuhan, with 2,481 of those containing coronaviruses.
Her work was all part of China’s own version of the Global Virome Project (GVP).
The GVP was supposed to be an international collaborative effort to identify within 10 years all of the planet’s viruses which have pandemic or epidemic potential in humans.
In his book, Mr Markson said: “So a laboratory working with the most lethal pathogens known to humankind had effectively cut off collaboration with the international community.”
When the coronavirus pandemic emerged in late 2019, the work of the lab and Ms Zhengli, in particular, came under intense scrutiny.
Rumours that the lab was behind the virus which began circulating in February 2020 – just weeks before much of the world was plunged into lockdowns.
Addressing the claims, Ms Zhengli went on a rant on WeChat – China’s version of Twitter – at the time.
She wrote: “Those who believe and spread rumours, shut your dirty mouth.”
She added: “I, Shi Zhengli, use my life to guarantee that it has nothing to do with our lab.”
China has consistently denied claims the leak came from the lab, insisting it naturally jumped from bats to humans.