UK Government Privately Believes Chinese Coronavirus Likely Leaked from Wuhan Lab: Report

Peter Daszak (R), Thea Fischer (L) and other members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus, arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR …
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

The British government privately believes that the Wuhan lab leak theory is the most likely origin of the Chinese coronavirus, a chemical and biological counter-terrorism advisor to the government has claimed.

Though the belief that the COVID-19 virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was once classified as a conspiracy theory, Number 10 Downing Street reportedly now privately accepts “behind closed doors” that it was likely the case.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the British broadsheet most closely associated with the Tory Party-run government, former British army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said that “I think the official view [within Government] is that it is as likely as anything else to have caused the pandemic. A lot of people like myself think it is more likely. I think attitudes have changed a little bit.

“There is a huge amount of concern about coming out publicly, but behind closed doors most people think it’s a lab leak. And they are coming round to the fact that even if they don’t agree with that, they must accept it’s likely, and they must make sure the policies are in place to stop it.”

Colonel de Bretton-Gordon, a leading expert in Britain on chemical and biological counter-terrorism, added that the “zoonotic transfer theory just didn’t make sense,” referring to the idea that the virus developed within an animal before jumping to humans.

He added: “My view, that I’ve put to the Government already, is that we cannot afford emotionally, physically or financially, to go through another pandemic. We must now get on the front foot.”

The suggestion of the lab leak theory was initially shut down in a letter in the prominent English medical journal The Lancet published in March of 2020. Some 27 scientists “strongly condemned conspiracy theories” such as the hypothesis that the Chinese virus leaked from the Wuhan lab.

The letter was organised by British zoologist Dr Peter Daszak, who later admitted to having a conflict of interest as he serves as the president of the US-based EcoHealth Alliance. The NGO funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology with money supplied from the Dr Anthony Fauci-run National Institutes of Health (NIH).

report from the Intercept found that the American government supplied EcoHealth Alliance with $3.1 million in funding, including $599,000 which went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study, in part, the ability to alter bat coronaviruses in order to make them more infectious to humans, directly contradicting sworn testimony from Dr Fauci, who claimed that the U.S. did not fund gain of function research in Wuhan.

Dr Daszak later served on the World Health Organization’s team of investigators who inspected the Wuhan lab and declared that there was “no evidence” of a leak, despite admitting that his team essentially had to take the word of researchers at the lab, as his team was not provided with hard evidence that the virus did not exist in the lab prior to the pandemic.

A report from Republicans in the United States House of Representatives — which found that the “preponderance of evidence” suggested a lab leak — claimed that Daszak had personally met the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s ‘Batwoman’ researcher Shi Zhengli in 2004 and had used American government grants to conduct gain of function research on bat coronaviruses at the lab.

In September of last year, an investigation by The Telegraph claimed that 26 out of the 27 scientists who signed the letter had conflicts of interest as they were either tied to the Chinese lab or other researchers and funders tied to Wuhan. At the time of The Lancet letter’s publication, none of the signatories who denounced “conspiracy theories” declared a conflict of interest.

Though the comments from Colonel De Bretton-Gordon represent one of the first indications that the British government now allegedly subscribes to the theory, prominent figures in the UK, such as former MI6 director Sir Richard Dearlove have long promoted the idea.

As early as June of 2020, the former leader of Britain’s foreign secret intelligence service said that he believed — on the basis of studies of the virus — that it had been “engineered” and therefore was likely to have originated in the Wuhan lab.

Sir Richard argued at the time that therefore the government should “rethink how it treats its relationship with China and how the international community behaves towards the Chinese leadership”.

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged the risks posed by lab leaks, telling the House of Commons that the government’s biosecurity strategy is being updated to prepare for the possibility of future “natural zoonosis and laboratory leaks”.

Colonel De Bretton-Gordon, who formerly served as the commander of Britain’s Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, said that biosurveillance systems and treaties on biological weapons are in need of updating to prevent future pandemics.

“If you’d had detectors at stations and airports in Wuhan, you could have prevented about four million journeys in that first week. With that kind of system, you could stop a lab leak turning into an epidemic, turning into a pandemic.

“My big concern is that next time it might not be an accident, because it’s easy to do. If you had no morals and no scruples, why not infect your enemy?”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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