With 2000 Viruses Being Studied in Wuhan Lab, What Could Be Next?
By Robert Weiner and Ben Lasky
On April 14, when answering a question addressing rumors that the Coronavirus started in a Chinese biolab, Four-Star Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "We do not know for sure," and US intelligence is taking "a hard look." Now, President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo are saying U.S, Intelligence is investigating the Wuhan lab as the possible source of Covid-19. It's not just a "conspiracy theory."
The Washington Times reported on March 30 that the biolab in Wuhan, China had isolated more than 2,000 new viruses, including Covid-19. It turns out that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is 1/4 mile from the "wet market" that US Intelligence earlier believed began the virus. The Chinese removed pages from its website linking its researchers to studying the virus. At the April 19 Coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump said, "We are investigating." and "I'm not happy with China," though he said he expects the $250 billion recent US-China trade deal to succeed.
The situation reminds us of the fears of the period directly after 9/11 over a possibility of a Chinese, Russian, or other country's biological "dirty bomb" that could slowly envelope the West. It is important to note that even if the Coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab, the belief had been it was a mistake and not an intentional attack on the world. Milley on April 14 said it's likely "natural." Nevertheless, we must remember that the Chinese government has shown time and again that they are not open with anything critical of their performance.
It is incumbent on the Chinese government to prove, with evidence, where and how the virus started. They must accept responsibility and stop putting out there that the US military started it,, a clear diversionary strategy.
China must also announce concrete steps to protect against misuse or mistakes in their viruses labs, even if this virus began naturally. If they need to temporarily shut down the Wuhan lab and announce it to give the world peace of mind, so be it. Is this situation with at least 2.5 million cases and nearly 200,000 deaths so far, now far worse than even Russia's Chernobyl, which the International Atomic Energy Agency said caused 4,000 deaths and the Russians shut down?
Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike must admit that President Trump's signature issue from way before his presidential campaign has been forcing China out into the open and stopping their secret and illegal campaigns against Western trade, intellectual property and safety. Democrats since Richard Gephardt's presidential campaign of 2004 have been campaigning against the reality of Chinese economic and safety assaults on the U.S. and now should be no different a time and Republicans should stay on board.
Trump is not wrong that the World Health Organization (WHO) stuck with Chinese propaganda that Coronavirus is not dangerous. On Jan. 14, the WHO tweeted, "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel Coronavirus." However, Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH-- our country'a virology expert-- and most others also believed the WHO at the outset and downplayed the seriousness of the virus. On Feb. 19, Trump told a group of governors, "I think it's going to work out fine."
But the future is what we care about now, and China as ground zero must protect both their own nation and the worldand be honest about it. The U.S. and all nations must join together to persuade China to mandate it. If powerful tools including trade agreements and even temporary military operations like ship and air movements in Asia's oceans are needed to convince China to protect the health of the nation and the world, now is the time. How safe do we now feel with 2,000 viruses being studied with no world oversight in the Wuhan lab?
Robert Weiner was Clinton and Bush White House spokesman for the Office of National Drug Policy, spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee, and Chief of Staff of the House Health Subcommittee and House Committee on Aging. Ben Lasky is senior policy analyst at Solutions for Change and Robert Weiner Associates..