Wuhan biosafety expert admits widespread security concerns

Wuhan biosafety expert admits widespread security and maintenance concerns at China’s top-secret labs which carry out research on lethal diseases

  • Pressure was last night building on Beijing following the leak of a bombshell intelligence dossier which accuses China of having lied about Covid-19
  • The dossier, which has been circulated between Western governments including Britain, also says China persecuted whistleblowers  
  • It is also likely to increase calls for China to pay reparations to other countries if the claims are substantiated with Trump already demanding $1trillion

International pressure was last night building on Beijing following the leak of a bombshell intelligence dossier which accuses China of having lied about the origins of Covid-19 – and cites evidence that the virus was passed to humans via the Wuhan Institute of Virology. 

The dossier, which has been circulated between Western governments including Britain, also says China persecuted whistleblowers as part of the cover-up and obstructed efforts by other countries to develop a vaccine. 

The classified document, from the Five Eyes security alliance of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, risks shattering the fragile consensus which has held among the nations – with the exception of US President Donald Trump – to avoid direct accusations against the Chinese government over the pandemic. 

Chinese researcher Shi Zhengli has denied she absconded from China and defected from the regime in a social media post after rumours she had spread to Paris circulated

It comes a month after The Mail on Sunday first reported that British Cabinet Ministers were being briefed that the virus could have first spread after leaking from the institute, and 48 hours after President Trump announced that he had seen intelligence which gave him a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the global crisis had its origins in the laboratory. 

Asked whether the UK was investigating whether China had not been fully open about the cause of the virus, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said yesterday: ‘There will come a time when we will want to analyse the origins of the virus in detail and consider the actions of other countries.’ 

The dossier, leaked to Australia’s Saturday Telegraph, makes scathing criticism of the alleged cover-ups and persecution mounted by the Chinese since the outbreak, as also detailed by this newspaper. 

Trump’s Five Eyes allies have been reluctant to join in with his criticisms of Beijing – despite having access to the same intelligence briefings – particularly when China is providing vital protective equipment and ventilators to countries such as the UK. 

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, on February 23, 2017

It is also likely to increase calls for China to pay reparations to other countries if the claims are substantiated with Trump already demanding $1trillion. The dossier says China moved to cover up the seriousness of the outbreak from early December, saying: ‘Despite evidence of humanhuman transmission from early December, PRC authorities deny it until January 20.’ 

Describing Beijing’s secrecy over the pandemic as an ‘assault on international transparency’, it points out that China imposed travel bans on people travelling throughout the nation but continued to tell the rest of the world that travel bans were unnecessary. 

Addressing the possibility that the virus had leaked from the Wuhan Institute, the report cites several studies led by scientist Dr Shi Zhengli as concerns. It highlights the fact that Dr Zhengli – dubbed Bat Woman – and her team have conducted research in the lab into deadly bat-derived coronaviruses – with at least one of the virus samples being a 96 per cent genetic match for Covid-19. 

UK security sources said that they were ‘checking out’ the details in the report. Last night, Xiong Jun, from the Chinese Embassy in London, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology stressed in an interview that the institute is run on a set of strict management rules. High-level bioresearch safety labs have sophisticated protective facilities and strict measures to ensure the safety of laboratory staff and protect the environment from contamination. 

‘There is zero infection within the institute. It is the established general opinion of [the World Health Organisation], and scientists and professionals in the field of public health in the vast majority of countries including the US that there is no evidence showing the virus came from a lab. 

As the pandemic is spreading, the international community should co-operate on fighting against the virus. ‘This is the only way to defeat Covid-19. Rumour-mongering as well as slander and smear will only damage international solidarity.’

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