Hosted by Australian investigative journalist Sharri Markson, What Really Happened in Wuhan presents a compelling case for the ‘lab leak theory’—the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, was leaked from a Chinese research facility.
When the outbreak began, it was believed to have originally jumped from bats to humans in Wuhan’s wet markets. But as Covid-19 enveloped the globe, so did whispers of a strange coincidence: the city at the epicentre of the pandemic was also home to China’s leading coronavirus lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
As Markson notes, anyone who drew attention to this coincidence was quickly written off as a conspiracy theorist by the mainstream press. But the evidence she presents for the lab leak theory is impressive.
So is the list of big names she interviews in the documentary. Among them are President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former head of British spy agency MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, and Chinese defector Wei Jingsheng.
Covid-19 Was Spreading Before the World Knew
Most Australians only heard of Covid-19 in February or March of 2020 when China, Italy and the United States began to feel its impact. But, at that point, the virus had already been spreading for months.
John Ratcliffe, the ‘overlord’ of 18 different US intelligence agencies, told Markson that America’s spy networks first became aware of a problem in Wuhan in late 2019. Already, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was in view:
“People became sick at the lab in October with symptoms that became entirely consistent with what most people have experienced around the world from Covid-19.”
This was affirmed by Mike Pompeo, whose former appointments also include Director of the CIA. He had more access to Covid-19 intelligence than anyone else in the Trump administration. When Markson asked Pompeo if he understood the lab outbreak to be the first cluster of the pandemic, he responded, “Based on everything I have seen, this is the first cluster.” Pompeo even suggested the outbreak may have begun as early as July or August of 2019.
Sadly, many of these important details were only pieced together after the event. Leading the taskforce into the origins of Covid-19 was former State Department weapons inspector David Asher. He told Markson that the intel about the sick Wuhan scientists had remained classified for the better part of a year. Some intelligence is still under wraps today.
But those who have seen it are unambiguous.
During his interview with Markson, Donald Trump announced, “Some of the intelligence is classified and I can’t talk about it. But common sense tells you it most likely — and when I say most likely, like 95 per cent — came from the Wuhan lab.” Trump was careful to clarify that any lab leak was more likely due to “gross incompetence” than villainy on China’s part.
“Is there still major intelligence that goes to proving the virus came out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology that’s still not in the public domain?” Markson inquired of John Ratcliffe. He affirmed, “Yes, there’s compelling intelligence that hasn’t been declassified.” He added:
The people who had the most access to the most intelligence are telling you that the most likely origin of Covid-19 … was a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This is really most likely what happened and it’s more than just a possibility. It’s certainly a probability, and it’s probably a certainty.
China’s Early Cover-Up of the Outbreak
It is clear from Markson’s investigations that China covered up the initial Covid-19 outbreak. As Ratcliffe put it:
If there was really no blame here, if this was really just some naturally occurring virus because someone ate a bat from a wet market, China wouldn’t have done the things that they did. The Chinese Communist Party would not have shut down Wuhan. They would not have silenced doctors and scientists and journalists and ‘disappeared’ some of them.
One of those who mysteriously disappeared was Huang Yanling, a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “In early 2020, she disappeared from its website,” Markson recounts. “Her social media presence also vanished. Many believe she was infected with Covid-19. She’s never been seen since.”
Another was citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Quishi. Chen became aware that China was covering up the unfolding epidemic in Wuhan. So he went to the city to record videos and post them on social media. Among his most alarming reports was that dead bodies were being laid in the hallways of hospitals. He too disappeared. (Curiously, Chen recently reappeared and is reticent to speak about what happened to him).
The principal China advisor to Mike Pompeo was Miles Yu, who told Markson, “For weeks and weeks, the Chinese government kept silent about the outbreak, not saying anything, as if nothing was happening.” This, Yu explains, is why citizen journalists felt compelled to report on the events and were later silenced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Sharri Markson highlighted several other lines of evidence that point to a CCP lab leak cover-up. The Wuhan Institute of Virology’s virus database was taken offline on 12th September, 2019. With it vanished 22,000 coronavirus samples. “That same day, security was beefed up at the facility and a tender was issued to replace the air-conditioning system,” Markson explains. She believes this is when a leak first occurred.
A month later, in November, WIV went into an unexplained “communications blackout” in which there was no cellphone or signals activity throughout the compound for a two-week period.
Markson also points to Chinese government data that had been wiped from the internet but was recovered by cybersecurity analysts. It showed a major buy-up of PCR supplies — the equipment that is used to test for coronaviruses — in Wuhan during the second half of 2019.
Evidence that Covid-19 Was Engineered
In the documentary, Markson interviews several researchers who have uncovered strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 did not come from bats but appears to be the product of human interference. Alarmingly, these researchers found it next to impossible to publish their findings in scientific journals.
One of these is Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, the Head of Endocrinology at Flinders University. He conducted his research on the assumption that the virus had originally spread from bats. But he soon discovered that, though it bears similarities to bat viruses, Covid-19 cannot infect bats; it is far better adapted to humans than any other species; and it did not involve any animals in the transmission chain.
“We thought the scientific journals, particularly the leading ones, would actually jump on this paper because they like to have papers that are very topical, that are going to get a lot of media attention,” Petrovsky explains. “So we were quite stunned when we just got rejection after rejection after rejection without even the paper being looked at.” Finally, the paper was published by Scientific Reports.
Another researcher interviewed by Markson was Yuri Deigin, a genetic engineer from Moscow. In April 2020, he wrote an essay arguing that the animal to human theory didn’t stack up. Deigin was particularly interested in work that was being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology which sought to make coronaviruses more transmissible to humans for research purposes.
Markson also spoke with Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of British spy agency MI6. Though he is not a researcher himself, Dearlove was one of the first to come out internationally and claim that the virus could be the result of a lab leak. Two scientists had approached him for help in publishing a paper that couldn’t get traction:
We approached Nature, we approached Science, we approached the American Journal of Virology, we approached various publications in the UK. It was clear to me that there was a sort of united front not to put anything in the public domain which questioned the Chinese narrative.
The paper, which was eventually published by QRB Discovery, identified unique inserts present in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that seemed to be the result of human manipulation.
Risky Research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Shi Zhengli, now famously known as ‘Bat Woman’, is China’s top virologist. She directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and is a specialist in bat viruses.
Covid-19 is not the first scandal in which Shi has been implicated, explains Markson. In 2012, six of Shi’s workers fell ill after clearing bat manure from a disused mine in south-west China. After three of them died, the Chinese government covered it up. Shi’s team has returned to the mine at least five times and has visited many other bat caves throughout China to collect virus samples for their research at WIV.
Among Shi’s most important work is Gain of Function (GoF) research: slicing, manipulating and combining genetic sequences from different viruses in order to make them more transmissible to humans. The ostensible purpose of this work is to preempt a pandemic in order to better prepare for it.
A major advocate for GoF research is none other than White House chief medical advisor Dr Anthony Fauci. Markson highlights a paper Fauci wrote in 2012 which argued that the benefits of GoF research outweighed any risk it posed in sparking a possible pandemic.
Though he strenuously denied it before Congress, in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci was funnelling American taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for GoF research.
Shockingly, Markson notes that American agencies have funded some 65 research projects at WIV.
That Fauci was acting duplicitously is now clear. At the same time that he was assuring the American public that Covid-19 arose naturally, Fauci was privately emailing contacts like Peter Daszak to query whether the virus might have been genetically manipulated through the research his institute was funding.
The greatest irony of the Covid-19 saga may be that the efforts to avoid such a catastrophe were the very events that created it.
The West’s Censorship of the Lab Leak Theory
Another bizarre fact highlighted in Markson’s documentary is how Donald Trump’s support of the Wuhan lab hypothesis made it so unpalatable to the elite voices in the media. In the years to come, the lab leak theory will likely become the major, if not sole, explanation for the origins of Covid-19. And only petulance from the so-called “adults in the room” will have stopped this crucial discovery from being recognised sooner. According to Sir Richard Dearlove,
Unfortunately, you could say that the Trump factor contaminated the argument quite seriously and I think there were a significant number of prominent scientists who did not want publicly to appear to be supporting Trump.
There were, of course, other factors. In February 2020, The Lancet published a letter from 27 scientists which denounced the lab leak theory as “rumours”, “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories”. This letter was fodder for an anti-Trump global media. It was so potent, in fact, that it took over a year for the establishment to finally soften on this issue.
The man behind the letter, Markson reveals, was Fauci associate Peter Daszak. Daszak is the president of EcoHealth Alliance, one of the major recipients of American grant money for — you guessed it — bat research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. His collaborative work with WIV stretches back 15 years.
Daszak makes another shady appearance in the saga. The World Health Organisation (WHO) took over 12 months from the start of the pandemic to send a team into Wuhan to investigate the origin of the virus. The United States submitted the names of three officials as delegates. Peter Daszak was not one of the names put forward, yet he was one of the three who ended up being sent. Mike Pompeo found this turn of events absurd:
It’s crazy, absolutely crazy that Daszak was the guy. He was incredibly compromised in that sense. He should have recused himself. He should have said, “No, I can’t be part of that, I was connected to this, I was involved in the funding of things that were taking place at this laboratory.” It made no sense to put [Daszak] on that group.
Following the investigation, Daszak assured the United States that the Chinese had personally shown him proof that Covid-19 came from nature. But he was unable to provide this evidence when asked for it.
In the end, the WHO delegation found the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely”. But it only dedicated three pages of its 413-page report to the lab leak hypothesis, after having spent only three hours at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Was Covid-19 Intended as a Bioweapon?
The question that is least clear in Markson’s documentary is whether or not Covid-19 was intentionally developed by the Chinese military as a bioweapon. Though the ties between China’s military and WIV are clear, President Trump finds this scenario unlikely and is willing to “give the benefit of the doubt” since China also suffered from the pandemic.
High-profile Chinese defector Wei Jingsheng is more suspicious. Known as the father of China’s democracy movement, Wei spent almost two decades inside Chinese prisons after defecting from a high post in the Chinese Communist Party. He now lives in America and according to Markson “still has impeccable contacts high up in the party”.
Even before America’s spy agencies knew of the virus, Wei’s contacts told him of a sickness spreading in Wuhan in October.
The Military World Games are the ‘Olympic games’ for military athletes, held every four years. In 2019, Wuhan was the host city. The event ran in late October and was attended by Xi Jinping. Some 9,000 athletes took part in the games and then returned home to over 100 countries. In the weeks following, reports emerged of athletes becoming sick with symptoms very similar to Covid-19. None were ever tested. Says Wei,
I thought that the Chinese government would take this opportunity to spread the virus during the military games as many foreigners would show up there … I learned there was an unusual exercise by the Chinese government during the military games. And so I told Dimon [a confidant] about the possibility of the Chinese government using some strange weapons, including biological weapons, because I knew they were doing experiments of that sort.
A third possibility is somewhere in the middle: that Covid-19 was being developed as a bioweapon but that its escape from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was an accident that exposed the project.
The exact details of this we may never know. But that it came from the Wuhan lab seems increasingly certain. The implications of this are eerie. As weapons inspector David Asher has reflected,
We could have known in November of 2019 that there was a disaster occurring inside Wuhan, inside their most important biological facilities … We could have reacted to it … the whole world could have been different. It would have been like stopping 9/11 before it happened.