Once again the timeline surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted – this time with the revelation that a researcher based in Beijing had already mapped the COVID-19 sequence two weeks before the CCP revealed its details to the world, raising questions over what other critical information China may have obscured from view – and why.
The sequence came from a 65-year-old Chinese deliveryman who was hospitalized with high fever and coughing on Dec. 18, and became critically ill four days later.
According to documents released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ren Lili – a current Beijing-based recipient of US federal grants via US nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance, uploaded the COVID-19 sequence into an NIH US government genetic database on Dec. 28, 2019 – when Chinese official were still calling the disease an unknown pneumonia, and ordered health workers not to spread any information about the disease or face harsh penalties.
Over two weeks later on Jan. 12, Beijing shared the genetic sequence with the World Health Organization. Two days later, the CCP acknowledged that the disease could spread between humans.
The NIH’s GenBank repository to which the sequence was uploaded by Ms. Ren subsequently notified her that the submission was “incomplete” and “lacked the necessary information required for publication,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Ren – who works at the state-run Institute of Pathogen Biology – was asked by the NIH for more information, but the agency never heard back, resulting in the removal of the sequence from the database on Jan. 16, 2020. During the same period, GenBank received a near-identical COVID-19 genetic sequence from a different researcher, which was published Jan. 12, 2020, according to a letter released by the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
The newly unearthed information points to yet more evidence of the CCP’s lack of transparency on the origins of COVID-19.
“This significant discovery further underscores why we cannot trust any of the so-called ‘facts’ or data provided by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and calls into serious question the legitimacy of any scientific theories based on such information,” said committee chair McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), in a joint letter, the Epoch Times reports.
“The American people deserve to know the truth about the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and our investigation has uncovered numerous causes for concern, including how taxpayers’ dollars are spent, how our government’s public health agencies operate, and the need for more oversight into research grants to foreign scientists.”
As the Epoch Times‘ Eva Fu notes further;
The virus genome data that Ms. Ren submitted, the earliest kind known by far, appears to have come from a 65-year-old Chinese deliveryman, who was hospitalized with high fever and coughing on Dec. 18 and became critically ill four days later.
“In terms of how I see this whole incident, most of all is disappointment, pain, and anger. We had been so timely on this, how come it’s still not under control?” the person wrote on Chinese social media. “It has less to do with science or technology, and more with policy and media.” A Chinese media report citing the incident has been deleted.
Ms. Ren has led the discovery of several emerging viruses in China, including human rhinovirus A21 subvariant, and, like other prominent Chinese virology researchers, has come out in defense of the CCP on the virus origin issue.
In correspondence from September 2021, now published in the medical journal Lancet, Ms. Ren and over a dozen other Chinese medical researchers dismissed the chances that the virus may have leaked from Wuhan Institute of Virology—another EcoHealth subgrantee that had, for years, been working on dangerous bat coronaviruses—demanding instead that the origins of COVID-19 would best be “investigated worldwide.”
Chinese media have lauded her role in isolating and synthesizing the virus genome, citing approving statements from the World Health Organization that lent her credence. Ms. Ren’s work was recognized by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences—the highest state-level Chinese medical research institute that her research center is affiliated with—as one of 40 “major national medical developments of the year.”
Scrutiny has increased over the lab leak possibility.