In 2019, Chinese medical researchers affiliated with the country’s armed forces started working on engineering mice that had “humanized lungs.” A State Department investigation found that the scientists may have infected the bioengineered lab mice with coronaviruses.

The bioengineered mice were developed using CRISPR gene-editing technology. These mice were mentioned in an April 2020 study regarding the susceptibility of these mice to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) illness. 

This study had 23 co-authors. Eleven of them worked for the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Shanghai. The academy is a military medical institute of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China’s armed forces.

Virologists employed by the United States government flagged this study so that the National Security Council (NSC) could investigate it.

When the NSC investigators attempted to work backward to establish a timeline for the study, they found that the bioengineered lab mice were created during the summer of 2019. This was just several months before the first outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in Wuhan.

This discovery led NSC investigators to suspect that the PLA was using the bioengineered mice to test the effects of various viruses on humans. After some more digging, they “uncovered important evidence” supporting the theory that the coronavirus pandemic was the result of an accidental lab leak.

When the NSC investigators tried to reach out to other agencies, their concerns were ignored.

“We were dismissed,” said Anthony Ruggiero, NSC senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense. “The response was very negative.”

Meanwhile, in the Department of State, officials repeatedly warned others within the agency investigating China’s initial cover-up of the first outbreak in Wuhan to not pursue it any further.

Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance wrote an internal memo to his staff that State Department officials had “warned” leaders within his bureau “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19” because it would “open a can of worms.”

Many within the State Department persisted despite warnings. They were repeatedly advised not to open a “Pandora’s box.”

“The admonitions smelled like a cover-up,” said DiNanno. “And I wasn’t going to be part of it.”

Researchers in Wuhan tested coronaviruses on bioengineered mice

The experiments with bioengineered mice involved Shi Zhengli, the lead researcher on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). She appears to have tested at least two novel but undisclosed types of coronaviruses on the bioengineered mice to gauge the effectiveness of the viruses.

Shi publicly and adamantly refuted claims that the coronavirus pandemic originated from one of the labs within the WIV.

But Shi was also interviewed by Scientific American, a popular science magazine, for an article released in March 2020. In her interview, she recounted how she “frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal.”

Shi even talked about how relieved she was when supposedly none of the genetic sequences from the first COVID-19 patients matched those of the coronaviruses she and her team had sampled from bat caves. “That really took a load off my mind,” she claimed. “I had not slept a wink for days.”

But in Jan. 2021, the State Department released a fact sheet that noted how scientists at the WIV were actively collaborating on publications and secret projects both with civilian and PLA-linked organizations. The WIV had even been conducting “laboratory animal experiments” on behalf of the PLA since at least 2017.

One national security official who reviewed the classified information told reporters that military and civilian researchers at the WIV are “doing animal research in the same fricking space.”

The State Department’s fact sheet acknowledged the possibility that the virus could have come from nature through human contact with coronavirus-infected animals.

“Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection.”

The fact sheet also slammed the Chinese Communist Party for preventing the “transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.”

Beijing has since denounced the fact sheet, calling it “full of fallacies” and the “last madness” of Mike Pompeo, who was the Secretary of State at the time of the fact sheet’s publication.

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