Pathogen Pathways

World Health Organization director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, once totally compliant with China, in June confided to a politician that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from China’s Wuhan lab. The previous month, economist Jeffrey Sachs of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, and Neil Harrison, professor of molecular pharmacology at Columbia University, called for an independent investigation of  COVID-19 and cited data pointing to a laboratory origin. Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn’t think so. 

“We have an open mind but it looks very much like this was a natural occurrence,” the Biden adviser told reporters. That invites a review of how the pandemic was portrayed before Fauci became the official government mouthpiece.

In early 2020, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, longtime director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), gave a series of telebriefings on a “novel coronavirus” that had suddenly arrived from Wuhan and was going to spread across the country. Messonnier declined to answer questions about the truthfulness of what China was proclaiming about the “new virus,” and the connection with Wuhan, she explained, was “not something that I’m at liberty to talk about today.” 

None of the reporters asked which official was laying down the rules for Messonnier, who began her career in 1995 with the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. The vaunted EIS is tasked to keep dangerous viruses from arriving on American soil, but in the case of COVID the EIS obviously failed. In her briefings for reporters, Messonnier did not address that failure, but proved upbeat about the People’s Republic of China. 

“I think we should be clear to compliment the Chinese on the early recognition of the respiratory outbreak center in the Wuhan market, and how rapidly they were able to identify it as a novel coronavirus,” (emphasis added) the CDC mouthpiece explained. Nothing about the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), China’s premier biological research facility, which, like all government institutions in China, is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and therefore not accountable to Americans. 

Messonnier gave way to Anthony Fauci, a government bureaucrat since 1968, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, and the government’s most high-profile figure on the COVID-19 pandemic. Fauci once issued warnings about gain-of-function research, which makes viruses more lethal and transmissible. Such research was once banned by the National Institutes of Health, the parent bureaucracy of NIAID. 

In 2019, Fauci funded gain-of-function research at the WIV, channeling a grant for nearly $4 million through Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance. Daszak also got publicity as a major promoter of the theory, shared by Fauci, that the “novel coronavirus” arose naturally in the wild. This was pure speculation, not science—which involves observation, testing, and replication. 

For the forces of Fauci, whose bio shows no advanced degrees in biochemistry or molecular biology, any suggestion the virus was deliberately manufactured in a lab, or accidentally leaked from a lab, was misinformation and, of course, a conspiracy theory. While that battle continued, one of the major players in the pandemic received little coverage in the American media, even though the information was readily available. 

In January 2020, Israeli molecular biologist Dr. Dany Shoman published China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu. According to Dr. Shoham, the “main culprit” in the transfer of deadly pathogens to China is Xiangguo Qiu, an “outstanding Chinese scientist” who came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996 and came to head the Special Pathogens program at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg. Since 2006, Dr. Qiu has been “studying powerful viruses—Ebola most of all—at the NML.” The viruses that were “surreptitiously shipped from the NML to China included Machupo, Junin, Rift Valley Fever, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and Hendra.

As Shoham discovered, Qiu “maintains a close bond with China and visits frequently, and many Chinese students from a notable range of Chinese scientific facilities have joined her at the NML over the past decade.” Of those facilities, four are believed to be involved in Chinese biological weapons development: the Institute of Military Veterinary, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun; Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chengdu Military Region; Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hubei;  and the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing.

“All four facilities collaborated with Qiu on her Ebola research,” Shoham explains, and Chinese interest in Ebola, Nipah, Marburg, and Rift Valley fever “might possibly be beyond scientific and medical needs.” Since only the Nipah virus is naturally found in China, “the interface between Qiu and China is a priori highly suspicious.”  Shoham also wondered what other pathogens Dr. Qiu might have shipped from Canada to China between 2006 and 2018. 

In 2017-18 alone, Qiu made at least five trips to the Wuhan lab. In August 2017, when her shipment of pathogens was discovered, Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were “escorted” from the NML by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and eventually dismissed from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which declines to answer questions about the virus transfers to China. 

Qui and Cheng were last seen publicly in February 2020, a month after the release of Dr. Shoham’s paper. They have not been seen at their Canadian properties, reportedly worth nearly $2 million. According to former co-workers, Qiu bragged about owning a mansion in China. If the RCMP have any clue where Qiu and Cheng might be, they aren’t saying. On all fronts, Canadian officials are withholding crucial documents. Even so, there is evidence that Qiu kept right on going. 

Repurposing of Berbamine Hydrochloride to Inhibit Ebola Virus by Targeting Viral Glycoprotein,” a study published in November of 2020, was co-authored by Xiangguo Qiu of the “National Microbiology Laboratory, Canada.” Dr. Qiu’s collaborator on a January 2021 Ebola study was Qiuanjie Li of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, part of China’s military. Another co-author is Feihu Yan of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Academy of Military Medical Sciences. Yan was one of the Chinese graduate students Qiu brought to the NML. Canadian politicians and journalists were curious how such a person could have qualified for the NML’s high-level security clearance.

Canada’s PHAC claimed it couldn’t reveal information about personnel matters. As Lorne Gunter of the Toronto Sun noted, the government would not even reveal if Qiu and Cheng were Canadian citizens. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also declined comment, which came as no surprise. This same agency willfully destroyed records of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s communist escapades during the Stalin Era.

Qiu caught the attention of Justin Ling, an “award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in stories that are under-reported or misunderstood.” Last February, Maclean’s magazine published Ling’s 4,000-word article headlined, “A brilliant scientist was mysteriously fired from a Winnipeg virus lab. No one knows why.” 

Before her firing, Qiu “won accolades for her work fighting the deadly Ebola virus inside Canada’s most secure laboratory.” Now she has become “a central figure in a major political battle in Ottawa and the star of international conspiracy theories. She has been accused of selling state secrets, contributing to a clandestine Chinese bioweapons program, and even of helping to create COVID-19.”

News outlets “fixated” on her work with scientists from “the Academy of Military Science of the People’s Liberation Army, which does a significant amount of work researching infectious diseases and vaccines.” Once deployed against unarmed protesters at Tiananmen Square, the mighty PLA emerges as a kind of medical-philanthropic entity standing on guard for public health. If Ling finds anything amiss with Qiu’s collaboration with the military establishment of a genocidal Communist dictatorship, nothing emerges in the piece. 

As Ling noted, some reporting focused on the fact that “graduate students from the University of Manitoba whose research was supervised by Qiu were also removed from the lab.” These were actually students from China, from some of the same PLA-linked Chinese institutions. Shoham showed that one of the students was Feihu Yan, from China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences. 

Then there was “breathless reporting that she [Qiu] had shipped dangerous viruses, including Ebola, to a BSL-4 lab in Wuhan.” Ling fails to confirm whether the breathless reporting was true. The award-winning journalist makes no mention of the carefully documented study by Shoham, who earned a doctorate in medical microbiology from Tel Aviv University and has published numerous articles on chemical and biological weapons.

On the intellectual property side, Ling ignores Tom Blackwell’s June 23, 2021, National Post article headlined, “Fired Winnipeg lab scientist listed as co-inventor on two Chinese government patents.” Under Canadian law, the federal government owns all inventions “made by a public servant that resulted from or is connected with his duties or employment,” and a government employee cannot file a patent outside the country without the minister’s permission. 

Qiu was a federal civil servant when the patents were filed with the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration. The Public Health Agency of Canada, which administers the NML, would not comment on the matter, and Qiu failed to return Blackwell’s calls.

Ling cites “tenuous allegations” by Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, who demanded to know how she got clearance to work at the NML in the first place. That deserves a spot-weld of sorts.

Dr. Qiu, by all indications a Chinese national, was in charge of special pathogens at Canada’s only biosafety level (BSL) 4 facility. Qiu registers patents with China, not Canada, a violation of Canadian law. Qiu collaborates with institutions of China’s military and biological weapons programs, and transports a cargo of deadly pathogens to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In all this, the investigative journalist Justin Ling, dedicated to under-reported or misunderstood subjects, appears to find nothing amiss. 

Ling also interviewed Qiu’s colleague Gary Kobinger, who doesn’t get into the national security issues. “At a time when Canada sorely needs to maintain trust in its scientists,” Ling closes out, “the mystery of the fired biologists has only allowed conspiracy and suspicion to fester.” 

On June 22, Canada’s Globe and Mail published “Whereabouts of fired Winnipeg scientists at center of national-security investigation still unclear.” The couple’s sons would not talk to the media and the RCMP wouldn’t say what they knew. It was clear that Qiu “played a role in shipping two exceptionally virulent viruses—Ebola and Henipah—to China’s Wuhan facility.” 

Public health officials said all protocols were followed, but “documents show that the shipments lacked a standard material-transfer agreement that spelled out intellectual-property rights.” 

The various troubling national-security issues “involve the couple’s work with Chinese military scientists and access granted to students from China to the high-security lab.” It “remains unclear how those students got the security clearance to enter the lab, which is equipped to handle the world’s most dangerous viruses.” Qiu, her husband and other scientists at the NML “collaborated with Chinese military researchers to study and conduct experiments on deadly pathogens such as Ebola, Lassa fever and Rift Valley fever.”

One of the Chinese researchers, Feihu Yan of the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, “worked for a period of time with the Winnipeg lab.” Dr. Qiu also “collaborated on Ebola research with Major-General Chen Wei, the Chinese military’s top epidemiologist and virologist.” 

As the Globe and Mail had also learned, Dr. Qiu’s name appears as a co-author on more than 120 scientific research papers between 2000 and 2021. “A significant number of papers were in collaboration with Chinese scientists, and the research was funded by Chinese government bodies.” 

For all but the willfully blind, Qiu is an agent of China’s government, but not, as some have charged, an undercover or “sleeper” agent. In Canada, Qiu operated openly and could not have become head of special pathogens at the high-security NML without full collaboration from the Canadian government. With Qiu’s collaboration with China’s military, and the transfer of deadly pathogens to Wuhan now exposed, the Canadian government duly locks up the matter tighter than a bathysphere. This should come as no surprise. 

In the style of his father Pierre Trudeau, a big fan of Mao Zedong and other Communist dictators, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a strong supporter of  China’s “basic dictatorship,” which supposedly allows the Communist regime to “turn their economy around on a dime.” Under Trudeau, who once performed in blackface, China strip-mines all possible data, patents materials developed in Canada, and with Canadian government approval ships deadly pathogens to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

WHO boss Tedros lets slip that WIV is the source of the pandemic and public health officials are now willing to accept a laboratory origin. Fauci, who claims “I represent science,” sticks to the “natural occurrence” dogma. As embattled Americans might recall, when CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield found evidence of a laboratory origin, he got death threats. That is a serious matter, but no word yet of an FBI investigation. 

The FBI did launch an inquiry into National Institutes of Health funding of bat research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The emails were highly redacted, but the FBI adds to the scrutiny of China’s highest-level biosecurity lab. As Adam Mill notes, a laboratory origin for COVID is one of those subjects declared “misinformation” by social media platforms and Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board, a working group within the Department of Homeland Security.  

As a matter of fact, in early 2020, Fauci opposed President Trump’s ban on travel from China. In a January 24 briefing, Messonnier said, “we expect to find more cases of novel coronavirus in the United States associated with the ongoing and expanding outbreak in Wuhan, China.”

Sarah Owermohle of Politico wanted to know “what kind of dialogue are you guys are having with Chinese health authorities, and “if there is any inkling” of where the novel virus is coming from. 

“CDC has a team that’s been in China for many years where we work closely with the Department of Health in China,” said Messonnier, who complimented China for identifying the virus in the Wuhan market, and failed to mention the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If anybody thought  Messonnier was part of China’s team in the United States, it would be hard to blame them. 

When EIS veteran Messonnier suddenly retired in May of 2021, CDC boss Rochelle Walensky described her as a “true hero,” even though, like Dr.  Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, Messonnier was never seen treating a COVID patient. Messonnier now serves as the Executive Director for Pandemic Prevention and Health Systems with the Skoll Foundation. She leaves behind many questions, such as the identity of the government official who told her she was “not at liberty” to answer questions about China’s role and the origin of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Fauci, the NIAID boss is 81 and has no immediate plans for retirement. Joe Biden jokes that Fauci is the real president. The Delaware Democrat has also been rather complimentary about the Chinese. 

“They’re not bad folks,” Biden said in 2020, and in his view not even competition for the United States.  In 2022, with embattled Americans paying record prices at the pumps, Biden even ships oil from America’s strategic reserves to China. So the Delaware Democrat must rate pretty high with the Communist regime, which hasn’t exactly been forthcoming about the source of the pandemic. 

On that theme, Qiu is quite knowledgeable, but she’s not available for comment. On the other hand, her former colleague and staunch defender is fully accessible. 

Gary Kobinger is the new director of the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL), a 2008 creation of Dr. Fauci’s NIAID. The high-containment facility, part of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) focuses on “understanding transmission and pathogenesis of emerging viruses and developing medical countermeasures for dangerous pathogens that can be weaponized.” What is going on behind the scenes is also of interest. 

U.S. Right to Know obtained a 2017 memorandum of understanding between the WIV and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, giving the WIV the right to demand that the GNL destroy documents, with no backups. The document was signed by UTMB investigator James LeDuc, WIV coordinator Zhiming Yuan, and UTMB general counsel Carolee A. King. Legal observers had never seen anything like it. 

Embattled Americans have a right to wonder what documents, data, and materials the Galveston lab might have destroyed at the demand of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the likely source of the pandemic. In the media and in Congress, that issue has not received the attention it deserves. 

We have a right to know what Messonnier, Fauci, Collins, Redfield, LeDuc, Kobinger, et al. knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. And what was the role of the vaunted Epidemic Intelligence Service? So many questions, so few answers, and so much suffering and death. 

For Naomi Wolf, author of The Bodies of Others, this is “perhaps the greatest crime ever committed against humanity.” This is what happens when free societies collaborate with China’s Communist dictatorship, one of the most murderous regimes ever to exist on earth. 

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images