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The Best Little Wuhan in Texas

The FBI and the Department of Energy have evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic began in a laboratory. The most likely place of origin is the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, a collaborator with the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) from 2009 to 2021 headed by James LeDuc. For anyone investigating the COVID origin, LeDuc is a person of interest. 

The Californian earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Cal State Long Beach, a masters of public health in infectious and tropical diseases from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in epidemiology, also from UCLA. LeDuc began his professional career as a field biologist with the Smithsonian Institution’s African Mammal Project in West Africa, then served for 23 years in the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command. 

In 1992, LeDuc joined the Centers for Disease Control and the CDC assigned him to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a medical officer. LeDuc later became associate director for global health at the CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), where his research interests included the epidemiology of arboviruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers. 

In 2006, LeDuc joined the faculty of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), home to the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL), a creation of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci since 1984. Some officials thought Galveston Island, constantly threatened by hurricanes, was not the best place to contain the world’s deadliest and most contagious viruses. 

The first GNL director, Dr. Stanley M. Lemon, departed after Hurricane Ike in 2008. LeDuc took the helm in 2009, shortly after the GNL’s biosafety level 4 unit opened. Under LeDuc, the GNL began collaborating with China in 2013 when construction began on the WIV. LeDuc paid a visit in 2017 and the following year, the State Department expressed concerns over safety at the lab. The GNL boss was not troubled. 

In 2020, LeDuc proclaimed, “there is convincing evidence that the new virus was not the result of intentional genetic engineering and that it almost certainly originated from nature,” the same position enforced by NIAID boss Anthony Fauci. When he retired in 2021, LeDuc was singing the same tune. 

“I think we’re the best lab in the world,” LeDuc told the Daily News of Galveston County. “I do say that with some knowledge of what else is going on around the world. I think we’ve done an exceptional job.” 

According to LeDuc, the quick spread of the COVID pandemic was kind of an “oh shit” moment, but “everybody just dove right in to address it.” On the other hand, as the Daily News report noted, the GNL “has been under scrutiny over work it did before the pandemic.” (emphasis added). 

Early in the pandemic “a conspiracy theory emerged,” claiming it was caused by a coronavirus from “a laboratory in Wuhan, a province in China.” That raised questions about the GNL “which had hosted students who work in the Wuhan lab, and on LeDuc, who had advocated for international cooperation on laboratory safety and research of infectious diseases. Some of the controversy also has been tied to a political issue of U.S. universities failing to report gifts from and contracts with Chinese companies.” 

According to LeDuc, the GNL was “squeaky clean” in its work with China, and the coronavirus developed naturally in wild animals and was spread through Chinese wet markets. 

“The Chinese just happened to be in the place where this was discovered,” LeDuc told the Daily News. “These things happen. Unfortunately, the political climate has just been rather toxic to international collaboration.” The departing GNL boss did elaborate on what was going on behind the scenes. 

LeDuc signed agreements with three Chinese labs, including the WIV, giving China the power to destroy “secret files, materials and equipment, without any backups.” The agreements applied to “all cooperation and exchange documents, data, details and materials,” were renewable every five years, with the confidentiality terms remaining in force even after termination. The UTMB conceded that officials signed “poorly drafted” agreements, and that the signing could violate Texas law. 

LeDuc also helped WIV scientists avoid scrutiny over China’s role in the pandemic. This came to light through a request from U.S Right to Know, not from open disclosure by the GNL, the NIH, NIAID, James LeDuc et al. Other revelations emerged from 412 pages of records obtained by Judicial Watch. 

In a May 6, 2019 email, LeDuc thanks NIAID officer Gayle Bernabe for taking a call to discuss “possible funding sources for collaborative work with China.” LeDuc has already submitted a proposal, “and if successful we would begin work in Wuhan later this year.” The GNL boss adds that “our vision is that the work will be conducted in true collaboration with some undertaken in the U.S. and some in Wuhan by investigators that are in frequent contact and visiting each other frequently.”

In a November 25, 2019 email, LeDuc tells Chinese official Dr. Yuan Zhiming that his manuscript is “nicely written” but should be expanded “to let readers know that security is an important aspect of your program.” In a February 9, 2020 email, LeDuc prepares Yuan Zhiming for questions that may arise in the investigation of the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

“We need to aggressively address these rumors and presumably false accusations quickly and provide definitive, honest information to counter misinformation,” wrote LeDuc. “If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them and get them corrected. I trust that you will take my suggestions in the spirit of one friend trying to help another during a very difficult time.”

In April 2020, it emerged that Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) might push for an investigation of the Wuhan lab. LeDuc warned Chinese virologist Dr. Shi Zhengli, known as the “bat woman” because of her work with coronavirus at the WIV. Shi then told LeDuc “due to the complicated situation I don’t think it’s a right time to communicate by the call” and denied the virus leaked from the WIV. 

“I understand completely” responded LeDuc, “and I certainly do not wish to compromise you personally or your research activities.” The GNL boss attached a draft summary he would later provide to UT officials and possibly congressional committees. Judicial Watch notes that the draft was “not included” in their information request.

In an email from April 20, 2020, LeDuc warned Shi and Yuan that the Wuhan lab would continue to be the focus of an investigation. A number of sources, including “reputable newspapers” all point to the Wuhan lab to the source of the outbreak. 

The belief that the COVID virus originated in a lab was the target of a massive censorship campaign by the Department of Homeland Security, and its fledgling Disinformation Governance Board. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a “disinformation tool kit,” targeting “conspiracy theories appearing online related to COVID-19’s origin, scale, government response, prevention and treatment.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted “Coronavirus rumor control,” referring readers to the CDC coronavirus page. 

The “government affiliated” Global Disinformation Index prevailed on advertisers to distance themselves from conservative websites open to the lab origin. According to former State Department official Mike Benz, the GDI, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, was part of a “constellation of pop-up organizations” stifling discourse on COVID origins. 

Despite the efforts of this “Censorship Industrial Complex,” the FBI and Energy Department now find evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic began in a laboratory, a reality that was evident to medical scientists from the start. 

After the first reports of a novel bat-related outbreak in Wuhan, Rutgers chemical biology professor Dr. Richard Ebright said it took him “a nanosecond or a picosecond” to consider a link to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As it happens, the WIV had more going for it than funding from Dr. Fauci and full collaboration with the GNL. 

China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, a January 2020 paper by Israeli medical scientist Dr. Dany Shoham, revealed that Qiu shipped a cargo of deadly pathogens to the WIV. The shipment, including strains of Ebola, came from Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg, where Qiu ran the special pathogens program. In 2017 and 2018, Qiu made at least five trips to the WIV.

Qiu worked closely with Gary Kobinger, who earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Montreal and headed the NML’s special pathogens unit until 2016. According to Kobinger, Qiu was just doing her job, and when police escorted her from the NML it was all just a “misunderstanding.” 

Gary Kobinger is now the director of the Galveston National Laboratory, a close collaborator with the WIV under James LeDuc. He signed agreements with China to destroy files, materials, and equipment. He helped the WIV avoid scrutiny over China’s role in the pandemic. LeDuc also perpetuated what he had to know was a lie, that the pandemic was a natural occurrence. As the GNL boss put it, “the Chinese just happened to be in the place where this was discovered.”

The Galveston National Laboratory is in bed with China, and it’s pretty clear who’s on top. While a full investigation awaits, add James LeDuc to the witness list with Anthony Fauci, Nancy Messonnier, and former NIH Director Francis Collins. If China ever did anything with which they disagreed it’s hard to know what it might be.

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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.

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