Samples from early Wuhan COVID-19 patients show the presence of genetically modified Henipah virus, an American scientist has found.
Henipah was one of the two types of viruses sent to China by Chinese-born scientists from a Canadian laboratory at the centre of a controversy over the firing of the scientists and collaboration with Chinese military researchers. It is not clear whether the virus found in the Chinese samples is related to the samples sent by the Canadian lab, which were shipped in late March 2019.
The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in a file photo. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)
The finding was confirmed for The Epoch Times by another qualified scientist.
The evidence was first found by Dr. Steven Quay, a Seattle-based physician-scientist and former faculty member at the Stanford University School of Medicine, who looked at early COVID-19 samples uploaded by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) shortly after China informed the World Health Organization about the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.
The samples from the patients, who reportedly were found to have the “unknown pneumonia” in December 2019, were uploaded to the genetic sequence database, GenBank, on the website of the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH).
So he collaborated with a few other scientists to analyze sequences from the samples.
“We started fishing inside for weird things,” Quay told The Epoch Times.
What they found, he says, are the results of what could likely be contamination from different experiments in the lab making their way into the samples, as well as evidence of Henipah virus.
“We found genetic manipulation of the Nipah virus, which is more lethal than Ebola.” Nipah is a type of Henipah virus.
The Epoch Times asked Joe Wang, PhD, who formerly spearheaded a vaccine development program for SARS in Canada with one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, to verify the finding. Wang is currently the president of NTD Television Canada, the sister company of The Epoch Times in Canada.
The firing of Chinese-born scientist Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, from the National Microbiology laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg has been the subject of much controversy in Canada, with opposition parties pressing the government for more details on the case, and the government refusing to release information citing national security and privacy concerns.
Qiu and Cheng along with several Chinese students were escorted out of NML, Canada’s only Level 4 lab, in July 2019, amid a police investigation. The two scientists were formally fired in January 2021.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which is in charge of NML, said the termination was the result of an “administrative matter” and “possible breaches of security protocols,” but has declined to provide further details, citing security and privacy concerns.
Documents and emails released by PHAC show that the shipment of Henipah and Ebola samples was done with the permission of NML authorities.
In one of the emails sent in September 2018, David Safronetz, chief of special pathogens at PHAC, informs then-head of NML Matthew Gilmour and other lab administrators about the request from WIV for the shipment of the samples, saying “I trust the lab.”
In response, Gilmour asks about the nature of the work that will be done at the Wuhan lab, and why the lab doesn’t get the material from “other, more local labs.” He also tells Safronetz that it’s “good to know that you trust this group,” asking how NML was connected with them.
In his reply, Safronetz doesn’t specifically say what the samples will be used for in China, but notes they will only be sent once all paperwork and certification is completed. He also says the WIV is requesting the material from NML “due to collaboration” with Qiu.
He adds, “Historically, it’s also been easier to obtain material from us as opposed to US labs. I don’t think other, closer labs have the ability to ship these materials.”
MPs have asked NML management why shipment of the samples was allowed and whether they knew if China performs any Gain of Function (GoF) research at WIV. GoF research involves increasing the lethal level (virulence) or transmissibility of pathogens.
NML’s acting scientific director general Guillaume Poliquin told MPs during a parliamentary committee meeting on March 22 that the lab only sent the samples to WIV after receiving assurance that no GoF research would take place.
Conservative MP John Williamson pressed for more answers, saying the word of the state-run Chinese lab can’t be trusted as the Chinese regime “has a history of theft and lies.”
The issue of GoF research at WIV has been a point of contention in the United States between lawmakers and Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH’s head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose organization has funded research (through EcoHealth Alliance) on coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says published work from WIV on coronaviruses shows the lab is conducting GoF research, a charge Fauci denies.
Despite repeated requests by opposition parties for more details related to the firing of the two NML scientists, the Liberal government has refused to provide records, saying there are national security and privacy concerns.
After the House of Commons issued an order for the government to disclose the information, the government took the Speaker of the House to court to obtain confirmation from a judge that it can withhold the documents. The government later dropped its court case once Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an election and Parliament was dissolved.
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