U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at cent

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:05 pm

China Floats U.S. Military Lab as Possible COVID Origin Point, Urges WHO to Investigate
by Brittany Bernstein
Yahoo News
Wed, March 31, 2021, 10:27 AM



China on Wednesday urged the World Health Organization to investigate whether COVID-19 first originated in a U.S. military laboratory after the agency’s director called for a deeper probe into whether the virus had escaped from a Chinese lab.

A WHO-led team that visited China earlier this year to investigate the coronavirus pandemic’s origins said in a report on Tuesday that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus had leaked from a Chinese laboratory and recommended no further exploration of that theory.

However, just before the report’s release, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team’s probe into the potential lab leak was not sufficient and that further investigation was needed. He said he was prepared to send more specialists to explore that possibility, according to the Wall Street Journal.

On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded to a question about Tedros’ comments by touting the team’s “important conclusion” that the lab leak theory was unlikely.

“They have basically excluded the possibility of a lab incident” in Wuhan, she said.

She also called on the agency to investigate early outbreaks in other countries and encouraged the WHO to investigate a U.S. military laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md.

“As you know relevant study is already done in Wuhan labs, but when will Fort Detrick be open to those experts?” she asked. “If necessary, we hope the U.S. can be as open and candid as China.”

For months Chinese officials have peddled the unfounded theory that the virus may have originated at Fort Detrick, which houses parts of the U.S. biological defense program and other medical research efforts led by the military, without offering any evidence.

Hua would not say whether China would allow scientists to continue to investigate the labs in Wuhan or when it would start the second phase of studies outlined in the WHO-led team’s report.

The WHO-led team was forced to rely on the word of the Chinese scientists participating in the investigation and were not given uninhibited access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where many public health experts believe the virus may have originated.

The WHO report also contradicted U.S. intelligence claims about the safety protocols at the WIV. The report claims the lab was “well run” but State Department cables from 2018 reveal that diplomats who visited the facility had concerns that proper safety measures were not being observed. The report also suggests that no researchers at the lab came down with COVID but the State department announced in January that researchers reported flu-like symptoms in the fall, months before Chinese authorities acknowledged the COVID outbreak.

WIV staff also deleted a genome database that contained information about which viruses were being studied at the lab.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that he believes the coronavirus originated inside a lab in Wuhan and “escaped,” and was potentially spreading as early as September 2019.

“If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan,” the virologist told CNN in a clip that aired Friday. “That’s my own feelings. And only opinion. I’m allowed to have opinions now.”

Redfield said he is “of the point of view that I still think the most likely aetiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped.”

“The other people don’t believe that,” said Redfield, who led the CDC under former President Donald Trump. “That’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”

The WHO-led team’s report also notes that it is possible the pandemic began outside Wuhan, or China, as the team found little evidence of substantial spread in Wuhan before December 2019, while the virus had been found in individuals in Italy and Brazil in late November. However, scientists have said it is possible the virus was spreading undetected in Wuhan and the surrounding areas for weeks or months before gaining attention.

“The current thinking is that we are still working with the start in and around Wuhan and working backwards on how it came here,” said Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO team. “It is perfectly possible you would have sporadic cases in and around Wuhan before December, November, even October 2019…That earlier move of the virus outside of the area could potentially be explained that way.”
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:44 pm

OPEN LETTER: Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19
March 4, 2021

1. Introduction

Finding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is critically important to both better addressing the current pandemic and reducing the risks of future ones. Unfortunately, well over a year after the initial outbreak the origins of the pandemic remain unknown.

As scientists, social scientists, and science communicators who have been independently and collectively looking into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe it essential that all hypotheses about the origins of the pandemic be thoroughly examined and full access to all necessary resources be provided without regard to political or other sensitivities.

Based on our analysis, and as confirmed by the global study convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese authorities, there is as yet no evidence demonstrating a fully natural origin of this virus. The zoonosis hypothesis, largely based on patterns of previous zoonosis events, is only one of a number of possible SARS-CoV-2 origins, alongside the research-related accident hypothesis.

Although the “collaborative” process of discovery mandated by the World Health Assembly in May 2020 was meant to enable a full examination of the origins of the pandemic, we believe that structural limitations built into this endeavor make it all but impossible for the WHO-convened mission to realize this aspiration.

In particular, we wish to raise public awareness of the fact that half of the joint team convened under that process is made of Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, that international members of the joint team had to rely on information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them, and that any joint team report must be approved by both the Chinese and international members of the joint team.

We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses - whether natural spillover or laboratory/research-related incident.

Because the joint team investigation falls short of the mark, we believe it essential for the international community to outline how a full and unrestricted investigation could be organized. Such an investigation would need to:

• Be carried out by a truly independent team with no unresolved conflicts of interest and no full or partial control by any specific agenda or country.
• Be multidisciplinary by including epidemiologists, virologists, wildlife experts, public health specialists, forensic investigators, biosafety and biosecurity experts, etc.
• Include several individuals with Chinese-language skills and with an understanding of Chinese culture, who can help to interpret behaviors during the original events and also help decode the dynamic during the investigation itself.
• Start its study by considering all possible scenarios for each pathway. These should include:
o A pure zoonosis event with/without intermediate host;
o Infection at a sampling site of a lab employee or of some accompanying non-lab personnel;
o Infection during transport of collected animals and/or samples;
o Lab Acquired Infection (LAI) in one of the laboratories in Wuhan;
o Lab-escape without LAI, for instance via waste handling or animals that escaped or were disposed of inappropriately.
• Follow a common forensic investigation approach, based on:
o Traditional rigorous on-the-ground investigation;
o Desk-based analyst work to make sense of the elements collected;
o Open-source intelligence to help gather additional information;
o A review of previous zoonosis events and lab-related accidents, from which technical and institutional insights may be gained.
• Have full or significant access to all sites, records, samples, and personnel of interest, including:
o Key Wuhan markets;
o All laboratories and institutions, Chinese or international, known to have worked on coronaviruses or shared facilities or equipment with groups that worked on coronaviruses;
o Hospital records from fall 2019 of early or suspect patients, including interviews with patients or contacts;
o Important pathogen sampling sites, such as the Mojiang mine;
o Current and past personnel, such as employees of the labs in 2019 and people present on specific sampling sites.
• Have full access to all relevant records of the labs and institutions involved in coronavirus research, including:
o Environmental reports;
o Inspection reports;
o Maintenance logs;
o Lab experiment logs;
o Raw sequence reads;
o Records of shipments of samples;
o Specimen destruction records;
o Personnel logs;
o Incident reports;
o Animal breeding records;
o Sampling trip records, including the 2013 Mojiang sampling trip;
o Key databases of pathogens, samples, and isolates, including those taken offline.
• Have full access to granular data, preferably directly from the source and in its raw form, not summarized data. This data can be anonymized if necessary; there should be no legal reason to limit access.
• Have full access to market samples, environmental samples, hospital samples and any potential samples such as waste waters and blood banks with full permission to perform independent sequencing or other testing.
• Have full access to the Chinese CDC case records and related primary hospital and/or clinic records.
• Have full access to other Chinese case databases describing pneumonia cases.
• Be able to conduct confidential interviews, including of early cases and their relatives and past and present personnel associated with the sites or institutions of interest such as markets, hospitals, sampling sites, and laboratories.
• Deploy a secure reporting channel for people to confidentially contribute information, wherever they are based, without fear of punishment or retribution.

4. Conclusion and Next Steps

We recognize that as an international agency that must rely on the collaboration of its member states, the World Health Organization is limited in what it can achieve in this type of investigation. It is not our intention to undermine the WHO, which is working under challenging circumstances at a time of tremendous global need.

Although the joint team investigation was a significant opportunity for the international community to gain some limited and highly curated information, it has unfortunately proven opaque and restrictive, greatly compromising the scientific validity of the investigation.

With more than two million deaths, more than a hundred million infected by COVID-19 worldwide, and a massive global disruption impacting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, we cannot afford an investigation into the origins of the pandemic that is anything less than absolutely thorough and credible. If we fail to fully and courageously examine the origins of this pandemic, we risk being unprepared for a potentially worse pandemic in the future.

Because we believe the joint team process and efforts to date do not constitute a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation, we call on the international community to put in place a structure and process that does.


• Colin D Butler, Honorary Professor, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (ORCID 0000-0002-2942- 5294)
• Bruno Canard, DR CNRS, molecular virologist, Aix Marseille University, France, (ORCID 0000-0003-4924-1991)
• Henri Cap, PhD, zoologist, Museum of Natural History, Toulouse, France
• Y. A. Chan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, Cambridge, USA (ORCID 0000-0002-0731-637X).
• Jean-Michel Claverie, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, virologist, Aix-Marseille University, France, ( ORCID 0000-0003-1424-0315)
• Fabien Colombo, PhD Candidate, Communication and sociology of science, MICA, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, France.
• Virginie Courtier, Evolutionary geneticist, Institut Jacques Monod, CNRS, France (ORCID 0000-0002-9297-9230).
• Francisco A. de Ribera, Industrial Engineer, MBA, MSc(Res), Data scientist, Madrid, Spain (ORCID0000-0003-4419-636X)
• Etienne Decroly, DR CNRS, molecular virologist, Aix Marseille University, France, (ORCID 0000-0002-6046-024X)
• Rodolphe de Maistre, MSc engineering, MBA, ex auditor IHEDN, France (ORCID 0000- 0002-3433-2420)
• Gilles Demaneuf, Engineering (ECP), Data Scientist at BNZ, Auckland, NZ, (ORCID: 0000-0001-7277-9533)(Co-Organizer)
• Richard H. Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers University, USA
• André Goffinet, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, University of Louvain Med Sch, Belgium
• François Graner, biophysicist, Research Director, CNRS and Université de Paris, France, (ORCID 0000-0002-4766-3579)
• José Halloy, Professor of Physics, Biophysics and Sustainability, Université de Paris, France, (ORCID 0000-0003-1555-2484)
• Milton Leitenberg, Senior Research Associate, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, USA
• Filippa Lentzos, Senior Lecturer in Science & International Security, King’s College London, United Kingdom (ORCID 0000-0001-6427-4025)
• Rosemary McFarlane, PhD BVSc, Assistant Professor of Public Health, University of Canberra, Australia (ORCID 0000-0001-8859-3776)
• Jamie Metzl, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council, USA (Co-Organizer)
• Dominique Morello, Biologist, DR CNRS and Museum of Natural History, Toulouse, France
• Nikolai Petrovsky, Professor of Medicine, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Australia
• Steven Quay, MD, PhD, Formerly Asst. Professor, Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA (ORCID 0000-0002-0363-7651)
• Monali C. Rahalkar, Scientist ‘D’, Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, India
• Rossana Segreto, PhD, Department of Microbiology, University of Innsbruck, Austria (ORCID 0000-0002-2566-7042)
• Günter Theißen, Dr. rer. nat., Professor of Genetics, Matthias Schleiden Institute, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, (ORCID 0000-0003-4854-8692)
• Jacques van Helden, Professor of bioinformatics, Aix-Marseille University, France, (ORCID 0000-0002-8799-8584
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:16 pm

World’s Poorest Nations Face Setback as India Suspends Vaccine Exports Amid Fight over Patent Rights
by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
APRIL 05, 2021

Achal Prabhala: coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa.
Leena Menghaney: Indian lawyer who has worked for two decades on pharmaceutical law and policy and heads Médecins Sans Frontières’s access campaign in India.
"The world's poorest countries are at India's mercy for vaccines. It's unsustainable"

We look at the urgent push to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for all nations, rich and poor, and growing calls for Big Pharma to waive their patent rights, as COVID-19 cases soar in India and the Modi government has suspended exports of coronavirus vaccines to many of the world’s poorest countries that depend on AstraZeneca vaccines it produces. “These are not India’s vaccines,” says Achal Prabhala, coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for equitable access to medicines. “The number of vaccine doses that have gone out to a third of humanity — 91 poor countries — is 18 million doses, or just enough to cover about 1% of the populations of these countries if they’ve even got vaccines, which some have not,” Prabhala notes. Leena Menghaney, an Indian lawyer who heads Médecins Sans Frontières’s access campaign in India, links the supply shortage to Oxford University’s decision to sign an exclusive deal with the Serum Institute in India rather than contracting several manufacturers to produce the vaccine. “The monopoly is going to cost us,” Menghaney says.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the urgent push to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for all nations, rich and poor, and growing calls for Big Pharma to waive their patent rights. As Christians around the world marked Easter Sunday, Italy moved up midnight Masses to meet a 10 p.m. curfew amidst a spike in COVID cases. And Pope Francis used his Easter Mass address at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to warn against vaccine nationalism.

POPE FRANCIS: [translated] In the spirit of an internationalism of vaccines, I urge the entire international community to a common commitment to overcome the delays in their distribution and to promote their distribution especially in the poorest countries.

AMY GOODMAN: According to Oxfam, rich countries, with just 13% of the world’s population, have bought up more than 60% of vaccines even before their production. This comes as COVAX, the United Nations initiative to bring mass vaccination to poorer countries, has placed orders for more than 2 billion shots, but most of them won’t come until the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, deliveries from the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccine manufacturer in India have been delayed as COVID-19 cases soar to record highs in India and the Modi government has suspended vaccine exports. With more than 12.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases, India has the world’s third-highest caseload, after the United States and Brazil.

On Sunday, the head of the public-private GAVI Alliance, which works to provide vaccines to the developing world and is backed by the United Nations and the Gates Foundation, addressed the delay during an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation. This is Seth Berkley.

DR. SETH BERKLEY: So, India is, by volume, the largest supplier of vaccines for the developing world. And because of the new wave of outbreaks in India right now, the Indian government has stepped up their vaccination programs. And that has meant that they’ve required more doses, which means that they’ve made less doses available for the rest of the world. We had expected, in March and April, about 90 million doses, and we suspect we’ll get much, much less than that. And that is a problem.

But we’re in a race, because we also see wealthy countries beginning to cover much of their population, and our hope is that they will begin to make their vaccines available to the rest of the world, including ones that they may not use. For example, the U.S. not only has Moderna, Pfizer and J&J, but they also have vaccines from Novavax and, of course, from AstraZeneca. Those could be made available, and they would make a big difference in terms of the supply for the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, our next guests write about this in a new piece for The Guardian headlined “The world’s poorest countries are at India’s mercy for vaccines. It’s unsustainable.” In it, they note that as the U.K. saw a delay in doses from India, quote, “a far more chilling reality was unfolding: about a third of all humanity, living in the poorest countries, found out that they will get almost no coronavirus vaccines in the near future because of India’s urgent need to vaccinate its own massive population.

For more, we go to India, where we’re joined in Bangalore by Achal Prabhala. He is the coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa. And in Delhi, Leena Menghaney is with us, an Indian lawyer who has worked for two decades on pharmaceutical law and policy. She is head of the Médecins Sans Frontières — that’s Doctors Without Borders — access campaign in India.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Achal Prabhala, it’s great to have you back. You co-authored this piece. Elaborate further on what is taking place, this as we hear Pope Francis’s address demanding the wealthy countries ensure that the world gets these vaccines, especially the poorest countries.


What we’re seeing now is a failure that was foretold over a year ago, when vaccine manufacturing and vaccine research just began. What’s happening today is a set of cumulative failures over the last year, many of which were predicted, many of which could have been avoided.

Of the vaccines available in the world, there are vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna which are simply not available outside rich countries. AstraZeneca is one of the few companies that has made its vaccine a little more available, primarily by signing an agreement with the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, who happens to be located in India. Now, the problem is that what they signed over were the rights to supply vaccines to 92 poor countries around the world, including India, essentially to one vaccine manufacturer, with very, very few backups. What that’s meant is that you have these 92 countries that are dependent upon one company that operates on Indian soil.

Now, by its share of population, India should get about 35% of these vaccines. What’s happening instead is that the Indian government is acquiring far more of those vaccines than 35%. At this moment and for the next couple of months, it’s going to be closer to 100%. The problem with this is that these are not India’s vaccines. These vaccines were always meant, contractually, for about half of humanity, including India. Now, they’re not getting there. Seth Berkley, the head of the COVAX initiative, which promised to provide a pipeline of vaccines to these poor countries last year, has said that he hoped to have 100 million doses out. The reality is so much worse, because what he has out are 28 million vaccines, 10 million of which went right back to India. So the number of vaccine doses that have gone out to a third of humanity — 91 poor countries — is 18 million doses, or just enough to cover about 1% of the populations of these countries if they’ve even got vaccines, which some have not.

AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] Leena Menghaney about the consequence of the contract between Oxford and AstraZeneca with the Serum Institute in India, just to explain for people to understand what is taking place and the role of these large pharmaceutical companies.

LEENA MENGHANEY: Yeah. I’ve worked in pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals for 20 years. And the rule is, you have to have at least three suppliers. If you look at India itself, it has many manufacturing sites and many manufacturers. The decision to go and have an exclusive deal with Serum Institute is going to cost lives, because that’s exactly where it all started, with Oxford granting exclusive rights to AstraZeneca, and AstraZeneca choosing to tie up with one single manufacturer.

We all know that India is the pharmacy of the developing world. They could produce more, and they should have transferred technology and the rights to produce these vaccines to more than one company. The monopoly is going to cost us. We need to have scaled up not with just Serum Institute, but a large number of other manufacturers in India.

So, now India is in this difficult position where it has to vaccinate its own people at a faster and faster pace to beat the epidemic, and then, at the same time, actually ensure that these vaccines go to the developing world. We’re at a very difficult point in India’s, you know, policymakers’ — I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes today.

AMY GOODMAN: Achal, you write in the piece with Leena, “The billions of AstraZeneca doses being produced by the Serum Institute in India are not for rich countries — and, in fact, not even for India alone: they are for all 92 of the poorest countries in the world. … [T]he bulk of India’s vaccination goals will be met by just one supplier, which faces the impossible choice of either letting down the other 91 countries depending on it, or offending its own government.” Can you talk more about this and the gross vaccine inequities we’re seeing across the globe?

ACHAL PRABHALA: Absolutely. One of the interesting things about this is how it begins. Oxford University has a research laboratory called the Jenner Institute, which shows early promise on research for a coronavirus vaccine. This is at exactly this time last year, in about March. They suggest, in public statements, that they would like to have as many manufacturers around the world make the vaccine. It’s not necessarily nonprofit or technically open source, but they have this idea of a world in which anyone can make their vaccine. The Gates Foundation steps in, advises the Jenner Institute to go with a pharmaceutical company. One month later, they sign an exclusive contract with AstraZeneca, a U.K.-based multinational pharmaceutical corporation. AstraZeneca then licenses a large number of doses to the Serum Institute in India; they license a firm in South Korea — both of which are now producing vaccines. But what they do is that they transfer one concentration of monopoly power to another manufacturer with another kind of monopoly power, the monopoly power to supply half the world’s population, including India, with a number of vaccine doses that is simply not enough.

One of the funny things about this is that it’s as though everybody involved, from the Gates Foundation to AstraZeneca and, unfortunately, including the government of India — it’s as though they suddenly realized how many people live in India. Our population is not a secret. We have 1.3 billion people. We’ve always known that these people would require vaccines. And yet it seems to have taken the government of India until about two months ago to discover that we would have to ramp up our vaccination program, at which point they decided, through this result of colossal bad planning and cumulatively bad decisions, to essentially usurp vaccines that were meant for other poor countries, who do not have the kind of vaccine manufacturing capacity India does. And because they’re being made within Indian sovereign territory, they are actually able to do that, to the detriment of countries like Ghana or Nigeria, who have received enough doses to inoculate 1% of their population, will now have to wait at least until July this year, but possibly much longer, because India’s vaccination needs, as well, will continue to be met by this one company, where all the vaccines — where all the vaccine doses are concentrated for all of these countries for the next several months.

AMY GOODMAN: Leena, can you talk about the need, the — what you’re calling for, with the People’s Vaccine initiative around the world, as well, calling for this, as well as countries like India and South Africa, calling for pharmaceutical — the WTO and the U.S. to support the waiving of patents by pharmaceutical companies?

LEENA MENGHANEY: Yeah. So, this proposal is quite interesting. It shifts power from pharmaceutical corporations to government. And what it really says is that we learn from experience. In HIV/AIDS, we had to overcome patent barriers country by country, drug by drug. And instead, what they have proposed is that we waive our intellectual property automatically in one go, you know, saving a lot of time along the way in producing not just vaccines, but medicines and other medical products.

So, in a nutshell, what India and South Africa proposed and asked the world to support them on was that we don’t have to do this the hard way. We don’t have to lose lives like we did in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We don’t have to overcome patents country by country. And what we do is an automatic waiving of intellectual property monopolies. And that actually could result in fastening of, you know, production in many new regions and countries who are investing in sort of coming into making pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Achal Prabhala, can you also elaborate on this? There’s been a big push. We just spoke with the former foreign secretary of Brazil. And, of course, COVID is just exploding there. And he also expressed grave disappointment in the Biden administration for not supporting the call at the WTO to waive the intellectual rights of these corporations during the pandemic.

ACHAL PRABHALA: There’s no choice. They must. If they wish to have a solution that works not only for the rest of the world, poor countries, but also for them, eventually, in their own selfish interests, they must find a way to waive or suspend pharmaceutical monopolies in the pandemic.

Interestingly, one of the things that’s happening at the World Trade Organization is that this AstraZeneca access agreement, that we analyzed, which has turned out to be quite catastrophic, is being held up as the example. We’re criticizing AstraZeneca, but that’s because they’ve actually done something to make access available. Companies like Pfizer and Moderna, and even Johnson & Johnson to a certain extent, have done nothing.

Now, AstraZeneca’s licensing agreement, however much it’s a step up from what Pfizer and Moderna have done, is, in fact, a failure. It’s not working out. It’s inadequate. It needed to have been bigger and better and taken into account the real needs of the real people who live in this world. So, the idea that you can leave it up to pharmaceutical companies to occasionally license their products and to slightly distribute the extreme concentration of power that they have, which is a proposal being actively discussed at the WTO, is foolish. And I hope that the example of how the AstraZeneca agreement has worked out will serve as caution for the fact that nothing other than a dramatic step to suspend pharmaceutical monopolies all over the world will get us out of this pandemic.

AMY GOODMAN: Achal Prabhala, you talk about Oxford University’s original motivations for developing the vaccine, and you talk about motives being thwarted by the Gates Foundation. How?

ACHAL PRABHALA: Oxford University had this idea that since we were in a pandemic that created this global emergency, they must do something that would step out of the norms of the kind of pharmaceutical research they do. What they wanted to have, very clearly expressed by the lead researchers, by Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert at that time, was to be able to license as many manufacturers as possible around the world. I don’t think they ever intended to lose money, but they didn’t intend to turn it into the kind of pharmaceutical juggernaut that coronavirus vaccines have become. This was very clearly expressed.

But very quickly, on the advice of the Gates Foundation and a few other parties — the U.K. government was involved — the contract completely changed, and the system of licensing this vaccine was dramatically reversed. They signed an exclusive contract with AstraZeneca, that then further went out and created a handful of these access licenses, of which it’s only truly one that functions and serves for half the world’s population.

It’s a mistake of tragic proportions that I’m not sure every party involved understands. I believe they were working with the best intentions, but they were working without an understanding of the last 20 years of human history. It’s a mistake that should definitely not be repeated, certainly not be held up as a solution, and it’s something that we need to reverse and correct at this moment.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, you mentioned that while you are very critical of AstraZeneca, that Moderna and Pfizer’s contracts are worse. Explain.

ACHAL PRABHALA: Pfizer and Moderna are running on this model where they believe supplying literally between 15 and 20% of the world, which is the cumulative population of everyone who lives in rich countries, is sufficient. They will not do a thing more than that. Eighty percent of the world or 85% of the world is being left out to dry.

The idea is that they are going to places where they have high-paying customers, usually in the form of governments, from whom they have these huge preorders. Moderna posted revenue of $18 billion this year, so they’re doing well out of this strategy. And their idea is to limit the production of vaccines to the people who can afford them, to safeguard their relatively new technology of a messenger RNA platform that they’ve deployed in this vaccine, to protect that platform against future exploitation, against future commercial use. To the extent that it is democratized and there are more people who can manufacture this around the world, even in the pandemic, I think it threatens their ability to exploit the platform in the future. So the idea is to hold this close, to serve in the pandemic those who can pay, and pay no heed and no mind to anybody who lives outside this tiny handful of countries that they’re currently serving and doing very well for them.

AMY GOODMAN: And as we know from the pandemic, what it has taught us, if nothing else, if one person is sick somewhere, everyone has the potential to be sick. I want to thank you, Achal Prabhala, coordinator of the AccessIBSA object, which stands for India, Brazil, South Africa, and Leena Menghaney, heads up Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders, access campaign in India. We’ll link to your op-ed in The Guardian, “The world’s poorest countries are at India’s mercy for vaccines. It’s unsustainable.”
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Fri Apr 16, 2021 1:42 am

“We’re in a Transition Phase”: Dr. Monica Gandhi on Vaccine Safety & Why You Still Need a Mask
by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
APRIL 15, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/4/15/ ... n_vaccines

Monica Gandhi: infectious disease specialist, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a division head at San Francisco General Hospital.

U.S. health officials have delayed a decision on whether to resume the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots in six women who received doses. Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at the UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital, says it’s “prudent” to investigate reports of blood clots but notes the issue “is very rare” and unlikely to cause more than a temporary delay. She also says it’s important to raise “vaccine optimism” by continuing to tout the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. “Eventually we are going to get back to the normalcy of not masking and distancing. We’re just in this twilight period right now because we are not fully vaccinated,” she says.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

U.S. health officials have delayed a decision on whether to resume the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, after reports of extremely rare blood clots in six women between the ages of 18 to 48 who received doses. This is out of nearly 7 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines administered in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control panel met Wednesday and may continue the pause for seven to 10 days. They also learned of a seventh woman and man who developed the rare condition.

In this video released by the White House, White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci explained the reason for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: A couple of reasons to do that. The first is to investigate this a bit further. And the second is to alert the clinicians out there, when someone comes in with these types of symptoms, to ask them if they have a history of a recent vaccination. … The people who have already gotten the vaccine should not be worried, because, as I mentioned, this is a very rare event, one in more than a million individuals. The J&J vaccine has been shown in clinical trials to be highly efficacious. What we’re talking about now has nothing to do with the efficacy of the vaccine.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Fauci is set to testify today before the House select committee that oversees the government’s coronavirus response, along with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. David Kessler, Biden’s chief science officer for the COVID-19 response. This comes as Biden has insisted there are still enough COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in the United States and that the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t affect immunization efforts here. This is Biden speaking Tuesday during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I told y’all I made sure we have 600 million doses of the mR — not of either Johnson & Johnson and/or AstraZeneca. So, there is enough vaccine — that is basically 100% unquestionable — for every single, solitary American.

AMY GOODMAN: To discuss all of this, and also what it means for vaccine access worldwide, and more, we’re joined by Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease physician, professor of medicine at UCSF — that’s University of California, San Francisco — San Francisco General Hospital.

Doctor, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us.


AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s start off with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One of the things that Fauci just said, Dr. Fauci said, is to alert clinicians. Now, please explain what exactly happened to these six or seven or eight people. One woman died, and we’re talking about young women. We don’t know if it’s tied to the vaccine. But this whole issue of this rare blood clot in the brain? And I was also very interested that he said we want to alert all clinicians both to report, but also to let them know that what — the standard of care for blood clots is to, you know, give heparin, a blood-thinning medicine, but in this case it has an adverse reaction, and you should not do this.

DR. MONICA GANDHI: Right. So, essentially, like you said, this is very rare — six women out of 6.8 million doses given, and perhaps these additional cases. It was, I think, prudent to just investigate these. We need to see if there was another reason for the clot. We need to see if there was any association with any other medications. And it is true that this particular syndrome, if linked to the vaccine, causes both blood thinning and blood clots. So, it’s thrombocytopenia, which is low platelets and also platelets clumping. So it helps us determine what to do if someone has a headache. These are very rare clots, but they are cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, which means they’re in the brain.

So, you know, this is a temporary pause. This had actually happened with the AstraZeneca vaccine, that there were clots associated with a similar type of vaccine, which is adenovirus with the DNA inside it. And what the EU decided to do was go ahead and proceed with that vaccine, but in older individuals, because the clots weren’t seen in younger individuals. That may end up being what we do here. But right now it’s just time to wait and give a week and examine it.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Gandhi, can you say what the implications of this pause are? What are the communities that were receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, especially in areas where it was difficult — it’s been difficult to administer Pfizer and Moderna because of how difficult it is to transport them, the conditions under which they have to be kept, as opposed to Johnson & Johnson?

DR. MONICA GANDHI: Yes. I mean, Johnson & Johnson had advantages, just because the issue was it didn’t need to be kept as cold as the Pfizer and Moderna, and it was one dose, and then you were finished. And there were advantages for hard-to-reach populations, for minority communities. And specifically worldwide, there is an advantage of using an agent that is easy to transport, that’s just in a refrigerator. And this is a setback and concerning.

And I think, you know, AstraZeneca, again, we have a precedent for this with a similar vaccine. And what ended up happening was that it was paused and then resumed, in the EU, at least, in a certain population, and it is still ongoing in India, for example. So, it may not mean — this is a pause; this is not a finality. As President Biden said, we have enough doses of Moderna and Pfizer to continue with this vaccination rate of 3 million doses a day in the United States. But I’m concerned about the impact worldwide.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Gandhi, can you explain, because a lot of people, at least initially, were more skeptical of the new vaccines that are now being administered most widely in the U.S. — that is, the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna — and their safety and efficacy relative to Johnson & Johnson?

DR. MONICA GANDHI: Yeah. You know, the mRNA vaccines seemed like they were a new technology. And they actually are not, in a sense that they haven’t been used for pathogens anywhere, but they have been used for tumor vaccines. They’ve actually been around and started being developed since 2011, when we had a much, much smaller pandemic from a coronavirus called MERS. And they also were developed quickly because there was a public-private partnership, and they were — money was put to the problem, and this was a terrible pandemic that we needed to get over. So, there were lots of reasons why they were developed quickly, but they’re not actually profoundly new.

And so many doses have been administered now of these mRNA vaccines, and they really have been incredibly safe and profoundly effective — actually even more effective in the real-world setting than we saw in the clinical trials, which is very unusual, because usually the real-world setting is messy and it’s more diverse populations, and you didn’t think that it would be so amazingly effective in the real-world setting. But study after study, including a six-month study of the Pfizer vaccine with data released on April 1st, shows these vaccines are 100% effective across 44,000 people around world against severe disease, and very highly effective, 98%, against symptomatic COVID. So, with all these administrations and how well people are doing and the safety and effectiveness, I think people are becoming very comfortable with the mRNA vaccines.

AMY GOODMAN: So, is there something in the adenovirus — if you could explain vaccines, of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca? Why have they both — this swirl of the possibility of blood clots, though, of course, extremely, extremely rare, why would they be causing this?

DR. MONICA GANDHI: So, they are different types of vaccines. So, the mRNA vaccine is a piece of genetic material, you know, called mRNA, that your body makes into the spike protein of the virus, the thing that sticks out of the virus. And it’s surrounded — the mRNA is surrounded by this lipid nanoparticle, and you inject it in the arm.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are both similar vaccines, and they’re different from the mRNA vaccines. And they actually contain a virus, that’s very benign — it causes colds usually, and it doesn’t even replicate in our systems — called an adenovirus. And then, inside the adenovirus is a coiled-up DNA, and then that DNA goes into your body after you inject it. It’s made by your body into mRNA, and then the same process occurs.

There was a New England Journal study last week that questions whether there’s a mechanism of action, where as — either the DNA or the adenovirus of these two vaccines end up essentially linking and creating an antibody against platelets. Platelets are our clotting factors. So, if you create an antibody against these platelets, they can clump and cause clots, and they can actually also go down in the body and cause bleeding. So, there’s a postulated mechanism — we’ve seen this with heparin, which is a blood thinner, that it can, rarely, cause these antiplatelet antibodies to form. And there’s now a postulated mechanism, and both vaccines have caused these clots. So, it’s prudent to investigate this. Very rare, though.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how will you deal with the people who are vaccine-hesitant or anti-vaxxers altogether? You’ve got the person leading the charge, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson. It is the most-watched cable news show in history, so it’s extremely significant. He seized the opportunity of the Johnson & Johnson pause to suggest the U.S. government is likely downplaying the alleged danger and lying about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

TUCKER CARLSON: According to the CDC’s new guidance, once you’ve been vaccinated, you still cannot, quote, “attend medium or large gatherings.” The federal health authorities also recommend that you continue to wear your mask when you go outside. How long will this continue? Well according to Yahoo News, experts say it’s, quote, “not entirely clear when it will be considered OK for people who are fully vaccinated to stop wearing masks.” At some point — no one’s asking this, but everyone should be: What is this about? If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives? Honestly, what’s the answer to that? It doesn’t make any sense at all. If the vaccine is effective, there is no reason for people who have received the vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it doesn’t work, and they’re simply not telling you that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Dr. Monica Gandhi, I think we can call you the “masked madam.” You are very serious proponent of masks. Why do you say that it doesn’t indicate failure? And also, let’s be clear that the vaccine-hesitant or anti-vax movement goes across the political spectrum.

DR. MONICA GANDHI: Yes. You know, actually, the CDC has given guidance that indicates when people can stop wearing their masks. And the guidance is vaccinated people around vaccinated people, and vaccinated people around unvaccinated individuals of low risk, like children, who are not at risk for severe disease. The CDC has also given guidance about travel with vaccinated people.

And actually, this is the right thing to do, because it increases vaccine optimism when you tell people that we’re going to eventually get back to normal life, without masks and distancing, once we can get more of our population vaccinated. So, there is a point to be said that eventually we are going to get back to the normalcy of not masking and distancing. We’re just in this twilight period right now because we are not fully vaccinated. And, in fact, there are people desperate to get the vaccine who have not yet had the chance to get the vaccine. So we’re in a transition phase right now.

Actually, a very good thing to look at is Israel and the U.K., which have had vaster — faster vaccination programs than we, and Israel has gradually been easing their restrictions. They’re at 60% first dose given now. And they keep on gradually easing their restrictions and lockdowns, and things are getting more and more normal. This is where we will get to if we can get enough people to take the vaccine. And the U.K. just released major lockdowns on April 12th.

So, I think it is actually important to say that the goal of vaccinations is not to stay in this state of masking, distancing and out-of-normal life, but we do need a temporary state, just a temporary state now, where those of us who are vaccinated are respectful to those of us who are not, unvaccinated. You don’t know what’s going on in a store. You don’t know who’s vaccinated or unvaccinated. And we’re still staying with masks and distancing for now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Gandhi, you mentioned earlier that these mRNA vaccines are even more effective in real-world settings than they were in clinical trials. But we still see in the U.S., despite the fact that the U.S. has administered more doses of vaccine than anywhere else in the world — we still see very high rates of infection in certain areas. So, could you explain this, vaccines versus what people attribute some of these rises in cases to, variants?

DR. MONICA GANDHI: So, yes. So, what happened — and again, I look to Israel and the U.K. as examples of places that have gone faster — is that if you started with high case rates, which — and you haven’t tamped down transmission enough, the vaccine itself can’t bring down cases until you’ve gotten to a certain vaccination rate. So, what happened in Michigan and other states as we were rolling out vaccine is the vaccine wasn’t — rollout wasn’t catching up fast enough to the fact that there was still ongoing case transmission. And unfortunately, there were increased cases, hospitalizations in these areas. This isn’t true across the entire United States. If you started with a lower case rate, like in California, where I live, then the vaccines have been profoundly effective and have kept cases very low. So, I compare this to Israel. Israel actually had a surge in cases after they started rolling out vaccines, because the lockdowns were more permissive than in the U.K., and the U.K. didn’t have that surge.

Now, in terms of variants — this is a very important point. Variants — B.1.1.7, the variant that’s in the U.K. and now also in the Upper Midwest, actually is more transmissible. Luckily, we had data, just the other day, very well-done studies in Lancet Public Health and Lancet Infectious Diseases from England, that they are not more virulent. It’s just that if they move faster and you don’t have enough of your population vaccinated, you can’t keep up until you get enough vaccination in the population, and you maintain your masks and distancing.

However, the most important point about variants is: Will our vaccines not work against variants? And the one thing that I want to clear up for our audience is that — it’s a very clear message, actually. There are two arms of the immune system. It’s very simple. There are antibodies, which are more temporary arms of the immune system, and then there’s a fundamental arm of the immune system that are most effective against viruses, and that’s called cell-mediated immunity, or T cells. All of these vaccines induce T cells. The reason we know that is they actually measured these T cells in the clinical trials. They’re actually very complicated to measure. They take fancy machines. They’re hard to measure. But they took the time to measure T cells in the clinical trials. They all rise appropriately. And indeed, the T cells are effective against all the variants. This is a paper by NIAID, Dr. Fauci’s organization, that he messaged to the White House task force meeting a couple of weeks ago, by Dr. Redd. There’s another paper by Dr. Sette that shows that even if you get the mRNA vaccine and you have a — are exposed to a variant, that your T cells stay active against that variant. So, I think, long term, we will be able to get out of this coronavirus pandemic with these vaccines, if we concentrate on our T cell immunity. So I’m actually not worried about the worst thing that can happen with variants, which is that they evade our immune response.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dr. Gandhi, you’ve also advocated a “first dose first” strategy, which was, of course, employed in the U.K., extremely controversially at the time. Could you explain what the advantages of that strategy are? And you mentioned also — so, that’s one. Second, you mentioned earlier that there are people who are desperate for the vaccine who have not been able to get access to it. Could you talk about that, in particular with respect to people in poorer countries, the majority of whom are not expected to get the vaccine anytime this year, and possibly for several years?

DR. MONICA GANDHI: Yes. The idea around “first dose first” is that you’ll give the second dose eventually, but that you delay the time between doses. There are actually great reasons for this. Number one, there was no reason that we had to do three to four weeks with Pfizer and Moderna, respectively. That was just to expediate the trials. Actually, vaccinology has taught us that the longer between doses, the better. It actually gives you more of an immune response. For example, hepatitis B vaccine, we used to give doses sooner, and then we realized we had more immune responses if we give them longer. If you remember, childhood vaccinations, we don’t care if children come in a little late for their vaccines; we care if they come in too early.

And then, the most important reason is, we’ve seen the U.K. strategy, and they have delayed the second dose 'til 12 weeks, and there have been no implications for that, no emergence of variants. And, in fact, they've gone much faster, and they have very low cases in the U.K. and again are opening up more. So, I genuinely believe that the “first dose first” strategy would get more of our population vaccinated. We could bring immunity to more of our population, and then we can give the second dose later.

The reason it’s so important for the global equity question that you just asked is that right now we’re in this strange position where we have a global pandemic and we’re not working hard enough to get global equity to the vaccines. If you give first dose first, you can have more people just fundamentally get more of the first dose, which is up to 80 to 92% effective. And second is that we will never get to complete safety from COVID-19 unless we do whatever is in our power to increase global equity to the vaccines. And there are various ways to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: And speaking of vaccine apartheid, Amnesty just criticized Israel last week for not providing vaccines to Palestinians, saying the move flagrantly violates Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international law. Very significant, because, as you point out, Israel is often used as the gold standard when it comes to its population in Israel proper, but what’s devastating is what’s happening to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, I want to thank you so much for being with us, infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at UCSF. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Stay safe. Wear a mask.
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Viet Thanh Nguyen on Roots of Anti-Asian Hate from U.S. Colonialism to Anti-China Political Rhetoric
by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
MARCH 22, 2021Watch Full Show
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/3/22/ ... a_killings

Viet Thanh Nguyen: Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor at the University of Southern California.
Viet Thanh Nguyen on Twitter
"Bipartisan political rhetoric about Asia leads to anti-Asian violence here"
"The Committed"

Protests condemning hate crimes against Asian Americans continue, following the deadly shootings in Atlanta where a white gunman attacked three Asian-owned spas and killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. Hundreds of people gathered outside the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta and around the U.S. demanding an end to anti-Asian racism and honoring the lives of the eight people who were killed: Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Suncha Kim, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Daoyou Feng and Paul Andre Michels. Anti-Asian hate in the United States is “not anything new,” says Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnamese American writer. “The history of anti-Asian violence in this country goes back to as long as we’ve had Asian immigrants in this country.” He also speaks about the dangers of anti-China rhetoric from both Republican and Democratic leaders and how that contributes to suspicion of Asian Americans.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Protests condemning racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans continue, following last week’s deadly shootings in Atlanta, where a white 21-year-old gunman attacked three Asian-owned spas, killing eight people, seven of them women, six of them women of Asian descent.

President Biden and Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on Friday to meet with Asian American leaders. Vice President Harris, who is the the first Asian American and first woman vice president, condemned last week’s attacks.

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear: Six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women. The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more. In fact, over the past year, 3,800 such incidents have been reported, two of three by women, everything from physical assaults to verbal accusations. And it’s all harmful. And sadly, it’s not new. Racism is real in America, and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been. Sexism, too. … For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans, people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.

AMY GOODMAN: On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta. Speakers included Georgia state Representative Bee Nguyen.

REP. BEE NGUYEN: We have lived in the shadows, invisible, overlooked, stereotyped and relegated as second-class citizens. And now, in the wake of a violent and brutal shooting, white America is still trying to deny our humanity and existence. A 21-year-old white man targeted three Asian businesses, driving 40 minutes from one spot to another, passing other adult entertainment businesses, but he shot and killed eight people, six of them being Asian women, at close range, in the head. No matter how you want to spin it, the facts remain the same. This was an attack on the Asian community.

AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend William Barber, co-founder of the Poor People’s Campaign, also addressed the protest in Atlanta.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: Let us not forget that white supremacy is not just against Black people, but humanity itself. Let us remember that white supremacy is a form of self-worship and idolatry. And whenever it is pushed and promulgated by presidents and politicians and preachers, it can cause some of the most strangely justification for the taking of life this world has ever seen. And when white supremacy is promulgated, it will try to justify taking Black life, taking Brown life, taking Indigenous life, taking Indian life, taking Asian life, taking Jewish life, taking Muslim life, taking Palestinian life and taking gay life. And we come here to say that white supremacy is a lie teller and a life taker!

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to look at the mass shootings in Atlanta, the spike in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and broader issues, we’re joined in Los Angeles, California, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnamese American writer Viet Thanh Nguyen. His new novel, The Committed, a sequel to his best-selling book, The Sympathizer. His other books include The Refugees and The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, which he edited. Viet Thanh Nguyen came to the United States as a refugee when he was 4 years old. He’s a professor at the University of Southern California and recently co-wrote an article for The Washington Post headlined “Bipartisan political rhetoric about Asia leads to anti-Asian violence here.”

Professor Nguyen, it’s great to have you back on Democracy Now! Congratulations on your new book! And condolences on the horror that has taken place in Atlanta, which is not just a horror for the Asian American community, but clearly for all of us. If you can talk about the significance of what happened and also the point you make in this op-ed in The Washington Post, where you say, “Bipartisan political rhetoric about Asia leads to anti-Asian violence here”?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: Hi, Amy. Thanks so much for having me back again and to speak on this really tragic topic.

I spent the last week talking to a lot of fellow Asian Americans. We’re all, I think, in a state of anger and despair about what happened, and, I think, partly because, for many of us, we recognize that this is not anything new. As I’ve spoken about repeatedly, and as have so many others, the history of anti-Asian violence in this country goes back to as long as we’ve had Asian immigrants in this country, that Asian immigrants have been brought here to have their labor exploited. And to have that labor exploited, it’s often couched in a language and a justification of racism and sexism.

And that is also tied to the United States’ attitudes towards Asia as a whole, that the United States has, ever since the 19th century, been focused on expanding westwards into Asia, especially China, to reach Asian resources, and that this has had a distinct relationship in terms of pulling Asia immigrants to the United States, either through economic relationships or through wars that the United States has fought with many Asian countries.

So, for many of us, I think, during the last year of the pandemic, to hear President Trump and many of his supporters talk about COVID-19 as the “kung flu” and the “China virus” was simply the most recent manifestation of a deep-held anti-Asian racism, that when people say things like “kung flu” and “China virus,” they’re tapping into this very deep well of anti-Asian feeling. And I think that that combined with the obvious stresses of the pandemic has a direct relationship to the rise, the very significant rise, in anti-Asian violence and rhetoric that many people have experienced in the last 12 months.

But outside of that immediate trigger, I think that the bipartisan rhetoric that I mentioned, the fact that both Democrats and Republicans have focused on China as the major threat and competitor to the United States, number one, continues this concern with Asia that’s been present throughout much of American history, but also keeps China in the foreground of the American imagination as a country to be feared. And I think that, inevitably, whether this is said with explicit racism or just with a latent and implicit xenophobia, it can’t help but to aggravate the suspicions and the feelings of many Americans about people of Asian descent.

AMY GOODMAN: As we speak, in this past week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin, have been traveling the world and fully taking on China, if you will. I mean, Secretary of State Blinken had his first face-to-face meeting with top Chinese officials in Alaska. During a press conference before that with Japanese officials earlier in the week, Blinken warned China not to use coercion or aggression. This is what he said.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: We’re united in the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, where countries follow the rules, cooperate whenever they can, and resolve their differences peacefully. And in particular, we will push back, if necessary, when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaking at that joint news conference in Japan.

DEFENSE SECRETARY LLOYD AUSTIN: I know Japan shares our concerns with China’s destabilizing actions. And as I have said before, China is a pacing challenge for the Department of Defense.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, you have Austin. You have Biden. We’re not just talking about Trump using terms like the “China virus.” Can you respond to what they have been saying?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: Well, I think, again, that much of American foreign policy, during the period of the Cold War and afterwards, has depended upon a foreign other, whether it’s the Soviet Union or China in those years. And it’s obvious, I mean, that we need a foreign other in order to target our political rhetoric, in order to justify our vast expenditures in terms of our military-industrial complex.

So, China has again resumed that position for the United States — Russia, too, to a certain extent. But I think China, because of this, again, deep well of anti-Asian racism, this set of Orientalist expectations that we have that China is going to be mysterious, that it’s going to be menacing, that it’s going to have all kinds of calculations going on strategically and economically that we have to worry about — all this is being put forth by various people in both parties.

And I think that one of the things to stress here is that, of course, there are things about China that we should be concerned about. I think that we should be concerned about human rights abuses that China has undertaken in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. But oftentimes this kind of rhetoric about what China is doing is, again, being used to justify an American militaristic stance against China, instead of the United States worrying about how it can compete with China economically but in a nonviolent and nonthreatening manner. And, of course, our outrage about the depredations of China against its own people is sometimes a little bit hypocritical, ,because we’re still struggling, as we are talking about now, with our own capacity to take care of Americans.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Republican Congressmember Chip Roy of Texas was rebuked for using a House Judiciary Committee meeting on the rise of anti-Asian violence to glorify lynchings and used rhetoric about China that stokes racism toward Asian American communities. This is just a small part of what he said.

REP. CHIP ROY: I think there’s old sayings in Texas about, you know, find the — all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. … So, now we’re talking about whether talking about China, the Chicoms, the Chinese Communist Party, whatever phrasing we want to use, and if some people are saying, “Hey, we think those guys are the bad guys,” for whatever reason — and let me just say clearly, I do. I think the Chinese Communist Party, running the country of China, I think they’re the bad guys. And I think that they are harming people.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Texas Congressmember Chip Roy using the term, the Cold Warrior term, “Chicom,” for the Chinese Communist Party. This was a hearing on violence against Asian Americans. This was the response from New York Democratic Congressmember Grace Meng.

REP. GRACE MENG: Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bull’s-eye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids. This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Democratic Congressmember Grace Meng. If you, Professor Nguyen, could respond to what he said and what this means?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: Well, again, the reflexive turn from trying to talk about anti-Asian violence within the United States directed against Asian Americans suddenly being undertaken to do a pivot towards this fear of Asia, but also the rhetoric of law and order, of violence, of using lynching, it demonstrates what the Reverend William Barber said in the excerpt of his speech that you talked about, which is that these manifestations of anti-Asian racism are almost inevitably tied towards other manifestations of violence — here, in this case, the specter of lynching brings up anti-Black racism that’s been endemic in this country — and that these domestic manifestations of anti-Asian and anti-Black racism are tied, again, together with justifications for American foreign policy.

Now, the term that the Reverend Barber, William Barber, used was “white supremacy” to connect all of these kinds of manifestations, and I think that that is correct, that for some people in the United States, talking about anti-Asian violence means that it allows them to deploy other methods of violence directed against other kinds of populations, whether it’s populations abroad or, as well, in this case, the idea that African Americans or Black people also need to be suppressed in this country. So I think one of the points that we, as Asian Americans, must insist on is that our efforts are tied together here. You know, our efforts to highlight and to combat anti-Asian racism also need to go hand in hand with the necessity to address anti-Black racism, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Nguyen, I wanted to ask you about the whole media coverage of what has happened in Atlanta. In that first police news conference last week after the deadly shootings, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Captain Jay Baker said the 21-year-old shooter Robert Aaron Long’s killing spree was not racially motivated, and instead stemmed from his sex addiction. He said that the young man himself said it wasn’t racially motivated. If you could — now, he’s been removed as the spokesperson now because there was such outcry over what he said. But it has framed the discussion, and the issue of hate crimes has yet to be raised. He certainly hasn’t been charged with them. If you can comment on that and also comment on this issue — I mean, his church, apparently, has now disowned him. But talk about this sexualization of Asian women. Seven of the eight victims were women. Six of them were of Asian descent.

VIET THANH NGUYEN: Well, as so many Asian American women have already spoken about, the question of racism and sexism cannot be separated. So, even if he might have been sexually addicted, etc., whatever his self-proclamations are, the idea that this somehow is removed from any kind of racist preoccupation is absurd. And again, if we look at the way that Asian Americans and Asians have been depicted and exploited in the American imagination, it’s almost always with the intersection of racism, sexism and labor exploitation. And we see that happening exactly in this context, that he deliberately — that is, the shooter — deliberately picked not just any type of place where he might have expected sexual activity, but very specifically Asian massage parlors. And Asian women and Asian American women have always existed as objects of racialized, sexualized, fetishized fantasies for men of many different kinds of backgrounds. There are deep roots of this in American and European culture.

And, as has come to light, many of these women who were working in these massage parlors — we don’t know whether they were sex workers or not; if they were sex workers, that doesn’t invalidate the fact that they were also victims of racist and sexist violence — but many of them appeared to be women of a marginal economic class who were living and working in these massage parlors. In effect, they were exploited laborers. And all these things are happening at the same time. So, it’s enormously frustrating that the police response and the FBI response has been to try to compartmentalize what has taken place under one category only of sexual exploitation, when in fact all these things are happening at once.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read from a statement by Kimberlé Crenshaw and The African American Policy Forum. Professor Crenshaw writes, quote, “To say the murderer’s actions were about sexual desire, and therefore not about race, is a fundamental intersectional failure: it denies the racial dimensions of the hyper-sexualization of Asian women, and reproduces the environment that makes Asian women particularly vulnerable to harassment, abuse, and murder.” Professor Nguyen?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: No, absolutely, I think Professor Crenshaw is right here. Again, for many Asian American women, they have a long litany of experiences being subjected to harassment, to catcalls, to sexual invitations, and then, of course, also to rape, sexual violence and marginalization, due to their experiences and representations of being Asian American women.

And it’s pervasive in American popular culture, as well. Certainly, the figure of the Asian or Asian American woman as a sexual object or as a prostitute in sort of the American cinematic fantasy has been with us for a very long time. You know, many, many people have talked about this infamous moment in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket where the marines, on first going to Vietnam, encounter a Vietnamese woman prostitute who approaches them and says, “Me so horny.” That became the line for a 2 Live Crew hit that many of us heard in the 1980s and 1990s, and a line that many Asian American women have been subjected to. So, again, in the experiences of Asian American women, racism, sexism and exploitation have been always mutually experienced.

AMY GOODMAN: Viet Thanh Nguyen, if you can talk further about the history targeting Asian Americans and the violence targeting Asian Americans, going back more than a century?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: Well, I’m coming to you from Los Angeles. And one of the worst mass lynchings in American history happened here in downtown Los Angeles in 1871, when a mob of about 500 white men murdered 17 Chinese men and boys. And this was not an isolated incident. This was taking place throughout the western United States. Even I have learned some of these incidents. Most recently, I’ve learned about an incident in Oregon in 1884 where 34 Chinese miners were murdered.

And so, what happened was that Chinese immigrants had come to the United States to work on the transcontinental railroad, and when their usefulness was expired, they were let go and had to make a living for themselves in the American West. And anti-Chinese fervor among the white working class was encouraged by the media and by politicians — again, scapegoating an Asian other in the United States to deal with white working-class economic frustration.

And other Asian populations that came after the Chinese were also subjected to these kinds of feelings. Obviously, there was the Japanese American internment, when 120,000 Japanese American people, many of them citizens, were put into concentration camps, even though people of German and Italian descent were not.

Racist incidents against Asian Americans have proliferated in the last few decades, as well, most notoriously the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. He was a Chinese American who was mistaken for Japanese by two Detroit auto workers who were frustrated by Japanese economic competition, and they beat him to death with a baseball bat. They did not spend any time in jail. In 1989, five Cambodian and Vietnamese schoolchildren were shot and killed in a Stockton schoolyard massacre by a white gunman, which I feel is a direct outcome of the wars in Cambodia and Vietnam that the United States fought. In 2012 — in 2002, I’m sorry, six Sikh worshipers at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, were massacred by a white supremacist gunman.

And these are just some of the most notorious incidents. But again, throughout American history, from the 19th through the 20th century up until the 21st century, we’ve seen repeated incidents of both singular and mass anti-Asian violence taking place periodically.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think what happened in Atlanta has to be immediately labeled as, and the alleged shooter charged with, hate crimes?

VIET THANH NGUYEN: I certainly think so. But again, it was shocking to me to read yesterday in The Guardian that Christopher Wray, the FBI director, has said that it’s not conclusive that this was a racially motivated crime. And the Reverend Raphael Warnock immediately said, “No, it is a hate crime,” when we’re looking at this targeted attack, targeted against Asian massage parlors, in which six of the eight victims were Asian women, who were deliberately tracked down. It looks like a hate crime. It smells like a hate crime. It is a hate crime. And I think, overwhelmingly, the Asian American population of this country believes that.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me go directly to what FBI Director Christopher Wray said on NPR on Thursday about the FBI’s role in the investigation into the mass shooting in Atlanta and his thoughts on the motive.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY: We’re actively involved, but in a support role. And while the motive remains still under investigation at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated. But I really would defer to the state and local investigation on that for now.

AMY GOODMAN: That was FBI Director Christopher Wray. And this, as Professor Nguyen talked about, was Georgia Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock’s response.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK: Law enforcement will go through the work that they need to do, but we all know hate when we see it. And it is tragic that we’ve been visited with this kind of violence yet again. And I’m going to be doing everything in my power as a United States senator to make sure that families don’t have to endure this kind of violence in the first place.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s the new Georgia senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock. We’re going to break and then come back to our discussion with the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of the new book The Committed, sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Sympathizer. We’ll talk to him about his new book and also about his use of the word “refugees” — not “migrants,” but “refugees — whether we’re talking about his family coming to this country from Vietnam or refugees from Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador. Stay with us.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Wed May 26, 2021 11:36 pm

Intelligence on Sick Staff at Wuhan Lab Fuels Debate on Covid-19 Origin: Report says researchers went to hospital in November 2019, shortly before confirmed outbreak; adds to calls for probe of whether virus escaped lab
by Michael R. Gordon, Warren P. Strobel and Drew Hinshaw
Wall Street Journal
May 23, 2021 2:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON—Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory.

The details of the reporting go beyond a State Department fact sheet, issued during the final days of the Trump administration, which said that several researchers at the lab, a center for the study of coronaviruses and other pathogens, became sick in autumn 2019 “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”

The disclosure of the number of researchers, the timing of their illnesses and their hospital visits come on the eve of a meeting of the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, which is expected to discuss the next phase of an investigation into Covid-19’s origins.

Current and former officials familiar with the intelligence about the lab researchers expressed differing views about the strength of the supporting evidence for the assessment. One person said that it was provided by an international partner and was potentially significant but still in need of further investigation and additional corroboration.

Another person described the intelligence as stronger. “The information that we had coming from the various sources was of exquisite quality. It was very precise. What it didn’t tell you was exactly why they got sick,” he said, referring to the researchers.

November 2019 is roughly when many epidemiologists and virologists believe SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the pandemic, first began circulating around the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where Beijing says that the first confirmed case was a man who fell ill on Dec. 8, 2019.

The Wuhan Institute hasn’t shared raw data, safety logs and lab records on its extensive work with coronaviruses in bats, which many consider the most likely source of the virus.

China has repeatedly denied that the virus escaped from one of its labs. On Sunday, China’s foreign ministry cited a WHO-led team’s conclusion, after a visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or WIV, in February, that a lab leak was extremely unlikely. “The U.S. continues to hype the lab leak theory,” the foreign ministry said in response to a request for comment by The Wall Street Journal. “Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?”

The Biden administration declined to comment on the intelligence but said that all technically credible theories on the origin of the pandemic should be investigated by the WHO and international experts.

“We continue to have serious questions about the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, including its origins within the People’s Republic of China,” said a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.

“We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2,” the spokeswoman said. “As a matter of policy we never comment on intelligence issues.”

Beijing has also asserted that the virus could have originated outside China, including at a lab at the Fort Detrick military base in Maryland, and called for the WHO to investigate early Covid outbreaks in other countries.

Most scientists say they have seen nothing to corroborate the idea that the virus came from a U.S. military lab, and the White House has said there are no credible reasons to investigate it.

China’s National Health Commission and the WIV didn’t respond to requests for comment. Shi Zhengli, the top bat coronavirus expert at WIV, has said the virus didn’t leak from her laboratories. She told the WHO-led team that traveled to Wuhan earlier this year to investigate the origins of the virus that all staff had tested negative for Covid-19 antibodies and there had been no turnover of staff on the coronavirus team.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist on that team told NBC News in March that some WIV staff did fall sick in the autumn of 2019, but she attributed that to regular, seasonal sickness.

“There were occasional illnesses because that’s normal. There was nothing that stood out,” she said. “Maybe one or two. It’s certainly not a big, big thing.”

It isn’t unusual for people in China to go straight to the hospital when they fall sick, either because they get better care there or lack access to a general practitioner. Covid-19 and the flu, while very different illnesses, share some of the same symptoms, such as fever, aches and a cough. Still, it could be significant if members of the same team working with coronaviruses went to hospital with similar symptoms shortly before the pandemic was first identified.

David Asher, a former U.S. official who led a State Department task force on the origins of the virus for then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told a Hudson Institute seminar in March that he doubted that the lab researchers became sick because of the ordinary flu.

“I’m very doubtful that three people in highly protected circumstances in a level three laboratory working on coronaviruses would all get sick with influenza that put them in the hospital or in severe conditions all in the same week, and it didn’t have anything to do with the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the researchers’ illness may represent “the first known cluster” of Covid-19 cases.

Long characterized by skeptics as a conspiracy theory, the hypothesis that the pandemic could have begun with a lab accident has attracted more interest from scientists who have complained about the lack of transparency by Chinese authorities or conclusive proof for the alternate hypothesis: that the virus was contracted by humans from a bat or other infected animal outside a lab.

Many proponents of the lab hypothesis say that a virus that was carried by an infected bat might have been brought to the lab so that researchers could work on potential vaccines—only to escape.

While the lab hypothesis is being taken more seriously, including by Biden administration officials, the debate is still colored by political tensions, including over how much evidence is needed to sustain the hypothesis.

The State Department fact sheet issued during the Trump administration, which drew on classified intelligence, said that the “U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and seasonal illnesses.”

The Jan. 15 fact sheet added that this fact “raises questions about the credibility” of Dr. Shi and criticized Beijing for its “deceit and disinformation” while acknowledging that the U.S. government hasn’t determined exactly how the pandemic began.

The Biden administration hasn’t disputed any of the assertions in the fact sheet, which current and former officials say was vetted by U.S. intelligence agencies. The fact sheet also covered research activities at the WIV, its alleged cooperation on some projects with the Chinese military and accidents at other Chinese labs.

But one Biden administration official said that by highlighting data that pointed to the lab leak hypothesis, Trump administration officials had sought “to put spin on the ball.” Several U.S. officials described the intelligence as “circumstantial,” worthy of further exploration but not conclusive on its own.

Asked about the Jan. 15 statement, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “A fact sheet issued by the previous administration on January 15 did not draw any conclusions regarding the origins of the coronavirus. Rather, it focused on the lack of transparency surrounding the origins.”

Though the first known case was Dec. 8, several analyses of the virus’s rate of mutation concluded that it likely began spreading several weeks earlier.

The WHO-led team that visited Wuhan concluded in a joint report with Chinese experts in March that the virus most likely spread from bats to humans via another animal, and that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely.”

However, team members said they didn’t view raw data or original lab, safety and other records. On the same day the report came out, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team hadn’t adequately examined the lab leak hypothesis, and called for a fuller probe of the idea.

The U.S., European Union and several other governments have also called for a more transparent investigation of Covid-19’s origins, without explicitly demanding a lab probe. They have called in particular for better access to data and samples from potential early Covid-19 cases.

Members of the WHO-led team said Chinese counterparts had identified 92 potential Covid-19 cases among some 76,000 people who fell sick between October and early December 2019, but turned down requests to share raw data on the larger group. That data would help the WHO-led team understand why China sought to only test those 92 people for antibodies.

Team members also said they asked for access to a Wuhan blood bank to test samples from before December 2019 for antibodies. Chinese authorities declined at first, citing privacy concerns, then agreed, but have yet to provide that access, team members say.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Sun Jun 06, 2021 10:31 pm

The FBI's Strange Anthrax Investigation Sheds Light on COVID Lab-Leak Theory and Fauci's Emails
Mainstream institutions doubted the FBI had solved the 2001 anthrax case. Either way, revelations that emerged about U.S. Government bio-labs have newfound relevance.

by Glenn Greenwald
Jun 3, 2021

One of the most significant events of the last two decades has been largely memory-holed: the October, 2001 anthrax attacks in the U.S. Beginning just one week after 9/11 and extending for another three weeks, a highly weaponized and sophisticated strain of anthrax had been sent around the country through the U.S. Postal Service addressed to some of the country's most prominent political and media figures. As Americans were still reeling from the devastation of 9/11, the anthrax killed five Americans and sickened another seventeen.

As part of the extensive reporting I did on the subsequent FBI investigation to find the perpetrator(s), I documented how significant these attacks were in the public consciousness. ABC News, led by investigative reporter Brian Ross, spent a full week claiming that unnamed government sources told them that government tests demonstrated a high likelihood that the anthrax came from Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program. The Washington Post, in November, 2001, also raised “the possibility that [this weaponized strain of anthrax] may have slipped through an informal network of scientists to Iraq.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared on The David Letterman Show on October 18, 2001, and said: “There is some indication, and I don't have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may -- and I emphasize may -- have come from Iraq.” Three days later, McCain appeared on Meet the Press with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and said of the anthrax perpetrators: “perhaps this is an international organization and not one within the United States of America,” while Lieberman said the anthrax was so finely weaponized that “there's either a significant amount of money behind this, or this is state-sponsored, or this is stuff that was stolen from the former Soviet program” (Lieberman added: “Dr. Fauci can tell you more detail on that”).

In many ways, the prospect of a lethal, engineered biological agent randomly showing up in one's mailbox or contaminating local communities was more terrifying than the extraordinary 9/11 attack itself. All sorts of oddities shrouded the anthrax mailings, including this bizarre admission in 2008 by long-time Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen: “I had been told soon after Sept. 11 to secure Cipro, the antidote to anthrax. The tip had come in a roundabout way from a high government official. I was carrying Cipro way before most people had ever heard of it.” At the very least, those anthrax attacks played a vital role in heightening fear levels and a foundational sense of uncertainty that shaped U.S. discourse and politics for years to come. It meant that not just Americans living near key power centers such as Manhattan and Washington were endangered, but all Americans everywhere were: even from their own mailboxes.

Letter sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, along with weaponized anthrax, in September, 2001

The FBI first falsely cast suspicion on a former government scientist, Dr. Steven Hatfill, who had conducted research on mailing deadly anthrax strains. Following the FBI’s accusations, media outlets began dutifully implying that Hatfill was the culprit. A January, 2002, New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof began by declaring: “I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall,” then, without naming him, proceeded to perfectly describe Hatfill in a way that made him easily identifiable to everyone in that research community. Hatfill sued the U.S. Government, which eventually ended up paying him close to $6 million in damages before officially and explicitly exonerating him and apologizing. His lawsuit against the NYT and Kristof were dismissed since he was never named by the paper, but the columnist also apologized to him six years later.

A full eight years after the attack, the FBI once again claimed that it had found the perpetrator: this time, it was the microbiologist Bruce Ivins, a long-time “biodefense” researcher at the U.S. Army’s infectious disease research lab in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Yet before he could be indicted, Ivins died, apparently by suicide, to avoid prosecution. As a result, the FBI was never required to prove its case in court. The agency insisted, however, that there was no doubt that Ivins was the anthrax killer, citing genetic analysis of the anthrax strain that they said conclusively matched the anthrax found in Ivins’ U.S. Army lab, along with circumstantial evidence pointing to him.

But virtually every mainstream institution other than the FBI harbored doubts. The New York Times quoted Ivins’ co-workers as calling into question the FBI’s claims (“The investigators looked around, they decided they had to find somebody”), and the paper also cited “vocal skepticism from key members of Congress.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), one of the targets of the anthrax letters, said explicitly he did not believe Ivins could have carried out the attacks alone. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and then-Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), a physicist, said the same to me in interviews. The nation’s three largest newspapers — The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal — all editorially called for independent investigations on the grounds that the FBI’s evidence was inconclusive if not outright unconvincing. One of the country’s most prestigious science journals, Nature, published an editorial under the headline “Case Not Closed,” arguing, about the FBI’s key claims, that “the jury is still out on those questions.”


When an independent investigation was finally conducted in 2011 into the FBI’s scientific claims against Ivins, much of that doubt converted into full-blown skepticism. As The New York Times put it — in a 2008 article headlined "Expert Panel Is Critical of F.B.I. Work in Investigating Anthrax Letters" — the review “concludes that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins.” A Washington Post article -- headlined: "Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins" -- announced that "the report reignited a debate that has simmered among some scientists and others who have questioned the strength of the FBI's evidence against Ivins."

An in-depth joint investigation by ProPublica, PBS and McClatchy — published under the headline “New Evidence Adds Doubt to FBI’s Case Against Anthrax Suspect” — concluded that “newly available documents and the accounts of Ivins’ former colleagues shed fresh light on the evidence and, while they don't exonerate Ivins, are at odds with some of the science and circumstantial evidence that the government said would have convicted him of capital crimes.” It added: “even some of the government’s science consultants wonder whether the real killer is still at large.” The report itself, issued by the National Research Council, concluded that while the components of the anthrax in Ivins’ lab were “consistent” with the weaponized anthrax that had been sent, “the scientific link between the letter material and flask number RMR-1029 [found in Ivins’ lab] is not as conclusive as stated in the DOJ Investigative Summary."


In short, these were serious and widespread mainstream doubts about the FBI’s case against Ivins, and those have never been resolved. U.S. institutions seemingly agreed to simply move on without ever addressing lingering scientific and other evidentiary questions regarding whether Ivins was really involved in the anthrax attacks and, if so, how it was possible that he could have carried out this sophisticated attack within a top-secret U.S. Army lab acting alone. So whitewashed is this history that doubts about whether the FBI found the real perpetrator are now mocked by smug Smart People as a fringe conspiracy theory rather than what they had been: the consensus of mainstream institutions.

But what we do know for certain from this anthrax investigation is quite serious. And because it is quite relevant to the current debates over the origins of COVID-19, it is well-worth reviewing. A trove of emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci — who was the government’s top infectious disease specialist during the AIDS pandemic, the anthrax attacks, and the COVID pandemic — was published on Monday by BuzzFeed after they were produced pursuant to a FOIA request. Among other things, they reveal that in February and March of last year — at the time that Fauci and others were dismissing any real possibility that the coronavirus inadvertently escaped from a lab, to the point that the Silicon Valley monopolies Facebook and Google banned any discussion of that theory -- Fauci and his associates and colleagues were privately discussing the possibility that the virus had escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, possibly as part of a U.S.-funded joint program with the scientists at that lab.

Last week, BBC reported that “in recent weeks the controversial claim that the pandemic might have leaked from a Chinese laboratory — once dismissed by many as a fringe conspiracy theory — has been gaining traction.” President Biden ordered an investigation into this lab-leak possibility. And with Democrats now open to this possibility, “Facebook reversed course Thursday and said that it would no longer remove posts that claim the virus is man-made,” reported The Washington Post. Nobody can rationally claim to know the origins of COVID, and that is exactly why — as I explained in an interview on the Rising program this morning — it should be so disturbing that Silicon Valley monopolies and the WHO/Fauci-led scientific community spent a full year pretending to have certainty about that “debunked” theory that they plainly did not possess, to the point where discussions of it were prohibited on social media.

What we know — but have largely forgotten — from the anthrax case is now vital to recall. What made the anthrax attacks of 2001 particularly frightening was how sophisticated and deadly the strain was. It was not naturally occurring anthrax. Scientists quickly identified it as the notorious Ames strain, which researchers at the U.S. Army lab in Fort Detrick had essentially invented. As PBS’ Frontline program put it in 2011: “in October 2001, Northern Arizona University microbiologist Dr. Paul Keim identified that the anthrax used in the attack letters was the Ames strain, a development he described as ‘chilling’ because that particular strain was developed in U.S. government laboratories.” As Dr. Keim recalled in that Frontline interview about his 2001 analysis of the anthrax strain:

We were surprised it was the Ames strain. And it was chilling at the same time, because the Ames strain is a laboratory strain that had been developed by the U.S. Army as a vaccine-challenge strain. We knew that it was highly virulent. In fact, that’s why the Army used it, because it represented a more potent challenge to vaccines that were being developed by the U.S. Army. It wasn’t just some random type of anthrax that you find in nature; it was a laboratory strain, and that was very significant to us, because that was the first hint that this might really be a bioterrorism event.

Why was the U.S. government creating exotic and extraordinarily deadly infectious bacterial strains and viruses that, even in small quantities, could kill large numbers of people? The official position of the U.S. Government is that it does not engage in offensive bioweapons research: meaning research designed to create weaponized viruses as weapons of war. The U.S. has signed treaties barring such research. But in the wake of the anthrax attacks — especially once the FBI’s own theory was that the anthrax was sent by a U.S. Army scientist from his stash at Fort Detrick — U.S. officials were forced to acknowledge that they do engage in defensive bioweapons research: meaning research designed to allow the development of vaccines and other defenses in the event that another country unleashes a biological attack.

But ultimately, that distinction barely matters. For both offensive and defensive bioweapons research, scientists must create, cultivate, manipulate and store non-natural viruses in their labs, whether to study them for weaponization or for vaccines. A fascinating-in-retrospect New Yorker article from March, 2002, featured the suspicions of molecular biologist Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, who had “strongly implied that the F.B.I. was moving much more slowly in its anthrax investigation than it had any reason to.” Like The New York Times, the magazine (without naming him) detailed her speculation that Dr. Hatfill was the perpetrator (though her theory about his motive — that he wanted to scare people about anthrax in order to increase funding for research — was virtually identical to the FBI’s ultimate accusations about Dr. Ivins’ motives).

But the key point that is particularly relevant now is what all of this said about the kind of very dangerous research the U.S. Government, along with other large governments, conducts in bioweapons research labs. Namely, they manufacture and store extremely lethal biological agents that, if they escape from the lab either deliberately or inadvertently, can jeopardize the human species. As the article put it:

The United States officially forswore biological-weapons development in 1969, and signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, along with many other nations. But Rosenberg believes that the American bioweapons program, which won't allow itself to be monitored, may not be in strict compliance with the convention. If the perpetrator of the anthrax attacks is who she thinks it is, that would put the American program in a bad light, and it would prove that she was right to demand that the program be monitored.

If the government is saying that the perpetrator was probably an American, it's hard to imagine how it couldn't have been an American who worked in a government-supported bioweapons lab. Think back to the panicky month of October [2001]: would knowing that have made you less nervous, or more?

Having extensively reported on the FBI’s investigation into the anthrax case and ultimate claim to have solved it, I continue to share all the doubts that were so widely expressed at the time about whether any of that was true. But what we know for certain is that the U.S. government and other governments do conduct research which requires the manufacture of deadly viruses. Dr. Fauci has acknowledged that the U.S. government indirectly funded research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology into coronaviruses, though he denies that this was for so-called “gain of function” research, whereby naturally occurring viruses are manipulated to make them more transmissible and/or more harmful to humans.

We do not know for sure if the COVID-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan lab, another lab, or jumped from animals to humans. But what we do know for certain — from the anthrax investigation — is that governments most definitely conduct the sort of research that could produce novel coronaviruses. Dr. Rosenberg, the subject of the 2002 New Yorker article, was suggesting that the F.B.I. was purposely impeding its own investigation because they knew that the anthrax actually came from the U.S. government’s own lab and wanted to prevent exposure of the real bio-research that is done there. We should again ponder why the pervasive mainstream doubts about the F.B.I.’s case against Ivins have been memory-holed. We should also reflect on what we learned about government research into highly lethal viruses from that still-strange episode.
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Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Tue Jun 22, 2021 3:57 am

Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab Theory
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Jun 15, 2021

We're back in the Ed Sullivan Theater and it's only right that Stephen's first guest is none other than friend of the show, Jon Stewart. What did they talk about? The pandemic, obviously. #Colbert #TheLateShow #JonStewart

"They Are Going To Kill Us All" - Jon Stewart Declares His Love For Scientists
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Jun 15, 2021

Jon Stewart, our first in-studio guest in over 15 months, expresses his great love for scientists, but includes a note of caution for a pandemic-weary world. #Colbert #TheLateShow

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