Several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with symptoms similar to those caused by the CCP virus in the autumn of 2019, contradicting claims by a senior researcher from the facility who said there were no infections among the staff scientists.
The revelation is part of a fact sheet released by the U.S. State Department on Jan. 15, which slams the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for excessive secrecy around the origin of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control reported a cluster of pneumonia-like cases of unknown origin on Dec. 21, 2019. But months later, new evidence emerged suggesting that Chinese authorities were aware of the first CCP virus case on Nov. 17. The U.S. government wasn’t informed about the virus until Dec. 30 of that year from Taiwan.
Little is known about the first patients who caught the virus; the CCP hasn’t eliminated a connection to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which isn’t far from the seafood market that initially was thought to be the origin of the outbreak.
“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 common seasonal illnesses,” the State Department fact sheet reads. “This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was ‘zero infection’ among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.”
The State Department pointed out that accidental viral outbreaks aren’t new in China, including the 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing which originated in a lab. The department added that any meaningful investigation of the origins of the outbreak must include interviews with the researchers in the Wuhan lab who fell ill in the fall of 2019.