Perfectly timed to coincide with Anthony Fauci’s closed-door testimony before the US Congress, a recent bombshell report suggested, based on FOIA’d emails, that Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology met with Fauci at his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), outside Washington, in June 2017.
According to the most popular version of the “lab-leak” theory, it is, of course, Shi’s research on coronaviruses in bats which is supposed to have given rise to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19.
In an even more sensational riff on the original report from the American non-profit US Right to Know, a Daily Mail headline even proclaims that “US scientists held secret talks with Covid ‘Batwoman’ amid drive to make coronaviruses more deadly…just before pandemic.”
But there was nothing “secret” about the meeting. Supposing it in fact took place – which could at most be inferred from the cited emails – it was simply not publicized. At the time, pre-Covid, it would not have been a matter of public interest anyway.
Furthermore, although the US Right to Know headline – “Scientists at the center of the ‘lab leak’ controversy met with NIH, Fauci” – implies that Fauci himself met with Shi, Fauci was not even a participant in the relevant email string. The recipient of the supposedly incriminating emails from Peter Daszak of EcoHealth was Eric Stemmy of a NIAID subdivision. The current, updated version of the article appears to concede that Fauci was not present at the meeting in question, although he did meet Daszak – without Shi – four months later.
But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Shi did in fact accompany Daszak to NIAID, as Daszak wanted; and let’s even say that Anthony Fauci attended the talk which Daszak was proposing to give there with Shi – as the headline still implies.
Well, what about the German virologist Christian Drosten? As the designer of the notoriously hypersensitive PCR test which would be almost instantly adopted by the WHO as the “gold standard” for detecting Covid infections, Drosten played a far more important role in shaping the global response to Covid-19 than Fauci, whose role was essentially limited to the United States.
What if Drosten “also” met with Shi?
Well, he did, and I do not need to contort an extremely flimsy paper trail to infer this. I can easily prove it, and in fact I already did over one year ago. Because the below photo is of none other than Christian Drosten and Shi Zhengli.
How is this photo not more of a bombshell than an email from Peter Daszak which refers to Shi and was not even addressed to Fauci?!
The photo comes from a “Sino-German Symposium on Infectious Diseases” which was held in Berlin in 2015. The programme of the symposium is available here.
Moreover, if we pull out to the full group photo of the symposium participants, we also discover some other participants of interest.
The US Right to Know emails show that Peter Daszak also wanted to bring along another WIV staff member, associate professor Peng Zhou, to his meeting at NIAID. Well, the small, somewhat buck-toothed man with the blue-striped tie in the foreground of the below picture, a couple of places to Drosten’s left, is not just another WIV staff member. He is none other than the then Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chen Xinwen. (See Chen’s picture and biography on the old WIV “Directors” page here.)
Moreover, some observers have identified the young woman with the long hair next to Shi as none other than Wang Yanyi, the current Director of the WIV, who was a researcher at the institute at the time. (See Wang’s picture and biography on the current WIV “Directors” page here.) Unlike Drosten, Shi and Chen, Wang is not listed as a symposium participant in the programme. But it is not implausible that she might have attended.
The symposium was funded by the German Ministry of Health. The then Minister of Health himself, Hermann Gröhe, was the first speaker. Other German participants included Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the President of the German Medical Association, and Thomas Mertens, the current chair of the Standing Committee on Vaccination of the German public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute. Mertens is the jovial, bearded man with the bowtie a couple of rows behind Drosten.
The symposium was organized by the Sino-German Transregional Collaborative Research Center based at the Department of Virology of Essen University Hospital. The Sino-German Research Center or “TRR60” was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) from 2009 to 2018. The DFG is the German equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the US.
The bald man with the striped shirt in the middle of the photo is the German director of TRR60, Prof. Ulf Dittmer of the Department of Virology at Essen University Hospital.
You can scroll down to find the photo on the TRR60 website here.
In addition to the host institution and the University of Bochum, the collaborative research network included four Chinese partner institutions. The logos of the six partner institutions can be seen in the below graphic from the TRR60 website. The wordless logo featuring the “Rod of Asclepius” and its snake is that of Essen University Hospital. But it is the green and purple logo at the bottom of the circle which is of particular interest for us here.
Here is a closer look.
It is the logo of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The subject of the Chinese-German collaboration, as indicated on the TRR60 website, was “Mutual interaction of chronic viruses with cells of the immune system: from fundamental research to immunotherapy and vaccination.”
Now, much of the recent excitement about possible contacts between Daszak, Shi, and Fauci has been fanned by the revelation of a proposed joint project between EcoHealth, the WIV, and other American research institutions, for which Daszak sought funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2018. See, for instance, the breathless Daily Mail account here. But that proposal was rejected by DARPA. How in the world is that supposed to prove American sponsorship of Shi Zhengli’s allegedly hazardous research?
By contrast, TRR60, the joint German-Chinese virology network, was funded by the German Research Foundation for a full decade! Furthermore, when the second of the two 5-year funding periods came to a close, the network was not dissolved but rather, as discussed in my previous articles here and here, gave rise to a full-fledged German-Chinese virology lab based…in Wuhan!
What is going on? Why the double standards? Are Americans, and perhaps other members of the Anglosphere, really so parochial that they cannot be bothered to pay attention to documented and obviously relevant facts pertaining to non-English-speaking countries and their governments? Or are social media algorithms – most notably, that of X – amplifying the American narrative and suppressing the German facts, such that naïve Americans take the fall for German wrongdoing?
It was, after all, none other than Elon Musk who just over a year ago told the world on Twitter that his pronouns are “Prosecute/Fauci.” I will repeat now what I already said then. Why not “Prosecute/Drosten?” If X would allow the above picture to trend, many others would undoubtedly be asking the same question.
And speaking of the German-Chinese lab in Wuhan, what exactly is the nature of the research which was being conducted there? Why is no one asking? Why are no German journalists asking? For that matter, why is no “German Right to Know” non-profit seeking to obtain the relevant email correspondence – as well as emails of Christian Drosten, for instance? Drosten has said, after all, that he learned about the novel Coronavirus before the rest of the world from unnamed colleagues in Wuhan.
If there was indeed a “lab leak,” perhaps it would be useful to know more about this lab. The below photo comes from it. (It is taken from the article here.)
After all, as I have shown, the first reported cluster of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan occurred precisely in the vicinity of the German-Chinese lab, not in the vicinity of the WIV. Perhaps Shi Zhengli is being used as a scapegoat too.
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