Galveston, TX

Did Covid Come From The Wuhan Lab? There's Also One In Galveston

Matt Lillywhite

While debates continue around the origins of Covid-19, many Americans don't know that Texas also has a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory which studies deadly viruses.
Photo via Unsplash

Right now, the debate around the origins of Covid-19 is getting increasingly heated.

The World Health Organization has called for another investigation into the Wuhan Institute of virology over the possibility of an accidental lab leak. After all, the director of the WHO specifically stated that the push to discount the lab leak theory was premature. So, he is "asking China to be transparent, open and co-operate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic."

Meanwhile, several infectious disease experts (such as Anthony Fauci) in the United States have dismissed the idea of a lab leak altogether and say that a "natural origin" is the most likely explanation. However, many Americans remain skeptical. The reason? Dr. Fauci (and many other public figures dismissing the lab leak) had a conflict of interest. In essence, they helped to fund research at the Wuhan lab over the last few years. Quoting an article published by the BBC:

"Dr. Fauci, as well as being an adviser to President Biden, is the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US government's National Institutes of Health (NIH). This body did give money to an organization that collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. That organization - the US-based EcoHealth Alliance - was awarded a grant in 2014 to look into possible coronaviruses from bats. EcoHealth received $3.7m from the NIH, $600,000 of which was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In 2019, its project was renewed for another five years, but then pulled by the Trump administration in April 2020 following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic."

So, if a lab leak turns out to be true, many Americans (such as Senator Rand Paul) would want Dr. Fauci and others who pushed to fund the Wuhan lab to be held accountable.

Wuhan Isn't The Only Lab Studying Deadly Viruses.

Texas has one, as well. Located in Galveston, it's operated by the University of Texas Medical Branch for exotic disease diagnosis and research.

According to the Texas Laboratory's own website, "Researchers at the GNL are internationally known for their expertise working with pathogens including Ebola and Marburg, emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and MERS, and mosquito-borne viruses like Zika and Chikungunya. Research also focuses on understanding transmission and pathogenesis of emerging viruses and developing medical countermeasures for dangerous pathogens that can be weaponized."

Unfortunately, Lab Leaks Aren't Rare.

Despite strong safety precautions being taken, lab leaks happen "all the time," according to Scott Gottlieb, who headed the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019.

Here are several historical examples of viruses leaking from a lab:

  • In 1971, the Soviet Union was doing a field test of biological weapons facility on an island in the Aral Sea. However, ten people became infected with Aral smallpox, of which three died.
  • In 2004, researchers at the Chinese Institute of Virology in Beijing contracted SARS while studying the virus in a lab. They spread the virus to six other people before local authorities managed to contain the outbreak.
  • A Senegalese epidemiologist was infected with Ebola in 2014 at a laboratory in Sierra Leone. But after an investigation, The World Health Organization quickly shut down the lab.

Many prominent experts initially disputed the idea that Covid-19 originated in a lab, believing that the virus was more likely to have come from an animal. However, it's important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website that no specific conclusion has been reached on how the virus was first introduced into the human population. Therefore, we can only hope that future investigations into the origins of Covid-19 shed light on what happened, so we can prevent such pandemics from happening again.

What do you think about the lab in Texas? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Matt Lillywhite covers politics, the economy, and kitchen-table issues that matter.


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