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Wuhan lab scientists were first to catch COVID-19: report

A new report citing U.S. government sources says three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China were among the first people to have been infected by COVID-19. 

The Substack article, co-authored by Matt Taibbi, Michael Schellenberger and Alex Gutenag, says the findings are “significant new evidence” that “strengthens the case that the SARS-CoV-2 virus accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” 

“According to multiple U.S. government officials interviewed as part of a lengthy investigation by Public and Racket, the first people infected by the virus, ‘patients zero,’ included Ben Hu, a researcher who led the WIV’s ‘gain-of-function’ research on SARS-like coronaviruses, which increases the infectiousness of viruses,” the article reads. 

“Sources within the U.S. government say that three of the earliest people to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 were Ben Hu, Yu Ping, and Yan Zhu. All were members of the Wuhan lab suspected to have leaked the pandemic virus,” it adds. 

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Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 visit the Chinese institute on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Gain-of-function research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in eastern China has widely been suspected as a source of the pandemic. 

“What they were doing at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was taking dangerous, scary viruses and making them scarier,” Jamie Metzl of the Atlantic Council told Fox News early last year. 

In basic terms, the point of gain-of-function research is to make a virus more dangerous. Scientists argue that, with this research, they can be prepared to handle it if one day the virus were to mutate naturally.  

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WHO team in Wuhan

The WHO team investigating the origins of COVID-19 arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, in February 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

However, critics argue that if viruses evolve in that way, it might take thousands of years, or it might never happen at all. Scientists are often doing gain-of-function research for months for no practical purpose, such as using it to build their own resumes. 

But whatever the motive, today the research continues around the world, with little oversight, and often funded by taxpayers.  

The National Institutes of Health, which approves funding for these projects, has said, “While such research is inherently risky, the risk of not doing this type of research and not being prepared for the next pandemic is also high.” 

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Wuhan Institute of Virology campus aerial view

The P4 laboratory, center, on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

FBI Director Chris Wray also told Fox News’ Bret Baier in March this year that COVID-19 “most likely” came from a Chinese lab. 

“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Wray told Fox News. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”

Fox News’ Benjamin Hall contributed to this report. 

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