A member of the State Department team whose investigation into the origins of coronavirus was halted by the Biden administration claimed Thursday it was “sort of ridiculous” to believe the virus passed naturally from animals to humans.
“We were finding that despite the claims of our scientific community, including the National Institutes of Health and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci’s NIAID organization, that there was almost no evidence that supported a natural zoonotic evolution or source of COVID-19,” former State Department head investigator David Asher told Fox News’ “America Reports”.
“The data disproportionately stacked up, as we investigated, that it was coming out of a lab or some supernatural source,” he added.
The inquiry was launched last fall by the Trump administration and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but was stopped earlier this year over reports about its early findings, CNN reported Tuesday. In his interview Asher singled out former State Department official Chris Ford for what he called “disgraceful” behavior toward the investigation.
“He seemed disinterested,” Asher recalled. “He said even if we came to it, how did we know where it came out of, what lab. Very rarely in my life in government have I ever encountered someone who was more of a ‘neg’-ocrat, less a bureaucrat, than that individual.”
Fox News reported that Ford, then the assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, had expressed concern that the probe had been kept secret from him and bypassed State Department and intelligence community biological experts.
The belief that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology gained traction over the weekend when the Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers there sought hospital treatment in November 2019. The Journal reported that the workers experienced symptoms consistent with coronavirus and other illnesses and were hospitalized prior to the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Wuhan.
Asher claimed Thursday that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was “the epicenter of synthetic biology in the People’s Republic of China and they were up to some very hairy stuff with synthetic biology and so-called gain of function techniques.”
Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, acknowledged earlier this week that NIH granted the Wuhan lab $600,000 over a period of five years to investigate bat coronaviruses, but emphatically denied the money was used for gain of function research, which involves making viruses more transmissible and dangerous.
However, according to Asher, “the Chinese most certainly felt that NIH was supporting their gain of function research” and claimed that the variants developed in the lab “were not similar to anything, for example, what could occur in natural evolution.”
“I had biostatisticians at one of our national labs calculate the odds of this evolving in nature,” he said, “and it was like 1 in 13 million, and then they revised it to about 1 in 13 billion. So, to say this came out of a zoonotic situation is sort of ridiculous.”
On Wednesday, President Biden ordered the intelligence community to conduct a 90-day review into the origins of the pandemic, and Asher said he was confident the probe would be thorough.
“I think they’ll find a lot,” he said of the investigation. “Whether they say much is a different matter.”