Uncovering the truth about Covid’s origin: a timeline

One researcher wrote of fellow scientists: “After discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.”

Frantic emails and Slack messages reveal how alarm turned to suspicion — and then cover-up — among scientists scrambling to understand Covid-19’s origin.

November 11-17, 2019

The World Health Organisation’s Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens reports an outbreak of influenza in Wuhan, according to senior US health official Bob Kadlec.


Intelligence passed to US agencies by a foreign government reveals several researchers at a laboratory in the biggest city in Wuhan are sick with a virus and some have been hospitalised. Some of the symptoms are indicative of Covid-19, including a loss of taste and smell, while others are consistent with seasonal flus and viruses.

January 31, 2020

US president Donald Trump bans flights from China to the US as a highly infectious virus

takes hold in China.

Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, emails British medical researcher Jeremy Farrar to say:

Jeremy, I just got off the phone with Kristian Andersen and he related to me his

concern about the Furine [sic] site mutation in the spike protein of the currently

circulating 2019-nCoV… I told him that as soon as possible he and Eddie Holmes

should get a group of evolutionary biologists together to examine carefully the data

to determine if his concerns are validated. He should do this very quickly and if

everyone agrees with his concern, they should report it to the appropriate

authorities. I would imagine that in the USA this would be the FBI and in the UK it

would be the MI5.

Andersen, a Scripps Research scientist, emails Fauci and copies it to colleagues

including Holmes, a professor of virology at the University of Sydney and an honorary

professor in Shanghai, saying:

The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome so one

has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features

[potentially] look engineered. After discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory.

February 1

Fauci emails deputy Hugh Auchincloss just after midnight, saying:

It is essential that we speak this am. Keep your cell phone on. I have a conference call at 7.45am with [Health Secretary Alex] Azar. It likely will be over by 8.45am. Read this paper as well as the email that I will forward you now. You have tasks today that must be done.

The paper Fauci attaches details the 2015 gain-of-function research where a deadly new virus was created by Shi Zhengli, known as the ‘bat lady’ and the face of coronavirus experimentation in China, with the University of North Carolina’s Ralph Baric and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Fauci emails Kadlec at 2.48am, reassuring him that everything is under control. Fauci shares a paper that downplays the likelihood of a laboratory leak and makes no mention of the suspicions expressed by some of the world’s leading virologists that night that the virus could have been genetically engineered.

Auchincloss emails Fauci back at 11.47am to say: 

The paper you sent me says the experiments were performed before the gain of function pause but have since been reviewed and approved by NIH. Not sure what that means …

According to the memoir of British medical researcher Jeremy Farrar, Holmes reacts to a paper about gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sent to him by Andersen, by saying: ‘F..k, this is bad’

February 2

British evolutionary biologist Andrew Rambaut writes on a group channel on the messaging platform Slack: 

Given the shit show that would happen if anyone serious accused the Chinese of even accidental release, my feeling is we should say that given there is no evidence of a specifically engineered virus, we cannot possibly distinguish between natural evolution and escape so we are content with ascribing it to natural processes.

Ron Fouchier from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, sends an email suggesting

they should put on hold further discussions about a potential lab leak – and that these suggestions would need to be ‘supported by strong data, beyond reasonable doubt’.

Fauci’s NIH colleague Collins sends an email to Farrar agreeing with Fouchier’s overall position, saying: 

Though the arguments from Ron Fouchier and Christian Drosten are presented with more forcefulness than necessary, I am coming around to the view that a natural origin is more likely.

February 8

Fouchier writes to Farrar, Holmes, Rambaut and others, saying:

This manuscript would be much stronger if it focused on the likelihood of the first two scenarios as compared to intentional or accidental release. This would also limit the chance of new biosafety discussions that would unnecessarily obstruct future attempts of virus culturing for research and diagnostic purposes for any (emerging/zoonotic) virus.

February 10

Holmes shares a draft of their paper with Farrar, who immediately sends it to Fauci and Collins.

Farrar requests a specific change to their paper, saying: ‘Sorry to micro-manage/microedit!’ He asked them to change the wording that it was ‘unlikely’ that Covid-19 emerged through laboratory manipulation of an existing SARS-related coronavirus to‘improbable’.


‘New crucial witness’: How did the pandemic start?

Epidemiologist Ian Lipkin emails Farrar to thank him for ’shepherding this paper’, expressing concerns that ‘rumours of bio weaponeering are now circulating in China’. Farrar responds: 

Yes I know and in US – why so keen to get out ASAP. I will push Nature.

Lipkin then appears to raise fresh concerns that Covid-19 came from a laboratory.

Holmes writes in an email to Rambaut: 

Ian Lipkin just called – very worried about the furin cleavage site and says that high ups are as well, inc. intel.

February 24

A patent application for a Covid-19 vaccine is filed by the Institute of Military Medicine, Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army, with Zhou Yusen listed as lead. inventor. Kadlec says Zhou’s ‘very high risk’ research involved infecting live animals,

administering some of them with the vaccine and using others as a control, and then keeping them alive for a period of days or even weeks before eventually euthanising them.

May 2020

Zhou is believed to have died.

September 2020

The import of the November 2019 intelligence becomes apparent when a covert team inside the US State Department begins investigating the origins of the pandemic. The team believes it links the earliest known cases of Covid-19 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

March 2021

The Australian reveals the classified intelligence that Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers had fallen ill and were hospitalised with symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

May 2021

US President Joe Biden orders the US intelligence agencies to conduct a 90-day probe into the origins of the pandemic.

June 2021

Five Eyes intelligence agencies are revealed to be investigating Zhou’s unexplained death as part of their probe into Covid-19.

June 2023

Ben Hu, Yu Ping and Yan Zhu are identified as the three workers who fell sick. All are from Shi’s laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.


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