Guy Farmer: COVID-19 came from China

Is there any doubt whether the COVID-19 virus came from China despite that country's high-powered propaganda campaign to deny responsibility for the worldwide pandemic that has killed nearly 600,000 of our fellow Americans? I don't think so. Let's look at the facts.
Although the Biden administration has been cautious on this very sensitive issue, ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield, among others, are convinced that the COVID virus came from the Wuhan Virology Institute in China. "I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory," Redfield told the media.
China complained loudly and tried to suggest that the COVID pathogen came from a U.S. biological laboratory at Ft. Detrick, Maryland. World Health Organization Director Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian communist, sided with the Chinese, claiming that the lab leak hypothesis is "extremely unlikely." Nevertheless, many American scientists and politicians, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a potential 2024 presidential contender, think Tedros is on the Chinese payroll.
After respected Fox News anchor Bret Baier investigated the COVID-19 outbreak and concluded that it came from the Wuhan lab, Cotton placed blame squarely on Chinese officials and commented that "it seems to be highly coincidental that this very contagious virus originated just a few hundred yards… from laboratories where the Chinese Communist Party researches coronavirus." If Cotton is correct, and I think he is, "The Chinese Communist Party is responsible for every single death, every job loss, and every retirement nest egg lost from this virus."
The Wall Street Journal echoed Cotton in an editorial headlined, "The Wuhan Whitewash," criticizing the WHO investigation of the virus that caused the pandemic. The WHO report on the origins of the virus "is best understood as a whitewash heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party and Westerners with conflicts of interest," the Journal asserted.
Nevertheless, WHO concluded that the most likely origin of the virus "was through bats with an intermediary host," whatever that means, but even Tedros recognizes that more investigation is necessary. "Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions," he said in an obvious understatement.
Even left-leaning National Public Radio conceded that the WHO report was plainly deficient. NPR investigative journalist John Ruwitch reported that "the theory that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan lab is taking on new life in the wake of the WHO report," adding that the Chinese lab "is known to conduct experiments on the kind of virus that has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide since late 2019."
The Wall Street Journal editorial said "the Biden administration knows the underlying intelligence, and should release it to the public. Unless it does, China's propaganda backed by the WHO's (investigative) failure will prevail in much of world opinion."
As someone who worked in the opinion, or propaganda, business for nearly 30 years, I can tell you that we're ill-equipped to counter aggressive Chinese disinformation and blatant propaganda. What's left of U.S. "public diplomacy," nice words for our propaganda, has been buried in the basement of the State Department ever since ex-President Clinton and his misguided Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, merged my alma mater, the U.S. Information Agency, into the sprawling State Department in 1999. USIA countered Soviet propaganda quite effectively during the Cold War, but Clinton and Albright abolished USIA after the Cold War ended – a big mistake, because it was our little-known agency that effectively and proudly defended the U.S. against anti-American propaganda during the Cold War.
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, is the Appeal's senior political columnist.

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