Why did Wuhan lab director decline trip to Europe before Covid-19 outbreak?

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Early in November 2019, Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) Director Zhiming Yuan turned down a trip to Geneva for a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting, according to emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know.

The question is why?

Dr. Yuan’s email from November 6, 2019 came at a time when some of the first cases of Covid-19 may have begun to occur in Wuhan, China. Exactly when Covid-19 emerged is a contested issue – while some scientists argue that the earliest cases did not occur until early December, multiple intelligence, scientific and news reports suggest the first cases of Covid-19 may have emerged in Wuhan sometime between mid-late October and early November 2019.

Some scientists and news outlets have pointed to the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a possible source of the Covid-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Yuan’s email seems consistent with news reports that something important may have happened at the Wuhan institute in early November 2019, and perhaps for that reason he could not attend the WHO biocontainment meeting.

However, the email provides limited information, and its significance is unclear. It does not prove in any way that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was responsible for creating or releasing SARS-CoV-2.

WIV’s Dr. Yuan wrote his November 6 email in response to American biosecurity expert and WIV ally Dr. James LeDuc, wondering whether they would see each other at the following week’s WHO meeting in Geneva.

Dr. Yuan replied, “Sorry I can not go to WHO meeting at this time, and I hope to see you soon…”

When did the first Covid-19 case occur?

The Chinese government has tightly controlled and suppressed information sharing with the public and international bodies about Covid-19, its origins and onset.

There remains substantial disagreement regarding when the earliest Covid-19 cases appeared.

According to the WHO, the first confirmed Covid-19 cases in Wuhan, China occurred in December 2019, but the international agency does not by itself monitor the disease and depends on national governments for such information.

Officials in Wuhan have written that the first unexplained cases of viral pneumonia started on December 8, 2019.

Chinese doctors from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, who treated some of the earliest Covid-19 patients, published a report in The Lancet medical journal that identified the date of the first known infection as December 1.

According to a paper in Science by Michael Worobey, the earliest cases occurred around December 10-11.

Media reports say the WIV has denied links between WIV and the first Covid patient (patient zero), but the Biden administration has confirmed prior State Department claims that “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019… with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

The email from Dr. Yuan was released as part of a Texas Public Information Act request to the University of Texas-Medical Branch, Galveston (UTMB), where Dr. LeDuc headed the Galveston National Laboratory until recently.

Dr. Yuan did not respond to a request for comment about this article.

Written by Sainath Suryanarayanan