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COVID-19: US intelligence report reveals China's biological weapons ambition
Washington: China had revealed its biological weapons ambitions long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, according to a new US intelligence report.
On December 15, the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified report examining the Intelligence Community's response to the COVID-19 pandemic following a two-year investigation. The report examines the IC's posture to support global health security policymakers, the IC's performance in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps the IC must take to strengthen any future pandemic response.
"In 2005, the US State Department publicly stated the US assessment that China also operates an offensive biological weapons program, specifically identifying two Chinese entities as likely involved, one of which is the Fifth Institute. In a 2006 declaration of compliance with the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, China acknowledged that the Fifth Institute specifically researches SARS coronaviruses," the report reads, as quoted by Indo-Pacific Centre for Strategic Communications.
The US Intelligence report also took note of the book titled "The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Artificial Humanized Viruses as Genetic Weapons," released by AMMS in 2015.
"The book described how to create weaponised chimeric SARS coronaviruses, the potentially broader scope for their use compared to traditional bioweapons, and the benefits of being able to plausibly deny that such chimeric coronaviruses were artificially created rather than naturally occurring," the report states.
Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to share the data requested by the world health body to better understand the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Gaps in our understanding of post COVID19 condition mean we don't understand how best to treat people suffering with the long-term consequences of infection. Gaps in our understanding of how this pandemic began compromise our ability to prevent future pandemics," the WHO chief said during a weekly press conference.
"We continue to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request. As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table," he added.
Tedros also expressed concern about the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease.
Three years after its emergence in China's Wuhan, exactly how SARS-CoV-2 first emerged as a respiratory pathogen capable of sustained human-to-human transmission remains the subject of active debate.
Experts have put forward two dominant theories on the origins of the virus. The first theory is that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of a natural zoonotic spillover. The second theory is that the virus infected humans as a consequence of a research-related incident. (ANI)