Chinese researchers are accused of conducting secret military experiments genetically engineered mice to have human-like lungs and were testing viruses on them months before the Covid pandemic began, a bombshell investigation reveals.
The freak rodents' susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 was investigated by experts at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in the summer of 2019 who later feared they had created the killer virus, Vanity Fair reported.
It comes as former US president Donald Trump on Thursday said: "China should pay ten trillion dollars to America, and the world, for the death and destruction they have caused."
Vanity Fair reported that a study published last April mentioned the controversial experiments – revealing that 11 of its 23 authors worked at the Academy which is a medical research institute for the Chinese Army.
US National Security Council investigators told the publication that they had "uncovered important evidence" supporting the theory that Covid had leaked from a lab before the first outbreak in Wuhan.
They reported their suspicions to federal agencies but senior director Anthony Ruggiero said: "We were dismissed. The response was very negative."
China has denied an alleged cover-up over the origin of the pandemic after claims the pandemic did not begin in Wuhan's wet markets emerged as early as January 2020.
A top Chinese scientist dubbed "Bat Woman" told of having sleepless nights over fears her team had mishandled bat experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology around the time.
Shi Zhengli, the lab's lead researcher on coronaviruses, said in an interview with Scientific American, published last March, that she "frantically went through her own lab's records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal."
WHO to unveil Covid origins next week after dismissing lab leak – but experts push back
Shi was relieved when none of the genetic sequences from patients with Covid matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves, adding: "That really took a load off my mind. I had not slept a wink for days."
In January, the US State Department accused the Chinese Communist Party of "systematically" preventing a "transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic's origin".
It said in a fact sheet that the virus "could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals.
Wuhan wet market 'still most likely source of pandemic' despite conspiracy theories
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"Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection."
The State Department noted that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has "collaborated on publications and secret projects with China's military" while "presenting itself as a civilian institution.
"The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017."
Bloomberg reported that China later denounced the State Department's fact sheet as "full of fallacies" and the "last madness" of "Mr. Lies" Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State.
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