60 Minutes interviewed Jamie Metzl last night, a former NSC official from the Bubba Administration.
Here’s Jamie’s street creds:
- Website: https://jamiemetzl.com/
Metzl begins by taking a baseball bat to the WHO “investigation”, blasting it as a “Study Tour”
Jamie Metzl: I wouldn’t really call what’s happened now an investigation. It’s essentially a highly-chaperoned, highly-curated study tour.
Lesley Stahl: Study tour?
Jamie Metzl: Study tour. Everybody around the world is imagining this is some kind of full investigation. It’s not. This group of experts only saw what the Chinese government wanted them to see.
Metzl is one of more than two dozen scientists and officials (including virologists) who signed an open letter earlier this month calling for a new investigation to return to China (https://int.nyt.com/data/documenttools/covid-origins-letter/5c9743168205f926/full.pdf)
More on the “Study Tour”:
Jamie Metzl: We would have to ask the question, “Well, why in Wuhan?” To quote Humphrey Bogart, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, why Wuhan?” What Wuhan does have is China’s level four virology institute, with probably the world’s largest collection of bat viruses, including bat coronaviruses.
Lesley Stahl: I had seen that the World Health Organization team only spent 3 hours at the lab.
Jamie Metzl: While they were there they didn’t demand access to the records and samples and key personnel.
That’s because of the ground rules China set with the WHO, which has never had the authority to make demands or enforce international protocols.
Jamie Metzl: It was agreed first that China would have veto power over – over who even got to be on the mission. Secondly –
Lesley Stahl: And WHO agreed to that.
Jamie Metzl: WHO agreed to that. On top of that, the WHO agreed that in most instances China would do the primary investigation.
And then just share its findings –
Lesley Stahl: No.
Jamie Metzl: – with these international experts. So these international experts weren’t allowed to do their own primary investigation.
Lesley Stahl: Wait. You’re saying that China did the investigation and showed the results to the committee and that was it?
Jamie Metzl: Pretty much that –
Lesley Stahl: Whoa.
On the other side is Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team, and from the EcoHealth Alliance.
EcoHealth Alliance, Daszak’s nonprofit group, routed $600,000 in taxpayer funds to the WIV in form of subgrants as part of a project to study bat-based coronaviruses in China, funding that was terminated by the National Institutes of Health in May 2020.
From the onset of the pandemic, Daszak has denied he has a conflict of interest with the WIV, a claim that Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard H. Ebright said in April was a “brazen lie.”
After several minutes of equivocating, Stahl forced Daszak to admit the incontrovertible truth: that the WHO has no real evidence to disprove the lab leak. Essentially, the team is just taking China’s word for it, according to Daszak. What choice did they have?
Peter Daszak: The theory is that somehow that virus got from a bat into one of these wildlife farms. And then the animals were shipped into the market. And they contaminated people while they were handling them, chopping them up, killing them, whatever you do before you cook an animal.
Lesley Stahl: Wild animals?
Peter Daszak: Yeah, these–
Lesley Stahl: Like what?
Peter Daszak: They’re a traditional food. Civets, these are like ferrets. There’s also an animal called a ferret badger. Rabbits, which we know can carry the virus. Those animals were coming into the market from farms over 1,000 miles away.
Lesley Stahl: Were you able to test any of the animals found in the Wuhan market for the virus?
Peter Daszak: Well, the China team had done that, and they found a few animals left in freezers. They tested them, they were negative. But the fact that those animals are there is the clue.
Lesley Stahl: But there’s no direct evidence that any of those animals were actually infected with the bat virus?
Peter Daszak: Correct. Now what we’ve gotta do is go to those farms and investigate. Talk to the farmers. Talk to their relatives. Test them. See if there were spikes in virus there first.
Lesley Stahl: So, the team doesn’t actually know if any of the farmers or the truckers were ever infected?
Peter Daszak: No one knows yet. No one’s been there. No one’s asked them. No one’s tested them. That’s to be done.
Hilariously, Daszak said Chinese government “minders” were in the room with the investigators at all times.
Peter Daszak: We met with them. We said, “Do you audit the lab?” And they said, “Annually.” “Did it you audit it after the outbreak?” “Yes.” “Was anything found?” “No.” “Do you test your staff?” “Yes.” No one was–
Lesley Stahl: But you’re just taking their word for it.
Peter Daszak: Well, what else can we do? There’s a limit to what you can do and we went right up to that limit. We asked them tough questions. They weren’t vetted in advance. And the answers they gave, we found to be believable– correct and convincing.
Lesley Stahl: But weren’t the Chinese engaged in a cover-up? They destroyed evidence, they punished scientists who were trying to give evidence on this very question of the origin.
Peter Daszak: Well, that wasn’t our task to find out if China had covered up the origin issue.
Lesley Stahl: No, I know. I’m just saying doesn’t that make you wonder?
Peter Daszak: We didn’t see any evidence of any false reporting or cover-up in the work that we did in China.
Lesley Stahl: Were there Chinese government minders in the room every time you were asking questions?
Peter Daszak: There were Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff in the room throughout our stay. Absolutely. They were there to make sure everything went smoothly from the China side.
Lesley Stahl: Or to make sure they weren’t telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth–
Peter Daszak: You sit in a room with people who are scientists and you know what a scientific statement is and you know what a political statement is. We had no problem distinguishing between the two.
Speaking of political statements…
Geopolitics loomed over the entire inquiry with some tit for tats: Beijing said COVID-19 originated in the U.S.; the Trump administration accused China of a cover-up.
Matt Pottinger: There was a direct order from Beijing to destroy all viral samples — and they didn’t volunteer to share the genetic sequences.