'No-Brainer' COVID Was Made in a Lab, Johns Hopkins Doctor Says

A professor of public health policy at John Hopkins University has told Congress that it was a "no-brainer" that COVID-19 originated from a Chinese laboratory the same day the director of the FBI made a far more cautious assertion to the same effect.

Speaking on a panel to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Tuesday, Marty Makary, a surgeon who became a prominent pundit during the pandemic but has no background in virology, noted a series of indicators that made it clear to him that the virus came from a lab, but said it was "embarrassing" since the U.S. government had funded the lab.

Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical advisor to the president, previously came under fire after it emerged that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave U.S.-based EcoHealth Alliance a $3.7 million grant in 2014, $600,000 of which was sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in order to study bat coronaviruses.

However, he denied that the funding had been used to develop more deadly or infectious viruses.

Wuhan Institute of Virology Marty Makary
The Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on February 3, 2021, as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 visit and, inset, Dr Marty Makary on December 12, 2018 in New York. Hector RETAMAL/Noam Galai/AFP via Getty Images

Peter Kaszak, a virologist and president of EcoHealth, told CNN in April 2020 that the Wuhan Institute of Virology did not have the virus that caused the pandemic.

The prevailing opinion among intelligence analysts and scientists remains that COVID-19 spread into the human population by jumping the species barrier from livestock in a wet market that had been infected by a contagious bat.

A July 2022 study concluded, by analyzing where the locations of the earliest human cases were concentrated, that the virus likely infected humans via the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

However, a growing number of intelligence agencies have adopted the theory that the virus may have spread into the human population via a lab mishap in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, following a call by President Joe Biden for an investigation into the pandemic's origins.

Makary's remarks at the public hearing, coinciding with the reports from the intelligence community, only add to the growing momentum behind the theory.

"The reason this is even an issue is that it's embarrassing we funded the lab," Makary told House representatives. "If we had not funded the lab, 100 percent of Americans would say this is obvious, this is a no-brainer."

He continued: "The epicenter of the world [coronavirus pandemic] is five miles from one of the only high-level virology labs in China. The doctors initially were arrested and forced to sign non-disclosure gag documents. The lab reports have been destroyed; they've not been turned over. The sequence reported from the lab to the NIH database were deleted by a request from Chinese scientists that called over early on and said, 'delete those sequences we put in the database.'"

The Chinese government described all of these claims in 2021 as "vicious slander," and said the reason to delete the sequences was that they were deemed "unnecessary."

A study reconstructing that data said it "further supports the idea" that sequences taken from the Huanan Seafood Market are "not fully representative of the viruses in Wuhan early in the epidemic."

"It's a no-brainer that it came from the lab," Makary said. "At this point it's impossible to acquire any more information—and if you did, it would only be affirmative."

Newsweek has reached out to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for comment.

The same day as the committee panel, Christopher Wray, the FBI director, confirmed in an interview with Fox News that the bureau thought it "most likely" that the virus emerged from a Chinese government lab, a theory it had held "for quite some time now."

His remarks follow reports in the Wall Street Journal that analysts at the U.S. Department of Energy concluded with "low confidence" that COVID-19 could have emerged from a Wuhan lab, as the result of new intelligence.

A prior intelligence assessment, based on information until the end of August 2021, said four intelligence agencies believed the virus came from exposure to an infected animal, while one had "moderate confidence" that it was likely from a lab-associated incident, but did not name which members of the intelligence community had formed each conclusion.

It also stressed that there remained insufficient evidence to say exactly where the virus—which sparked a global pandemic and caused the deaths of over 1.1 million people in the U.S.—had originated from.

The Biden administration has previously criticized China for preventing access for outside investigators and withholding information, complaints the Chinese government denies.