The Federal Bureau of Investigation now finds evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic began in a laboratory. The bureau will find a person of interest in James LeDuc, former director of the Galveston National Laboratory in Texas, a close collaborator with China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, the most likely source of the COVID-19 virus.
James LeDuc earned a zoology degree from Cal State Long Beach, a masters of public health in infectious and tropical diseases from UCLA, and a PhD in epidemiology, also from UCLA. LeDuc began his professional career as a field biologist with the Smithsonian Institution’s African Mammal Project in West Africa, then served for 23 years in the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Development Command.
In 1992, LeDuc joined the Centers for Disease Control and the CDC assigned him to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a medical officer. LeDuc later became associate director for global health at the CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), where his research interests included the epidemiology of arboviruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers.
In 2006, LeDuc joined the faculty of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), home to the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) a creation of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci since 1984. Dr. Stanley M. Lemon, the first GNL director, departed after Hurricane Ike in 2008. LeDuc took the helm in 2009, shortly after the GNL’s biosafety level 4 unit opened.
Under LeDuc, GNL began collaborating with China in 2013 when construction began on the WIV, and LeDuc paid a visit in 2017. The following year, the State Department expressed concerns over safety at the lab, but the GNL boss was not troubled.
In 2020, LeDuc proclaimed “there is convincing evidence that the new virus was not the result of intentional genetic engineering and that it almost certainly originated from nature,” the same position enforced by NIAID boss Dr. Fauci. LeDuc was singing the same tune when he retired in 2021.
“I think we’re the best lab in the world,” LeDuc told The Daily News of Galveston County. “I do say that with some knowledge of what else is going on around the world. I think we’ve done an exceptional job.” But there was a problem.
The quick spread of the COVID pandemic was an “oh shit” moment, but “everybody just dove right in to address it.” On the other hand as The Daily News noted, the GNL “has been under scrutiny over work it did before the pandemic.” (emphasis added).
Early in the pandemic “a conspiracy theory emerged,” claiming it was caused by a coronavirus from “a laboratory in Wuhan, a province in China.” That raised questions about the GNL “which had hosted students who work in the Wuhan lab, and on LeDuc, who had advocated for international cooperation on laboratory safety and research of infectious diseases. Some of the controversy also has been tied to a political issue of U.S. universities failing to report gifts from and contracts with Chinese companies.”
According to LeDuc, the GNL was “squeaky clean” in its work with China, and the coronavirus developed naturally in wild animals and was spread through Chinese wet markets.
“The Chinese just happened to be in the place where this was discovered,” LeDuc told The Daily News. “These things happen. Unfortunately, the political climate has just been rather toxic to international collaboration.” The departing GNL boss did elaborate on the type of collaboration going on behind the scenes.
LeDuc signed agreements with three Chinese labs, including the WIV, giving China the power to destroy “secret files, materials and equipment, without any backups.” The agreements applied to “all cooperation and exchange documents, data, details and materials,” were renewable every five years, and the confidentiality terms remaining in force even after termination. The UTMB conceded that officials signed “poorly drafted” agreements, and that the signing could violate Texas law.
LeDuc also helped WIV scientists avoid scrutiny over China’s role in the pandemic. This came to light through a request from U.S Right to Know, not from open disclosure by the GNL, the NIH, NIAID, James LeDuc et al. In similar style, 412 pages of records obtained by Judicial Watch provided other revelations.
In a May 6, 2019 email, LeDuc thanks NIAID officer Gayle Bernabe for taking a call to discuss “possible funding sources for collaborative work with China.” LeDuc has already submitted a proposal, “and if successful we would begin work in Wuhan later this year.” The GNL boss adds that “our vision is that the work will be conducted in true collaboration with some undertaken in the US and some in Wuhan by investigators that are in frequent contact and visiting each other frequently.”
In a November 25, 2019 email, LeDuc tells Chinese official Dr. Yuan Zhiming that his manuscript is “nicely written” but should be expanded “to let readers know that security is an important aspect of your program.” In a February 9, 2020 email, LeDuc prepares Yuan Zhiming for questions that may arise in the investigation of the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
“We need to aggressively address these rumors and presumably false accusations quickly and provide definitive, honest information to counter misinformation,” wrote LeDuc. “If there are weaknesses in your program, now is the time to admit them and get them corrected. I trust that you will take my suggestions in the spirit of one friend trying to help another during a very difficult time.”
In April, 2020, it emerges that Sen. Marco Rubio may push for an investigation of the Wuhan lab. LeDuc warns Chinese virologist Dr. Shi Zhengli, known as the “bat woman” for work with coronavirus at the WIV. Zhengli tells LeDuc “due to the complicated situation I don’t think it’s a right time to communicate by the call” and denies the virus is a leak from the WIV.
“I understand completely” responds LeDuc, “and I certainly do not wish to compromise you personally or your research activities.” The GNL boss attaches a draft summary he will provide to UT officials and possibly congressional committees. Judicial Watch notes that the draft was “not included” in their information request.
In an email from April 20, 2020, LeDuc warns Zhengli and Zhiming that the Wuhan lab will continue to be the focus of an investigation. A number of sources, including “reputable newspapers” all point to the Wuhan lab to the source of the outbreak.
The allegation that the COVID virus originated in a lab was the target of a massive censorship campaign by the Department of Homeland Security, and its fledgling Disinformation Governance Board. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a “disinformation took kit,” targeting “conspiracy theories appearing online related to COVID-19’s origin, scale, government response, prevention and treatment.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted “Coronavirus rumor control,” referring readers to the CDC coronavirus page.
The “government affiliated” Global Disinformation Index prevailed on advertisers to distance themselves from conservative websites open to the lab origin. According to former State Department official Mike Benz, the GDI, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, was part of a “constellation of pop-up organizations” stifling discourse on COVID origins.
Despite the efforts of this “Censorship Industrial Complex,” the FBI now finds evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic began in a laboratory. That reality that was evident to medical scientists from the start.
After the first reports of a novel bat-related outbreak in Wuhan, Rutgers chemical biology professor Dr. Richard Ebright said it took “a nanosecond or a picosecond” to consider a link to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As it happens, the WIV had more going for it than funding for gain-of-function research from Dr. Fauci and collaboration with the GNL.
China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, a January 2020 paper by Israeli medical scientist Dr. Dany Shoham, revealed that Dr. Qiu shipped a cargo of deadly pathogens to the WIV. The shipment came from Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg, where Dr. Qiu ran the special pathogens program. In 2017 and 2018, Dr. Qiu made at least five trips to the WIV.
Dr. Qiu worked closely with Gary Kobinger, who earned a PhD in microbiology from the University of Montreal and headed the NML’s special pathogens unit until 2016. According to Kobinger, Dr. Qiu was just doing her job, and when Canadian police escorted her from the NML it was all just a “misunderstanding.”
Gary Kobinger is now the director of the Galveston National Laboratory, a close collaborator with the WIV from the start under James LeDuc. He signed agreements with China to destroy files, materials and equipment. He helped the WIV avoid scrutiny over China’s role in the pandemic.
James LeDuc also perpetuated what he had to know was a lie, that the pandemic was a natural occurrence. On the other hand, when CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield found evidence of a laboratory origin, he got death threats. No word of any investigation by the FBI, which now supports a laboratory origin.
An FBI raid on the “squeaky clean” GNL might turn up more evidence, and perhaps provide the basis for charges. If nobody is held accountable, the people can expect more of what “just happened” in 2020. As Joe Biden said last June, “There’s going to be another pandemic. We have to think ahead.”