Could the 90-day Covid Origin Probe Be Politicized?

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Simone Gao:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China. I'm Simone Gao. The 90-day COVID origin report President Biden ordered came out last Friday. The unclassified summary of the report assesses that SARS-CoV-2 probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November, 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. In addition, the intelligence community was able to reach broad agreement on several other issues. The summary says the intelligence community judged the virus was not developed as a biological weapon. Most agencies also assess, with low confidence, that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered. However, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way. Finally, the IC assesses that China's officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged. Today, I invited a virologist and an intelligence community veteran to discuss the report with me.


Simone Gao:

Sean Lin was the former lab director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Nick Eftimiades is a retired senior intelligence officer who specialized in China. He spent 34 years in CIA and defense intelligence agency and has written extensively on China's espionage operations. Here's the discussion. Sean and Nick, thank you so much for joining Zooming In China today. So, uh, let's talk about the 90-day report on the COVID origin. First of all, I want to ask both of you, I mean, do you think the conclusion that the report drew is reasonable? Sean, do you, I mean, Nick, do you want to go first?


Nick Eftimiades:

Sure. I don't really think sort of much of this report and is that, the whole thing isn't out yet, but the conclusions they draw are about the conclusions that we went in with which were we really can't determine if it was a result of a lab leak or a naturally occurring growth that happened. And you know, we can determine it wasn't a manmade, specifically manmade, you know, as a bioweapon. And you know, it's not likely there's going to be any more information about it without the cooperation of the Chinese government.


Simone Gao:

Okay. All right. What about you, Sean?


Sean Lin:

So, the summary of this investigation report make a couple of important statement. One of them is actually indicating there might be a small-scale outbreak no later than November, 2019. So, I don't think any statement had made these any investigation have made these statements formally before. And then secondly, they make a statement saying this virus was not developed as a biological weapon. This also very important because I think in the past they were highly suspicious that the virus may be a joint development product from Wuhan Institute of Virology and Chinese People Liberation Army, or at least part of the biological weapon programs. The Chinese government may not be able to develop the exact virus, but maybe part of the process, uh, they create this virus. So, this time it was actually surprise that this intelligence committee report can make such a clear statement on this issue. And so, I think this is the biggest surprise to me.


Simone Gao:

Okay. You know, I actually have a question Sean, for you. The report says four intelligence communities elements and the National Intelligence Council assess, with low confidence, that the initial SARS-CoV-2 was not likely caused by natural exposure to a animal infected with it or a close progeneter virus, a virus that probably would be more than 99% similar to SARS-CoV-2. These analysts gave weight to China's officials' lack of knowledge foreknowledge, the numerous vectors for natural exposure and other factors. So my question is, what exactly do they base their low confidence conclusion on? Are they saying that because the Chinese authorities seemed not to know about the virus beforehand and you know, there could be many animals that transfer the virus from bat to humans, so they concluded that this is likely the case, it's, uh, it has a natural origin, or they had something else they based their conclusion on, but they just didn't say it? Sean, what's your opinion?


Sean Lin:

So, right now it's just a brief summary. So, I don't know the detail, but from their language, it just appears to me first, they didn't mention about any defector's, uh, information. Because right earlier this year there were so many reports talk about a potential defector coming out of the Chinese PLA or Chinese high-ranking officials. And so, what kind of information this defector might bring out, what kind of information that he brought out would be related to the virus, we don't know, and this report didn't mention any about that. And also the report didn't mention about any new evidence that they gather during the last 90 days. So, we don't know. Even though the CNN report mentioned about there were a large database, about 20,000 different maybe virus, samples, information collected in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But this summary report didn't mention that and they didn't mention about any large scale analysis of, like satellite images in Wuhan for the November, December of 2019 in Wuhan, or even earlier. We don't know any of these investigation efforts been mentioned in this brief summaries.


Sean Lin:

So, we only know a very brief conclusion and also indicating such, uh, conflicting opinions inside the intelligence community. So it's very hard to to judge, how do they make a conclusion that the Chinese officials don't have any foreknowledges before the outbreak because even the Chinese officers in the Chinese public health system did not know about the information. How do you know that the Chinese military bioweapon program officer didn't know about this information? How do you know Xi Jinping did not know about this information? The other ones, we don't know. I don't know if the American intelligence community is powerful enough to have a full knowledge about the Chinese bioweapon program. And actually the Chinese government has been very aggressive in doing the military-civil fusion to the most, dangerous pathogens researches.


Sean Lin:

And there have been many reports, uh, military officers writing books of guidelines reports regarding the strategies, the development of the bioweapons and how to improve China's biosafeties, biosecurity issues and how do they relate it to the bioweapon programs in China. So I think that part, even that part needed to be thoroughly, seriously investigated, because it's directly related to the national security of the United States. Even to the whole world. So I, I don't know if the American intelligence community can get a, such a clear picture in just 90 days investigation on this virus issue.


Simone Gao:

Okay. All right. Nick, what do you think? You know, do they base their conclusion on, you know, China doesn't have foreknowledge of the virus and there could be many animals that could, you know, be the intermediate host? Do they base our conclusion on that, or do you think they have something else that they have that they just didn't tell us?


Nick Eftimiades:

Let me set a little tone and dispel a couple of things. The defector I think you're referring to is, uh, Dong Jingwei, who was the, um, head of counterintelligence for the Ministry of State Security but he didn't defect. That was just rumors that were coming out. And you know, it's, it's been largely discredited that he defected. So that, that didn't happen, number one. In a situation like this, I mean, personally, there's also been a lot of research that has been done, even out of Hong Kong, on bats and, and the types of viruses that they transmit. And this is...


Simone Gao:

Nick, I'm sorry, uh, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but can you just elaborate a little bit more? How do you know, like definitively, that don't Dong Jingwei didn't defect?


Nick Eftimiades:

Uh well, for a start, the Office of Director of National Intelligence took the unprecedented step of calling the reporter who initially started reporting the rumor and told him, "Look, you know, we don't have him. He did not defect." Now if you're in the intelligence concerns, for them to do something like that is just, you know, unheard of, literally hasn't been done before. And the reason that they would never do that is because if information ever came out otherwise the U.S. Government's been caught lying to the media and, and that would be, you know, that would wind up in congressional hearings.


Simone Gao:

Okay. What about, because I think that reporter, her name is Jennifer, Jennifer, um, Jennifer something. But she said, I think her source is not National Intelligence Agency. It's, uh, another source. It's the national, it's the Defense Intelligence Agency. So could be, you know, different agencies don't talk to each other, they don't know what each other hold?


Nick Eftimiades:

No, impossible. First off that was it came out of, I think it's SpyTalk. It was gosh, I'll remember his name in a second who first reported that, number one. Number two, there's an inter-agency defector committee, and to, to say a defector would come out and be held by one agency is just not possible. I mean, in, in a way we have the system the way it is, right? It's not possible that someone defects to the DIA and, which is an interesting tale on how that would happen in itself, um but how this guy would get out of the country, defect to one agency that he found, and that they would not tell that to anyone else. It's just, the system--everything from the software to the processes to, you know, the entire system--is just not geared for, you know, the oversight that's conducted by multiple agencies, in this case in particular the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence over human human intelligence, really doesn't allow for that to happen. I mean, it's just not possible. You couldn't even enter the guy's name in a, you know, in, in, in a system you know, information systems without all parties being informed. So so...


Simone Gao:

I mean, do they, do they, are they absolutely required to enter the person's information into the system? What if they don't ?


Nick Eftimiades:

Then they go to jail. Period. I mean, you can't, and it's not to, you know, someone defects to Nick. I mean, there are 40 people that I'm going to, that have to even just be informed just to, just to affect that defection. I, I mean, am I going to give the guy immunity? I, you know, I can't do that. That's State Department. And we're talking to the White House and, you know, lots of players have to be involved just for a person to defect. So, it's not like, you know, it's not even feasible that, that any agency could keep that defection from another. It just can't, can't happen. I mean, physically can't happen.


Simone Gao:

Okay. Thank you for that clarification. Okay, go ahead.


Nick Eftimiades:

Yeah. So, I mean, we have, this incident is you know, we have a National Center for Medical Intelligence, right? Has an epidemiology section and a, and a health section divided into two. And it's a joint thing for the armed forces under DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency. And they work issues of viruses and infections every day for the entire year. That's what they do. Largely because if, you know, worldwide, if a U.S. Force is going to deploy, they have to know the medical conditions and country and what the potential threats are from a medical perspective. So, I mean, we have an entire center dedicated, with hundreds of people, dedicated towards working this issue. So, now an issue comes up, you know, this virus comes up that is potentially the greatest threat that we've seen in, in a hundred years to to humanity, millions die as a result. And I mean, it's going to be the most scrutinized, collected-on activity, you know, for decades. So, even that 90 days, when this first started, and even I heard about it in early December you know, early December '19. So it, it just, you know, and, and I weigh on the outside...


Simone Gao:

You heard about it in early December, 2019? You heard about this virus? I mean, where did you hear it?


Nick Eftimiades:

Sorry, sorry. 2020. I'm losing my days. I'm losing my years.


Simone Gao:

20. I mean, everybody knows about the virus by 2020.


Nick Eftimiades:

Actually. No, I'm sorry. I'm losing my year straight. It forcefully hit us in January, 2021, right?


Simone Gao:

2020.


Nick Eftimiades:

2020. So, the month before, early December, personally, I heard about it. That's what was leaking out. And if I hear about it and I'm on the far fringes of, of actual intelligence you know the community is, is, aggressively looking at this. So, when something like this happens, you task your collection assets, right? You task your imagery, you task your, your signals intelligence, you task your, your cyber action, you task any of your human assets. So, all that happens over the course of you know, of the course of the months that we've been, that we've been looking at that problem. And, you know, President Trump made it a priority issue. The intelligence community was already working it as a priority issue. So, now that we have just terabytes worth of data on this and have been collecting and analyzing it and producing you know, and producing reports about it and bringing in scientists about it all through this entire time to try and determine, you know, the actual cause.


Nick Eftimiades:

Now the president another person says we're going to have a 90 day law. What does that accomplish? I mean, we've already looked at this probably more extensively than, than, you know, than any other event in recent times. So, you know, you're not going to develop new signals intelligence. Your human assets, you're not going to develop new human assets. I mean, those take months to years to develop. So, unless you get a defector that walks through the door, and even then you have to corroborate the information, right? Because everybody wants to come with a story you know, to come to the U.S. So, even then you have to corroborate the information. So unless you get very, very lucky in that you're not working with new information, you know, maybe you go back over and retranslate information or stuff like that, but you basically have already been working this problem for months and months and months. So, not like we're going to learn anything new here. And I think the results just proved that, yeah? Going in there was not much of an argument to say that this was a bio-manufactured weapon. You know, I think everyone knew from the start, pretty publicly as well, that either some mess up at the lab, which leaked it--which is very, very possible, um we do know about the conditions at the lab and that is possible--uh or it was something that occurred naturally. No new information, as far as I can see.


Simone Gao:

Okay. this question is for Sean. You know, I'm sorry about drilling in this direction, but I just never get a satisfying answer from, I mean, from the news report and stuff like that. So, you know, as far as I understand, in order to determine this is a, this virus came from nature, has a natural origin, you need to have a intermediate host. So, without the intermediate host, you just simply cannot decide that. As far as I know, the intelligence community everywhere in the world has not found the intermediate host to this virus. And then how come the intelligence community can jump into the conclusion, although with low confidence, that this came from nature? Are they really just basing their conclusion on the things I said before, because China doesn't have, seems like they didn't have foreknowledge of this virus and also there could be many animals that could be the intermediate host? Is that what they based their conclusion on?


Sean Lin:

Well, I don't think the intelligence community will make decisions solely on that aspect, but in terms of the intermediate animal host Chinese government definitely mentioned in in their collaboration with the [inaudible] investigation early this year, they mentioned they surveyed more than 80,000 animal samples, not just in Wuhan, not just in Hubei province, actually nationwide, and they didn't find any sample that was positive in the serology test for SARS-CoV-2. And that actually was really a mysterious aspent, because if you look at the history of SARS outbreak and MERS outbreak, uh usually if you have animal infection prior to a human outbreak, usually you will see certain levels of serum positivities in the sample collected in a community. At least in the SARS and MERS [inaudible], you can find about 1-4% of animals' samples is positive for SARS or MERS.


Sean Lin:

And this time, it's like totally zero for more than 80,000 samples. This is unbelievable. And so so this this is, I think this is one of the biggest reason that many people questioned what's going on in China, because you couldn't identify any intermediate animal host. And even the bat coronavirus, even the RaTG13 bat coronavirus that's identified by the Hosseini's group in Wuhan Institute of Virology, that virus only 96.2% homologous to the SARS-CoV-2. So, that virus is not exactly the progenitor virus that scientific community will look for. And at least some, some virus samples should be above 99% homologic can be qualified as a progenitor virus. So, basically we don't have progenitor virus. We don't have animal sample. We don't know exactly who'll be the patient zero, and probably Chinese government know who, who be the patient zero, but they didn't reveal.


Sean Lin:

And so anyway, so missing all this important information, of course the animal origin of the outbreak is still a biggest question. And I also want to emphasize that I don't expect intelligence community can make a solid conclusion on the virus origin. And I think the intelligence community's focused is the origin of the outbreak and also whether the Chinese government have intentionallly coverup after the outbreak. I think these elements actually is more important than answering scientific question where the virus come from, right? Because the intelligence community they are not scientists, even though they can consult with many scientists, but I think their role is to figure out whether the Chinese government have intentionally spread the virus out or intentionally cover up virus outbreak information. How did they lie to our international community regarding about the human to human transmission?


Sean Lin:

Right? So, I think this information is more important and also very important to know whether in Wuhan there was earlier outbreak, earlier than November, and how did the outbreak started. Even though it may be a small cluster outbreak in a local community, but how did it happened? These are important information. And also another element in this will be the lab safety situations, besides the WIV, about Wuhan CDCs and other labs in the area, any other lab had potential virus safety issues. So, these kind of picture within the intelligence committee can, can present better than a scientific community as well. And actually really look forward to any analysis result from the satellite image analysis. But right now the full report hasn't come out. So, I don't know what will be included here.


Simone Gao:

Okay, Nick, so...


Nick Eftimiades:

Actually, can I make a comment to that just to dispel an incorrect notion? Um you know, that entire National Center for Medical Intelligence are all scientists. So, they are all scientists, they're all epidemiologists. You can't swing a stick without hitting a PhD in that place. So but, and as you point out though, not, not only are they scientists, but as you point out, they have outreach into the entire armed forces medical community, as well as, you know, the civilian community within the U.S. Government. So, I think you're going to get the best of our science is working on it, you know, not, not just the intelligence picture of what happened. Hey, that's one part in the intelligence side of that. The other side of it is the actual virus itself and what are the tenants of it? So two groups, both under the intelligence community, both working this problem jointly.


Sean Lin:

Yeah, actually I want to also added to it. I actually interact with scientists at the national medical intelligence community at Fort Detrick. I interacted with them during H7N9 outbreak in China as well. And I understand that there are definitely scientists in there. I will just mention overall about the whole intelligence community, right? They mentioned about so many different intelligence community element, and they have different different arguments on, on different potential. So, I just wondering why actually the the whole effort was not put under a special like a commission more focused on, so that you can have a eventually have a better overall estimate of the whole situation instead of so many different intelligence community doing their own assessment. And the how how will the final result come out when you have so many different government agencies involved? I just wasn't sure about the whole process and how, how was it done in this way? So, I just wasn't clear to me.


Simone Gao:

Hmm. Okay. So, it seems like different agencies are just doing their own work. I mean, the report even indicates that.


Nick Eftimiades:

Let me tell you how this has done. So under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, there was the National Intelligence Council and they are the highest body in the intelligence community for analysis. So, typically they do major projects which take, often take months and months up to a year to do, and they bring the entire intelligence community into it. They are the lead and the members that that comprise the committees and the working groups that support that come from the intelligence community various agencies. So, in fact, all agencies. So what happens is that you had the DNI leading this. Now DIA or State Department or CIA might look at a report and evaluate it differently. DIA says, "you know what? We know this reporting source, it has been reliable forever." I'm just giving you an example.


Nick Eftimiades:

And CIA says, "Okay, but that doesn't exactly go with some of the source reporting that we have on this issue." And all that stuff is done across the table. They sit down and look about it, and they have to allow a process for dissenting opinions, right? Because you're not just going to, "Okay, we all vote it's the truth." that group, that over, over months, that group will say, "This is what our assessment is. This is how we rate it," you know, high, medium, low type of thing. "And By the way, there is a dissenting opinion here by agency 1, 2, 3. They don't believe that and this is why." So, what you're seeing, that will come out, is that people add more weight to some sources and others. And as a result you can get, and typically not much, but you can get dissenting opinions that come out of the report. And it's just a matter of how they view the evidence.


Simone Gao:

Hmm. Okay. another question is, you know, before this 90 day report on COVID origin, the Republican side of the House congressional intelligence community, they came out with our own report. And I think the Republican study group also came out their own report. And I think the Republican side is pretty much, has pretty much reached a consensus that based on the intelligence community's report and investigation, that the evidence heavily leaned towards this is related to the lab. It's a lab leaked incident. But from this 90 day report, it's, it doesn't give that impression at all. How do you explain it, Nick?


Nick Eftimiades:

Yeah, I, I don't know. I, I actually gotta see the full report to understand how they have you know, how they've done those calculations. There's something that factors in. The fact that the Chinese government has been completely unhelpful denied, you know, even throwing this back it occurred anywhere but China, basically has not helped, you know, the perceptions and the analysis. So, how much does that influence people who are doing the analysis? Here's an issue of weighting the evidence. The fact that China, you know, won't give up any information towards this, has refused investigations and is actually accusing the United States of, of, of leaking this virus. How does that impact people who are doing analysis, whether they be from Republicans or from the intelligence community? So, you know, just things like that are, are, are huge weighting factors. I would tell you in experience, the congressional community would weigh that a lot heavier than the intelligence community, because that's just standard CCP behavior, um as far as they're concerned, and they would put it aside. I don't know if the political dimension could be put aside when it comes out of the Congress. So, just issues like that.


Simone Gao:

Okay. I mean, I'm going to ask you this. Do you think the intelligence community, do you think the different intelligence agencies are politicized?


Nick Eftimiades:

Everyone is to some degree. Yeah. I think people are politicized. I don't think agencies are politicized. But I mean, I can go back to the Clinton administration and every administration I served under in the intelligence community, we saw leaks that were occurring whenever the intelligence community didn't agree with a political decision. So, is that politicization? Sure it is. They're trying, you know, that, that what Trump spoke of, of that you know, shadow government, there's a lot of truth to it. The intelligence community, or people in that community, take action when they don't believe the policy apparatus is, is right or honest.


Simone Gao:

Hmm. Okay. So do you think there could be a lot of that going on for the COVID origin research and investigation?


Nick Eftimiades:

I think there are so many people involved with this. If that happened, you see, and that's, you know, the valve in the system. There are so many people that are involved with this. If it was politicized, if someone changed the wording on the report, on the final report, to reflect something different, you'll hear about it in weeks. People will start leaking information that says that's not what the report actually said. Those types of things. So, you know, when you politicize and when you change things to suit a political narrative pretty hard to do it when you have dozens or hundreds of people involved in doing the research and analysis.


Simone Gao:

But what about the report itself? Could the report itself, the conclusion they drew, is politicized, is influenced by political opinions?


Nick Eftimiades:

So like I said, if that is, if that is influenced where, I mean, it won't be influenced at the table, right? At the table where these people are working and they're saying, you know, there's this and that. If it, as it goes up through the approval chain, as I said, if people start changing wording to you know, to, to support a political process, that's, or a political opinion, that tends to be a huge flag. I mean, it happens. I've seen it happen, but when it does, they're always reverberations inside the intelligence community and there's always discussion and emails floating about if this was changed, how could it have been changed? I've had my work changed by generals and, you know, it's it, it wound up with, with organizations splitting work and saying we're no longer working with you for that particular reason, those types of things. So, there were, there were repercussions for those types of actions. And so far it hasn't come out, so we haven't seen anything yet.


Simone Gao:

Mmm. Okay. Sean, I have a question for you. Because the report says because the Chinese government is not cooperating and we could not obtain the original either data or intelligence information about this virus, so they resort to a scientific approach. Obviously the researchers, the real scientists, are happy about that, but the intelligence community is also happy about it. Do you think that's a right approach? What will happen to a scientific approach?


Sean Lin:

Well, I'm not sure what the scientific community is happy about exactly. Because even the WHO's investigation team did not get any samples, real clinical samples or animal samples, from China and the whole virus origin, even the outbreak origin these two issues are all still mysterious to the whole world. So, what to be happy about? I don't know what's the end report can refer to in here. And regarding about the intelligence report at this time...


Simone Gao:

They, they're, it's not happy. It just, I think the wording is they agree, and this is a better approach.


Sean Lin:

Oh, okay. Well, well, I think of course, I mean, even before the intelligence community report coming out, we know very clear the Chinese government did not collaborate with any of foreign scientist investigators who want to go to China to understand how the outbreak started in Wuhan, right? They haven't been collaborating from the beginning, even after the pressure from the Australia government from more than 100 countries during the last world's assembly in 2020, the Chinese government has make their solid mind. They did not want to collaborate. They define the study the scope of the study, right? And they decide what kind of samples to be collected, to be studied. And so right now before the American intelligence community start their investigation, start their report I think it's very, very clear they won't get any additional samples from China.


Sean Lin:

So I don't think the report don't even have to mention that. Of course, ideally you can get Chinese government collaboration, but in the reality, there's no way they will collaborate with you. And so that's why I said for the intelligence community report, they should mention other aspect. Well, under these kinds of situation we saw Chinese government collaboration. What kind of information has been collected and what kind of analysis has been done? And of course, I look forward to reading the whole report. I really, really interested in seeing what kind of evidence did they get that, how much knowledge did they have in terms of the Chinese government's uh, bioweapons programs? How do they make a conclusion this virus was not a bioweapon program? I don't believe the Chinese scientist has the the intelligence or have the knowledge or the skill to develop a perfect virus like SARS-CoV-2, but I'm still very interested in how the intelligence community can make a conclusion in this way. And so what kind of additional evidence they got, I'm really, really curious on that one.


Simone Gao:

So, two questions. Number one: do you think those type of information will be included in the report? And second does the scientific research, uh, does the scientific approach means decades of research into the origin of the virus, which means, you know, for a long period of time, we won't be able to know the origin of the virus? Is that what we're seeing?


Sean Lin:

I think to understand virus origin, of course it's a daunting scientific task. And, you know, for decades, we still don't know how HIV started. We don't know how, how the SARS outbreak started in 2003, right? So it's always a daunting, scientific task. And that's why Chinese government be happy to, to push the whole investigation towards this direction. And so that's why they even mentioned that you need to collect samples in south Asia countries to get more samples, more best samples, maybe more pangolin samples in different countries. They, of course they want the whole international society spend more time on these scientific questions. But I think what's really, really mattered to the whole world right now is how they did the outbreak study whether there was a big issue regarding about lab safeties and also, uh does any lab in China, or even in other south Asia country, pose a great danger to the whole world when these labs been collecting dangerous pathogens?


Sean Lin:

So I think the whole world doesn't want to have another incident of the COVID, right? So, nobody want it repeated. So, that's why the intelligence efforts is so critical to understand how did the outbreak studied, what kind of information the Chinese government cover up and then the U.S. Intelligence has insight, a better insight, a real insight, right? So, I think that's critical to the whole world. I don't care whether the virus come from pangolin or bat, or even camels or other animals, or civets, right? That part actually does not really matter to the human society at this stage. We still are battling with the COVID. So, it's key to understand whether there will be other outbreak potentials and what did the Chinese government cover up at the beginning stage. So, I think that's more important.


Simone Gao:

Hmm. Uh do you think those information about whether, I mean, how is this not related to China's biological weapons will be included in the report that the public can see?


Sean Lin:

I definitely hope so. I don't know if the intelligence community, so many different elements of the intelligence community, have done thorough investigation or analysis on China's bioweapon programs which has been very very aggressively driven forward under Xi Jinping's uh, regime. So, I don't know how updated the intelligence communities is on these aspects. So, I definitely look forward to read some elements regarding about China's bioweapon program, since they make such a conclusion in this summary, I believe they will have some information there. I just will really be interesting to see how in-depth they know about the situation.


Simone Gao:

Okay. Nick, you have the last words. Do you think this origin of the virus probe will yield any results in the near future?


Nick Eftimiades:

No, I don't. With all the capabilities of U.S. Intelligence and our allies, I should add, right? Because we have sharing arrangements all over the world with intelligence services. So, collectively, if the intelligence services of the world haven't been able to answer that question yet, I wouldn't wait around for it. And I take your point. I think it's going to be like an AIDS, you know, corollary to the AIDS story where we really don't know how it started. I mean, there'll be a lot of speculation and, and, but I don't think we're ever going to get to answers. The intelligence community is not going to reveal its sources. So, to temper expectations, you're not going to say we, they're not going to say we learned this from human sources, or we learned this from reading Xi Jinping's emails or anything like that. So you know, if in all this time we haven't gotten a clear answer, I wouldn't expect one from this 90 day study or anytime in the near future. I think we have to prepare and go forward with what we know and and our expectations of the CCPs behavior not being any different in a future outbreak. And from a policy perspective, which intelligence supports policy making, I think that's the way we're going to move forward from now on.


Simone Gao:

Okay. All right. Thank you so much, Nick and Sean. Thank you for joining Zooming In China today.


Sean Lin:

Thank you, Simone. Glad to join you.


Nick Eftimiades:

Thank you. Same here. Very glad to join you.


Simone Gao:

That's all for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this production if you like our content. Also head over to my new membership site at zoomingin.tv. You can get video/audio format of my show and full transcript. I'll also do live Q and A on the membership website, and we have a member-exclusive documentary movies on the site as well. So, please take a look. Thanks for watching, and I'll see you next time.