Betsy McCaughey

Betsy McCaughey


Why on Earth are we AGAIN collaborating with China to manipulate viruses?

Bad: When Chinese scientists create a killer disease in a lab and allow it to wipe out millions. 

Worse: When US taxpayers help pay for it.

Unconscionable: Doing it all again.

The  US government hasn’t learned a thing: Disease-watchers are tracking the spread of H5N1 — bird or avian flu — across the globe, as it invades mammals for the first time, leaving beaches in South America littered with dead sea lions. 

In the United States, 34 dairy cattle herds in nine states are infected.

Scientists are anxiously watching for any sign the virus is changing genetically to make human-to-human spread possible.

Against this backdrop, the US Department of Agriculture is collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of the Wuhan Institute of Virology — the lab that likely concocted COVID.

The collaboration is manipulating strains of bird flu, making them deadlier to humans, and then infecting ducks and geese with them. What could go wrong?

In March, the Biden administration also stealthily extended the US-China Science and Technology Agreement for another six months, despite mounting opposition.

Two centuries ago, the scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity.”

A noble idea but too naïve for today’s world. 

The United States must be guarded about supporting and sharing research with scientists controlled by enemy nations.

Unfortunately, we too often leave decisions about funding international collaborations to the scientists, who generally have a global mindset, making them more loyal to their colleagues than to their country.

Congress needs to take charge.

Canada is curbing its cooperation with China on infectious diseases. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told Parliament that “dangerous viruses” had been taken from a Canadian lab to Beijing covertly.

“We should be collaborating with like-minded democracies that we can trust, not those that want to attack our interests,” he warned.

Consider the USDA collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute to manipulate strains of avian flu, making them more lethal.

The USDA’s Chinese partner, Liu Wenjun, states that “the purpose of the three countries collaborating” is to exchange research data and “control global diseases.”

Can Liu be taken at his word? No. He’s not free to do the right thing, any more than the scientists at the Wuhan Institute were free to alert the world when COVID leaked.

Dr. Ben Hu, the US-funded scientist at Wuhan, is now believed to have become Patient Zero when he fell ill with COVID symptoms in November 2019.

But neither his identity nor his illness was disclosed until June 2023.

Had he been able to tell the world about his illness — something the Chinese government prevented him from doing — millions of lives might have been saved. 

Is China a trustworthy scientific partner? That question has been firmly answered.

From the first cases of the virus in Wuhan, China has blocked all investigations, barred international agencies and foreign scientists’ access to the Wuhan market and hospital data and muzzled Chinese scientists. 

For the Biden administration to renew the US-China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement while China stonewalls is a slap in the face to the families of COVID’s victims.

And an invitation to future disasters.

The administration’s statement that it is negotiating a “good intentions clause” from China that joint research is only for peaceful purposes is disturbingly naïve.  

“Good intentions” is a laugh line.

In January, a study from Beijing announced the creation of a lab-mutated virus — a coronavirus cousin — that produces agonizing illness and a 100% death rate in “humanized” mice. 

There was no indication the lab had taken rigorous biosecurity steps.  

Reckless is an understatement. Madness is more like it.

Sparks flew in reaction to a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday on COVID’s origins. 

Globalists like Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown University cautioned against discouraging Western scientists from having “strong working relationships” with China.

Nice sentiment, but the committee majority insisted that “high risk virology research” involving collaboration with an enemy country cannot proceed without taking national security into account.

That’s a no-brainer. 

European scientists polled this week on the likeliest cause of a future pandemic point to flu viruses, but say the next biggest risk is “Disease X,” a micro-organism appearing out of the blue, like COVID-19.

Fair warning. The US should not be funding or collaborating to make the next China-created killer.  

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

Twitter: @Betsy_McCaughey