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Horowitz: Are the Ukraine biolabs connected to the coronavirus gain-of-function research?

Op-ed
Soulmemoria/Getty Images

This is not about your feelings toward Putin or Ukraine. It’s about the ethics, morality, and trust of our own government. Last Tuesday, undersecretary of state for political affairs Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Ukraine has biological research facilities, which in fact we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of, so we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach."

Now the World Health Organization is calling on Ukrainian officials to “destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” due the ongoing risk of explosions during the war.

Given that millions of Americans have been killed or injured long-term by a virus that was likely created by gain-of-function research in a similar lab in Wuhan, isn’t it important that we have a full accounting of how many other gain-of-function labs our government holds, in which countries, and what exactly they are doing with them? This is not about justifying Putin’s invasion as somehow the savior of humanity against biowarfare. It’s about understanding the origin of the virus that clearly was not natural and destroyed our lives and how to ensure this won’t happen again.

It’s now clear that, at a minimum, the U.S. was heavily involved in developing and managing these biolabs in Ukraine. NewsPunch has recovered about a dozen documents deleted by the U.S. embassy in Kiev detailing the U.S. funding of multiple biolabs throughout the country.

A deleted web article from BioPrepWatch.com on June 18, 2010, which was recovered by National Pulse, titled, “Biolab Opens in Ukraine” explains how Obama, while serving as an Illinois senator, along with Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar, helped negotiate a deal to build a level-3 bio-safety lab in Odessa, Ukraine, in 2005. The article was included in Issue No. 818 of the U.S. Air Force Counterproliferation Center’s Outreach Journal.

What was being done there? A 2011 report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Anticipating Biosecurity Challenges of the Global Expansion of High-Containment Biological Laboratories explained it was a project between the United States Department of Defense and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine focused on “preventing the spread of technologies, pathogens, and knowledge that can be used in the development of biological weapons.” It had a permit, according to the report, “to work with both bacteria and viruses of the first and second pathogenic groups.”

A separate document detailing Ukraine’s biolab network from the BioWeapons Prevention Project explains they were studying Ebola and “viruses of pathogencity group II by using of virology, molecular, serologica and express methods.” Additionally, the lab provided “special training for specialists on biosafety and biosecurity issues during handling of dangerous biological pathogenic agents.”

So, who runs these labs? Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, a Bulgarian journalist, identified biotech company Metabiota Inc., which is heavily supported by Google, in an extremely detailed article back in 2019 as the main player in the Ukrainian labs. It’s a company that tracks the trajectory of outbreaks and sells pandemic insurance, but also seems to have its hand in the actual labs that, as we painfully learned the past two years, might be the source of some of these outbreaks.

The US Company Metabiota Inc. has been awarded $18.4 million federal contracts under the Pentagon’s DTRA program in Georgia and Ukraine for scientific and technical consulting services. Metabiota services include global field-based biological threat research, pathogen discovery, outbreak response and clinical trials. Metabiota Inc. had been contracted by the Pentagon to perform work for DTRA before and during the Ebola crisis in West Africa and was awarded $3.1 million (2012-2015) for work in Sierra Leone – one of the countries at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

Indeed, in August 2018, Metabiota, which was created in 2008, announced it had been awarded a subcontract from Black & Veatch (B&V) to support the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) in Iraq. Black and Veatch is the Kansas City-based engineering firm that is listed as the contractor on one of the DOD-funded veterinarian biolabs tasked with working on “pathogens,” among the documents recovered by NewsPunch from the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

How does this all come back to our concern of COVID 2.0 and another lab leak? Last year, the San Francisco-based Metabiota predicted a 47%-57% chance that there will be another pandemic that will kill even more people than COVID. What do they know that we don’t?

A 2016 investigation by CBS found that World Health Organization officials believe Metabiota screwed up the Ebola response in Africa and that there was "absolutely no control on what is being done." U.S. health official Austin Demby, who was dispatched to the Metabiota shared lab in Sierra Leone by the CDC, reported that "the cross contamination potential is huge and quite frankly unacceptable," after allegedly witnessing used needles littering the floor, the lack of an ultraviolet light for decontamination, and not enough space to process blood samples safely. CBS also quotes a representative of Doctors Without Borders who claims she saw cross-contamination and lack of proper hygiene and protective gear as workers moved from the lab to houses.

Do you still feel comfortable with a company like this involved with DOD-made biolabs in Ukraine? Well, what if I told you their leadership was tied into the central players in the Wuhan coronavirus gain-of-function research and funded by ... Hunter Biden?!

The CEO of Metabiota is Dr. Nathan Wolfe, a virologist who has been a member of the official journal of EcoHealth Alliance, the company at the center of the gain-of-function research on coronavirus spike protein binding from day one. According to his LinkedIn profile, Wolfe “has been honored with a Fulbright fellowship, the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, [and] a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.” Like a quote from a horror film, Wolfe explained his enterprise in an interview with the Edge in 2009 as follows:

If you want to think about my work, one way to think of me is as a curator of microbial collections. I have these massive repositories. I have sites all around the world that are aimed at collecting interesting microorganisms, and then I enter into collaborations with different groups. Instead of coming to look at my beetle collections, I send them specimens that I think they are likely to find of interest, and they study them for novel agents. Really it's sort of a microbial museum. As a consequence, I have a very low footprint in the USA. I have an office not much bigger than your suite. It's not huge. Even though my enterprise is very costly to sustain, it is very easy for me to move around.

Years ago, none of us would have thought much of this. But given the suspicion that EcoHealth Alliance created SARS-CoV-2 out of a similar repository and “microbial museum,” not in the United States but as an “enterprise” around the world, we should probably be suspicious of what Metabiota is doing in Ukraine.

Then, of course, there is Hunter Biden. The National Pulse has found financial reports revealing that the investment firm of the “first son,” Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners, led Metabiota’s first round of funding, which amounted to $30 million, and that “Former Managing Director and co-founder of RSTP Neil Callahan – a name that appears many times on Hunter Biden’s hard drive – also sits on Metabiota’s Board of Advisors.” Callahan is also the co-founder of Pilot Growth Management, which is Metabiota’s current top investor.

In EcoHealth’s 2014 annual report, Metabiota is listed as a partner on the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) “PREDICT” project, which seeks to “predict and prevent global emerging disease threats.” This included the infectious disease research in Wuhan together with “bat lady” Shi Zhengli.

The National Pulse also reveals that “Researchers from Metabiota have also been listed alongside EcoHealth Alliance personnel on a 2014 study on henipavirus spillover, 2014 study on Ebola monitoring, 2015 study focusing on herpes, and 2015 study on viral diversity.”

So, Peter Daszak, EcoHealth, Nathan Wolfe, Metabiota, Hunter Biden, Wuhan lab, and Ukraine all tie together in some way. And now U.S. and WHO officials are warning of clearly some very potent pathogens floating around in these U.S.-run Ukrainian facilities. What is the average American supposed to think of our government in this case?

In the past, we would have understood that our government was perhaps working on important viral research or perhaps working on bioweapons to deter our enemies. But now that we know our lives were destroyed because of a leaked virus that most likely came from a similar cast of characters in similar Chinese labs, if not some of the same players, how are we supposed to trust our government in Ukraine? This question should bother us independent of what Russia and China say and regardless of the invasion. What is our government doing in Ukraine, and likely in many other countries, and how do we know these places are not ticking time bombs like the Wuhan lab?

Ironically, our government used Ukraine to distract from the atrocities committed at home with the creation of COVID and the response to it. However, it appears that the focus on Ukraine might very well bring attention right back to the origins of the last catalyzing global event they seek to erase from our memory. They might just get exactly what they wanted – a little too much. Regardless of what happens with the war, we need to know if Ukraine is the new Wuhan.
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