COVID-19 Politics Sam Husseini

VIDEO: State Dept. Spokesperson Matt Miller Avoids Commenting on USAID Funding of Research That Could Have Triggered COVID Pandemic

The British Sunday Times ran a piece fingering China using anonymous State Department sources, without noting that the State Department and USAID may themselves be culpable.
United States Department of State headquarters. AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Sam Husseini / Substack

To view the video, please visit Sam’s Substack here.

When asked today about USAID’s funding of the creation of potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs), spokesperson Matthew Miller punted on my question about whether the State Department will forthrightly acknowledge that USAID funded lab work that could have caused the pandemic, as the documentary record indicates.

The British Sunday Times recently ran a lengthy piece entitled “What really went on inside the Wuhan lab weeks before Covid erupted.” The piece was largely sourced to “investigators” at the State Department, and it placed blame for the pandemic squarely on China, thereby (attempting to) absolve the US government.

The creation of PPPs at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was, however, funded by the US national security state, including USAID, which describes itself as an agency that “receives overall policy guidance from the Secretary of State” and operates “in support of the foreign policy goals” of the US.

The Sunday Times article refers to “EcoHealth’s Predict programme,” even though it’s actually a USAID program — the agency which funneled millions to EcoHealth Alliance. Indeed, the Sunday Times makes no mention whatever of USAID.

In other words, it relies on statements by anonymous US State Department officials as “evidence” that the blame does not lie with the US State Department.

After mentioning this to Miller, I cited the fact that a 2016 correction to a well-known Nature Medicine article stated that USAID had funded Zhengli-Li Shi’s work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through EcoHealth Alliance.

Support our Independent Journalism — Donate Today!

“Can you confirm for the record… that PREDICT funded that program?,” I asked

In response, Miller said he was not familiar with the Sunday Times report — which was part of the prelude to my question and not directly relevant to the question itself — and quickly moved away from the topic.

The Nature Medicine article that I referenced was originally published in 2015 and titled “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence.”

Among the authors were: (1) Ralph Baric, known as a the scientist most adept at manipulating coronaviruses, including making them more lethal (aka Gain of Function Research of Concern) without leaving a trace, and (2) Zhengli-Li Shi of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (mentioned earlier), called the “bat lady” by some for her collecting of coronaviruses from bats in caves.

In “Did Chinese Military Fund Secret Coronavirus Research in Wuhan Without U.S. Knowledge? ‘Not Plausible,’ Expert Says,” Brenda Baletti of The Defender from Children’s Health Defense, quotes Francis Boyle, J.D., Ph.D., bioweapons expert and professor of international law at the University of Illinois.

“Boyle said the implication that the research was kept secret from the U.S. government — which funded Baric’s gain-of-function research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and the WIV and invests billions of dollars into intelligence on the Chinese government — was not plausible.

“Boyle was the first person to alert the public in January 2020 that COVID-19 was most likely an offensive biological weapon with gain-of-function properties that leaked from the Wuhan lab. He is the author of several international law textbooks and a bioweapons expert who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.”

“Unfortunately, rather than dealing with it directly, there was a massive coverup by the United States government authorities, the Chinese government authorities, the scientific community and the medical community establishment that has now led to the deaths of maybe 20 million people worldwide,” Boyle said.

He added: “I have never had access to classified information. Nothing. All this is available in the public record if you read the scientific literature — which I have done. So if I could figure this out all by myself, they certainly could.”

In April of 2016, a correction was attached to the article noting that USAID had funded Zhengli-Li Shi’s work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through EcoHealth Alliance.

The Sunday Times article even sets the stage for exonerating Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, writing these unnamed State Department “investigators believe the Wuhan institute was running a shadow project that it kept secret, even from Daszak.”

Just before going to press, I received a boilerplate statement from USAID on the program in question, also without answering the question posed, see below. Also just before going to press, a piece was published by Public along similar lines to the Sunday Times piece, also citing anonymous US government officials and pinning the blame on China.

Stressing the clear agenda, the Sunday Times, which hid the connection between the PREDICT program and the State Department, also published an editorial: “China must come clean about what happened in Wuhan lab.”

Even more ominously, the Sunday Times writes: “The investigators believe the Chinese military had taken an interest in developing a vaccine for the viruses so they could be used as potential bioweapons. If a country could inoculate its population against its own secret virus, it might have a weapon to shift the balance of world power.”

The piece effectively pretends that the US government and its various allies and client states would never consider such a path. Such schemes could in fact be the ace in the hole the US establishment uses to maintain hegemony.

In March of 2020, a note was added to the Nature Medicine article warning readers against making obvious connections about the possibility of lab origin of Covid:

See my past articles: “USAID Funded EcoHealth Alliance and Wuhan Institute of Virology, Is Withholding Information,” “Rand Paul Questions Blinken on State/USAID Role in Funding Wuhan Institute of Virology,” “BREAKING: State Dept. Continues to Fund Programs Which Might Have Caused Pandemic. VIDEO: Claims it Was Funding ‘Biosafety’ and Claims Examination is ‘Conspiracy Theory’” and “Hawley Gloats Over House Passage of His Legislation that Targets China on Covid Origins While Ignoring US Government Culpability.”

I first highlighted the crucial Nature Medicine article in a piece in April 2020: “Contrary to claims, the pandemic may have come from a lab — and regardless, it exposes the threat of biowarfare arms race.”


Miller:  Anything else on China? 

Husseini:  Yeah.

Miller:  Yeah, who – yeah, go ahead.

Husseini:  Thank you.  The Sunday Times recently ran a lengthy piece highly sourced to anonymous State Department “investigators” about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and seemed overwhelmingly to finger China as the culprit.  The piece made mention of the PREDICT Program but didn’t cite that it was a USAID/State Department program.  As I think you’re probably aware, a piece was published in 2015 entitled, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” in Nature Medicine.   This was accompanied by a note that it was funded – an addendum, a correction really – that it was funded by USAID and it also noted that it went through the NIH protocol for going through so-called gain of function or gain-of-function research of concern, also called the creation of potentially pandemic pathogens.

Can you confirm for the record that the State – that PREDICT funded that program?

Miller:  I’m not familiar with that report.  I’ll have to take the question back.

Husseini:  You’re not familiar with this report?  This has been a major focus of the entire debate about pandemic origins.

Miller:  I’m familiar with the issue broadly.  I’m not familiar with – excuse – I’m not familiar with the specific news report you’re referring to.  I’ll be happy to take it back. Go ahead, Said. [Full video.]

Email from USAID:

USAID ended the PREDICT project in 2020. It was used to illuminate both the threat that emerging viruses pose to us, as well as the impact that strategic investments can have on rapid disease detection and response.

The PREDICT project focused on understanding viral risk – efforts that led to a greater understanding of the diversity of viruses circulating in animals and the types of species linked with carrying certain types of viruses. Over its 10 years in existence, the PREDICT project demonstrated benefits to the American people by lowering pandemic risk in several ways, including:

  • Bolstering infectious disease surveillance and laboratory capacity in partner countries, capacities were critical in the early response to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Developing knowledge and information that is being used to develop new diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines that can be used against previously unknown viruses;
  • Helping communities better understand and mitigate their risks associated with viruses spreading from animals to humans.

I emailed back: “Well, for one, I was asking for confirmation that USAID funded the 2015 Nature Medicine article I referenced: ‘A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence.’ So, for starters: Can you please confirm that fact?” I will report any response I receive.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

* indicates required

Sam Husseini

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist. He writes at

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments