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A Viral Origin Story: Where Did COVID Come From?

Episode #37  |  May 26th, 2021

In This Episode:

A year into this dogged pandemic, we have news about how COVID got introduced to the world, and it’s no surprise. New intelligence confirms that the coronavirus broke out of the Wuhan lab and shows a money trail from Dr. Fauci and the NIH to NGO EcoHealth Alliance back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Now, I’m not saying the likes of Fauci are responsible for COVID — but it’s tragic at best that America was funding and trusting the Red Dragon to perform epidemiology research instead of offering the project to our scientists. Must we outsource every job to China? And whether you think COVID’s lab break was a colossal accident or a malicious biological attack, one idea is clear: we need to reexamine our relationship with China. Acclaimed author Gordon Chang cites the complete lack of scientific evidence that COVID originated from a ‘wet market’ and the seedy breeding grounds of the Wuhan Institute that made this pandemic possible.

The two also discuss the Biden Administration’s staggering ambivalence around uncovering the virus’ origin, economically pressuring Xi Jinping, and preparing for China’s next, deadlier pathogen.

Read Trish’s full interview with Gordon Chang below. 


Gordon G. Chang

Professor and author
Gordon G. Change is a professor and author of The Coming Collapse of China and Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World. He has spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations, The Heritage Foundation, The Brookings Institution, the Cato Institute, RAND, the American Enterprise Institute, and other institutions around the world. He has given briefings at the National Intelligence Council, the CIA, the State Department, and the Pentagon. He has appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.


Trish Regan:               Well, we’ve got some big news concerning just exactly how that coronavirus was leaked to the entire world. Thank you so much for joining me on this week’s edition of American Consequences With Trish Regan. Good to have you all here, everyone. Just a reminder, you can find out more at

But gosh, this is really quite something. I’ve got to say we knew it, right? We knew all along. In fact, former President Donald Trump told us what the intel was that he was seeing as to what was really the origin of the coronavirus, and he believed that it came from a Wuhan lab. Let’s cut to the president in April 2020. I want you to hear it.


Donald Trump:           I think that the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China. This country pays them almost $500 million a year, and China pays them $38 million a year. Whether it’s a lot or more, it doesn’t matter. Still, they shouldn’t be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes, especially mistakes that are causing hundreds of thousands of people around the world to die.


Trish Regan:               So you know what happened after that? You had the CNN reporters like John Harwood laughing about what he said. You had this MSNBC reporter saying, “He can’t verify any of that intelligence.” Let’s cut to that.


Male:                          But after the president said last week he’d seen convincing evidence that gave him a high degree of confidence that the virus came from the lab, I checked in with intelligence sources, and they are just not on that page. What they say is, “We don’t know. We don’t have any smoking gun evidence either way.”


Trish Regan:               So the only thing is that there was intelligence actually that was being circulated at the time, including by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that did indicate that the Wuhan Institute might have played a role.

Well, now we have learned that it might have played a really big role, and unfortunately, it might have even played a role because of none other than us, the United States of America… because Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health was funneling lots of money to the Wuhan Institute via a vehicle called EcoHealth.

And so in this weird, twisted way we kind of did it to ourselves. We were the ones funding this research into none other than bat coronaviruses. Wow. And so why didn’t more of this come out before? Everybody was laughing at Donald Trump. The WHO was saying, “No, no, nothing to see here,” in terms of China and its lab. I don’t even understand why that was.

We’re going to talk to a guest. Gordon Chang actually is going to come up. He’s a tremendous expert in all things China-related, and we’re going to get his take on all of it.

But I want you to hear what Dr. Anthony Fauci is saying now, which basically totally contradicts what he said a year ago. Here we go.


Female:                       Are you still confident that it developed naturally?


Anthony Fauci:           No, I am not convinced about that. I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out to the best of our ability exactly what happened. Certainly, the people who have investigated it say that it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals.

But it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.


Trish Regan:               All right, so now he’s in favor of that, except I guess when it gets a little too close to home, because like I said, we now have information that shows the money trail, that shows how money from the National Institutes of Health run by Dr. Anthony Fauci then went to EcoHealth, which then went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology again to fund bat coronavirus research.

A lot of money… $600,000 and some in one tranche, $3.7 million it’s estimated overall. These records have been made public, and Senator Rand Paul is all over it, which is driving Fauci crazy. Listen to Anthony Fauci’s reaction to Rand Paul’s concerns – Senator Paul’s concerns about the funding of the research.


Anthony Fauci:           That’s actually preposterous. To bring that up is really not helpful. He was saying we funded a kind of research in China that could lead to dangerous research. That’s not the case. What he was saying was just absolutely not true. It’s really unfortunate that he brought that up. It really does nothing but cloud the issue of what we’re trying to do.


Trish Regan:               Someone’s gotten a little testy, huh? I think he’s gone into a giant CYA mode. Think about it. This actually has the potential to completely tear down this heroic image that he’s built up over the course of the last year.

I’m sorry, but he has been all over the place from the very beginning. “You don’t need a mask. Don’t wear masks. Oh yeah, you need masks. Actually, you really need masks. You might even need two or three masks.” And now we’re back to, well, the CDC is now saying you don’t really need to wear a mask. He has just been all over the mulberry bush.

And now it comes out that this research was being funded by him. Now I’m not saying there’s anything nefarious in any of that, to be very clear. I’m sure he was well-intentioned.

The Obama administration, they actually cut off the funding for this research because they didn’t want it happening in the U.S., and they certainly didn’t want China doing it because do you really trust China with stuff like this? Really? We have batteries that come from that China that they melt. We have toys that are faulty, and what about all the pet food? Remember the pet food scandal from China?

You’ve got to be kind of careful when it comes to manufacturing things and making things in China, including making or concluding any kind of scientific research that might actually have the ability to hurt the world. And in this case, it seems that we have no one to thank but ourselves for some of this.

Again, I’m not saying that we somehow – and perhaps this is what Anthony Fauci is worried about. He’s worried that Rand Paul is insinuating that somehow he is responsible. He’s not, entirely. But there should be some blame there. There should be some soul-searching.

We should be asking ourselves what exactly we’re funding all over the world, what kind of research we’re funding, and whether or not we trust the people and the players involved in doing this actual research. If you have the ability to kill millions and millions and millions and millions of people through the leakage of something through a mistake, which is likely what happened at the Wuhan Institute, then maybe you shouldn’t be researching it, to begin with.

And I understand the U.S. wants to be involved somehow, someway. But why aren’t we finding ways to do this ourselves with scientists we trust in regions we trust? Think about it. China’s not really our friend, right? Why are we giving so much money and frankly ammunition by way of this research to China?

We’ve got a lot of soul-searching to do, and we ought to think about Anthony Fauci’s role in all of this, and we ought to think about the media’s role in all of this, and we ought to think about the fact that, gosh, Donald Trump was kind of telling us the truth way back when nobody wanted to hear it.

Just a reminder, take it all with a grain of salt, right? When you hear these media reports, think long and hard about where it’s being sourced, where it’s coming from. It’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to have you here as well as my own website,

It’s important to know where you’re getting your information and to be able to trust the entity that’s giving it to you and to understand all sides, right? That’s part of our duty as Americans is to be able to understand all sides.

I am so happy to have with me here on today’s show one of my very, very good friends, someone who actually was all over this story from the very beginning. I’ll tell you, I have a lot of sources. He’s been one of them over the years, and he was somebody that I called right away as this story was breaking. We can go all the way back to January of 2020 and February of 2020.

I asked Gordon Chang, who’s coming up. You can follow him on Twitter, @GordonGChang. I asked him, “Gordon, could this have been malicious? Do you really think it came from a wet market?”

He explained it, and he said, “You know what, Trish, I don’t necessarily think it was malicious, but I don’t think it came from a wet market. I do think that this came from this lab, which is in Wuhan, which is where this all happened. They were doing all this research there. I think it was a mistake, a really, really bad mistake.” And Gordon wants China to be held accountable.

Joining me right now, none other than Gordon Chang. He is perhaps the best expert that you can talk to right now on the China issue. He has devoted his life and his career to studying China and has written numerous books on China. He knows this stuff inside and out.

You know what, I will actually tell everyone a little secret. Gordon, I hope I am not disclosing too much of our friendship, but I remember talking to you in the heat of this story. I called you, and I said, “Gordon, tell me the truth. What do you really think? Is this a wet market or is this deliberate?”

And you cautioned me, and you said, “Trish, I don’t think it was deliberate.” And this is way back in the early days. We’re talking January/February of 2020. You said, “I don’t think it’s deliberate, but I definitely don’t think it was a wet market. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is there, and it’s quite possible that this could have been a mistake, a really, really bad mistake.”

I never revealed my source on that one, but you were one of many that happened to tell me that behind the scenes, that you thought there was a good shot at that. And sure enough, Gordon, now it seems you were really right.

We’re now finally coming full circle, and we are recognizing that this might have been – even Fauci’s admitting it, and I just played the sound. Fauci’s admitting that this could have been a mistake, a leak from the Wuhan lab. You cannot just say it was a naturally occurring event in a wet market.

What’s your take on all of these developments?


Gordon Chang:           Well, now, Trish, it is more and more clear that this was a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. For one thing, scientists, they love this whole theory of wet market zoonotic transfer, in other words, a transfer from a bat to an intermediary mammal to a human.

But the problem with that theory is there is now no evidence for it. Even after a year of intensive search, they have not been able to find the reservoir of the pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, and they have not been able to find the transmission links. They haven’t been able to document them.

The other theory, though, looks extremely probable. We know that the Wuhan Institute was storing more than 1,500 strains of coronavirus. It was involved in dangerous gain-of-function research. Thank you, Dr. Fauci. It wasn’t adhering to safety protocols, and it’s located very close to the first identified case of COVID-19, which by the way had no connection with the wet market. And there’s a lot of other stuff.

But you start putting all this together, and you’re saying, “This really looks like a release from the institute of probably a biological weapon.”


Trish Regan:               Wow. And you know what’s amazing is that the president actually came forward and said this in late April of 2020, and he was made fun of by hosts on CNN and other places because he said that he had seen intelligence that suggested it did come from a leak in the lab. He scolded the WHO for being so unwilling to really examine these things.

What was that about? When you look at it now over a year later and you think about it, it’s like he could say, “It’s sunny out today,” and you could have the clearest skies in the world, and the media would say, “No, it’s really cloudy and rainy.” That was just in part the nature of the beast and what we dealt with during the four years of that administration.

But this was important stuff, and they weren’t willing to believe him. Did you think even then – again I’m just going to cite the information you gave me, which was way back in January or February. You suspected the Wuhan Institute of Virology even back then.

So what is it that the country missed in all that, and what’s the risk now? Because China’s basically had over a year to point the finger and say, “Oh no, It was Italy.” And now they’re talking about a base in Maryland. They’ve got all kinds of conspiracy and wild theories.

They thought that Trump was pushing a conspiracy. They knew better, but they were able to push that narrative with the help of the mainstream media. So how much time have we lost?


Gordon Chang:           Well, it’s difficult to move on because we now have 591,000 Americans who have succumbed to this disease, and what’s really bad is we have a president who doesn’t seem to care. He had a two-hour phone call with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping in February, and Biden admitted he did not raise COVID-19 with the Chinese ruler.

And now the Biden administration, as we heard from Jen Psaki, the press secretary, she said, “Look, we hope that the WHO will look at this.” Well, by the way, the WHO, the World Health Organization, has sent three missions to Wuhan since this disease surfaced, and it’s failed every single time. Three strikes and you’re out. I just don’t get it.

So what the Biden administration is doing is it’s getting behind a solution which cannot succeed, and that puts the American people at risk because Beijing now realizes it’s gotten away with murder, literally and figuratively.


Trish Regan:               Well, people are starting to ask questions now. I also wonder why was there such an effort by the WHO to cover this up? I know they get some funding from China, but they got most of their funding from us. They may not have liked Trump, but still, were they fearful of some kind of World War III scenario?

You said to me before in fact on this very podcast, Gordon, that it was sort of effectively like an act of war, what China did, because they knew about it and then they covered it up. Were they worried that it would somehow escalate into a World War III scenario?


Gordon Chang:           It’s hard for me to figure out other people. But first of all, we should point out that whatever the source of this pathogen, we know that Xi Jinping took steps in December of 2019 and January of 2020 to deliberately spread this disease beyond China’s borders.

He lied about the contagiousness. He knew it was highly contagious but told the world it was not. And then he pressured countries to take arrivals from China without restrictions while he was locking down his own country. Now you put that and some other things together, and it’s clear that this was a deliberate spread beyond China’s borders.

So we’ve got to impose cost, and if we don’t impose cost – even if you don’t care about compensation or justice, we need to impose those costs to deter Xi Jinping from spreading the next pathogen. And the next pathogen could be a civilization killer because we know that China’s working on diseases which would leave the Chinese alone but sicken everybody else.

That means China could end up as the world’s only viable society. So this is the stake for us. We could lose our country. And that’s why it’s so important for us to pressure Biden to do something effective, because right now he’d prefer that this whole thing just go away.


Trish Regan:               Unfortunately, there’s a little too much of that in the administration and in government in general. You and I have spoken before about the threat of an EMP attack. I spoke with Dr. Peter Pry last week, and I encourage people to check out that podcast on American Consequences With Trish Regan as well from last week where he said, “Look, they just don’t – they don’t care enough. They give you lip service. They say, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ “

But there’s a real bureaucratic structure there that makes putting one foot in front of the other darn hard, and they haven’t done anything to protect our grid. It sounds like you’re saying we haven’t done anything to protect ourselves against real biological warfare when it comes to China.

And so this is one of those moments of truth, right? Biden has an opportunity. What would you advise the president to do in this case?


Gordon Chang:           Well, first of all, we need to end all technical cooperation with China, and this is just elemental. Also, I think we need to cut investment and trade because we should not be enriching a regime that just attacked us. And we should be saying to them – look, we can’t force China to open up the books and everything, but we can close our markets to China.

And I know that that’s drastic, but if we don’t do that, what we’re saying is it’s OK for China to kill hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Americans the next time. We cannot allow a “next time” because we may not have a country after that. So we do have to take some drastic steps.

And by the way, you mentioned the electric grid. Just one thing, if I may. President Trump, on May 1, 2020, issued an executive order that prevented utilities and grid operators from buying equipment from China to prevent sabotage.

Well, what did President Biden do the first hours in office? January 2021, he suspended that executive order, allowing the Chinese now to sell sabotaged equipment to the United States. And Biden had the gall after the Colonial Pipeline hack to say that he was protecting the American grid. No, he left it vulnerable to sabotage from China. So this is a dereliction of his duty.


Trish Regan:               Wow. There’s a lot to unpack in all of this. People are worried about a trade war, again? Think Smoot-Hawley tariffs in the 1930s, etc., that really dug us in in bigger ways. And China has become such an integral part of the trade community.

Look, you know me. I’m a real hawk on this stuff, and I tend to be national security first, economics second. And in an ideal world, they kind of work hand-in-hand. Is there a way for us to I hate to say TPP 2.0, but is there a way to – I guess that’s what it would be, and I know that Donald Trump had talked about this.

Is there a way to recreate, Gordon, an influence that would counter China by getting most of the Western world together as a united economic front against the threat that China really is?


Gordon Chang:           Well, it’s going to be hard because China does intimidate other countries, and other country like the Chinese market. But we’re starting to see Europe right now turn its back on China.

For instance, last week the European Parliament froze implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which Beijing and Brussels announced in December of last year… which was a real slap, by the way, on the Biden administration, because they always talked about cooperation with Europe.

So we are starting to see countries come around. Australia has been very stout in this. And I think we’ve just got to show leadership. So far, Biden is not showing the requisite leadership to put that coalition together. He’s done some good things, but not enough considering what China has been doing. This is not going to be easy.


Trish Regan:               May I ask you how much of this was our own doing? Just let me take a little detour because we were looking at some documents, actually.

Senator Rand Paul brought this to light the other day really criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci for some of the initiatives that the National Institutes of Health took, especially when it came to the $600,000 some odd, and I think the most recent grant totaled $3.7 million, worth of EcoHealth grants that were basically funded by the NIH, Anthony Fauci’s NIH, and sent – imagine this – to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for none other than science research into bat coronaviruses.

And in some ways, it kind of feels like this might have been a slightly self-inflicted wound because we trusted the wrong team. We should have known better. For goodness’ sake, the toys that they send from China are lousy. I don’t know why we’re relying on China for such significant scientific research.

Why would that have been? And why, Gordon, wouldn’t Anthony Fauci have come clean about this way back when and said, “Listen, this is serious. I know it’s serious because my institute actually helped fund some of this research, which is a travesty and sad. But nonetheless, we’re aware of how dangerous this can be”?


Gordon Chang:           It’s actually even worse than you said because Fauci’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases not only funded EcoHealth Alliance, which is the New York NGO which then passed the money on to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research into bat coronaviruses, they also were funding gain-of-function experiments, which are essentially China’s biological weapons program.

Now Fauci may have said honestly – who knows – that he didn’t know about the gain-of-function experiments. But he had to know later on because papers were issued by researchers at the Wuhan Institute and others who were describing gain-of-function experiments that the Wuhan Institute was conducting with NIH money.

So this is just a clearer link between the money that came from the federal government in fiscal 2014, that $3.7 million you talked about, and SARS-CoV-2, which is the pathogen causing COVID-19. We can trace it all the way through. They were conducting gain-of-function research there, and that is extremely risky. You couldn’t do it in the U.S., so Fauci decided he was going to fund it in China. Just unbelievable.


Trish Regan:               I understand wanting to have some research on some threats that are out there. That I get. I guess I would just caution that you want to be working with players that you know you can trust and that would abide by the same safety protocols that we would in the U.S. Should he have known better?


Gordon Chang:           Yes. If you can’t do the research in the U.S. because it’s too dangerous, you shouldn’t be doing the research anywhere else. And especially you shouldn’t be doing it in China, which, violating its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention, is actually conducting this gain-of-function research, which is essentially biological weapons research.

This is just horrific, and I think the NIH should hold itself accountable. And if they won’t, the American people need to.


Trish Regan:               He got really angry about this, just so insulted. He was asked in a recent interview if he had a response to Senator Rand Paul, and he just went on a tirade in kind of a CYA moment I guess, Gordon, because it is very clear that he took offense to this.

But, listen. What were you doing funding it, and then why didn’t you tell the world? We had heard that the NIH – we didn’t know that the NIH. We knew that the U.S. government had had a role in funding some of this research. That word was out there.

But then to think that it was Fauci’s own specific group and that he’s offended, he’s angry, when it comes up now.


Gordon Chang:           I think that he is worried about being held accountable because this truth will come out. Money always leaves a trail. We know what EcoHealth Alliance did with the money. We know what the Wuhan Institute of Virology did with the cash, and that was bat coronavirus gain-of-function biological weapons research.

You can go from one dot to the next, and you can draw the links. Fauci, instead of issuing denials, should be apologizing to the American people.


Trish Regan:               We’re talking right now with Gordon Change, @GordonGChang. You can follow him on Twitter, @GordonGChang on Twitter. You can go to his website, He’s the author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, two very aptly named books for this moment in time.

Gordon, give us your crystal ball. Walk us through the next three years. Where are we going to be with China, and what’s your real fear? You’ve spent a lot of time covering this. I know how dedicated you are to it. I’ve seen you and how concerned and really just how much of a priority you have made this in your life trying to fight back against this Chinese regime. What’s your worry?


Gordon Chang:           My big concern is that although the Biden administration will take some steps to protect America, it’s really doing so reluctantly, and it’s only being pressured from below. And so really in my mind, the important dates are 2022 and 2024, where we do have consequential elections because we need leaders who understand the threat from China.

China is malicious beyond belief, and I can sort of understand why Americans don’t fully comprehend what China is doing because it’s very difficult for people in democracies to understand evil. But nonetheless, that’s what we’re dealing with and what I want people to think about because this is my great fear is that we don’t understand that our country is at risk.

It’s not only biological warfare. There’s so many other things that China is doing to destroy our republic. So we do need leaders who fully understand this and who are willing to take those bold steps to defend the American experiment.


Trish Regan:               Well, I think it’s really important that we keep calling attention to it. Thank you for all of your hard work in this space and all that you do. Gordon Chang, thank you again. I encourage everybody to read both of your wonderful books and of course to follow @GordonGChang on Twitter. Gordon, thank you.


Gordon Chang:           Thank you so much, Trish. I really appreciate the opportunity at this consequential time.


Trish Regan:               Awesome. Thank you so much, sir.


Gordon Chang:           Thanks, Trish.


Trish Regan:               Thank you so much for listening, everyone. There are scary times ahead, and we have to be thinking about how we protect ourselves, how we protect our nation, how we protect our families.

It’s one of the reasons why you’ve got to plan for your future, and I encourage you to do that both by going to and reading all of the articles. I write there every week, by the way. You can read my long-form magazine articles. You can read our magazine which I am publisher of. I’m also publisher at

So go there and read that research. Make sure you take that commitment on. Make sure that you are informed because these are challenging times, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, including the fact that we just spent a year believing that this virus came from a Wuhan wet market.

It turns out maybe it was anything but, and it turns out that actually the place that was researching this and probably had the lab leak, well, the National Institutes of Health was funding the research. It’s so convoluted. It’s really messed up.

But you need to take the time to understand it, and I know you do, which is why you’re here and it’s why you’re reading American Consequences, and I appreciate it. So a big thank you to you for that, and I encourage you to keep on reading and to keep on.

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