The Mysterious Dr. Qiu and the ‘Coincidence Theory’ of COVID

“One of two fired scientists at the centre of an RCMP investigation into a massive security breach at Canada’s top infectious-disease laboratory in Winnipeg is working in China and collaborating with researchers from the People’s Liberation Army,” the Globe and Mail reported in February. The fired scientist is Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, someone Americans should get to know, though they may already be familiar with her work in an indirect sort of way.

Already a medical doctor, Qiu obtained her Master of Science degree in immunology at Tianjin Medical University in 1990. She moved to Canada for graduate studies in 1996 and became affiliated with the Institute of Cell Biology and the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. In 1999, that city became the site of Canada’s new National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), which was the nation’s only Level 4 lab. It was authorized to handle pathogens, including Ebola, Lassa, and Nipah viruses.

In 2003, the NML brought Dr. Qui aboard and she undertook academic collaboration with China. In 2006 Dr. Qui began studying powerful viruses, primarily Ebola, as the head of the NML’s Special Pathogens Program. The Chinese national came to the attention of Dr. Dany Shoham, who earned a Ph.D. in medical microbiology from Tel Aviv University and served as a senior analyst for the Israeli Defense Forces, specializing in biological and chemical warfare.

Shoham’s contribution to a volume published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on the COVID crisis, “China and Viruses: The Case of Dr. Xiangguo,” released in July of 2020, revealed that Qiu maintained a close relationship with China. Joining her at the NML were students from facilities that were believed to be involved in Chinese biological weapons development. These included the Institute of Military Veterinary, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chengdu Military Region; the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In 2017 and 2018, Qiu made at least five trips to the WIV and left there a cargo of deadly pathogens.

As Shoham noted, Chinese interest in Ebola, Nipah, Marburg, and Rift Valley fever might possibly go beyond scientific and medical needs. Since only the Nipah virus is naturally found in China or neighboring countries, the interface between Qiu and China was “a priori highly suspicious” and “raises the question of what other shipments of viruses or other items might have been made to China between 2006 and 2018.”

According to reports from Karen Pauls of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), one of Qiu’s trips to China in 2017-18 was to train scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The WIV conducted research with the “most deadly pathogens” and Qui was acting in response to the WIV’s request for samples. The CBC obtained government documents showing that Qiu’s trips to the Wuhan lab were “third party funded,” but the name of the funding party was redacted, and so were the names of her collaborators on the September 2017 trip to China.

The WIV was the ideal place to conduct gain-of-function research that makes viruses more lethal and transmissible. Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), funded the WIV to conduct such research beyond the scrutiny of the U.S. government. Fauci’s own country halted the practice in 2014. In 2017, Fauci had “no doubt” the Trump administration would be surprised with an infectious disease outbreak.

Also affiliated with the NML was Qiu’s husband Keding Cheng, a bacteriologist who had moved into virology. In 2019, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) removed Qiu, her husband and the Chinese graduate students from the NML for what was described as a “policy breach” and administrative matter. When Qiu and Cheng went missing, Canada’s government claimed privacy, policy and administrative concerns and would not even reveal whether Qiu and Cheng were Canadian citizens.

Though out of public view, Qui’s name continued to appear on scientific studies, and she was listed as an inventor on two patents filed by Chinese agencies in 2017 and 2019, a violation of Canadian policy. The NML’s Gary Kobinger, who won a Governor General’s award with Qiu in 2018, told the CBC Dr. Qiu was unaware that her name had been added to the patents and that “she herself” reported the other one.

In January 2020, the same month China and Viruses appeared, Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced the arrival in the United States of a “new virus,” a “novel coronavirus” that originated in the “Wuhan market” and which was likely to spread across country. When reporters asked about travel from Wuhan, Messonnier said she wasn’t at liberty to talk about it. Messonnier’s telebriefings continued into March until she was replaced by Dr. Fauci.

The NIAID boss contended that the virus originated in nature, a matter of speculation, not science, which relies on measurement, testing, and replication. Any suggestion that the virus was biologically engineered or escaped from a laboratory Dr. Fauci denounced as a conspiracy theory, and he was seconded by the government health establishment.

The Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) in Texas, a biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) facility created by NIAID, was a close collaborator with the WIV. Former GNL director James LeDuc contended that the COVID virus arose naturally in the wild, with no human agency involved. As LeDuc told The Daily News of Galveston County, “the Chinese just happened to be in the place where this was discovered. These things happen.”

According to coincidence theory, Fauci’s funding of the WIV for gain-of-function research indicates no collaboration between the American public health establishment and China’s government. In similar style, Fauci’s prediction that the Trump administration would experience a sudden infectious disease outbreak had nothing to do with the COVID pandemic that caused death and destruction around the world.

According to coincidence theory, Dr. Qiu’s trips to the WIV, with cargoes of deadly pathogens, could have nothing to do with China’s biological weapons development in general, or the COVID pandemic in particular. Likewise, there was no possibility that Qiu was a Chinese agent all along, and that the PRC had been exploiting the NML while the Trudeau government looked the other way. And Qui’s patents, for which she filed China in violation of Canadian law, do not tell us anything about her loyalties. It was all simply coincidental, pure happenstance.

Dr. Qui has now gone back to China, but Keding Cheng’s whereabouts are unknown. According to coincidence theory, that cannot possibly mean that the pair were never really married, but partners in an espionage operation. Qiu’s continued collaboration with the People’s Liberation Army cannot mean that something like COVID could happen again, or that the threat of biological warfare from China should be taken seriously. It was all a matter of coincidence, and as James LeDuc said “these things happen.”

While director of the Galveston National Laboratory, LeDuc signed agreements with three Chinese labs, including the WIV, giving China the power to destroy “secret files, materials and equipment, without any backups.” The agreements applied to “all cooperation and exchange documents, data, details and materials,” were renewable every five years, and confidentiality terms remained in force even after the agreement was terminated.

LeDuc also helped WIV scientists avoid scrutiny over China’s role in the pandemic. This came to light through a request from U.S Right to Know, not from open disclosure by the GNL, the NIH, NIAID, or James LeDuc, who retired from the GNL in 2020. The new director of the GNL is Gary Kobinger, Dr. Qiu’s former colleague at the NML and her staunchest defender. In the government health establishment, these things happen.

Editor’s note: this article is adapted from Lloyd’s forthcoming book Coincidence Theory.

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