A CHINESE military scientist filed a patent for a Covid vaccine before the pandemic was declared and mysteriously died just weeks later.
Yusen Zhou, who worked for the People’s Liberation Army, lodged the paperwork on behalf of the Chinese political party on February 24 last year, according to reports.
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The first case of Covid was reported in Wuhan in December, 2019 – but the World Health Organisation did not declare a pandemic until March 11, 2020.
It means the vaccine patent was filed just a short time after China first admitted there was human-to-human transmission of Covid – and two weeks before a pandemic was officially declared.
"This is something we have never seen achieved before, raising the question of whether this work may have started much earlier," Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, of Flinders University, told The Australian.
According to newspaper, Zhou "worked closely" with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, including Shi Zhengli – dubbed "batwoman" for her work on coronavirus in bats.
But Zhou mysteriously died less than three months after he filed the patent for the vaccine.
And according to The New York Post, Zhou's death in May last year was only reported in one Chinese media report, despite the fact he was one of the country's leading scientists.
Before working for the PLA, Zhou had strong ties to the United States and carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The close working relationship between the two countries supports declassified US intelligence released in January which said the Wuhan lab was conducting "secret military activity," The Australian reports.
"Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military," the intelligence stated, according to the New York Post.
Zhou's mysterious death is reportedly being probed by US President Joe Biden's new investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
Last month, Biden said the US intelligence community will "redouble their efforts" to discover the origins of the Covid outbreak and report back to him within 90 days.
The spies will be investigating whether the virus jumped from an animal host to humans or whether it was accidentally released from the lab in Wuhan.
The theory that the pandemic was caused by a lab leak has become increasingly mainstream in recent weeks despite being condemned as a conspiracy theory over the past year and a half.
It comes after a bombshell study claimed Chinese scientists created Covid in the Wuhan lab before orchestrating an elaborate cover-up.
The report written by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr. Birger Sørensen alleges that China reverse-engineered versions of the disease to make it seem like it was naturally sourced from bats.
The authors of the 22-page vaccine paper said "SARS-Coronavirus-2" – the technical name for the virus – has no credible "natural ancestor".
They said it is "beyond reasonable doubt" that the disease was produced through "laboratory manipulation".
And in an explosive twist, the scientists place blame squarely on the same Chinese lab researchers in Wuhan for attempting to cover their tracks.
There was "deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data" in Chinese labs and "Chinese scientists who wished to share their knowledge have not been able to do so or have disappeared," the report said.
It is slated to be published in the scientific journal Quarterly Review of Biophysics Discovery, and was first reported by the Daily Mail.
The absence of crucial scientific proof may prove to make it impossible to know exactly how the coronavirus originated and then spread around the world, the experts admit.
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