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Reporter Emily Kopp discusses legal agreement between Wuhan and US labs

U.S. Right to Know reporter Emily Kopp joined Hill.TV’s “Rising” on Wednesday to discuss a legal agreement between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and a partner lab in Texas that allows for certain records to potentially be deleted.

Kopp, who explained that the agreement predated the pandemic, questioned why the agreement exists at all and why the publicly funded U.S. lab would agree to it.

“I think there are a lot of unknowns here,” Kopp said of the agreement, known as a memorandum of understanding. 

The agreement specifically says that the Wuhan lab and the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch can request that the other lab delete documents and data surrounding their collaborative work, according to U.S. Right to Know.

“There are some sort of clunky or unusual provisions in this that suggest it might have been written by Chinese partners and sort of agreed to by the lab in Texas,” Kopp said.

“If this was, you know, purely academic work, typically we would want that work to benefit society and to be public, so why was there this requirement that if either of the labs asked, all of the data and documents related to this collaboration would be deleted?” she asked.

The lab responded to U.S. Right to Know with a statement that it complies with all legal requirements related to making public information surrounding its work accessible.

“As a government-funded entity, UTMB is required to comply with applicable public information law obligations, including the preservation of all documentation of its research and findings,” Christopher Smith, a spokesman for the lab, said in a statement to the organization.

“All research at UTMB is subjected to a rigorous and transparent pre-experiment approval protocol, including involvement and oversight by scientific experts who helped design federal guidelines,” Smith added.

Kopp also noted that U.S. Right to Know has been criticized for their work looking into this matter by people who consider the possibility that COVID-19 originated in a lab to be a conspiracy theory. 

“Our organization gets a lot of flack just for looking into this, and so any reporter who wants to sort of investigate this very real possibility – this very possible connection between the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan CDC lab and SARS-CoV-2- risks being called a conspiracy theorist,” she also said.

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