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COVID-19 origins: Investigating a ‘complex and grave situation’ inside a Wuhan lab

Toy Reid ’00. Photo: Mark Peterson, Redux for Vanity Fair.

Last updated October 30, 2022

By Tina Underwood

Toy Reid’s skill for languages has placed the 2000 Furman University Asian studies/civilization alumnus at the center of a Senate-led investigative report to uncover the source of the COVID-19 virus. Was the pandemic the result of wildlife-borne pathogens circulating in China’s Hubei Province wet markets? Or was it a result of scientific lab experiments gone awry?

To home in on an answer, Reid, who became fluent in Chinese after graduating Furman, pored over hundreds of documents and dispatches from state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in his role with the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP), which issued an interim report. It concluded that the COVID-10 pandemic was “more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.”

A story about the translational work was jointly published by ProPublica and Vanity Fair.

Reid grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. A diplomat and political reporting officer at the U.S. Department of State, he studied Japanese while at Furman, then attended Harvard to earn his master’s in East Asian studies and religion. He sharpened his Chinese language and literature skills at National Taiwan University.


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