A Fact sheet by United States Department released on January 15th shows discrepancies in activities within the Wuhan Institute of Virology(VIW) in China while trying to ascertain the origin of the coronavirus. The fact sheet begins by mentioning that the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) has hidden facts for more than a year. “For more than a year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin, choosing instead to devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation. Nearly two million people have died. Their families deserve to know the truth. Only through transparency can we learn what caused this pandemic and how to prevent the next one.” Says the Fact Sheet.
While the paper talks about there still being no clarity on whether the virus originated from human contact with infected animals spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic or from the VIW where a few people showed signs of asymptomatic infection.
The fact sheet mentions, “CCP’s deadly obsession with secrecy and control comes at the expense of public health in China and around the world.” And goes on to talk about three elements about the origin of COVID-19.
The first element that the Fact sheet focusses upon is the illnesses within the VIW. “The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”
“This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses.” They also draw parallels with the 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing which infected nine and killed one.
The fact sheet directly accuses China of stopping people who raised plausible questions over the origin of the coronavirus. “The CCP has prevented independent journalists, investigators and global health authorities from interviewing researchers at the WIV, including those who were ill in the fall of 2019. Any credible inquiry into the origin of the virus must include interviews with these researchers and a full accounting of their previously unreported illness.”
The second element focuses on the research inside the VIW since 2016 related to the RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020. Though this was much before the coronavirus came into existence, the question that the US government raises is that when studies were conducted related to strains close to the COVID-19, why there was no transparency or consistency in studying viruses similar to COVID-19?
The World Health Organization(WHO) too has been questioned which had records before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. “WHO investigators must have access to the records of the WIV’s work on bat and other coronaviruses before the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of a thorough inquiry, they must have a full accounting of why the WIV altered and then removed online records of its work with RaTG13 and other viruses.”
The US government also says that secrecy and non-disclosure are a standard practice of Beijing. “For many years the United States has publicly raised concerns about China’s past biological weapons work, which Beijing has neither documented nor demonstrably eliminated, despite its clear obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.”
China has been accused of conducting military experiments with China’s military. “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 WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017.”
“The United States and other donors who funded or collaborated on civilian research at the WIV have a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV.”
The US government seems determined to expose China’s role in concealing the origin and outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This even as the world is still grappling with the number of deaths as the vaccines have just been released in various parts of the world in hope of controlling the spread of the coronavirus.