Right Angle – Will China ever come clean on Corona?
With no respite from the attacks of the Covid 19 virus even after more than a year, suspicions in the social media the world over are becoming stronger with each passing day about China’s role in the outbreak of the unprecedented pandemic.
Did the virus jump naturally from wildlife (bats) to people in the laboratory of China’s Wuhan city, something the Chinese and the World Health Organisation (WHO) would like the world believe in?
Or, did the virus that was under study in the Wuhan lab escape accidentally?
There is a corollary to the above question. Was this virus in the Wuhan lab man-made to be used as a tool of biological warfare?
Till March this year, the first question and the Chinese answer were taken seriously by international community; but over the last two months the second and third questions are being taken more seriously.
A recent opinion poll in Russia said that close to two out of three Russians believe that the coronavirus was a man-made biological weapon. The poll findings distinctly displayed distrust towards authorities, fuelled by the lack of transparency during the pandemic.
The survey conducted by the independent Levada Centre showed 64 percent of respondents saying that COVID-19 was artificially created and is a “new form of biological weapon”. Only 23 percent believed the virus appeared “without human intervention”.
The new Biden Administration in the United States has further lent credence to the voices worried over the lack of transparency on the part of China over the Covid-19. It has raised concerns over a recent WHO report that seems to have given a clean chit to China , with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioning Chinese influence over the report, which was prepared by an “Independent Panel” of the WHO and released fully on May 12.
In their meeting on May 13 at the US capital Washington DC, Blinken and visiting Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne jointly called for greater transparency from China over the origins of SARSCov2 (Covid-19) and said that there should be an independent international objective review into Covid-19 origins and impact”.
On May 14, a group of 18 eminent scientists have appealed through the famous journal “Science” that “As scientists with relevant expertise, we agree with the WHO director-general, the United States and 13 other countries, and the European Union that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve. We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spill-overs seriously until we have sufficient data. A proper investigation should be transparent, objective, data-driven, inclusive of broad expertise, subject to independent oversight, and responsibly managed to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest. Public health agencies and research laboratories alike need to open their records to the public. Investigators should document the veracity and provenance of data from which analyses are conducted and conclusions drawn, so that analyses are reproducible by independent experts.”
Chinese influence over reports on Covi-19 published in famous international journals became evident when last year on February 9, 2020, the famous medical journal “Lancet” published a letter by a group of virologists that condemned “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. It was subsequently found out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by one Peter Daszak, President of “the EcoHealth Alliance” of New York that had funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Incidentally, other American organisations have also invested in the Wuhan lab, including Anthony Stephen Fauci, the Chief medical Advisor to the US President, who also heads NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).
American investments in this laboratory is now coming under clouds, though virologist like Daszak argue that they wanted to “safely” create virus more than those that exist in nature so as to get ahead of nature , predict and prevent natural “spill-overs,” the cross-over of viruses from an animal host to people.
However, what has been the most “shocking” revelation in the last fortnight is the publication of a document in “the Australian” newspaper’s “Weekend” edition that found that Chinese scientists and health officials were discussing a “new era of genetic weapons” that could be “artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus, then weaponised and unleashed”. The document was written in 2015, five years before the coronavirus pandemic but known very well to the US Department of State.
Titled ‘The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bio-weapons’, the report published in the paper said that the discussions between the Chinese officials suggested that the third world war would be fought with biological weapons.
Many leading experts all over the world have verified the authenticity of the above document. They include Dr Le-meng Yan, who recently told a Indian television channel (India Today) that she had worked in Hong Kong and was working on the origins of the Coronavirus, that the Coronavirus was manufactured in the Wuhan lab, that she was warned not to disclose the findings of her research and that she later fled the country and took shelter in US. According to her, the Chinese Communist Party was working on the bio-weapon since long.
Similarly, according to Dr. Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois (he had drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 that was approved unanimously by both Houses of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush), “the 2019 Wuhan Coronavirus is an offensive Biological Warfare Weapon and that the World Health Organization (WHO) already knows about it”. He believes that the virus “escaped’ the Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory (BSL-4), the newest laboratory of Wuhan Institute of Virology and “this virus is potentially lethal and an offensive biological warfare weapon or dual-use biowarfare weapons agent genetically modified with gain of function properties, which is why the Chinese government originally tried to cover it up and is now taking drastic measures to contain it”.
Nicholas Wade (a science writer, editor, and author who has worked on the staff of Nature, Science, and, for many years, the New York Times), who has written a detailed report on May 5 in the highly prestigious “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” concludes that the theory that the virus emerged out of the Chinese laboratory has “substantial merits”.
Wade also explains that if until recently the Western or for that matter the American scientists did not talk about it, that was mainly due to the fact that “Government research funds are distributed on the advice of committees of scientific experts drawn from universities. Anyone who rocks the boat by raising awkward political issues runs the risk that their grant will not be renewed and their research career will be ended”.
He specifically mentions in this regard the examples of Daszak and Fauci and the names in the list of recipients of an $82 million grant announced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in August 2020.
“The US government shares a strange common interest with the Chinese authorities: Neither is keen on drawing attention to the fact that Shi’s coronavirus work(in Wuhan lab) was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. One can imagine the behind-the-scenes conversation in which the Chinese government says, ‘If this research was so dangerous, why did you fund it, and on our territory too?’ To which the US side might reply, ‘Looks like it was you who let it escape. But do we really need to have this discussion in public?’”, writes Wade.
Viewed thus, can the world afford the lack of clarity, once and for all, on the true nature of Covid 19? Will it continue to live on disinformation and influence operations abroad, which mostly have gone in favour of China?
All told, the question remains as to why did China stop flights from Wuhan to the rest of the country after the Covid-19 outbreak, and yet allowed international flights to operate from Wuhan, thus facilitating the global spread of the virus? Besides, why did it clamp down subsequently on further research by Chinese scientists into the origins of the virus?
These questions, it seems, will be asked more and more all over the world in the coming days.
(This piece first appeared in the Eurasiantimes.com)