The World Health Organization sent a team to Wuhan this month to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus. (Better late than never, I guess.) That move comes in the midst of global media reports about China’s many deceptions regarding not only where the disease came from, but how quickly it spread, how many people were originally affected and the level of success they achieved in controlling it. You might think that in a toxic atmosphere like this, a bit of transparency would be helpful, but then again, you’re probably not part of the Chinese Communist Party. State-run media in China is moving in the complete opposite direction, leaking out rumors that the Pfizer vaccine is potentially deadly to the elderly and that the virus was actually created in an American bioweapons laboratory to target Asians. And you thought fake news in America was bad. (Associated Press)

Chinese state media have played up questions about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and whether it could be lethal to the very old. A government spokesperson suggests the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab.

As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China’s vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID response, it is hitting back by encouraging fringe theories that some experts say could cause harm.

State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the ongoing rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a WHO team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus.

Yes, the CCP is clearly ginning up the idea that older people are dropping dead right and left after getting the Pfizer vaccine, despite a total lack of evidence of anything widespread beyond a handful of anticipated allergic reactions. But that’s really not the point. Anything they can do to undermine America’s image is fair game these days. If anyone thought that all of this nonsense was going to stop just because Joe Biden took office, you’re in for a sad disappointment.

Even more disturbing is the government-endorsed rumor that the virus originated in an American military laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland. The hashtag #FortDetrick is getting a lot of play on Twitter this week, with most of it coming from Asia. A separate hashtag launched by the Communist Youth League in China reportedly amassed more than 1.4 billion hits in the past week. This thing is spreading like wildfire and the CCP is at the bottom of it.

The problem is that we still don’t have any sort of definitive answer to respond to such conspiracy theories yet. It’s pretty much certain that the virus first cropped up in Wuhan, China. But beyond that, we haven’t been given the data to target the exact source. In the early days of the pandemic, we were told that it erupted from the wet markets, which sounded believable enough to the layman. But later, questions arose as to whether or not it had been cooked up in a laboratory over there and gotten loose. At the more extreme end of the spectrum, it’s been suggested that the Chinese intentionally unleashed it on their own people.

Since the Chinese government has obviously been lying about many aspects of this pandemic from the beginning, the job of the WHO team is going to be all the more difficult. Getting honest answers out of them about their labs and research is probably going to turn into a situation similar to the IAEA trying to get Iran to open up their nuclear facilities. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect any extraordinary amount of pressure to be applied by the Biden administration, but I’ll be quite pleased if I’m proven wrong on that score.

I suppose the remaining question here is how much this research into the origins of the virus really matters at this point. The virus is here. Heck… it’s everywhere. And it’s not going away. All we can really do is continue developing vaccines and working on more effective treatments for those who contract COVID. If we can eventually beat it down to the point where it’s no more of a threat than the seasonal flu, that’s probably about the best we can hope for.