On March 3, researchers at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy published “Censured Contagion,” a report that meticulously documents a timeline and body of facts that paint quite a different picture than the WHO report, and placing WHO’s accolades for China’s “response structures” that were “rapidly put in place” in doubt. The WHO report concludes that the beginning of the epidemic was December 30, 2019, with the collection of samples from a pneumonia patient in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. Data provided in graphics in the report show essentially zero cases before that date.

Yet the Munk School researchers found that censorship of certain keywords in social media had already begun by then. They highlight social-media reports during the prior week by doctors reporting an unknown pathogen, linking it to the Wuhan seafood market. By December 31, social-media channels, including WeChat, were already censoring the terms “Wuhan seafood market” and “unknown Wuhan pneumonia.”