The World Health Organization has sent a team of experts to Beijing to try to pin down the exact origin of the coronavirus. The NY Times reports China is spinning this as a sign of their openness and transparency but in reality China has been resisting this investigation for months. And even now there is reason to think the CCP will do whatever it takes to make sure China comes out looking good, whether it deserves to or not.
With relations between China and Western countries deteriorating rapidly over military, technology, trade and human rights concerns, experts worry that Beijing will seek to limit the scope of the research so that it does not embarrass the government.
“The whole political landscape is not favorable to doing an unbiased scientific investigation,” said Wang Linfa, a virologist in Singapore who took part in a similar W.H.O. study in China during the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003. “I feel sorry for the team members.”
The Chinese government initially covered up the SARS outbreak, but Mr. Wang said it was later eager to cooperate with the international experts. This time, he said, the W.H.O.’s investigation was likely to be largely symbolic because the broader geopolitical climate could make Chinese experts unwilling to share valuable research…
While the Chinese government has said it welcomes an inquiry, officials have not yet provided details about their own efforts to trace the origins of the virus. Research into the matter has in several cases been blocked or delayed, Chinese scientists say.
The Times reported back in February that the CDC and WHO had been awaiting an offer to investigate the source of the virus but the invitation never came. That situation has continued until now. In April China’s education ministry put out a memo stating that limited the publication of research on the origin of the virus. CNN reported at the time that a Chinese researcher (who remained anonymous for obvious reasons) saw it as an attempt to control the narrative:
“I think it is a coordinated effort from (the) Chinese government to control (the) narrative, and paint it as if the outbreak did not originate in China,” the researcher told CNN. “And I don’t think they will really tolerate any objective study to investigate the origination of this disease.”
In May, WHO was still waiting for that invitation to be part of an investigation into the virus’ origin but at the time it seemed China had decided to run it’s own investigation.
“We know that some national investigation is happening but at this stage we have not been invited to join,” Dr Gauden Galea said.
“WHO is making requests of the health commission and of the authorities,” he said.
Later that month, the Wall Street Journal noted that China had still not released information on samples it collected from animals at the Wuhan market before it was shut down. But a Columbia University virologist said he’d heard from Chinese colleagues that Chinese attempts to identify the source had failed:
Dr. Lipkin, who also helped tackle SARS, said that George Gao, the China CDC chief, was initially convinced that the culprit was a bamboo rat, a rodent often sold as meat in China.
“After they went through and did this exhaustive search of the live and the dead and the frozen animals in various freezers, and they didn’t come up with anything, they had to revise their model,” said Dr. Lipkin.
He said Dr. Gao had told him that Chinese scientists had found the virus in the environmental samples but had been unable to identify which animal they likely came from.
China didn’t want to invite outsiders in to examine the source of the virus when China itself had failed to identify it. More specifically, the fact that none of the animals from the market seemed to have the virus may suggest that it didn’t originate there at all. And if that’s so, it raises uncomfortable questions about where it did arise and when.
Given the CCP’s behavior over the past six months it seems very unlikely WHO investigations are being invited in for an open-ended investigation whose conclusions are unknown. The question then is this: Did China finally invite the WHO to investigate its data because it has successfully worked out the source for itself? Alternatively, did they invite WHO in because they have finally worked out a convincing cover story which fits with their propaganda narrative?
China has been involved in a cover up since at least January, even making doctors who spoke up about the truth disappear. For much of that time the WHO has been acting as a useful idiot, repeating to the world whatever lies China told them. So there’s not much reason to hope we’ll get reliable information out of this investigation.