Health

Unsafe practices at Wuhan coronavirus lab call into question origin of outbreak

Salaam Times

image

A nurse prepares equipment in an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients at a hospital in Wuhan, China in February. [STR/AFP]

US officials in 2018 issued several warnings about a research lab in Wuhan, China, saying it had inadequate safety measures while conducting risky studies on bat coronaviruses, the very type of virus that has upended the world in 2020, the Washington Post reported Tuesday (April 14).

The revelations strengthen speculation that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 did not come from a wet market, as Chinese authorities assert at times, but rather from a government-funded lab.

The US Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending top science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2018. WIV at the time issued a news release in English about these visits but last week removed them from its website, the report said.

The messages from US State Department officials warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help, with specific concern over the "lab's work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission" and how it represented "a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic".

image

Security personnel wearing face masks stand in front of the Wuhan Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China on April 11, 2020. [Noel Celis/AFP]

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic originated in China in late 2002 and caused more than 8,000 cases worldwide in 2003.

"During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory," warned one of the 2018 messages.

There is no strong evidence that the virus was engineered, as some conspiracists allege; scientists largely agree it came from animals.

Just because it came from animals, however, does not discount that the virus could have come from the WIV lab, which spent years testing bat coronaviruses in animals, said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley.

It is unclear whether the novel coronavirus originated in the Wuhan lab, but the concerns about the lab are very real, he told the Washington Post.

"I don't think it's a conspiracy theory. I think it's a legitimate question that needs to be investigated and answered," he said. "To understand exactly how this originated is critical knowledge for preventing this from happening in the future."

Rewriting history

Beijing for months has attempted to deflect blame for the coronavirus pandemic by spreading conspiracy theories.

After officials realised that the virus that originated in China was wreaking untold global havoc, the Chinese disinformation machine began working.

The European Union, NATO, and the G7 have all come out against the Chinese regime for continuing to spread damaging disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, endangering lives worldwide and undermining democratic societies.

International concern is also growing about the accuracy of the information coming from Chinese officials, who now claim there are no new cases of the virus in Wuhan, where the virus originated.

If Chinese officials had been transparent about the novel coronavirus at the beginning, the world would be in a much better position right now to battle COVID-19, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading figure in the world's efforts to defeat the pandemic.

Now China is attempting to appear as a benevolent power amid the crisis, exporting medical equipment all around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

However, a growing number of nations are complaining about substandard or faulty medical products, while Beijing earns millions from their sale.

Do you like this article?

2 Comment
* Denotes required field Comment Policy 1500 characters remaining (1500 max)

The outbreak of the virus, whether transmitted from animal meat or from scientific laboratory works, has occurred in China, and China is responsible for that. China must give clarity and respond to the world about the spread of the coronavirus.

Reply

All the powerful countries in the world, including China, the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, and France, are responsible for all the miseries in the world. They are responsible for all civil wars, which are going on in various countries around the world, including Afghanistan. They are responsible for warming the climate. The scientists who have been hired by these countries to destroy the nature every day and carry out illegal excavations. They go to the forests and study animals. What do they have to do with the animals that God has created? Why don't they leave them to go their way? Why do these countries make atomic or nuclear weapons? Why have these countries built laboratories to study dangerous things? Only China is not responsible for spreading the corona virus; the United States and three other countries that are permanent members of the UN Security Council are also responsible. When China was doing unsafe practices in its laboratories, Why didn't the United States and other countries ask China to stop doing this, while the United States and other countries were aware of them? For these countries, neither the health of their own people nor the health of the people of other countries is important. Thousands of people lose their lives every day in the United States, Italy, France, and other countries due to the corona disease. It is clear that neither the children of Trump nor the children of any other country’s leader are dying in that. All of them are poor people of the world.

Reply