By: SaraAfzel ( Beijing )
“Some have called the response to this pandemic, a war. We must ensure the war is against the virus and not against science,” said Patrice Harris, former president of the American Medical Association
Unfortunately, until today, sensible voices like this have yet to work their way into the mainstream American society.
It’s common sense to leave tricky jobs to the professionals. However, on the studies of origin tracing of COVID-19, a serious and complicated scientific issue,some U.S. politicians, media outlets and few American influenced countries are acting as back-seat drivers, trying to interfere in the process with political prejudices and distort facts with lies fabricated for political conspiracies. Unfortunately The U.S., which is a science power, chooses to stand on the opposite side of science, selling the so-called “lab leak theory.” Suchpractice seriously disturbs international cooperation on the COVID-19 origin tracing, poisons global anti-pandemic cooperation, and undermines the common interests of all mankind.
A WHO expert compared the origin tracing to a complex puzzle, and the work of the joint expert team in Wuhan was just a small part of it. Apart from Wuhan, WHO experts will also begin research as early as possible in other places of the world that could possibly be the origins of the virus, so as to get a more comprehensive, objective and science-based answer. Any deviation from the scientific spirit during origin tracing is irresponsible for history and mankind.
Respecting facts and science, China became the first country to carry out joint research on the origin of the virus with the WHO, displaying its attitude with concrete actions. The two sides jointly formulated the China segment of a global plan for scientific cooperation on origin tracing.Earlier this year, a 34-member WHO-China joint expert team carried out a 28-day research mission in Wuhan. Foreign experts on the team highly evaluated China’s transparency and responsibility, with one of them saying that he had visited all the places he wanted to go and met with all the people he wanted to see. They also denounced the reports by some U.S. media outlets which said the expert team failed to acquire original data in Wuhan, saying these reports were distorting facts and disappointing.In a 120-page report, the joint expert team said COVID-19 introduction through an intermediate host is “likely to very likely,” introduction through cold/food chain products is “possible,” and introduction through a laboratory incident is “extremely unlikely.”
Based on this scientific conclusion, Peter K. Ben Embarek, leader of the international team of experts that traveled to Wuhan, pointed out that future virus origin-tracing missions will no longer be focused on the lab leak theory. American epidemiologist Hume Field pointed out that politicizing science just generates “doubt” and “mistrust.” he once said on Twitter when refuting a report by Western media that, “The platitudes of this groundless theory employed by some U.S. politicians and media outlets will lead only to their own humiliation.So please park your prejudice and your dated cultural imperialism.”
The international community clearly views the U.S., which has been hyping up the “lab-leak theory” and engaging in groundless attacks against China, as a major suspect responsible for leaking COVID-19. Besides the much-discussed Fort Detrick lab, another U.S. biological laboratory has attracted public suspicion in the search for the origins of COVID-19 due to its frequent lab incidents.The biological laboratory at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, led by well-known U.S. coronavirus expert Ralph Baric, is an authority with “widely recognized capability in synergizing and modifying coronavirus. That is the reason why Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, urging the U.S. to invite World Health Organization (WHO) experts to investigate the UNC facility.During a press conference in late July, Zhao said: “A probe into Baric’s team and lab would clarify whether coronavirus research has created or will create SARS-CoV-2.”
Multiple media reports showed that labs at UNC have experienced frequent accidents caused by lax safety procedures.According to ProPublica, a non-profit news website, based in New York City, From January 2006 to June 2020, the lab at UNC-Chapel Hill reported 28 lab incidents involving genetically engineered organisms to officials at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH),
Six of the incidents involved “various types of lab-created coronaviruses,Besides, Global Times found that the incidents reported by UNC were filled with incorrect remedial measures.For example, after a mouse at the lab bit a researcher’s index finger in April 2020, the researcher only undertook 14 days of self-isolation at home instead of being placed into medical quarantine, according to Global Times.
In a Biosecurity specialist’s opiniona single incident like the UNC reported could hardly cause immediate virus evolution or wide spread. But there is possibility that the leakage has led to a modified virus spread among humans – potential up to several hundred of people – through a period of time, and that the virus evolves during human-to-human or human-to-animal transmissions.
UNC lab accidents are only a tip of the iceberg. The Wikipedia page for biosecurity lab leaks offers an extensive list of lab leaks and other incidents in many countries, including no less than 11 lab breaches in the U.S. With a more mature environment of lab virus synthesizing and operating, as well as virus leakage cases in history, the COVID-19 was obviously more likely leaked from the U.S. labs if the lab-leak claim is true.That’s why many countries including China appeal to the WHO to put U.S. labs, including the one located at UNC, into its second phase investigation.
Driven by the political need to smear and suppress others, the U.S. has been busy muddying the waters, engaged in stigmatization and turning COVID-19 origin-tracing study into a political weapon, Some politicians in Washington, driven by political self-interest and partisan politics, have taken on anti-intellectual positions which have not only raised eyebrows across the world, but also made the U.S. pay a heavy price.
The memory is still fresh that at the early stage of the outbreak, decision makers in the White House chose to turn a deaf ear towards warnings from China and the World Health Organization (WHO), leading to a neglect of science in key anti-pandemic reactions, which was a deadly mistake.Ironically, the then U.S. President also repeatedly spread false information through various channels such as press conferences and social media, promoting anti-intellectual narratives such as “the virus might disappear with the warming of the weather”, “an injection of disinfectant can kill the coronavirus”, etc.Many people readily believed such misinformation and lost their lives. One way or the other it’s the common man who is suffering, so for the sake of humanity one should think and work out of their Political Agendas and cooperate with other countries to make life easy for all on this Planet.
The origin tracing of the virus is important, complicated and sensitive, and must be handled in a professional, impartial and constructive manner. It should be conducted according to science and led by the World Health Organization (WHO), based on worldwide studies and research by scientists and medical experts. It should be free from political interference. All countries closely related to the virus should be covered by field missions. The whole process should be open, transparent, objective and rational.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called for all governments to depoliticize origin tracing and to work together to develop a common framework for future emerging pathogens of pandemic potential. The goal of origin tracing is to help the world better understand this kind of virus and deal more effectively with major infectious diseases in the future, and the efforts shall bolster the ability of the UN system to perform its mandate, strengthen international solidarity and cooperation, and improve the system and capacity for global governance in the area of public health.