Viral Blame Game

According to the South China Morning Post, November 17, 2019 marks the first documented case of COVID-19 in China. Impossible to say if this individual was patient zero. If we’re to believe official statements by China, infections grew to 60 by December 20, 2019. On December 27th, Dr. Zhang Jixian, head of the respiratory department at Hubei Provincial Hospital in Wuhan, confirmed the disease was caused by a novel coronavirus. On that day, official case count stood at 160. Viral videos of Wuhan’s “wet market”, clips of fine dining delicacies like whole bats or live baby mice in broth, cemented China’s official party line – COVID can be traced to Wuhan’s wet market. China closed the market in January 2020, sanitizing it without taking samples. In May 2020, China admitted it wasn’t the market, offering no idea where it came from.

In late 2017, science and health officials from the U.S. Embassy attended a conference in Beijing. They witnessed a presentation by Chinese scientists working out of a top level bio-safety lab in Wuhan. Research indicating bat caves in Yunnan Province were probable source of the SARS outbreak and identification of three new coronavirus characterized by a “spike protein” conducive to “grabbing” on to human lung cells known as ACE2 receptors. According to Politico (article linked below) officials at the U.S. Embassy sent teams to inspect the lab on three occasions in late 2017, early 2018. The article alleges – “When they sat down with the scientists at the WIV, the American diplomats were shocked by what they heard. The Chinese researchers told them they didn’t have enough properly trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 lab. The Wuhan scientists were asking for more support to get the lab up to top standards.” Shocked enough to alert Washington, warn of potential implications and call for immediate assistance to meet safety standards. Pleas lost in a quagmire of political posturing. A warning no one listened to?

Not so fast. Since when does China allow top level bio-security scientists to speak off the record to U.S. diplomats? Admit they’re incapable of managing containment and security?

Much as I’m leaning toward credibility of a lab breach and cover-up, I struggle with accuracy of Politico’s account. Read the article and let me know what you think.

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened. – POLITICO

A view of the P4 lab inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A view of the P4 lab inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology. | AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

14 thoughts on “Viral Blame Game

  1. Hello Notes to Ponder. I am not sure of the facts surrounding the virus, but I do think it was a mistake for the US to withdraw our people and support from the labs when we did. Hugs

  2. Quite a long and complex article! I have mixed feelings regarding the whole scenario simply because governments are involved and the blame game is always predominant, e.g., from the article: a debate that had already gone from a scientific and forensic question to a hot-button political issue.

    One wonders if we will ever know. One thing is for certain — if/when a new virus hits the world in a few years, the whole blame game will begin anew.

  3. When I get a flue, I’m far more concerned about getting better and not pass it on than finding our who infected me. What’s the point?

    These coronaviruses have been around for a long time and they are always mutating. Their mission is to replicate and thrive, like every species. Some will find a fertile ground at wet markets, or in labs or better still in the stupidity of the human species. The good news is, a doctor explained to me, that the most successful viruses do not kill their hosts since that is not a good survival strategy.

    Politicising blame is just that, politics. If that helps to priotirize the cause and develop cures for killer flues, that’s OK. If not, that’s OK too. Just another day.

  4. The Chinese regime is a Third World fascist dictatorship; its propensity for lying is surpassed only by its incompetence. It’s perfectly possible that the lab was studying viruses and something got loose due to inadequate safety precautions (although Western research has concluded that the virus is of natural origin and not an engineered bio-weapon, as the article acknowledges). On the other hand, an official statement by the regime that the wet market was not the source of the virus means nothing. That could just be the result of someone with a financial interest in that market having found the right official to bribe. That’s the way things are done over there.

    Whether the virus was let loose via bungled lab work by a criminal regime, or via the equally criminal abuse of animals customary in the local culture, one thing is sure — it’s very likely to happen again. And again.

  5. Agreed. China has one objective – China. China has no interest in becoming like “us”. China participates in diplomatic charades to advance their end game – control of global resources, acquisition of farmland, development of advanced technology, generation of wealth and sweeping global influence over politicians and policy. Western hubris created a monster.

    Sidebar – here in Vancouver, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in late 2018 at the request of the U.S. government. The U.S. is seeking her extradition on charges of violating financial sanctions with Iran among other charges. Canada slapped on an ankle monitor and placed her under house arrest in her multi-million dollar mansion (like thousands of foreign nationals, she owns property in Vancouver). Over 2 years and numerous court appearances later, no ruling has been made on extradition.

    Two days after her 2018 arrest, China retaliated by charging Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig with espionage . The “two Michaels” have languished in a notorious Chinese prison for over 2 years, denied consular access, legal representation or interaction with family. A few days ago China announced Spavor would face trial today, Kovrig next Monday. Spavor’s “trial” was over in 2 hours, diplomats, family and media were banned. Supposed “evidence” is unknown, the court hasn’t announced a verdict.

    Meanwhile, back in Canada, Meng enjoys her luxury mansion. Bail conditions impose a curfew, and 24 hour security detail. In October 2020 government approved special visas allowing her husband and children to enter Canada, they quarantined in Meng’s home.In January 2021 her lawyers asked court to allow Meng out of home without a security detail. Seems it interfered with quality family time and heightened fears her security detail could infect them with COVID. Motion denied. (Playing the COVID fear card only works if you’re not hosting dinner parties with 10 guests at high-end restaurants on at least 4 occasions)

    To the point – China does what it damn well pleases, we wring our hands and expect them to play nice. We’re not even playing the same game, they’re crushing us and all we do is twiddle our diplomatic thumbs. Sigh.

  6. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth. But I agree there is no way those scientists spoke to us diplomats without a minder to keep them on script. And why would the us provide funds for China to run their labs. They’re big boys now, not a 3rd world country.

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