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.