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SEATTLE, WA – Tensions continue to mount between the United States and China as a probe into the origin of COVID-19 was investigated. The WHO now plans to scrap the interim report of COVID-19’s origins from its recent China mission to decrease pressure. A group of two dozen scientists wrote an open letter on March 4 demanding a new international inquiry be opened on COVID-19’s origins, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, and following up on Friday.
The March 4 letter, which was obtained by the Wall Street Journal, stated that finding the origins of SARS-Cov-2 is “critically important” and that understanding the origins of the virus would help to “better address the current pandemic” as well as “reduce the risk of future ones.” The letter made note of the fact that March 2021 marks a year anniversary of the first lockdowns that marked the official global response to the pandemic.
The team of professionals listed the global study by the World Health Organization and the Chinese government that was last updated on January 18 as a citation for their analysis that a new inquiry was needed.
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“There is as yet no evidence demonstrating a fully natural origin of this virus,” the letter stated.
“The zoonosis hypothesis, largely based on patterns of previous zoonosis events, is only one of several possible SARS-CoV-2 origins, alongside the research-related accident hypothesis.”
Reuters reported on March 4 that the WHO expects the new report to be ready in the coming weeks. Reuters cited WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasaveric as their source. Jasaveric spoke with Reuters via email, writing from Geneva.
“The full report is expected in coming weeks,” he wrote. While no further information was available as of March 4 to explain the publications’ delay, the Wall Street Journal drew attention to U.S.-China tensions. The relationship between the United States and China has been on a steady path of increased tensions in the last few years, and the COVID-19 pandemic added to the fact. On February 21, the South China Morning Post reported that U.S. President Joe Biden’s key appointments to the U.S.-China diplomacy posts would signal a “tougher line” for diplomacy between the two nations.
Biden has warned that “extreme competition” with China is expected during his presidency, and this competition is expected to reflect on the race to understand the COVID-19 crisis. On March 4, the Associated Press stated that the relationship between the U.S. and China is “deteriorating”. As this relationship has been on a steady decline, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for cooperation between the U.S. and China on COVID-19, the South China Morning Post reported on February 18. Despite Guterres’ calls for cooperation, it was likewise reported that the pandemic has seen countries using the crisis to their advantages, to “grist the geopolitical mill,” wrote the South China Morning Post.
Members of the scientific community stated that COVID-19’s origins must be investigated even after the WHO releases its report, stated Nature. On February 9, a press briefing was held in Wuhan, China, and members of the WHO addressed hypotheses of the virus’s origins. Two leading hypotheses were discussed at the February 9 event, Nature reports. One was that the virus was initially spread from an animal to people in Wuhan, China. The second, and that favored by the Chinese government and media, was that the animal that spread the virus or its immediate ancestor initially came from outside of China. Once the virus came into China, it started to be passed between people, passing to humans from the surfaces of packaged frozen goods. The theory that the virus leaked from a lab was discredited by the WHO.
Bayesian Analysis Contradicts The WHO
A Bayesian analysis drastically contradicted the WHO’s statement that a laboratory leak was unlikely. The Bayesian analysis concluded “beyond reasonable doubt” that SARS-Cov-2 “is not a natural zoonosis” but was instead “laboratory derived.” The analysis, obtained by The Published Reporter, was released on January 27 by Steven Carl, Quay MD Phd, a co-author of the open letter and one of the foundational scientists who has been studying the origins of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“The one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic records 2.1 million deaths, over 100 million confirmed cases,1 and trillions of dollars of economic damage,” states the analysis’ executive summary.
“Although there is universal agreement that a coronavirus identified as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 (abbreviated CoV-2 henceforth) causes the disease COVID-19, there is no understanding or consensus on the origin of the disease.”
The research then explained how the Chinese government and the WHO had stated strongly that coronavirus came from nature.
“The Chinese government, WHO, media, and many academic virologists have stated with strong conviction that the coronavirus came from nature, either directly from bats or indirectly from bats through another species. Transmission of a virus from animals to humans is called a zoonosis.”
Dominic Dwyer, a medical virologist at New South Wales Health Pathology in Sydney, Australia, stated that evidence pointed to contaminated fish and meat at Chinese markets. This evidence would have been included in the initially planned interim report. Dwyer stated that his team did not see any evidence that would indicate a lab accident in their mission, wrote Nature.
In addition to mentioning potentially contaminated animal products as the source, Dwyer noted that his investigation sought for origins of the virus in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei in the latter half of 2019. He stated that the lack of clear transmission signals does not indicate that a virus is not already present within a given community. This led the team to search for signs of SARS-Cov-2 RNA in the blood samples of patients who tested positive for flu-like illnesses in the latter half of 2019.
Dwyer’s statements, and the research tracing the flu-like illnesses in Hubei, contradicted Quay’s analysis.
“A small but growing number of scientists have considered another hypothesis: that an ancestral bat coronavirus was collected in the wild, genetically manipulated in a laboratory to make it more infectious, training it to infect human cells, and ultimately released, probably by accident in Wuhan, China,” wrote Quay.
Standard media rhetoric and WHO leadership regarding the COVID-19 origins analysis continues to ideologically mesh with the Chinese government.