Over the last few weeks, a war of words has broken out between political leaders in the United States, China, and Iran about the origins of COVID-19. Both China and Iran have accused the US of creating COVID-19 as a bioweapon. On the other hand, the US has accused China of covering up the initial outbreak in Wuhan and blames them for the spread of the virus. At least one US Senator claimed China created the virus as a bioweapon in a lab.
The Blame Game
Governments across the globe are struggling to contain COVID-19 at a tremendous economic price. Meanwhile, scientists are trying to understand where it originated from in order to find a solution. However, some politicians are manufacturing “fake news” in order to place blame.
Go figure. But, that doesn’t change the reality that this dangerous rhetoric could have severe consequences. Misinformation during a crisis will only make things worse, but that’s not stopping world powers from playing the “blame game.”
There is no question that the outbreak began in Wuhan, China. There also appears to be little doubt that the Chinese government knew about it at least a month before making the virus known to the international community. Since then, China and Iran have put on a public relations campaign to blame the United States for the outbreak.
China’s state propaganda channel PressTV has been pushing a conspiracy theory that the United States manufactured COVID-19 as a bioweapon. Iranian General Hossein Salami said on Russian TV that COVID-19 was a US biological attack on China and Iran. The Trump administration has pushed back hard on the suggestion that the US created COVID-19.
White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that China’s cover-up cost the global community two months of preparation that could have helped minimize the outbreak. President Trump has referred to COVID-19 as the “China Virus,” upsetting Chinese officials who want to save face. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that China likely manufactured the virus and that they would be held accountable for what they inflicted on the world.
The Truth About COVID-19’s Origins
According to a study conducted by a team of researchers and an expert in infectious diseases from Edinburgh University, COVID-19 originated from natural evolutionary processes and not from human engineering. The researchers concluded that COVID-19 could not have been artificially created because a bioweapon would use the backbone of a virus that had previously killed humans. COVID-19’s genetic testing “irrefutably” shows it has a distinct backbone, which rules out laboratory manipulation.
The study also said that COVID-19 is the seventh coronavirus that has infected humans. The researchers could not say exactly how humans contracted COVID-19, but there are two ideas and either one could be right.
First, it could have come from an animal, mutated, and jumped to a human host. Previous coronavirus outbreaks (SARs and MERs) started by people having close contact with bats, civets, or camels. The second possibility is that the virus evolved into its current form within the human population.
The researchers have been able to prove that COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus, so, currently, there’s no vaccination. Testing and clinical trials have already begun, though. According to the National Institutes of Health, one vaccine has shown promise in animal models and they are beginning the first trial runs in humans.
Now that we know it’s not a bioweapon, hopefully, all sides will cool the rhetoric and avoid an unnecessary international crisis as scientists do their work to discover a cure.
By Don Purdum, Freelance Contributor
Thank you to our friends at United Voice for contributing this piece.