Amidst the escalated border tensions between the two countries, China has now hilariously blamed India for being the ‘origin’ of the deadly Wuhan Coronavirus that has infected 6.1 crore people and took 14.4 lac lives. In a desperate attempt to blame shift focus, Chinese ‘researchers’ from Chinese Academy of Sciences have now claimed that the pandemic originated in India in summer of 2019.
They alleged that the disease transmitted from animals to humans through contaminated water and made its way to Wuhan. The Chinese researchers allegedly used ‘phylogenetic analysis (a study of virus mutation)’ to ascertain the origin of the disease. They argued that the virus could be traced by finding samples with the least mutations. They estimated the time taken for mutation, compared it to samples from India and assumed that the virus originated between July -August 2019. The Chinese researchers blamed the ‘poor’ healthcare system India and a large youth population for ensuring the spread of the virus, without being detected. They also claimed that the virus spread possibly to Europe before coming to China.
“From May to June 2019, the second-longest recorded heatwave had rampaged in northern-central India and Pakistan, which created a serious water crisis in this region. The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have surely increased the chance of human-wild animal interactions. We speculated that the [animal to human] transmission of SARS-CoV-2 might be associated with this unusual heatwave…In this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable and the Wuhan epidemic is only a part of it,” they claimed. Earlier, the Chinese regime has tried to pin the blame of the pandemic on countries like the USA and Italy.
Chinese research calling India the origin of Coronavirus flawed and biased, reiterates experts
However, experts such as David Robertson from Glasgow University have rubbished these claims as ‘flawed’ and something which did not add to the understanding of the Coronavirus. He emphasised, “The author’s approach of identifying the “least mutated” virus sequences is… inherently biased. The authors have also ignored the extensive epidemiological data available that shows clear emergence in China and that the virus spread from there. This paper adds nothing to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2.” Expert Marc Suchard from the University of California stated, “Picking the viral sequence that appears to have the least number of differences to the others in an arbitrary collection is unlikely to yield the progenitor”.
WHO to investigate the ‘origin’ of Coronavirus
Amidst “dispute over the origin of the virus”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has informed that a team of 10 experts had a virtual meeting with their Chinese counterparts last month. WHO Director (emergencies) Michael Ryan stated, “We fully expect and have reassurances from our Chinese government colleagues that the trip to the field will be facilitated, and as soon as possible…We need to be able to have the international team join our Chinese colleagues… and look at the results and the outcomes of (their) studies and verify the data on the ground.”
He had also praised China for its tremendous investigation and said that the international community had to be convinced about the same. “This is extremely important, and we are continuing to expect that that be the case,” he emphasised. “Clearly we all need to understand the origin of the virus, we all need to understand where it has come from, not least to understand where it may re-emerge in the future…I believe our Chinese colleagues are just as anxious to find those answers as we are,” the WHO Director said.
Interestingly, in November, China had essentially blocked WHO from investigating the origin of the virus. As per the internal documents accessed and reviewed by the New York Times, China had prevented the team sent by the premier health agency in February from conducting an independent probe of the matter to determine the source of the coronavirus pandemic.
The incriminating documents in possession of the Times revealed that not only the senior officials at the World Health Organisation negotiated the terms of investigations with China, sidelining their own experts, they also relinquished the control of the probe to Beijing. Neither was the team allowed to question China’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak nor was it allowed to visit the live-animal market in Wuhan where the virus seemed to have originated.
WHO had declared the Wuhan coronavirus, which emerged from China and swiftly spread to other parts of the world, a pandemic only on March 11. According to a US-based publication The Hill, critics are raising questions as to why, despite repeated warnings from many experts, health officials and governments of various countries, did the World Health Organisation take so long to declare the deadly disease a pandemic.
According to the report published in The Hill earlier this year, it was alleged that Tedros, the WHO chief, not only turned a blind eye to what happened in Wuhan but also, after meeting with Xi in January, helped China to play down the severity, prevalence and the amplitude of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. It is also being alleged that the WHO Director-General defended China despite its gross mismanagement of the highly contagious disease.
American President Donald Trump had accused the WHO of being the “puppet of China” and had pulled the rug out for its contradictory and delayed handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The US Health Secretary Alex Azar had also lambasted against the premier health organisation, noting that the agency had failed in obtaining the critical information that the world needed.
The WHO’s blanket whitewashing of China’s complicity and its misleading decisions have been criticised widely by many experts around the world.
Chinese indifference to ‘mysterious’ new pneumonia cases
Around this time last year, as China’s bitter winter swept the country, several people in the Hubei province started reporting mysterious pneumonia cases of unknown cause. Chinese social media apps, most notably WeChat was rife with rumours of a strange new flu and common pneumonia akin to “SARS” taking root in the province capital, Wuhan.
However, the CT scan images revealed that the symptoms exhibited by a growing number of people in Wuhan were characteristics of neither of the diseases. With increasing number of people reporting lung abnormalities, their CT scan images and blood reports confirmed a new kind of “viral infection” that doctor speculated was “probably infectious”.
But the Chinese authorities continued to remain in denial, showing eager alacrity to quell any discussion over the new mysterious disease that was gaining hold in Wuhan and surrounding areas, even as people kept reporting being down with a range of inexplicable symptoms including high fever, coughing and respiratory complications. Several hospitals in Wuhan began reporting a large number of cases of this mysterious new disease even as Chinese authorities turned a blind eye to the rising caseloads.
It was only weeks later that China realised that the virus was more resilient than it had imagined and that there was no other way but to acknowledge the dangerous new infection. On December 8, 2019, it grudgingly reported the first case to the World Health Organisation. However, even then China did not acknowledge the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the disease. It took them about 40 more days, until January 21, to report that the coronavirus was susceptible to human transmission.
Mismanagement and lack of transparency by China
While China is now calling India the ‘origin’ of the Wuhan Coronavirus, the initial mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis by China, coupled with its efforts to suppress transparency in the identification and treatment of the disease proved catastrophic for the entire world. On January 12, China released the genetic sequencing of the COVID-19, almost 2 months after the first novel coronavirus case was reported in Hubei. A day later, coronavirus was reported to have gone global after Thailand reported its first case.
Since then there has been no turning back. The coronavirus outbreak has galloped at an unprecedented pace across the world. From the United States to Australia, from Brazil to Italy, the coronavirus pandemic had ravaged several hundred countries, crippling their economies due to the virus-induced lockdowns imposed in the affected countries and strained public health systems.