On Friday (August 26), Chinese State-owned media Global Times targeted a former science teacher from India, whose investigation gave credence to the Wuhan lab leak theory. Identified as ‘The Seeker’, the Indian man from Kolkata felt a sense of social responsibility to determine the origins of Covid-19, which took countless lives.
Global Times, the propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China (CCP), sought to delegitimise the findings of ‘The Seeker’ and his team DRASTIC (Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19) after the US Intelligence report on ‘Coronavirus origins’ remained ‘inconclusive.’ In an article authored by Bai Yunyi published on Friday, Global Times dubbed ‘The Seeker’ as a ‘rumourmonger’ while it dismissed DRASTIC as an ‘online conspiracy group.’ It further claimed that such groups are backed by ‘anti-China forces’.
While slamming the group for being ‘anonymous, the CCP mouthpiece alleged,”…DRASTIC members are constantly spreading conspiracy theories and false news about the “Wuhan lab-leak” theory and launching online public opinion attacks against scientists who hold impartial scientific positions. DRASTIC’s clumsy manipulation of this conspiracy theory has been widely questioned.”
Global Times further accused the DRASTIC of ‘plotting’ and ‘popularising’ rumours against China in the West. It claimed, “For example, there was the rumour that the novel coronavirus originated in a copper mine in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, when scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) brought back samples and the virus was leaked. This information, published by the Washington Post, was originally concocted by a core member of DRASTIC named The Seeker”.
The tabloid newspaper accused the former Indian science teacher of finding a master’s thesis, which outlined 6 cases of pneumonia caused by an unknown virus in 2012 at an abandoned copper mine in Yunnan province, by mistake. “After taking only a few minutes to read the abstract, “The Seeker” immediately posted a lengthy message on his Twitter account pointing that the source of the novel coronavirus disease was the WIV, with the tag “DRASTIC” attached, CNET reported,” it wrote. Global Times remarked that the findings of the DRASTIC fail to conform with the ‘basic tenets of scientific rigor.’
It added, “The Global Times noticed that DRASTIC has been getting the attention of mainstream Western media since February. Sky News, Newsweek, Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal, as well as many Indian media outlets, have all cited the group’s views and hyped about how the group has changed the chapter of the virus origin.” Accusing DRASTIC of publishing ‘alleged reports’ and harassing scientists, it claimed the ‘ultimate goal’ is to somehow tarnish the image of Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The CCP mouthpiece concluded that DRASTIC’s emergence to the limelight was the result of ‘change in the Biden administration’s attitude toward the traceability of the coronavirus disease.’
Findings of ‘The Seeker’ and the DRASTIC team into the origins of the Wuhan Coronavirus
‘The Seeker’, in his mid-20s, used to be a science teacher. From there, he studied architecture, painting and filmmaking. He told OpIndia that he had then moved on to a project that allowed him to follow his passion – working on audiobooks. Initially, he had bought into the mainstream media narrative that the virus had infected humans from animals at the infamous wet markets in Wuhan. But soon, he became skeptical of the conventional narrative and began interacting with individuals who had begun to rip it apart. This made ‘The Seeker’ curious about the virus and its origins.
It was a sense of social responsibility, besides the obvious curiosity, that led him to this mission. “COVID has taken the lives of countless people and devastated so many others. But it has also left so many clues that haven’t been followed up. Humanity deserves answers,” he had emphasised. The Seeker was convinced that the mystery behind the Wuhan Coronavirus lay in the RaTG13 virus.
Using his online research skills, The Seeker found CNKI, which is a huge database of Chinese academic journals and theses. Fueled by tea and occasional arcade games, he scrolled through the database for days until he struck gold. The Seeker found a 60-page thesis authored by a student at Kunming Medical University in 2013. Titled, “The Analysis of 6 Patients with Severe Pneumonia Caused by Unknown Viruses,” the paper found that the miners had died of SARS-like Coronavirus. He shared it on Twitter on May 19, 2020.
After it had become public, the Chinese authorities swung into action and limited the access control to ensure that it was never found again. Interestingly, The Seeker also found that the corporate media ignored the story when the miners had died of SARS-like infection in 2012. He worked in close association a Madrid based data scientist named Francisco de Asis de Ribera. The Seeker found new pieces of the Coronavirus puzzle while Ribera fitted the pieces together. He discovered detailed plans of Wuhan Institute of Virology to test the infectivity of SARA-like viruses in lab animals and human cells, undergo cross-species mutation and genetic recombination of the viruses.
He found that the Wuhan Institute of Virology never bought the argument that the three miners had died of a fungal infection, as espoused by Shi Zhengli. The researchers, working at the institute, were concerned about a viral outbreak and thus tested the blood of neighbouring villagers and obtained genetic sequences of 8 other SARS-like viruses from the mine. DRASTIC found that China had the information with them in advance but instead chose to conceal it and let people die. The Seeker concluded, “I no longer see science as an exclusive domain. Everyone can make a difference.”