Since the emergence of the novel coronavirus in China in late 2019, globally, there have been 162,177,376 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,364,178 deaths till 16 May 2021, reported to W.H.O. It has destroyed millions of households, cost the world trillions of dollars in lost income and turned the daily life of billions of people upside down. Despite the passage of nearly 18 months, we are still groping in the dark as there is no clarity about its origin and not yet enough evidence to say conclusively if it occurred naturally or was caused by a laboratory leak.

The premier intelligence agencies of the world have long suspected that COVID-19 may be the result of an inadvertent leak from a Wuhan laboratory. In April 2020, The Times reported that momentum was building up for the theory that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the pandemic. The British Medical Journal, reveals the location of the said institute to be only ten miles from the initial outbreak site where the wild corona viruses were known to being researched’’.

Serious questions about the origin of the pandemic have been raised after the revelations that Chinese military scientists discussed weaponising SARS corona viruses full five years before the emergence of COVID-19. These revelations warrant a thorough and completely transparent investigation.

The scientists of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, along with senior Chinese health officials, set out their ideas in a document titled The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons. This document, written in 2015, was obtained by US State Department officials, outlined China’s research into biowarfare. It is written in Chinese and its 18 authors include senior Chinese health and military figures.

It described SARS coronaviruses as heralding a “new era of genetic weapons”. The viruses, can be “artificially manipulated into a specific kind of human disease causing virus, and this can then be weaponised and unleashed in warfare against enemy nations”.

The document boasted of China’s “new-found ability to freeze-dry microorganisms which has made it possible to store biological agents and aerosolise them during attacks”. Referring to Colonel Michael J. Ainscough, USAF, it concludes that a Third World War “will be biological” and “the core weapon for victory will be bioweapons”. The virologists also discussed the endless psychological scars that these bioweapons can leave on adversaries. The ability to traumatise enemy soldiers and the advantage of unleashing such attacks at a far cheaper cost than through any ground or air strikes.

Scientists Working In A Lab (Representative Image, Photo credits: Polina Tankilevitch)

The executive director of the ASPI, short o Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Mr Peter Jennings, tolls news.com.au that the document can be said to be a “smoking gun with us“. “This becomes significant since it clearly shows that Chinese virologists were thinking about battlefield applications for different strains of corona virus and testing how to deployed it. It thus firms up the possibility that there could have been an accidental release of a pathogen that was being developed for military use.” He added that this could one of the reasons why China did not want outside investigations into the origins of COVID-19. If this was a case of transmission from a wet market it would be in China’s interest to co-operate… We’ve had the opposite of that,” he noted. A cyber security specialist, Robert Potter, analysed the leaked Chinese government documents and found them to be genuine.

Presently, the virus is battering India and Brazil, and looming large in Africa and its ferocity does not seem to be letting up. The global economy has been torn to smithereens, yet almost nothing is known about a virus that has wreaked this havoc.

In April last year, nearly all the major countries of the world called for an investigation into the pandemic’s origins. As a result, at the World Health Assembly held in May 2020, W.H.O., with a reluctant China in tow, agreed to the investigation sought by an angry and deeply worried world. 

From the Archives:

A joint W.H.O.- China investigation, hamstrung by what China would allow it to do, spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February of 2021 and said the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through an intermediate animal host and may have been spread through frozen wild animals in the Wuhan market. It further said that the least likely pathway for the pandemic was an inadvertent leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology: regarded as the least likely scenario of those examined by W.H.O.’s medical experts.

But the findings of this investigation were not fully accepted by a wary world. Just last week, a group of 18 leading scientists, including Ravindra Gupta of Cambridge University, Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and David Relman of Stanford University, said in a letter to the journal Science that “More investigation is still needed to determine the origin of the pandemic.

The scientists said the W.H.O.’s initial investigation into the origins of the virus had not made a “balanced consideration” of the theory that it may have come from a laboratory incident.

Even WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, long considered as China’s man, criticised the work of the W.H.O.-China team for not being thorough or extensive enough. He further conceded that there needs to be further investigation into a possible lab accident. By simply whiling away the accidental release theory as “least possible pathway” is not a solution if everything that is possible to be done can be done to avoid such future pandemics.

The myriad different ideas about the origin of the virus have spawned a series of conspiracy theories. “We need to take these possibilities about both natural and accidental laboratory releases seriously til such time we have sufficient data to support otherwise,” the scientists said, adding that an intellectually rigorous and dispassionate investigation is the need of the time.

Though there is no evidence at all to suggest that the virus was released intentionally, all the 194 member states of the World Health Organisation must insist at the World Health Assembly, to be held on May 24, for a full and credible investigation into the pandemic’s origin. This is the least that the world can do for more than three million dead, their loved ones and tens of millions of patients.

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