Which laboratory did coronavirus escape from?

Author : Antun Roša

Source : Advance

Chinese Deputy Health Minister Zeng Yixin has once again categorically denied speculation that the coronavirus spread after leaking from a Chinese laboratory and infecting the entire world. The announcement came at a time when the World Health Organization announced plans to begin a second phase of investigation into the source of the coronavirus Covid-19, and Zeng Yixin stressed that he was "shocked" by these plans
21:20, 28 July 2021

Medical workers wear protective suits to attend to people sickened by the novel coronavirus, in the intensive care unit of a designated hospital in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 6. (China Daily/Reuters), via Washington Post

Let me remind you that the question of the origin of this virus has become an important political topic. After most experts stated that the virus most likely appeared naturally in nature, that is, passed from an animal (it is not yet known which one) to a person, the United States strongly objected to this theory, which insisted on a thorough investigation in order to find out if this virus was created in the laboratory. By the way, the United States itself also collaborated with the same laboratory, which further confuses this whole story.

Zeng said there is not a single virus in the Wuhan laboratory that can infect humans. In addition, he said that China several times demanded clarification about the investigation, as it did not agree with the WHO plan. Of course, such a position of China has only increased the suspicion that it "has something to hide."

In this race, Wuhan is already "old news". Recently, China has been trying to shift its attention to another state on the other side of the ocean - to its rival, the United States. Beijing is increasingly calling for screening at the US Institute for Infectious Disease Research, which is located at the US military base Fort Detrick in the US state of Maryland. What is this place really like? The base is about an hour's drive from Washington and was originally the center of the American biological warfare program.

Many Americans may not have even heard of Fort Detrick, but the Chinese are increasingly hinting that COVID-19 may have appeared there.

A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Health, Hua Chunying, said last month that it was in the United States in July 2019 that a disease almost identical in symptoms of Covid-19 first appeared.

Of course, Western media rarely convey the Chinese position, but in official statements, the Chinese authorities have already called for an investigation at the American military base at Fort Detrick 33 times.

We can say that Fort Detrick turned into a "counter-hypothesis" of China in response to the US accusations against the Wuhan laboratory. Unsurprisingly, many suspect the institute in Wuhan. Firstly, the first cases of the disease were recorded exactly there, in the city market (unless it is proved that somewhere else there was another "epicenter"). Secondly, the Institute of Virology in Wuhan is one of the world's leading laboratories specifically in the field of coronavirus research, primarily bats (we are talking about the same family of pathogens that cause COVID-19).

Does this mean that the Chinese are actually using the " The best defense is a good offense " formula in accusing Fort Detrick? Maybe. Many were surprised by how strongly Chinese diplomats insist on this counterargument. Until recently, the Chinese pursued a very sluggish foreign policy, often ignoring even attacks. However, the story with COVID-19 seems to have radically changed the situation.

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Does China have any concrete evidence against the US? Perhaps its evidence is about as "compelling" as the evidence of the Americans. As I already wrote, when Covid-19 just appeared, many experts came to the conclusion that the virus was probably transmitted from animal to person, since this had happened before, for example, in the case of the SARS coronavirus in 2003.

However, in the last months of the Trump administration, and then under Biden, more and more experts and politicians (especially politicians) are talking about an alternative origin of the virus. Like, it was created in a Chinese laboratory. Of course, if this could be proved, the Chinese reputation would be trampled and China would lose its position in the world. After all, the Chinese would be accused of infecting the whole world and killing more than a million people through negligence.

It is clear that none of the theories can be written off in advance, although it is worth remembering that the two rivals, the United States and China, are politically interested in blaming each other, and politics is far from scientific facts (at least it should be so).

So, we know that the United States is pushing for additional investigation at the Wuhan Institute, and it is difficult to ignore the fact that the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan, where the famous Coronavirus Research Institute is located! But now let's talk about the American base at Fort Detrick and why China is so insistent on its "counter-theory."

Fort Detrick was once the center of the American military biological program, which officially started in 1943 and lasted until 1969. What is there now? Now it houses the military research institute for infectious diseases, that is, the American Biological Defense Agency.

Is there something else in there? Maybe. In July 2019, the most secret laboratory, BSL-4, was closed by the US government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to "safety violations in the disposal of hazardous materials." The BSL-4 laboratory reopened in April 2020. Meanwhile, and especially this year, theories about this began to multiply, first on Chinese social networks, and then, apparently, they were picked up by the Chinese authorities.

It is said, at least on Chinese social networks such as Weibo (something like Chinese Twitter), that Americans are hiding biological weapons there and studying dangerous viruses. Then they began to write about it in the Chinese state media, such as the Global Times, People's Daily and China Daily, which published more than a hundred articles about Fort Detrick.

Why do we hear little about this? One of the reasons may be that this narrative is focused more on the Chinese "Internet market", that is, on the Chinese audience (just yesterday there was news that 5 million Chinese have signed a petition demanding WHO to investigate the American Fort Detrick). Even if the whole world calls on China and demands additional investigation in Wuhan, the Chinese authorities would never want the Chinese themselves to think about such an option. Perhaps this is the purpose of the accusations against Fort Detrick.

Fort Detrick was the Chinese response to the aggressive campaign of the American right under the Trump administration. Donald Trump himself often called COVID-19 "the Chinese virus", or "the Chinese plague." The Chinese then apparently paid back in kind, although, apart from the July 2019 incident, there is no other evidence that COVID-19 could have been created in Fort Detrick.

Where did COVID-19 actually come from? In the face of a clash of two powerful propagandas, we may never know the truth, because it is very likely that it was discarded because it did not suit someone!

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