Submitted to the Morning Star today
China’s virology research community has been heroic and innovative in its extraordinary research done on the coronavirus, as Carlos Martinez explained ("China’s successes in the fight against Covid-19.” Morning Star, 11-12, April)
But in John Wright’s feature “Sorry, facts don’t care about Trump’s feelings,” MS 25-26 April) – in which he argues for primacy of “stubborn facts” - he himself fails to follow his own dictum.
His milestone dates presenting the sequence of development suffers from errors of omission.
For example, while the Chinese Government in Beijing did inform the WHO of a viral break out on 31 December, this warning came after the nationalist Government in Taiwan said they reported this to both International Health Regulations (IHR) -a WHO ‘framework for exchange’ of epidemic prevention and response data between 196 countries, and Chinese health authorities - on December 31.
Taipei said many of its doctors had heard from mainland colleagues that medical staff were getting ill — a sign of human-to-human transmission- during December 2019, weeks before the wet food market in Wuhan had been identified as possible cause of the fugitive viral escape. But the warning was not shared with other countries.
The IHR’s internal website provides a platform for all countries to share information on the epidemic and their response. But none of the information shared by Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control was posted, because the WHO does not recognize the international status of Taiwan as a separate nation.
In 2018, the Chinese state Nanjing Military Research Institute published details research on a new bat virus they had found near Zhoushan city, in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.
Building on this, the celebrated female virologist, Dr Zhi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Research Institute (WVRI) did complex research on ‘splitting’ the Sars virus, producing four key papers [published in Western science journals], that looked into the possibility of developing self-replicating synthetic coronaviruses ( assessing the c so-called “S” protein)
One key paper from WVRI virologists, published in the UK medical journal, The Lancet on 24 January 2020, explains from their micro-analysis of early reported Covid cases, that 14 out of 41 (ie around a third) examined could not be traced at all to the wet food market.
Two days later, the United States’ Government Centers for Diseases Control published a pap on viral transfer from bats. Nature journal followed this up on 3 February with an analysis of the link to bats of the coronavirus by now spreading widely worldwide
They found the new virus – whose full ‘genome sequence’ had been published by the Chinese Government on 10 January - was not one found in the kind of bats sometimes on sale at the Wuhan wet food market..
Which leaves the unanswered question: what was the original source of the fugitive virus in Wuhan, if not the market?