OPINIONS Observer: Science-based origin tracing of COVID-19 allows no vicious political manipulation

OPINIONS

Observer: Science-based origin tracing of COVID-19 allows no vicious political manipulation

People's Daily app

21:38, August 07, 2021

Recently, a few American politicians have become obsessed with acting as “virologists”. Citing unreliable sources and groundless intelligence information, and fabricating reports based on lies, they are seeking a presumption of guilt against other countries and hyping the so-called “lab leak theory,” acting out a political farce again and again.

This is a desecration of the spirit of science, and does deliberate damage to the joint efforts of the international community to combat COVID-19.

Origin tracing of the novel coronavirus is a serious issue of science, and should be collaboratively studied by scientists and medical experts around the globe. Conclusions must be reached based on facts and scientific evidence.

However, to shift the responsibility of the failure in pandemic control at home and discredit other countries, these US politicians have repeatedly politicized the pandemic, stigmatized other countries, and weaponized origin tracing work.

To achieve their goals, they turned a blind eye to science and common sense, employed the intelligence community to launch origin tracing investigations, and even requested that intelligence departments generate an origin tracing report within 90 days.

Waving a political big stick, they coerced scientists to surrender to their hegemony and bullying and support the “lab leak theory.” This low tactic has seriously undermined international cooperation on origin tracing.

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of Lancet, noted that conspiracies about the origins of COVID-19 are spreading like viruses, and may cause impacts as severe as the pandemic.

Some US politicians are sparing no effort to discredit China regarding the origin tracing of COVID-19. However, it’s obvious enough that China has not only achieved major strategic results in pandemic control, but also shown its responsibility as a major power in finding the origin of the virus. After the outbreak of the pandemic, China immediately reported to the WHO, shared genomic sequence information, and conducted origin tracing studies with the organization.

Since 2020, China has twice invited WHO experts to come to China for origin tracing studies. Earlier this year, a joint expert team comprising leading experts from 10 countries, including the US, the UK, Japan and Australia, conducted a 28-day joint research in China together with their Chinese counterparts. The expert team jointly analyzed data, went on field trips and carried out in-depth studies. On March 30, the WHO issued the report of the joint research team, stating that a lab leak was extremely unlikely.

However, this science-based conclusion is not satisfying for certain US politicians. Requesting a search for the origins of COVID-19, they are not really looking into where the virus came from, but ducking responsibilities and blaming other countries. When they were not able to find evidence and discredit other countries with science-based approaches, they resorted to “origin tracing terrorism.” Washington has stigmatized China since the Trump administration started calling COVID-19 the “China virus.” The US also linked China and even other Asian countries to the origins of COVID-19, which led to a surge of hate toward Asians in the US and a few Western countries. As a result, Asians suffered obviously more discrimination, oppression and even personal threats. This low tactic has aroused broad dissatisfaction and strong opposition from international society.

Political manipulation will never be supported as it goes against facts, science and justice. On August 2, more than 300 political parties, social organizations and think tanks from over100 countries and region sent a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat to oppose the politicization of origin tracing. They stressed international society needs to enhance cooperation to fight the pandemic when facing the severe threats against people’s lives and health posed by COVID-19, urging the WHO to conduct global research into the origins of the virus with objective and justifiable approaches.

Origin tracing is important and complicated. It calls for the close cooperation of scientists across the world, as well as joint efforts by all governments and people. The truth will be revealed only with a firm determination to follow science-based attitudes and approaches in origin tracing. This is common sense, and a consensus as well.

The virus knows no boundary or race, and is challenging all of mankind. China was the first to report COVID-19 cases, but the virus had emerged in multiple places around the world before cases occurred in China. For instance, the National Institute of Health of the US has found evidence proving the existence of the novel coronavirus in five US states as early as December 2019. The mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, said he might have contracted the novel coronavirus in November 2019, over two months before the first confirmed case was reported in the US. In July 2019, EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury, broke out massively in the US, the symptoms of which were extremely similar to those of COVID-19. These facts once again proved that origin tracing is an issue of science, and must be dealt with conscientiously by scientists around the world. A study into the origins of COVID-19 in the US is also an indispensable part of the global origin tracing work.

At present, the US is facing a severe resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and the numbers of infections and hospitalizations are rising in almost all 50 states. It proves that political manipulation will only create loopholes for the virus, and countries will be defeated by the virus one by one if beggar-thy-neighbor approaches are adopted. Ignoring science will only make the virus more rampant.

We advise some US politicians to stop manipulating scientific studies with political means, and stop placing private political benefit above people’s lives and health. This is not only a basic requirement for origin tracing, but also a bottom line of human conscience.

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