With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting different parts of the world, the virus has become the common enemy of mankind. The world should stand in solidarity to combat the pandemic. However, some Western politicians and media, especially those from the United States, came up with groundless lies. Disinformation, rumors and conspiracy theories about China were making a great clamor. Here are the 18 most common allegations against China and the corresponding facts.
Allegation No.1: China is the origin of COVID-19. It is the “Chinese virus.”
Fact: The origin of COVID-19 remains uncertain. The name of a virus should not be associated with specific countries or regions.
The origin of COVID-19 is a scientific issue which should be determined by scientists instead of politicians. Where the disease was first reported in history was often not the place it originated. The article in the medical journal International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents says that COVID-19 was already spreading in France in late December 2019, and the case is not related to China. WHO points out that scientists are still researching the origin of the virus. It remains unclear where COVID-19 first appeared.
As for naming new human diseases and viruses, WHO guidelines advise against including geographic locations and cultural/population references in the disease name. In February 2020, WHO announced the official names of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes – SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. According to some Western media reports, anti-Asian racism is on the rise due to the improper correlation between the virus and the Asians in the US. British journal Nature published three editorials in April, apologizing for falsely relating the virus to China and Wuhan. The magazine stands against COVID-19 stigmatization and irresponsible actions that associate viruses with specific locations.
Allegation No.2: COVID-19 is man-made at the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab.
Fact: All scientific evidence indicates that the COVID-19 originates in nature rather than man-made.
The idea that the SARS-CoV-2 is man-made has been criticized by international agencies and scholars specialized in virology and immunology. Science journals, such as The Lancet and Nature Medicine, published articles provingSARS-CoV-2 is natural in origin. On May 1, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said they have listened to numerous scientists who've looked at the sequences and they were assured that this virus is natural in origin. The hypothesis that the virus was created in a Wuhan lab is “a conspiracy vision that does not relate to the real science,” said Jean-Francois Delfraissy, a French immunologist and head of the scientific council that advises the government on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even US scientists and intelligence agencies stand against the “man-made virus theory”. Dr Francis Collins, director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in a blog post that the SARS-CoV-2 originates from nature – it is not “a product of purposeful manipulation in a lab.” On April 30, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said that US intelligence agencies were in the broad scientific consensus, saying that the SARS-CoV-2 was not man-made or genetically modified.
Allegation No.3: SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Fact: There is no evidence of pathogen leaks or staff infectionsin the Institute.
The P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) is a collaborative project with the French government. The lab is equipped with strict protective facilities and measures to ensure safety. There had been no SARS-CoV-2 in the lab until December 30, 2019 ,when the first COVID-19 patient specimens were delivered there. Up to now, no one in the WIV has become ill with COVID-19.
Dr Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, who has been working with the Wuhan Institute of Virology for 15 years, said in an interview that the idea that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the lab was pure nonsense. The Wuhan P4 Laboratory didn’t have the virus that led to COVID-19, and what has been found now are close relatives, not the same virus. So it’s not a possibility that the virus could have come from that lab. Anthony Fauci, the US NIAID director, also said that the best evidence shows the virus was not made in a lab in China.
Allegation No.4: Chinese are going abroad to spread the virus to the rest of the world on purpose.
Fact: The Chinese government adopted the most strict prevention and control measures in a short time. Very few cases are exported abroad.
Once the outbreak occurred, the Chinese government took the most comprehensive, strict, and thorough prevention and control measures in modern history, which effectively cut off virus transmission channels. On January 23, China temporarily put Wuhan under lockdown. Since January 24, travel agencies and online travel companies in China were required to suspend operating most travel services and products. From January 24 to April 8, there were no outbound commercial flights or train services. Wuhan residents couldn’t travel overseas during this period as well.
Statistics show that very few cases are exported from China. Data in several major Canadian provinces show that the COVID-19 was brought into Canada by American travelers. None of the Russian cases were imported from China. Data from Australian Department of Health shows that the proportion of imported cases from Northeast Asia was extremely small. In Singapore, cases imported from China were less than one-tenth of those from other countries.
Allegation No.5: China’s initial cover-up led to the spread of the virus globally.
Fact: China lost no time in announcing related COVID-19 information in an open, transparent and responsible manner.
On December 27, 2019, Dr Zhang Jixian, director of the respiratory and critical care medicine department of Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, reported three cases of pneumonia of unknown cause immediately after receiving the patients. This is the first reporting of suspected cases received by local authorities in China.
Three days after the epidemiological investigation, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a situation report on pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan. On the same day, China informed the WHO China Country Office of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan. The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Dr Soumya Swaminathan wrote in a paper on the Lancet, praising Chinese doctors and health departments for their rapid discovery of the new coronavirus during the flu season.
SARS-CoV-2 is a newly discovered virus. In the early stage of the outbreak, there was little evidence proving that it could cause a pandemic. “It takes time to recognize a new disease. During the research process, only after strict authentication of government agencies, can experts be sure of the testing results. Now after recognizing the virus, the testing process is simplified. If the patient is tested positive twice, the case is confirmed,” China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said in an interview on January 20.
On January 3, 2020, China began sending regular, timely updates about the novel coronavirus to WHO, other countries including the United States, and China’s Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions. China has responded and notified the world about the epidemic in an open, transparent, timely, and responsible manner. WHO said that “the high speed and massive scale of China's moves are rarely seen in the world.”