Coronavirus: natural origin or created in a laboratory?

While the United States insists on China's involvement in the creation of the virus, the WHO denies this responsibility and asks the government for evidence

Woman conducting scientific tests with viruses through test tubes.

Many are the versions that have been given of the origin of this virus. / Photo: Rawpixel - United States Government

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Coronavirus: ¿origen natural o creado en laboratorio?

Since the global situation due to the virus worsened, tension between China and the United States has increased because each has tried to blame the other for the spread of the pandemic.

Initially, the US insisted that the virus had been created in a Chinese laboratory, while China claimed that it had been a member of the US military that had brought the virus to Wuhan. Despite the fact that the denunciations of China never went beyond condemnatory messages, those of the North American country did and still persist, each time with even more force.

The latest claims by the United States government came last Sunday, stirring tension throughout the week. On that occasion, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview for ABC News that they have an "enormous amount of evidence" showing that the virus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan and is not of natural origin.

Despite the fact that they allegedly have conclusive evidence, the secretary stated that in the coming days they would continue working on that hypothesis, because it is also not yet known whether, if true, it was released by accident or on purpose. Regardless of which of the two, Pompeo said they will hold those responsible accountable. Likewise, he stated that they still do not have complete certainty but they do have "substantial evidence", although he did not speak more about the tests or specify what type of information they have.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been emphatic in rejecting these accusations and demanding that the United States present the evidence for the accusations. Michael Ryan, the organization's director of emergencies, stated at a press conference that "we have not received any specific data or evidence from the US government about the alleged origin of the virus, so for us, it remains speculative." Likewise, Ryan reiterated that so far, the evidence that does exist shows that the virus has a natural origin. "Science must be at the center. Science will find the answers," he added.

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Contrary to what the United States government says, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a consultant epidemiologist for the United States during the emergency and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said for National Geographic that there was no scientific evidence that the virus had been originated in a laboratory. According to their statements, the evolution of the virus in bats and what it is now make it difficult for it to be invented artificially.

The theory that China has produced the virus in a laboratory began to grow since investigations showed negligence on the part of China and the WHO, who hid the virus for a few weeks and reported it after some governments, such as that of Taiwan. With these complaints, the government and the organization began to be accused of the magnitude of the virus today.

Evidence against China

The United States has taken the opportunity to make its accusations and some countries have supported them. A report released by the Intelligence Services of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand showed that China was interfering in the investigations. On the record, Chinese responsibility for deliberately destroying some evidence is discussed.

This report was released to The Saturday Telegraph and talks about initial denials about mortality and person-to-person transmission and the failure to provide samples of the live virus to scientists working on the vaccine. Finally, another of the accusations in the report was based on allegations of disappearance of doctors who had warned of the danger since before it grew to the point of today. All of these tests had occurred in the early days of 2020, when the severity of the virus was not yet known with certainty.

These criticisms, although they do not suggest that China had created the virus in a laboratory, are trying to demonstrate the responsibility of that government in the state of the world today.