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FFifteen months after the WHO declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a global pandemic, the origin of the virus is still unclear. After the field visit to Wuhan by the WHO international research team earlier in 2021, all hypotheses about the origin of the virus remain on the table.
As efforts to vaccinate more people continue and the outlook for Covid-19 containment is more positive, the question of where the virus that causes Covid-19 is coming from is once again drawing attention. The question of the “origin investigation problem” (“溯源 问题”) is also generating discussions on Chinese social networks.
American side: “In search of a definitive conclusion”
On May 26, the White House released President Joe Biden’s statement calling for further investigation into the origins of Covid-19.
The statement said there is still no definitive conclusion on the origins of the virus, with two scenarios being the most likely: human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident. Biden writes that he has asked the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that may bring us closer to a definitive conclusion,” requesting a follow-up within 90 days, with particular emphasis on China .
Speculation that the coronavirus might have emerged from a Wuhan lab was first raised in early 2020, before being refuted and dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by many scientists.
A statement in The Lancet published in February 2020 condemned any rumors about the origins of the virus, saying scientific research “overwhelmingly” concludes that the new coronavirus is native to wildlife. The WHO research team investigating the origins of Covid-19 also called it “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a laboratory in China.
American Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was among the scientists who originally refuted the “lab leak” theory. But in May 2021, Fauci said he was “no longer convinced” that the Covid-19 pandemic was of natural origin.
In the US media, reports of the “lab leak theory” have also seen shifting narratives from a “conspiracy theory” to a seemingly credible theory. Last month a the Wall Street newspaper published an opinion piece titled “Science Suggests Wuhan Laboratory Leak,” which claims the novel coronavirus pathogen has a genetic fingerprint that has never been seen in a natural coronavirus.
The the Wall Street newspaper also reported on a study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which concluded that the hypothesis of a virus leak from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan is plausible and merits further investigation. The report of the Wall Street newspaper included an alleged claim by the US State Department that the US government has reason to believe that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in the fall of 2019, “with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 or seasonal flu “.
On the Chinese side: “It’s all about rejection of blame”
Chinese authorities have repeatedly denied a possible leak from a Chinese laboratory and stressed their cooperation with international efforts to find the origins of the pandemic.
On May 27 of this year, a day after Biden’s statement was released, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) responded to China’s re-investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
Zhao argued that the United States does not really care about the scientific origin of the virus, but that its determination to re-investigate China despite previous scientific findings is a matter of “political manipulation” and “rejection of the virus. blame ”. He further said the United States – with more than 33 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 – should examine its own behavior, instead of “trying to make China the scapegoat “.
Although China was the first country to report Covid-19 infections, the official position has been that this does not necessarily mean that the new ‘patient zero’ coronavirus was also in China.
Prior to the Wuhan Laboratory Leak Theory, China had questioned US military base Fort Detrick in Fredrick, Maryland, about the leak of Covid-19 as a biochemical warfare agent. In May of last year, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying called for an international examination of Fort Detrick and other biological laboratories.
The #WE continues to call for transparency and investigation. Why not open Fort Detrick and other biological labs to international scrutiny? Why not invite #WHO & international experts in the United States to review # COVID-19[FEMININE source et réponse ?
– Hua Chunying (@SpokespersonCHN) 8 mai 2020
À la lumière des récents développements, le porte-parole du ministère chinois des Affaires étrangères, Wang Wenbin (汪文斌), a également, à nouveau, suggéré que les États-Unis invitent une équipe internationale de scientifiques à mener une enquête indépendante sur Fort Detrick sur son lien potentiel avec l’origine de Covid-19.
Cette position a de nouveau été réitérée par Zhao Lijian lors d’une conférence de presse le 17 juin, où le porte-parole du MFA a demandé aux États-Unis d’expliquer pourquoi, étant le pays le plus médicalement au monde, leur nombre de morts du COVID19 était si élevé et pourquoi personne ne prendrait la responsabilité de cela. et donner plus de transparence sur Fort Detrick.
Le 22 juin, le ministère chinois des Affaires étrangères a renversé la vapeur sur les États-Unis et a exigé une enquête approfondie (1) sur la source de l’épidémie aux États-Unis, une (2) enquête approfondie sur le pourquoi et le qui de la réponse inadéquate américaine dans la lutte contre l’épidémie, puis également (3) une enquête sur les problèmes de sécurité dans d’autres laboratoires biologiques de Fort Detrick (#赵立坚请美国赶紧回答3个问题#).
Discussions et hashtags Weibo
Sur les réseaux sociaux chinois, diverses discussions et hashtags sont apparus en réponse aux récents développements concernant la recherche sur les origines du COVID19. La plupart des commentateurs s’accordent sur une chose, à savoir que la prochaine étape des enquêtes sur l’origine de Covid-19 concerne apparemment davantage la politique que le virus lui-même.
Un hashtag intitulé « Biden a ordonné au renseignement américain d’enquêter sur les origines de Covid-19 » (#拜登令美情报部门调查新冠病毒起源) est apparu le même jour que la déclaration de la Maison Blanche a été publiée et a immédiatement attiré plus de 35 millions de vues. Un autre hashtag relatif sur Weibo est « Les spécialistes américains ont changé de ton concernant l’origine de COVID19 » (#美国专家在新冠病毒的来源上改口了#).
Sur Weibo, la réaction la plus courante à l’enquête de Biden et à la couverture médiatique américaine des origines du virus est une suspicion envers leurs véritables intentions, allant des émotions intenses à l’humour sarcastique. Les utilisateurs de Weibo suggèrent que l’appel à l’action de Biden est une décision politiquement chargée de blâmer davantage la Chine pour la pandémie au milieu des tensions croissantes sino-américaines. La plupart des internautes qui commentent sous ce hashtag estiment que les États-Unis exagèrent délibérément le problème pour discréditer la Chine, transformant le problème des origines du COVID19 en un problème géopolitique plutôt que scientifique.
Un commentaire populaire (@乐隐灯清) disait : « Si je dis que vous l’avez, alors vous l’avez – [this is] the second season of ‘Laundry Detergent’! “This sarcastic comment refers to the famous UN meeting where US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented a vial containing white powder, supposedly proving Saddam Hussein was storing anthrax, in order to justify the US invasion of Iraq.Putin retaliated by calling this vial of powder “laundry detergent”.
There are also netizens worried about the 90-day investigation limit announced by Biden, wondering if such a short period would be enough for a thorough and fair study. One user, whose profile picture is the Chinese national flag, wrote: “90 days? If you investigated Fort Detrick in the morning, you would already have the conclusion before lunchtime!
One user questioned the US president’s decision to trace the origin of Covid-19 to China rather than his own country: “Are they giving 90 days to investigate the origin or 90 days to fabricate a rumor?
Another hashtag is “Where did the novel coronavirus come from?” ”(# 新 冠 肺炎 病毒 起源 于 哪里 #). On this hashtag page, most of the discussion revolves around whether COVID19 was already found in various countries outside of China during or just before the early days of the Wuhan outbreak. Various studies suggest that the coronavirus could have circulated in the United States and France a month before its official confirmation.
“The fact that Chinese scientists were the first to discover the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus does not mean that Wuhan is the source of Covid-19, and it certainly cannot be used as a pretext to conclude that the virus was made. by Chinese scientists. ”Wrote a Weibo blogger (@ 侠骨 一点 情).
There are those who believe it is likely that the virus came from the United States, claiming that the US investigation into China is a matter of “zéi hǎn zhuō zéi”(贼喊捉贼), an idiom which literally means“ a thief shouting “Stop Thief!
In response to the investigation, the graphic designer @ 半桶 老 阿 汤 / ‘Half Can of Old Soup’ also posted a cartoon, showing President Biden blocking the entrance to Fort Detrick, with a search team from the WHO standing in front of the entrance.
Many netizens are backing the official Chinese reaction that it is time for America to investigate the epidemic within its own borders. “First, discrediting and boxing China regarding the origin of the virus has become a ‘national policy’ of the US government to get rid of their [own] difficult situations, “Chinese economist Tao Yongyi (@ 陶永 谊) wrote on Weibo:” Now the best defense is a good offense. ”
Through Susanna Sun & Manya Koetse
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