The origin of the Wuhan coronavirus remains a mystery as China continues to resist International calls for co-operation. China initially floated a conspiracy theory that it was the US military who brought the deadly virus to Wuhan which naturally had no takers except for the lackeys of Xi Jinping. If past is anything to by, just like the SARS outbreak which originated in Guangzhou’s wet markets, the Wuhan coronavirus is also believed to have originated in Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market as the Chinese government mysteriously closed the market after the first cases of the virus were reported.
Recently, the world is giving serious consideration to the theory that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology(WIV) — the largest virus bank in Asia which preserves more than 1,500 strains and is situated just 8 miles away from the Huanan wet market.
The US government is determined to investigate this theory to the fullest much to the displeasure of China who in turn has been stonewalling attempts to investigate the high-security biosafety laboratory. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is one of the few places which is equipped to handle Class 4 pathogens (P4) —- dangerous viruses like SARS, Ebola which have a high potential for human to human transmission. The $42 million laboratory was completed in 2015 with the help of France and the USA.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has claimed that the US officials are conducting a “full investigation” over how the virus “got out into the world”.
Last week, Mike Pompeo said that the Chinese authorities earlier too suspected that, “whether the Wuhan Institute of Virology was, in fact, the place where this came from”. The Trump administration is pushing for an American investigation to deliberate on the origin of the virus. US President Donald Trump said, “We spoke to them (Chinese) a long time ago about going in. We want to go in. We want to see what’s going on. And we weren’t exactly invited, I can tell you that.”
However, China has denied Trump’s demand for an American team to be allowed into Wuhan to investigate the origins of the virus. “It may appear at anytime anywhere in the world. Like any other country, China is attacked by this virus. China is a victim instead of the culprit. We are not co-worker for this virus,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.
“We know they’ve not permitted the world’s scientists to go into that laboratory to evaluate what took place there, what’s happening there, what’s happening there even as we speak,” said Pompeo.
Concerns have been raised over China’s opaque handling of the virus with the country increasingly defensive when someone points to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Why would China deny an American investigation into the laboratory if it had nothing to hide?
Recently, both Fox News and Washington Post quoted anonymous sources who voiced concern that the virus may have accidentally originated from the laboratory.
Donald Trump is determined that an American investigation takes place if his recent statements are anything to go by. When asked about the possibility of the virus originating from Wuhan’s laboratory, Trump replied, “We’re looking at it, a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense.” He added, “They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn’t in that area if you can believe this. That bat wasn’t sold at that wet zone…. That bat is 40 miles away.”
His determination to get the bottom of it was visible when he said, “A lot of strange things are happening, but there is a lot of investigation going on and we are going to find out. All I can say is wherever it came from, came from China in whatever form, 184 countries now are suffering because of it.” Importantly, Trump has stated that the US would end its grant to a level-IV lab in Wuhan “very quickly”.
However, it’s not just the US but also the United Kingdom and Australia who are also keen on an investigation into the WIV. Recently, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in China. Payne claimed that there should be a global inquiry without the involvement of the World Health Organisation.
The US, UK and Australia are all members of the Five Eyes – the world’s most powerful intelligence-gathering coalition which also includes Canada and New Zealand. Worryingly for China, three of the biggest players among these five see the significance in the need to investigate the Wuhan lab.
Now, why would countries like Australia and UK too risk their relations with China and call for an investigation, unless they know something nefarious is afoot in Wuhan? So the question is do the five eyes know more than we know? Most probably, YES.
The Wuhan virology lab works extensively with coronaviruses, and given the impeccably potent virus that the COVID-19 is, with genes of the HIV and also that of the Malaria causing bacteria, apart from attacking the respiratory system, the chances of genetic tweaking of an existing coronavirus cannot be overruled. Recently, French Nobel prize-winning scientist Luc Montagnier sparked a fresh controversy by claiming that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from a lab, and is the result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against the AIDS virus.