W.H.O. Indulges China, Reopens Case for Italy as Coronavirus Origin
The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has requested access to Chinese coronavirus samples from Italy allegedly showing the virus circulating there in fall 2019, China’s state-run Global Times confirmed on Wednesday, in an attempt to investigate the potential of Italy, not China, being the origin location of the virus.
The official position of the Chinese Communist Party, as relayed through its Foreign Ministry, is that the Chinese coronavirus originated in a U.S. Army laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland. No evidence exists that doctors identified any cases of Chinese coronavirus in Maryland before the first cases surfaced in Wuhan, central China, in late 2019, nor has Beijing offered any evidence of abnormal, contagious respiratory illnesses occurring there prior to the Wuhan outbreak.
China has dismissed the overwhelming evidence identifying China as the origin nation of the virus as a “conspiracy theory.”
Chinese officials have allowed for the possibility that the virus did not originate in the United States, however, but in Italy, citing a study published last year in Italian medical paper Tumori Journalclaiming that blood samples taken in October 2019 appeared to have antibodies against the Chinese coronavirus in them, suggesting the virus was circulating there long before the Chinese Communist Party documented its first official case in December of that year. Italy diagnosed its first official case of Chinese coronavirus on February 21, 2020, outside of Milan.
The study attracted criticism from international virology experts and even one of its authors, Giovanni Apolone, emphasized that no one should conclude from the study that the virus did not originate in China because “we know that China delayed announcing its outbreak so there is no telling when it started there.”
Despite this, the W.H.O. requested access this week to blood samples from Italy allegedly carrying coronavirus antibodies, according to Reuters, who confirmed the request with Apolone.
“The W.H.O. asked us if we could share the biological material and if we could re-run the tests in an independent laboratory. We accepted,” Apolone said, adding again that the study did not indicate that China was not the origin of the virus, but that “the virus, probably less powerful compared to later months, was circulating in China long before the reported cases.”
The samples testing positive for antibodies that the W.H.O. will be retesting were taken between October and December 2019, according to Reuters, though the Italian team said that it sent samples as old as from 2018 along with those from that time and did so “blind,” meaning the W.H.O. researchers do not know which tested positive.
A study published by a team at the University of California San Diego in March 2021 found it “highly probably” that the Chinese coronavirus was circulating in Hubei province, whose regional capital is Wuhan, in October 2019. The U.S. State Department revealed last year that it had intelligence suggesting individuals working for the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a laboratory known to be studying bat coronavirus, fell ill with an unknown respiratory disease in “autumn 2019.”
The Chinese Communist Party admitted in May 2020 to destroying all early samples of the virus from Wuhan and “disinfecting” a live animal and seafood market initially identified as the origin location of the regional outbreak, so no comparable samples from China exist to those in the Italian study.
The W.H.O. concluded an investigation this year – a year after China admitted to the destruction of pivotal evidence on the novel coronavirus, into Wuhan’s potential as the origin location of the virus. Scientists found no significant evidence and, notably, did not find a single animal in the region carrying Chinese coronavirus after testing 80,000 samples. The study concluded that the virus most likely infected humans through an intermediary animal after the virus jumped from its original host.
The Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party propaganda outlet, insisted that the renewed study of the Italian samples suggests that the overwhelming evidence that the virus originated in China should not lead observers to the conclusion that it did, indeed, originate in China, adding that the United States may still be the true origin nation of the virus.
“A Beijing-based immunologist who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that there is a need to retest those samples and also conduct more tests on nucleic acid as well as viral sequencing,” the outlet relayed. “The immunologist said that if evidence of [Chinese coronavirus] being present in Italy was confirmed, and samples were found before December 2019, it would show that Wuhan may not have been the place where the virus originated.”
The anonymous Chinese immunologist’s conclusion contradicts those of Apolone, the Italian scientist who worked on the initial study on the Milan samples.
The Global Times concluded its article with an abrupt demand, yet again, for the United States to “invite international scientists to visit the Fort Detrick lab for investigation.” It did not offer any evidence, nor does any public evidence exist, tying the Italian study to Fort Detrick in any way.