Why the COVID-19 origin tracing is stuck, and ‘You-Know-Who’ should be held accountable
Published: Aug 04, 2021 12:27 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

No one should ever expect the US to make the world greater again amid the dire threats of the rampaging COVID-19, but the least it can do, as the self-claimed "global leader," is to stop sabotaging global efforts against the pandemic, and refrain from undermining the global cooperation that has just begun to catch up.

One thing needs to be pointed out, as the origin-tracing of COVID-19 is becoming a heated topic not just among scientists, but also among politicians and reporters, is that the study of the origins has come a long way from the time human race first bumped into this deadly virus. We now know its genome sequence, have developed several vaccines, and worked out a scientific and comprehensive report analyzing the possible routes of how it has been introduced to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts. No one could deny that we have made great progress. But then suddenly, we were stuck. No one has any clue where the origin-tracing study is heading anymore. Something obviously has changed.  

The Bully Back To School

It is the elephant in the room. The US staged quite a show at its homecoming dance, where it waltzed in under the spotlight, shouting at everyone, without any disguise, that it came back to be the king. However, no matter what fancy dress it is wearing, it will not change the fact that all one can expect from a bully is nothing but messing things up.

The US is back to control the origin-tracing process, which slightly "went off the rail" after it desperately walked away from the WHO -- which it then deemed as a swamp that could only drag it down. It is unlikely that the US suddenly cares about whether other nations are still suffering from the pandemic or whether people in the third world are craving for vaccines, otherwise it wouldn't have left the WHO in the first place. It just doesn't like the feeling that things went out of its control, especially when it comes to China. The fact that China controlled the pandemic pretty well and quickly saw its economy recovery is a good reason to pick on. At a time when the US is still struggling with ever-growing new cases and higher death toll, and domestic complaints are mounting day by day, the easier way to make itself look less impotent is to pick some trouble with China. But after all, since when does a bully need a reason to use its fists? If the world does ask for one, a jar of laundry powder would suffice, just like it did with Iraq in 2003. 

The Gun Put To Wrong Use

The Western media industry often proudly sees itself as "The Fourth Estate" or "The Fourth Pillar Of Democracy," which supposedly should provide the accurate news to its audience to help them better understand the world. However, though it tries very hard to look objective and unbiased, more often than not, it falls far behind expectation. 

It is an interesting thing to look at the reports of main Western media on the origin-tracing study throughout the pandemic. It is so ironic that many of them poured scorn on the idea of "engineered virus " just about this time last year, and now they charge at China as if they have found solid evidence that could prove Wuhan Institute of Virology guilty. But all in all, what they have got so far are just stories pieced up by some "puzzle-solver," and an ambiguous and broken report from the notorious US intelligence department. With no respect for scientific conclusion that the "lab leak" theory is "extremely unlikely," some Western media outlets are now selling their version of "the truth about the origin" to the world. The question is: If they are really the truth-seekers they claim to be, how do they explain their silence on Fort Detrick? Is this mysteriously shut-down lab not attractive at all?

It would be ideal if the media could just do what they are meant to do and serve as our weapon for self defense against misinformation. But the reality is, just like guns are not always put to good use, the media could become a weapon of massive destruction itself and cause far more casualty, if it cannot stick to its golden principle and switch its position every time a new president is elected.

The Addicts With No Choice

The US, troubled by the drug-abuse problem, is itself a master of getting others addicted to its power. It knows better than anyone that the addicts would do anything, even at the cost of moral standards, to get the one thing they need the most. So the practice is, if you cannot make friends with others, then get them addicted to you. This might to some extent explain for those who have quickly switched sides on origin-tracing after the US came back to control. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus once said that as far as the WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table. But in its draft work plan for the second phase origin-tracing study, no further study on the "cold-chain transmission" is demanded, which is listed as a "likely" approach of how the virus is introduced to human. As a reminder, this work plan lists the "lab leak" hypothesis, the "extremely unlikely" one, as a research priority. As a work plan for a scientific study, this does lack logical consistency. 

As a matter of fact, many scientists from different countries have given their support to the China-WHO Joint Report, concluding that the virus almost certainly originated from a wild animal and not from a laboratory leak. But it is just too difficult to say it out loudly when you are addicted to the US; and the US thinks differently with science. The addiction could be hard to overcome and the addicts sometimes do seem to have no choice, but they should also be well aware that one cannot rely on others forever, and this addiction does far more harm than good.

China is always an active supporter for scientific study on tracing the origins, what it dismisses is political manipulation in the process. With an open and transparent attitude, China has twice invited WHO experts to conduct joint research, and offered every possible resource, raw data of particular concerns, and opened the doors of the places the experts wanted to visit. It is a consensus among scientists to take the study to global level in the next phase. Focusing on only one country will only hamper this effort. If the US does not agree with this approach out of some unspeakable reasons, it has to be held accountable for delaying the origin-tracing process. 

There is a short story in the Aesop's Fables called "The Wolf And The Lamb." In the fable, the wolf tried every excuse to find trouble with the lamb but failed, and ate the lamb anyway. It tells us that when a villain wants to do you harm, he does not care if the excuse is inappropriate. But one thing we all need to bear in mind is that, the US is no wolf for China, and China is by no means a harmless lamb to be preyed on.

The author is a current affairs commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn 

blog comments powered by Disqus