Chinese scientists have claimed that coronavirus emerged in parts of America and France way before it was found in Wuhan and have called for the outbreak to be probed as a bioweapon.
It comes after a number of scientific studies have reportedly suggested that the virus was circulating in countries such as the US and France long before it was officially confirmed.
It has provided Chinese experts an opportunity to redirect the blame from Wuhan and instead insist that the next stage of virus-tracing investigations should focus elsewhere.
Chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Zeng Guang, told the Global Times that the US should be the focus of the research into the origin of the deadly virus.
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Dr Guang cited the slow response to testing people during the first stages of the pandemic and alluded to the US’s potential capabilities due to the country owning numerous biological laboratories across the globe.
“All bioweapons-related subjects that the country has should be subject to scrutiny,” he said, adding that only China had invited the World Health Organisation (WHO) to investigate where the virus began.
But China’s refusal to allow a full investigation and their increasingly shrill denials have fuelled suspicion that the country is seeking to cover up culpability.
Samples taken in the US for a research program by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reportedly suggested that seven Americans in five states – Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – were infected before the first confirmed cases that were reported on January 21, 2020.
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The data suggests Covid-19 could have been present as early as December 24, 2019 – but in states far from the areas originally considered the points of entry into the US, according to the study.
Zhao Lijian, spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the US study is supported by similar evidence seen in international scientific journals.
“It is obvious that the outbreak had multiple origins,” Mr Zhao said, citing the claims of chief Swedish epidemiologists who have suggested the virus was present in Sweden as early as November.
He urged other nations to work with WHO as China has and aid attempts to figure out its origin.
Chief scientist of the European Precision Medicine Research Institute in France, Ju Liya, said in the wake of studying the genetic sequences of the viruses from patients initially affected, they found the French outbreak was caused by an indigenous virus.
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She said it had no links to Wuhan – where the world’s first Covid-19 case was reported – because the virus strain was so different to the infection of Chinese coronavirus patients.
She also claimed that after publishing her findings, she and her institute were silenced and shunned by the French government and politicians.
It marks the latest attempt from China to distance itself from the coronavirus outbreak, after a leading expert on the country said the truth could bring national shame and topple their Communist regime.
According to China specialist Jasper Becker: “It would start a political earthquake which would begin in China and up-end the world order.”
In 2020, Chinese agents were reportedly offering social media users up to $510 per post for sharing propaganda praising the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The country was also feared to be using millions of fake Facebook accounts to try to spread Covid-19 misinformation.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission