As of today, 156,314 people have died after contracting the deadly novel coronavirus and the world is running out of resources to fight this formidable enemy. One way to defeat it is to understand its origin. But that requires a probe into the very first epicenter of the outbreak that is Wuhan. In a recent turn of events, the United States wanted to explore the possibility that the virus may have transcended from a lab, not a market. But, China is adamant and has rejected all such probes from The United States. Ironically, the US government had reportedly funded $3.7 million to the same Chinese laboratory a few years back. To understand the whole issue, we dug deep and found out many aspects of this particular deadlock.
The mysterious lab in Wuhan
Ever since the outbreak, there have been conspiracy theories that the Novel Coronavirus was a bioengineered one and its origins can be traced back to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Just to give you a little perspective, CAS or the Chinese Academy of Sciences sanctioned the development of the BSL-4 laboratory in 2003 during the SARS outbreak (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that resulted in a greater sense of legitimacy to the project. If you are not aware BSL-4 is the highest level of biocontainment. In 2004 the construction of the lab was started with French assistance as part of the Cooperative Agreement on the Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Disease. Nevertheless, the size of the scheme, China’s lack of expertise, challenges in the flow of finances and lengthy government approval processes meant that work was not finished until the end of 2014.
Then a year later in 2015 BSL4 facility was completed and Wuhan Institute of Virology became the first BSL-4 laboratory in China. Even when this development was taking place there were concerns over the safe handling of potentially deadly viruses like Ebola and Lassa virus. This institute was being boasted by China as a big status symbol in biology. But, after the coronavirus outbreak, the lab has been seen with suspicion and has raised more doubts than providing a clear picture of the origin. China is often very guarded about many things but they are very touchy about this lab and don’t want any probe against it.
The Five Eyes want to see for themselves
After the conspiracy theories about the virus transcending from the lab, not the market gained momentum and it left the United States wondering, why do we not investigate? That is what they did and asked China to let a team of experts inspect the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Although experts around the world have found nothing to believe that the virus is manmade, the U.S. is adamant about starting a probe. Then, spinelessly the UK officials backlashed against Chinas rejection to the probe and joined The U.S. to start an investigation. Soon Australia joined both the countries to put further pressure on China for starting a probe into the lab. It can be established that all these countries including New Zealand and Canada that form the Five Eyes an information-sharing framework that has been operating since World War II want a probe to be commissioned against China.
Russia comes to Chinas Rescue
After the US and Britain backed by Australia said they will investigate whether COVID-19 came from the wet market or a lab? Russian president remarked that any attempt to criticize Beijing over the virus is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. He added that it is a time for cooperation among all countries and to fight the virus.
Russia also does not feel that China has mishandled the virus and condemned the claims made by many countries and said these counterproductive assaults on China will not solve any issue.
China has fiercely rejected all claims regarding the origin of the virus in a lab and has maintained that it took place in the Wuhan wet market.
We may never know the origins of the virus and even if we miraculously do, the reality is that the virus has claimed so many lives already and is continuing to do so. The only good that can come out of it is that it will be easier to combat the virus, which in itself is a huge motivation. A question that arises is that if China is so sure that the pandemic started in the wet market and not the lab, then why is it refraining from a probe? But one thing is sure, The United States has not learned its lessons from the past. They just can’t knock and enter a country, they should have compelling evidence before commissioning a probe against countries reputed institute. The world refers to researches coming out of this institute, and to challenge its authenticity can be a bit of an issue. If the Five Eyes can gather more evidence, then China may not have that much power to influence the World Health Organisation and the UN and may eventually have to succumb to international pressure and let the United States in.