US should clear up suspicions over COVID-19 origins

(People's Daily Online) 14:33, August 05, 2021

Photo taken on May 28, 2021 shows the U.S. Capitol building behind a traffic sign in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

As the most prominent failed state in the world in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the US continues to have the highest number of infections and deaths, and faces waves of suspicion surrounding the origins of the virus. It should be the priority country in the next stage of global tracing of COVID-19 origins.

Researchers from the US National Institutes of Health found that infections appeared in five US states back in December 2019. These findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on June 15.

Researchers conducted antibody testing of more than 24,079 stored blood samples across all 50 states between Jan. 2 and March 18, 2020. They found that seven people in the states of Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Mississippi were infected with the novel coronavirus before the states reported their first cases.

The sudden shutdown of the lab of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, which is the largest biochemical weapons base in the US, is still shrouded with suspicion.

USAMRIID said in August 2019 in a statement that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a "cease and desist order" to halt the research at Fort Detrick because the center did not have "sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater" from its highest-security labs, the New York Times reported. The center also suspended its projects under the Federal Select Agent Program.

The suspended research involves germs called select agents, which the government has determined "have the potential to pose a severe threat to both human and animal health, to plant health, or to animal and plant products," the report added.

In the same month, there were reports of unexplained outbreaks of respiratory disease in northern Virginia and on the subsequent EVALI outbreaks in Wisconsin.

American Broadcasting Company reported in July 2019 that 54 individuals had become ill with symptoms such as fever, cough, and general weakness and two people had died after a respiratory outbreak of unknown cause at a retirement community in Virginia. In September, EVALI cases doubled in Maryland, where Fort Detrick is based.

Steve Sin, a scholar who specializes in international security at the University of Maryland, recently said that it was logical to raise doubts about Fort Detrick, as it has engaged in the research of dangerous germs for a long time and once tried to produce biological weapons.

After the pandemic broke out on a large scale in the US, some American politicians promptly stigmatized and shifted the blame to China. With US media outlets such as Fox News awash with conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, these politicians "suddenly changed their identity" to become "scientists" and claimed that they found evidence for the so-called "lab leak" theory.

However, they have been unmasked by facts again and again. Their groundless remarks over the past years showed to the world that some US politicians are just immoral. They claimed that the novel coronavirus was no worse than the common flu, refused to wear masks amid the pandemic, and advocated injecting bleach as a treatment. The international community already knows that such remarks are not credible.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was initially believed to have originated from Spain, but origin tracing eventually found that the first confirmed cases originated in the US state of Kansas.

It's the US that should be investigated for COVID-19 origin tracing in the next stage, either historically or currently.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)


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