In the last six months, the world had been in battle with the scourge of Covid-19. Going back in time, when the world first became aware of Corona Virus in December 2019, it was thought the outbreak would be restricted to Wuham in China where it was first reported. The developed countries at the outbreak still assumed that it was a Chinese disease and would be contained within that territory.
The World was still not worried at that initial beginning considering that in China where the outbreak occurred, information coming out was scanty and no one was sure about the transmissibility of the virus at the time. China linked the outbreak to a seafood market in Wuhan. But as the world continued to bask in its bliss that China was far away and its disease would be restricted to its border, a worried Ophthalmologist, Dr Li Wenliang had privately informed his colleagues to protect themselves from an outbreak of a disease that had all the symptoms of Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). His warning was ignored. Indeed, the case of Dr Wenliang is quite interesting and at the same time pathetic. After his private message to doctor colleagues, who he admonished to keep the information confidential, got leaked to the public, he was invited by the police who dubbed him a whistleblower. He was accused of making false comments on the internet. He later returned to work and ironically got infected by the disease he had warned against. He died on February 7 at age of 33 years.
After his death, the Chinese set up an inquiry and it was discovered that he had been wrongly accused. The government thereafter tendered an apology to his family while the accusation against him by the police was withdrawn. Maybe, just maybe, if his warning had been taken with the seriousness it deserved, the world would have been spared the present agony. Conversely, could it be that this cover up was deliberately orchestrated?
By December 31, China had informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the outbreak of a disease that has all the symptoms of pneumonia. In reporting the outbreak to WHO’s office, China had also noted that it was unable to find any evidence of human to human transmission in spite of the fact that 27 people had already been infected from the initial four when the outbreak was discovered a few days earlier. About two days after reporting to WHO, the active cases had increased to 41 admittance in hospital.
From available information, when the United States became aware of the disease by January 3, it offered to send a team to help assess the situation, but China was reluctant. A few days later, the disease claimed its first victim. In spite of this, China continued to down play the devastating nature of Covid-19 especially its human to human transmission which was also repeated by WHO based on information from China. A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report said that about eight people were punished in Wuhan for “publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification”. Also China’s National Health Commission ordered institutions not to publish any information related to the unknown disease and ordered labs to “transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions or to destroy them”. Even when the first patient of the disease died, China still denied the possibility of human to human transmission. About a week after the breakout was reported, WHO had said, “China shared the genetic sequence of the novel corona virus” and reports that, “there is no clear evidence that the virus passes easily from person to person.”
Considering all the available information, the questions that readily come to mind are; did China deliberately misinform WHO and the whole world about the outbreak of the disease and its ability to transmit from one person to the other or was the country also ignorant and in the dark? What is really the origin of the virus? Was it actually genetically engineered from the Wuhan laboratory as initially claimed by American President Donald Trump? Why was China reluctant to allow researchers from the US into the country to help investigate the outbreak? Could the spread of the pandemic have been stemmed if China had been forthcoming at the onset of the outbreak? Why the secrecy on the part of Beijing at the initial stage?
Obviously, it is important for the world to know what really transpired in the China laboratory. We are only getting half of the story. There is a tendency to believe that the pandemic is man-made and must have escaped from a laboratory, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been described as China’s first biosafety level 4 laboratory. The laboratory is described as handling the most dangerous pathogens of which there are few available vaccines or treatment and one of its principal tasks is conducting coronaviruses from bats.
Taking the above together with the effect of the pandemic on the world, one tends to question China more about this disease and why the case is lower in China where it first broke out while the world continues to bear the brunt of this problem. With its population, the number of cases of the virus in China is 82, 965 and 4,634 deaths compared with the United States that has 1,570,583 active cases and about 93,533 deaths within the same period. Britain stood at about 248, 818 active cases and over 35,341 deaths. America’s death tolls tops the number of active cases and deaths in China. Italy presently has 227, 000 cases and 32,169 deaths while Spain is 232, 000 with a death toll of 27,778. In France, there are 143,000 active cases and 28,022.
So what is China doing differently that others are not doing which has reduced the rate of transmission and has limited its death rate? I still believe Beijing holds the human race an explanation about this pandemic. Its attitude at the initial outbreak of the pandemic has clearly shown that it knows more than it has given out in terms of information. Not only that, why would a country be conducting research into an ailment that has no known cure or vaccine?
Obviously, one could say the idea was to produce a biological weapon. Would the entire world then fold its arms with the discovery? America and its allies had gone to war against Iraq over the same reasons. War had been waged for lesser reasons against Libya. Though there may not be war against China on this as it has a potential of a third world war, China should be made to pay heavy compensation for this dire strait that it has led the world into.