13 Mar, 2020
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lijian Zhao has demanded US authorities reveal what they’re hiding about the origins of Covid-19, going as far as to suggest the coronavirus may have been brought to China by the US military.
Pointing to a video of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield apparently admitting the US had several deaths from Covid-19 before they were able to test for it, Zhao called on the American watchdog to come clean in a tweet posted on Thursday.
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
“It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Zhao suggested, calling for the CDC – and the US in general – to “be transparent” and share what they know about where and when “Patient Zero” was first diagnosed.
In the video, Redfield acknowledged that some cases of coronavirus were misclassified as influenza as the medics did not have an accurate test for the new epidemic at the time. He did not elaborate on when these misdiagnosed cases first appeared – saying only that “some cases have been diagnosed that way.”
In the absence of any patients’ details or chronology of deaths, speculation has swirled. Zhao’s “theory” in particular focused on the military delegation that traveled to Wuhan in October for the Military World Games, weeks before the city confirmed the outbreak in December. The delegation was part of the 300-member group of American athletes taking part in the multi-sport event held every four years.
Zhao is not the only high-profile political figure to voice suspicions about the timing of the Games and the introduction of the coronavirus in Wuhan. Former Malaysian PM Matthias Chang offered similar speculation back in January, zeroing in on the event as the launch point for what he deemed a biological war waged by the US against China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that what is now the Covid-19 pandemic was first reported as a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. The search for the deadly disease’s origin has been ongoing, with conflicting versions blaming the Wuhan food market and bats – a local delicacy – sold there in particular, while others opined humans might have gotten the virus from pangolins, an endangered scaly mammal.
Less orthodox theories suggest malicious intent, with the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards sensationally claiming last week that Covid-19 could possibly be “a product of a biological attack by America which initially spread to China and then to Iran and the rest of the world.”
So far, the problem with all of those theories, blaming both animals and humans, is that no direct causal proof has been established, while the identity of China’s “patient zero” also remains unclear. And it’s not China alone: in Washington state – which seemingly identified and successfully isolated its first infected traveler, with dozens of contacts identified and monitored – the virus somehow began spreading anyway. Even Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, at one point claimed he and his wife may have been the US’ “patient zero” after developing a bad cough on return from China. It has since emerged his wife’s diagnosis was “a sinus infection,” however.