Millennium Post

Unearthing facts

Unearthing facts

It can be said that the WHO's recent fact-finding mission in China was not carried out in the best of circumstances. Due to 'health reasons', the team was largely restricted from actually carrying out any independent investigations and was instead always chaperoned by Chinese on what can only be called a guided tour. Does that immediately discount the sparse facts unearthed during this mission? No, but it clearly leaves a lot of room for suspicion and doubts over just how conclusive this fact-finding mission can be when the WHO specialists had to investigate while following an itinerary set by the Chinese. Regardless, this visit and its conclusion is a clear win for China in the diplomatic arena. From the early days when it's handling of the virus earned it worldwide criticism and animosity, China has repeatedly attempted to spin an alternative narrative in which the virus did not originate in China but was rather brought to it. As such the Chinese have been the only ones to forward the theory that the virus can survive and be transmitted off the surface of frozen food products, allowing for the possibility that the virus may have come from outside China. While the WHO team did not directly confirm this theory, it did say that it may be possible. Another major theory that the team apparently investigated the feasibility of was the possibility of the virus coming from a lab, in this case, specifically the virology lab in Wuhan. Conspiracy theories from day one have created a narrative that connected the dots in a way that pointed towards an intentional or accidental release of the virus from within the lab. Early, later discredited scientific papers also speculated on the peculiar nature of the virus in that it looks to be constructed and quite different from what one may expect to be found in nature. Regardless, the theory stuck around, forming the basis of multiple conspiracy theories targetted at all sides. Indeed, a conspiracy theory war was sparked between the netizens of the US and China as both sides attempted to paint a suspicious picture regarding the actions and circumstances of the other side. Somehow or the other, the conspiracy fight frequently touched upon a more serious tone as officials from both sides also spoke up from time to time, adding 'official' speculation that only served to fuel the fire. At that point in the pandemic, China was reticent to allow any foreign investigation into the background of the virus in China. Indeed, Australia got the short end of the stick when its suggestion to organise an independent study of the origins of the virus seriously antagonised China who had already refused multiple international calls for an investigation into its borders. When this fact-finding trip was finally organised, it was lost on absolutely no one that the trip was organised as per China's convenience at a time which it had indicated while it kept away the WHO observers for a variety of reasons like proper visa documentation, health safety, etc. It is no surprise therefore that there are many with the US being prominent amongst them who do not take the results of this probe at face value. Under a new administration that just rejoined the WHO, the US gave a measured response when the White House Press Secretary stated that the President was yet to independently review the findings of the study before he was ready to form an opinion. This response set-off quite a few Chinese commentators who remarked upon the audacity of the US in suggesting an independent review of the WHO evidence. They instead challenged the US to open itself up to a similar fact-finding mission that would unearth the origins of Covid in the US, the worst-hit of all the nations. Is this the start of conspiracy theory war round two? Maybe. It's clear that the investigation regarding the origins of the virus is far from over. Experts have acknowledged that we may never actually know the true origin of the virus, something that happens more often than not in case of such diseases. While researching the origins could give a greater understanding of the virus at a time when it is undergoing mutations, it is not strictly necessary to efforts for ending the pandemic. What must be avoided is turning this series of fact-finding missions into a repeat opportunity for political dog fights.

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