Chinese researchers have claimed the coronavirus originated in India when scientists tried to blame the pandemic for the pandemic outside their borders.
A team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences argues that the virus likely originated in India in the summer of 2019 and leaps from animals to humans over contaminated water before traveling unnoticed to Wuhan, where it was first discovered.
But David Robertson and an expert from the University of Glasgow described the paper as “very flawed” and concluded that “it doesn’t add anything to our understanding of the coronavirus”.
It’s not the first time Chinese authorities have been to blame elsewhere – which largely suggests without evidence that both Italy and the US could be the site of the original infection.
And this against the background of increasing political tensions between India and China, with troops attacking each other along a disputed border.
Chinese scientists studying the coronavirus genetic code claim to have food evidence suggesting the virus did not originate in their country (file picture, a Covid patient in Wuhan).
Pictured: A map showing the nine countries that China blamed for the Covid-19 outbreak
The WHO is currently looking for the source of the coronavirus in China, while scientific evidence suggests that the disease originated there.
In their work, the Chinese team uses phylogenetic analysis – a study of the mutation of a virus – to try to trace the origins of Covid-19.
Viruses, like all cells, mutate as they reproduce, which means that every time they replicate, tiny changes occur in their DNA.
China’s official timeline against the new evidence
December 8th – Earliest date China recognized infection
December 31 – China reported pneumonia of unknown cause to the World Health Organization for the first time
January 1st – Wuhan fish market closed due to disinfection
11th January – China reported its first death
January 23 – Wuhan locked
31 January – WHO stated the outbreak of international concern as China admitted it has thousands of cases
February 23 – Italy reports a number of cases in the first major outbreak unrelated to travelers from China
Sep – Blood samples taken in Milan contain Covid antibodies
Oct-Dec – Hundreds of pneumonia cases near Milan can be linked to viruses and scientists are investigating this
Nov – Wastewater samples from Florianópolis, Brazil suggest that a virus was present and is being investigated
November 17th – Leaked documents suggest that a case was discovered in China that day
December 1– Chinese researchers reported an infection at this time in a peer-reviewed study, but Beijing did not recognize it
December 18th– Wastewater samples taken in Milan and Turin suggest that viruses were circulating in the cities
Jan 2020– Wastewater samples from Barcelona suggest viruses were in the city
The scientists argue that it should therefore be possible to track down the original version of the virus by finding the sample with the fewest mutations.
They say using this method rules out the virus found in Wuhan as the “native” virus and instead points to eight other countries: Bangladesh, USA, Greece, Australia, India, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia or Serbia.
The researchers further argue that it is likely that the first transmission took place there, given that both India and Bangladesh received samples with low mutations and are geographical neighbors.
By estimating the time it takes for the virus to mutate once and comparing it to the samples taken there, they also theorize that the virus first appeared there in July or August 2019.
They continue: “From May to June 2019, the second-longest recorded heat wave hit north-central India and Pakistan, causing a severe water crisis in that region.
“The lack of water has caused wild animals such as monkeys to fatally fight each other over water and would certainly have increased the likelihood of human-wild-animal interactions.
‘We speculated that [animal to human] The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 could be linked to this unusual heat wave. ‘
The researchers further argue that India’s poor health system and the young population suffering from less severe symptoms of Covid left the spread of the virus undetected for several months.
They speculate that the virus may have spread to the other countries on their list before they got to China, possibly via Europe.
“In that regard, the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable and the Wuhan epidemic is only part of it,” they conclude.
However, other researchers were not impressed with the results.
In a statement to Mail Online, Professor Robertson said, ‘The author’s approach to identifying the “least mutated” virus sequences is … inherently biased.
‘The authors have also ignored the extensive epidemiological data available, which shows a clear occurrence in China and the spread of the virus from there.
“This paper does not add anything to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2.”
Marc Suchard, an expert from the University of California, told the South China Morning Post, “It is unlikely that choosing the virus sequence that has the fewest number of differences from the others in any collection will produce the ancestor.”
Another UK-based researcher told Mail Online that the study made “strong claims” and that he was “skeptical” of the results.
India suffered a near-record-breaking heat wave in 2019 as water was scarce and the government was forced to haul it to cities in large trucks (pictured)
Coroanvirus first emerged in China in December 2019, combined with a series of cases of “pneumonia of unknown origin” at a city fish market.
It then spread across China before making its way to other countries, mainly via touring, where it spread quickly and sparked a pandemic.
But no one has been able to identify “patient zero” as the first person known to have the disease, which means we don’t know when or where exactly the first infection occurred.
This has sparked intense speculation and spawned many conspiracy theories, none of which have so far been established.
The World Health Organization, under pressure due to its own response to the pandemic, has sent a team of 10 to China to investigate.
While the team admits the virus may have originated outside the country, early searches are all focused on China’s borders.
The UN agency has tried to temper expectations prior to the investigation, warning that tracking new pathogens is a “puzzle that can take years to resolve.”
It took scientists more than a year to detect MERS, another coronavirus that came from camels in Saudi Arabia, and even longer to trace the original SARS back to bats in a cave in southern China.
The Chinese paper was also released shortly before the details of the scientists who directed the probe in China were published.
The great cover-up in China: Beijing punished Covid’s whistleblower, claiming he was from the US – so what can we believe?
Doctors in China, including Li Wenliang, reported the existence of a new type of respiratory infection similar to SARS in early December last year.
But instead of making the reports public and warning the public, the Chinese police caught up with Wenliang and eight of his colleagues who had reported the virus online for questioning.
Wenliang, who would later die from the virus, had to sign a document classifying the information he published as incorrect.
While China has been widely lauded for a draconian lockdown that helped slow the spread of the virus, the evidence suggests the country could have acted much faster to prevent the spread.
Dr. Li Wenliang, one of the first Chinese medical professionals to report the existence of the new coronavirus, was forced by police to confess to spreading false data. He later died from the virus
Samples analyzed as early as December 26th indicated a new type of SARS was floating around, the Washington Post reported, but Wuhan was not locked into lockdown until January 22nd, almost a month later.
Wuhan’s Mayor also admitted a mistake that allowed 5 million people to leave the city before the lockdown without being checked for the virus, which may have contributed to the spread of the virus.
Chinese authorities have also been reluctant to get any information about the country’s “patient zero” – or the first person known to have contracted the virus.
While Beijing claims the first infection occurred on December 8, researchers have traced the virus back to at least December 1, and anecdotal evidence suggests it spread in November.
A lack of information about the first patient has left scientists still unclear how the disease made the leap from animals to humans.
Theories suggest that it could be carried by a bat or pangolin sold in a market in Wuhan and then eaten by someone, but this has not been confirmed.
Chinese authorities initially reported that the virus could not spread from person to person, despite evidence that it spread rapidly in Wuhan city, including doctors infected by patients.
This was used to justify the normal functioning of Wuhan City during a major CCP conference held between January 11th and 17th. The authorities did not request any new cases during this period.
China didn’t confirm human-to-human transmission of the virus until late January when large parts of Hubei province, including Wuhan, were locked down.
The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (picture), which is believed to have triggered the coronavirus pandemic, was one of the largest markets in Wuhan with many customers every day
Although Wuhan’s largest World Health Organization newspaper reported the existence of a “novel type of pneumonia” on December 31, it did not mention the virus until the week of January 20.
That meant people in the city were not taking precautions like social distancing to stop the spread.
It also meant that people had started to travel for the New Year holiday, which was due to start on January 24th, when millions of people visit relatives and continue to spread the virus.
In addition, China delayed reports suggesting that around 14 percent of patients who initially tested negative for the virus or who appeared to have recovered tested positive a second time, only confirming such cases in February.
This further hampered efforts to contain the virus early in places like Japan, where patients who tested negative on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship were allowed to leave – only to test positive later.
Beijing authorities were also slow to report the deaths of two doctors, including one who was killed on January 25, but whose death was not reported by state media until a month later.
The market closed on January 1 after dozens of workers there contracted the disease
Origin of the virus
Despite early admissions that the virus began in Wuhan city, China was later traced back – even to the point that American troops transmitted the infection after visiting the province.
Lijian Zhao, a prominent official with the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted the claim on March 12 without producing any evidence.
‘When did Patient Zero start in the US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? “, He wrote.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused American military personnel of bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan
Referring to a military track and field tournament in Wuhan in October that US troops were participating in, he wrote: “It could be the US Army that brought the epidemic to Wuhan.
‘Be transparent! Make your data public! The US owes us an explanation! ‘
In fact, America’s “Patient Zero” was a man who traveled from China to Washington State on January 15th. The case was confirmed by the CDC six days later.
Chinese have also tried to advance the theory that the virus originated in Italy, the country with the highest number of deaths, by skewing a quote from an Italian doctor who suggested the country’s first cases may have appeared much earlier than thought.
Zhao spread the theory in a tweet with no evidence to support it
Giuseppe Remuzzi said he was investigating strange cases of pneumonia as early as December and November, months before the virus was known to have spread.
Chinese state media reported extensively on his comments while suggesting that the virus could have originated in Italy.
In fact, says Remuzzi, there can be no doubt that it started in Wuhan – but it could have spread out of the province and around the world sooner than thought.
China has reported a total of around 82,000 coronavirus infections and recently reported a domestic infection rate of zero for several days in a row – even if it eased the lockdown restrictions in places like Hubei.
However, according to their own statements, the virus is still likely to spread – through people with few or no symptoms.
Caixin, a Beijing-based company, reported that “a few to over ten cases of covert infections of the virus are detected” in China every day, although this is not included in official data.
Meanwhile, foreign governments have despised China’s infection reports that cannot be trusted.
Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator and former US presidential candidate, tweeted, “We have no idea how many cases China really has,” after the US infection rate surpassed Beijing’s official number.
“Without a doubt, it is way more than what they admit,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UK government has also questioned China’s reporting. Conservative minister and former prime minister candidate Michael Gove claimed the Communist Party could not be trusted.
‘Some of the reports from China were not clear about the extent, nature, and infectivity of these [virus]”He told the BBC.
Meanwhile, sources told the mail that China’s true total infection rate could be up to 40 times what reports had suggested.
Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator, said China’s numbers are untrustworthy and far higher than reported
Doubts have also been raised about China’s reported death toll from the virus, which is currently around 3,300.
Locals in the epicenter city of Wuhan have been keeping an eye on funeral homes since lockdown restrictions were partially lifted, claiming they “worked around the clock” to dispose of bodies.
China has reported 3,300 deaths from the virus, but social media users in Wuhan have suggested the toll could be more than 42,000
Social media posts estimate that crematoriums dispense 3,500 urns daily, while Caixin reports that a funeral home in town ordered 5,000 urns.
Locals believe the effort to dispose of the bodies began on March 23, and city authorities have announced that the trial will end on or around April 5.
That would mean around 42,000 urns were handed out during that period, ten times the number reported.
Chinese aid packages
As China brought its own coronavirus epidemic under control and the disease spread to the rest of the world, it tried to distinguish itself as a helpful neighbor by sending aid and supplies to countries in need like Italy.
While the Chinese Red Cross provided free equipment to the Italians, the country bought a large amount of what it received.
Meanwhile, officials in Spain said a number of coronavirus test kits bought from China were only 30 percent reliable – up from the 80 percent they were promised.
China has said it is ready to provide the world with much-needed help and supplies but has been accused of hoarding protective gear and selling test kits that don’t work
China is also the world’s largest manufacturer of single-use masks, which are worn to slow the spread of the virus by people in public.
As the disease gained traction in the country in January, China began limiting exports of the masks while buying up supplies from other countries, the New York Times reported.
Not only did China stop virtually all exports of masks, it also bought up 56 million masks and respirators from overseas while fear of a pandemic was still a long way off.
Despite reports from US mask makers at Shanghai factories that have been effectively nationalized, China denies the existence of such a policy, saying it is “ready to step up international cooperation on the issue.”