Category: COVID-19
More International Voices Opposing US Politicising Virus Origins Probe
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:18 am | COVID-19 | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/world/202107271083469485-more-international-voices-opposing-us-politicising-virus-origins-probe/

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An online petition calling for an investigation of the Fort Detrick lab garners 13 mln signatures.

Politicians, media outlets and experts from more countries are choosing to stand against the US’ politicisation of the coronavirus origins probe and slammed the country’s refusal to open Fort Detrick lab to an investigation. Analysts expected more countries and people to follow suit, as they see the US selfish deeds of putting politics over science as hobbling international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 surge.

At a Monday briefing, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave multiple examples of foreign media and experts lashing out at the US for putting politics over science, including Hamdan Shakeel, senior editor of Maldives News Network, who published an article last week suggesting that Western countries are politicising the search for the source of the coronavirus, which means it is distorting facts and imposing responsibility on China.

The spokesperson revealed that the world has seen through the US’ attempt to shift attention away from its bungled approach to COVID-19 and blame China, and urged the US to invite WHO experts to probe the Fort Detrick biolab and “give the world the truth.”

More rational voices criticizing US attitude on COVID-19 origins tracing investigation emerged in the international community recently. Anil Sooklal, a deputy director-general at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told the Xinhua News Agency earlier this month that countries must refrain from using the tracing of the origins of COVID-19 to score cheap political points.

“What is important is that COVID-19 should not be used for political point scoring exercises, which is what is happening at the present time,” said the official, while applauding China’s cooperation in tracing the origins of COVID-19.

Herman Tiu Laurel, a columnist, proposed on Philippine media outlet Sovereign PH on Friday an online petition to be signed by netizens for the WHO to look into the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

“While China has shown it has nothing to hide by opening the city of Wuhan, its suspected market epicentre, and its virology institute to the WHO international team, the US is not only uninviting but is aggressively applying ‘weapons of mass distraction’ and smoke-screening Fort Detrick from questions by steering attention back to China with the false narrative of a ‘Wuhan lab-leak’ conspiracy theory,” the columnist added.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, also wrote on Thursday an article in which he urged international cooperation to deal with the pandemic, instead of blaming or acquitting some countries.

With many parts of the world overwhelmed by the COVID-19 surge, the US’ politicisation of virus origins tracing has seriously hobbled scientific research on this issue, which is why countries still ravaged by the pandemic have vented their anger against the politicisation of the probe, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

He said that more countries and more scientists will stand up and voice their indignation if Washington continues to play the blame game on the coronavirus origins probe and keep Fort Detrick biolab shrouded in secrecy.

A source close to the China-WHO joint expert team told the Global Times that the trend of politics leading science is “unlikely to result in useful results. It will also significantly delay the next steps, making tracing even more difficult.” He said that eventually everyone stands to lose because of politicisation of this issue.

To date, nearly 60 countries have sent letters to the WHO, agreeing with the results of the first phase of origin-tracing research and opposing the attempt to politicise the study of the origins, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday while meeting the press with Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

The coronavirus needs origin-tracing, and so does the political virus, said Wang.

“Yet the US, long being obsessed with hegemony, and the one that has forced international organizations to probe others, is unlikely to change its attitude because of the international petition,” said Li, noting that the US refusal to subject itself to a WHO virus origins probe exposes its hypocrisy and condescension.

Standing Up For Truth

Before the international community began opposing the politicisation of the virus origins investigation, Chinese people have taken actions to have their voices heard.

An online petition demanding that the WHO investigate the Fort Detrick lab launched on July 17 has garnered 13 million signatures among Chinese netizens as of press time.

However, the petition was attacked by multiple US IP addresses Saturday night as the number of signatures approached 10 million. Responding to the cyberattack, Zhao Lijian said that the US owes Chinese netizens an explanation on why it remains silent on opening the Fort Detrick lab for investigation and why it launched a cyberattack against the online petition.

The US is ignoring a request from 13 million Chinese people, and deliberately dodging questions on the Fort Detrick lab, Zhao remarked. “The US presents itself as ‘transparent,’ where is your transparency now?” 

About a week ago, the US together with its allies accused China of launching large-scale cyberattacks against Western countries. But the cyberattack from the US on the petition has exposed its double standards on the issue of cybersecurity and exposed the US as a threat to cybersecurity, Zhao continued.

Chinese observers said the strong appeal shows that Chinese people will not stop questioning the American lab until the US gives a reasonable explanation, and they also urged the WHO to truly play its coordinating role based on science and objectivity rather than becoming a political tool of the US.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO, outlined a plan recently for a second investigation in China of the origins of coronavirus, including a proposal for “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019.” The proposal was rejected by Zeng Yixin, China’s vice minister of the National Health Commission, saying it “disregards common sense and defies science.”

The recent steps Tedros has taken are likely to lead to months being lost in the scientific study to understand the origins of coronavirus, said the anonymous source, noting that it seems political agendas have been put at a higher priority than science.

Lei Ruipeng, an expert at the School of Philosophy and Center for Bioethics at the Wuhan-based Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and a member of the WHO Ethics and COVID-19 Working Group told the Global Times that virus origins tracing is complex work that requires international cooperation. China has taken the lead and opened the country for a WHO investigation. It would be unfair and unjust to only focus on China while other countries, such as the US and Italy where the epidemic is severe and suspicious cases had been reported before the pandemic emerged, still refused to cooperate.

Lei said that the WHO second-stage plan has deviated from the roadmap and distorted the key point of the virus origins tracing work by politicising the issue.

This article was originally published by the Global Times. 

Who’s Afraid of Fort Detrick Probe?
worker | July 27, 2021 | 8:12 am | COVID-19, Fort Detrick | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202107261083464841-whos-afraid-of-fort-detrick-probe/

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An international online petition calling for an investigation into a US military laboratory and the possible origin of Covid-19 was hacked at the weekend. The hackers were reportedly based in the US.

Fort Detrick in Maryland is the center of American biowarfare research. It is just one of the hundreds of such infectious disease laboratories located across the United States. During the Cold War, Fort Detrick was the main site for experimenting with lethal pathogens, including viruses causing deadly influenza.

In 2001, when a disgruntled researcher is believed to have killed five people by mailing deadly anthrax spores it was Fort Detrick that was the origin of the lethal material.

 

However, the network of secretive US biowarfare laboratories is also infamous for safety violations and accidents. In August 2019, Fort Detrick was shut down abruptly for several months when its wastewater decontamination process failed.It is not unreasonable to call for an investigation into the practices and records at the Maryland center to ascertain if it had any connection to the Covid-19 pandemic which has so far killed over four million people worldwide and more than 600,000 in the United States alone.

Of course, American politicians and media dismiss the appeal as “disinformation” put out by Russia and China. Americans have accused China of being the origin of the pandemic after the first cases of Covid-19 were detected in the city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. More sinisterly, the Wuhan virology institute has been fingered as the source of the virus even though an international survey by the World Health Organization concluded such a release was “extremely unlikely”.

Scientific consensus contends that the virus evolved naturally and was most likely transmitted to humans from animals.

US President Joe Biden has given credibility to the conspiracy theory unleashed by his predecessor Donald Trump that the Wuhan laboratory was the origin of the Covid-19 virus. Biden has tasked his intelligence agencies to look into the claims. They are due to report back on their findings next month. Washington berates China for not being transparent about its laboratory and is demanding that Beijing open up its facility for inspection. The Americans claim China was not fully open with WHO investigators who cleared the lab as not being the origin of the virus.

But two can play that game. If the Americans accuse China and demand an investigation into secret laboratories then why can’t China level the same at the US?

It is still not known where the Covid-19 pandemic originated. It may take years to determine that. But what is certainly hindering an answer is the politicization of the disease. Washington is using it to smear China while hypocritically suppressing any questions about its own conduct.

FILE - In this March 19, 2020, file photo laboratory scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., where scientists are working to help develop solutions to prevent, detect and treat the coronavirus
© AP PHOTO / ANDREW HARNIK
FILE – In this March 19, 2020, file photo laboratory scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., where scientists are working to help develop solutions to prevent, detect and treat the coronavirus

The early cases of Covid-19 were detected in Wuhan. But who is to say that cases may have existed elsewhere but were simply not detected and reported in other countries? The US had an unprecedented surge in influenza deaths in 2019 before the Wuhan cases. Were some of these misdiagnosed as flu instead of Covid-19?

Fort Detrick has a notorious history of safety failures. It works on a wide range of biowarfare pathogens with little public oversight. And it was shut down in mid-2019 for reasons that are not clear to the public.

It is therefore reasonable for China to demand a probe into the American facility. This is not just a matter of “counter-propaganda” to turn the tables over American speculation about the Wuhan institute. There are empirical grounds for suspecting Fort Detrick as possibly having a role in the origin of the pandemic.

An online petition was started in China earlier this month demanding the WHO launch an investigation into Fort Detrick. It had gathered over 10 million signatures when the online site was hacked into at the weekend. Apparently, the petition was defended by its cybersecurity system and continues to operate.

According to Chinese reports the hackers were identified as having computer server addresses located in the US. If that is confirmed then the suspicions around the murky practices of Fort Detrick become more acute. It looks like the Americans are afraid to permit a probe into the site, even though they make high-handed accusations and demands on China over tenuous claims about Wuhan.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Centenary event: Two songs express CPC’s values in COVID-19 fight
worker | July 5, 2021 | 1:44 pm | China, Communist Party of China, COVID-19 | Comments closed

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-07-02/Centenary-event-Two-songs-express-CPC-s-values-in-COVID-19-fight-11y6vOjQw6Y/index.html

Centenary event: Two songs express CPC’s values in COVID-19 fight
CGTN
07:32

Chinese dancer Zhang Jian was joined by actors Liu Peiqi, Tong Liya, Wan Qian and others to present song-and-dance act “The People Come First” in Chapter 4, “A Splendid Future,” of the art performance titled “Epic Journey” during the celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the National Stadium in Chinese capital Beijing.

A scene from the “Epic Journey” art performance during the celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the National Stadium. /CMG

A scene from the “Epic Journey” art performance during the celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the National Stadium. /CMG

A scene from the “Epic Journey” art performance during the celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the National Stadium. /CMG

A scene from the “Epic Journey” art performance during the celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at the National Stadium. /CMG

Following the incredible combination of singing and dancing, Xue Haoyin and Zhou Xiaolin, together with other singers, conveyed the CPC’s belief of valuing life more than anything in the song “Life Above All.”

“Between heaven and earth the gate of hope is opening. The gentle heart summons us for a voyage against the tide,” sang the performers.

“I am the child of civilization, cherishing every creature big and small. A great love unites us all with warmth melting the ice.”

Covid crisis caused wealth inequality & created millions of new millionaires – Credit Suisse
worker | June 23, 2021 | 8:33 pm | class struggle, COVID-19 | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/business/527348-covid-global-wealth-inequality/

Covid crisis caused wealth inequality & created millions of new millionaires – Credit Suisse

Covid crisis caused wealth inequality & created millions of new millionaires – Credit Suisse
The Covid-19 pandemic saw an enormous growth in wealth disparity worldwide in 2020, the Credit Suisse Research Institute says. It reported a 5.2 million increase in the number of millionaires, to a total of 56.1 million people.

“The repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic led to widespread rises in wealth inequality in 2020,” the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report states, claiming that the rich reportedly cashed in on surging stocks.

The number of millionaires increased to 56.1 million people, who are reportedly holding 45.8% of the world’s wealth – with 1.7 million of them residing in the US.

ALSO ON RT.COMMore than 100 million workers forced into poverty by Covid-19 pandemic, says UNThe detailed figures show that 56.1 million individuals around the world had assets worth more than $1 million, with 2020 becoming the first year in which more than one percent of the world’s adults were “dollar millionaires.”

The report admits growth in the wealth gap stems from the “nature of the policy response” to the pandemic by governments and central banks across the world.

“The rise in wealth inequality was likely not caused by the pandemic itself, nor its direct economic impacts, but was instead a consequence of actions undertaken to mitigate its impact, primarily lower interest rates,” it highlights.

ALSO ON RT.COMIncreasing debt to boost economies obsolete & serves to widen gap between rich and poor – PutinThe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on household wealth, particularly for the poorest, was reportedly worst in states where governments did not grant compensation for wages lost during the series of enforced lockdowns. In the nations where governments managed to introduce furlough schemes, the hit of job cuts and lower business income was softened.

At the same time, the wealthiest groups, who were already sitting on vast holdings of stocks and properties, were relatively unaffected by the economic shutdowns. After being crushed in the first half of 2020, share prices rebounded later in the year, thus boosting the fortunes of wealthier individuals.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

‘Africa in midst of full-blown third wave’: Health officials issue stark update about continent’s Covid outbreak
worker | June 21, 2021 | 7:57 pm | Africa, COVID-19 | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/news/526848-africa-covid-fatality-inequality-pandemic/

‘Africa in midst of full-blown third wave’: Health officials issue stark update about continent’s Covid outbreak

‘Africa in midst of full-blown third wave’: Health officials issue stark update about continent’s Covid outbreak
Health officials in Africa have warned that the Covid-19 virus is gaining strength on the continent, with cases rising by more than 20% week-on-week in nearly two dozen countries as the vaccination rate remains woefully low.

Speaking on Thursday, Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, warned that cases numbers were rising concerningly fast, with cases on the continent up by 30% in the past week, and nearly two dozen countries registering at least a 20% rise.

“Africa is in the midst of a full blown third wave… We’ve seen in India and elsewhere how quickly Covid-19 can rebound and overwhelm health systems,” Moeti stated. She added that deaths are up 15% and that five countries – South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, Uganda and Namibia – account for three-quarters of the new cases.

Speaking at a separate news conference on Thursday, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention chief John Nkengasong warned that only 0.79% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are vaccinated.

ALSO ON RT.COMMore than 30 members of Congo’s parliament have died from Covid-19, says senior lawmakerFour African nations are yet to start their vaccination campaign, although the WHO said that Tanzania plans to request to join the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility.

Both Moeti and Nkengasong also noted that countries which were vaccinating at a good pace were in danger of running out of stocks.

The continent is yet to experience an emergency in the same way that other parts of the world have to date in the pandemic, although some outlying data suggest that the virus may be more prevalent than the poor Covid testing capacity implies.

In May it was announced that around 5% of lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of Congo had died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. The figure suggests that there may have been more virus cases than the 31,000 the country claimed to have registered at the time, given the known fatality rate of the virus.

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Politicizing COVID-19 origin tracing gives free rein to ‘political virus’: Chinese embassy in U.S.
worker | May 27, 2021 | 8:02 pm | China, COVID-19 | Comments closed

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-05-27/China-denounces-political-hype-on-the-origin-tracing-of-COVID-19-10Ba4HkaAEM/index.html

China denounces U.S. ‘political hype’ on origin tracing of COVID-19
Updated 20:16, 27-May-2021
CGTN
00:34

China on Thursday rejected new attempts to politicize the origins of COVID-19, repeating that experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) had already concluded that a “lab leak” was “extremely unlikely.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks after U.S. President Biden ordered a probe into COVID-19 origins on Wednesday.

Zhao reiterated China’s support for a comprehensive, transparent and evidence-based international investigation and stressed that China’s open and transparent stance has been positively appraised by international experts.

The spokesperson slammed the U.S. for opting for politicizing the issue instead of focusing on a scientific approach to tracing COVID-19 origins.

“It shows America’s disrespect to science and irresponsibility towards their people’s life and safety,” Zhao said, noting Washington’s questionable record in fighting the outbreak on its territory.

Zhao said that the U.S. ranks first globally in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities, which have reached around 33 million and 600,000 respectively.

He also urged the U.S. to accept a WHO-led international investigation into its Fort Detrick biolab and over 200 similar facilities it operates around the world.

The motive and purposes of Washington’s probe are clear, said Zhao, who viewed it as another attempt to disrupt and contain China.

“We hope the U.S. could cooperate with the WHO to conduct a comprehensive, transparent and evidence-based investigation to respond to concerns from the international community and to contribute to the handling of public health emergencies in the future,” said the spokesperson.

Read more:

China shared data with WHO experts, report based on facts: Chinese expert

00:32

The Chinese Embassy in the United States on Wednesday also refuted the U.S. attempt to politicize the issue, saying the move gives free rein to the “political virus” and seriously hamper international cooperation on the pandemic.

“On the origin tracing of COVID-19, we have been calling for international cooperation on the basis of respecting facts and science, with a view to better coping with unexpected epidemics in the future,” said the spokesperson for the embassy in a statement.

“Out of a sense of responsibility towards the health of mankind, we support a comprehensive study of all early cases of COVID-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world,” said the spokesperson.

“Such study and investigation shall be full, transparent and evidence-based, and shall get to the bottom to make everything clear,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson noted that some people lately have played the old trick of politically hyping the origin tracing of COVID-19 in the world. Smear campaigns and blame shifting are making a comeback, and the conspiracy theory of a “lab leak” is resurfacing.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game, while ignoring their people’s urgent need to fight the pandemic and the international demand for cooperation on this front, which has caused a tragic loss of many lives, the spokesperson said.

“The lesson from last year is still fresh in our memory. While the pandemic is still causing great damage in today’s world and the international community is expecting greater coordination among countries, some people are turning to their old playbook,” said the spokesperson.

“We cannot but wonder, have they already put that bitter lesson behind them so soon? Or do they want to see a replay of tragedies? With such irresponsible behaviors, how can they face up to their own people? How can they face up to the international community? And how can they face up to human conscience?” the spokesperson said.

China blasts Wuhan lab-leak ‘conspiracy,’ urges probe of ALL early Covid-19 cases & ‘secretive bases’ worldwide
worker | May 27, 2021 | 7:56 pm | China, COVID-19, Joe Biden | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/news/524916-china-probe-secretive-biolabs/

China blasts Wuhan lab-leak ‘conspiracy,’ urges probe of ALL early Covid-19 cases & ‘secretive bases’ worldwide

China blasts Wuhan lab-leak ‘conspiracy,’ urges probe of ALL early Covid-19 cases & ‘secretive bases’ worldwide
Beijing has responded to US President Joe Biden’s announcement of a probe into Covid-19 origins by denouncing the “lab-leak” hypothesis as a conspiracy theory and urging an investigation into secret US bio-labs around the world.

“Lately, some people have played the old trick of political hype on the origin tracing of [Covid-19] in the world. Smear campaign and blame shifting are making a comeback, and the conspiracy theory of ‘lab leak’ is resurfacing,” a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

READ MORE: Facebook says it will stop banning claims Covid-19 is man-made, citing ‘new facts and trends’

Without naming names, the spokesman said that “some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game, while ignoring their people’s urgent need to fight the pandemic and the international demand for cooperation on this front,” something that has “caused a tragic loss of many lives.”

China has been calling for international cooperation to trace the origins of Covid-19 “on the basis of respecting facts and science, with a view to better coping with unexpected epidemics in the future,” the statement said. Politicizing the probe will make it “hard to find the origin of the virus” but also “seriously hamper international cooperation on the pandemic.”

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Where was your patient zero?’ Chinese official speculates AMERICANS may have infected Wuhan at army games & calls to ‘come clean’“Out of a sense of responsibility towards the health of mankind,” Beijing supports “a comprehensive study of all early cases of [Covid]-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world,” the embassy said, which will be “full, transparent and evidence-based, and shall get to the bottom to make everything clear.”

While the conventional wisdom in the US is that the novel coronavirus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 – with the only mystery being whether it jumped from animals to humans via the city’s wet market, or accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab – China has rejected both theories. At a press conference in March 2020, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry instead suspected the US of developing the virus in one of its bioweapon laboratories and sending it to China during the Wuhan military games in October that year.

The Chinese government never disavowed these remarks, saying instead that now was the time to “come together to fight [the virus] instead of leveling accusations and attacks against each other, which is not constructive at all.”

ALSO ON RT.COMBiden gives intel agencies 90 days to pinpoint Covid origins – after report he torpedoed Trump-era probe of Wuhan lab leak theoryThink your friends would be interested? Share this story!