By Herman Tiu Laurel

‘Please don’t politicize this virus’

ON April 8, 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus made the appeal, “Please Don’t Politicize This Virus” which this article uses as title. He was referring to the novel coronavirus of the SAR-CoV2 that causes the disease called COVID-19.

Ghebreyesus made the appeal after President Donald Trump of the United States, under heavy criticism in his own home turf for alleged late action on the pandemic, lashed out at the WHO,  alleging it to be “China centric” and threatened to cut off American funding to the UN health organization.

Before his outburst against the WHO, President Donald Trump had taken to calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” until backlash from the American public and apparent behind-the-scenes talks forced him to relent. Cooperation between China and the US has since been restored, with the US receiving medical aid from China.

The Trump withdrawal notwithstanding, there are continuing efforts from incorrigible quarters to push the “Cold War” mentality onto the global pandemic crisis. Recently in the Philippines, a mainstream newspaper featured a slanderous article by a known rabid anti-China propagandist that claimed the original infection to a bat-transmitted infection from a Chinese lab.

The report looks pretty much like a knee-jerk reaction to the theory circulating in social media that the original virus came from Ft. Detrick, Maryland, a biowarfare lab that was shut down in August 2019 due to dangerous leaks, and passed on to American soldiers who in turn brought it to Wuhan during a military games event in October of 2019.

Most scientists belie theories being bruited about of “man-made” viruses being at the root of the pandemic and puts emphasis on the above report and abundant viral strains and mutations that have struggled alongside and against Mankind since time immemorial.

Among the scores of scientific researches, an excellent report is the Cambridge University study entitled “COVID-19: Genetic Network Analysis Provides ‘Snapshot’ of Pandemic Origins”.  The report, published in early April 2020, adds confirmation to the contention of Chinese virology icon Zhang Nanshan that the new coronavirus may have been discovered by China but did not originate in China.

Here’s a crucial quote from the report:

“Forster and colleagues found that the closest type of COVID-19 to the type ‘A’ one that has been discovered in bats. The ‘original human virus genome’  was present in Wuhan but surprisingly, was not the city’s predominant virus type.”

Mutated versions of type ‘A’ have been found in Americans reported to have lived in Wuhan, and a large number of A-type viruses have also been found in patients from the US and Australia.

Wuhan’s major virus type ‘B’ has been prevalent in patients from across East Asia. However, the variant didn’t travel much beyond the region without further mutations – prompting researchers to hypothesize a "founder event" in Wuhan, or “resistance” against this type of COVID-19 outside East Asia.

The ‘C’ variant is the major European type, found in early patients from France, Italy, Sweden and England. It is absent from the study’s Chinese mainland sample but seen in Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The new analysis also suggests that one of the earliest introductions of the virus into Italy came via the first documented German infection on January 27, and that another early Italian infection route was related to a ‘Singapore cluster’.

The above have prompted researchers to say that their genetic networking techniques have accurately traced established infection routes; and that the mutations and viral lineages have joined the dots between known cases.”

In reporting on the above findings on April 14,2020, the Star of Malaysia put it this way: “By analyzing the first 160 complete virus genomes to be sequenced from human patients, scientists found the variant closest to that discovered in bats was largely found in patients from the US and Australia – not Wuhan, initially the epicenter of the outbreak.

In making the above conclusion, scientists used data from samples taken from across the world between Dec 24,2019 and March 4, 2020. They found that the closest type of coronavirus to the one discovered in bats – type A, the original human virus genome – was present in Wuhan, but was not the city’s predominant virus type.

The scientists also said that the type A virus genome “was also found in Americans who had lived in Wuhan and in other patients diagnosed in the United States and Australia.”

From such studies, we begin to understand new aspects of the coronavirus, namely, that the members of this family of viruses are spread all over the world, constantly mutating and suddenly bursting out here or there or possibly emerging in multiple locations.

Consider the following: 1- New York Times, Apr. 8, 2020, “Studies Show N.Y. Outbreak Originated in Europe; 2- Fox News, “Teen in remote Amazonian tribe tests positive for coronavirus”; 3- KSBW8 news, Apr. 9, 2020, “’New California antibody study could point to possible herd immunity to COVID-19... COVID-19 first started spreading in California in the fall (Sept.) of 2019.”

The above California study by Stanford University had been widely reported until it was pulled out by, LA Times and Expressnews. Other US sources have since called it “fake.” However, US CDC chief Robert Redfield testified before the US Congress on March 13, 2020 that many US  flu deaths in 2019-2020 were posthumously diagnosed COVID-19; hence the story raises powerful questions.

On the possible origins of the coronavirus, the Inquirer recently published the article by Steve Mosher that bade readers not to  “buy China’s story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab.” , It must be noted that Mosher is a confirmed anti-China hate campaigner who had been expelled by Stanford University’s anthropology department’s doctoral program for inappropriate conduct.

Mosher has been accused of inappropriate use of “information he collected at a village in China” for a Taiwanese publication under the fraudulent name “Steven Westley” which was apparently a piece of propaganda instead of a scholarly research. Moreover, Mosher has a book to his name, “Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order”, that makes outrageous claims about China.

For example, Mosher says China “invented totalitarianism thousands of years ago and “teaches its people to hate America. This is as if Europe didn’t have monarchies in its early history and hundreds-of-thousands of Chinese students don’t love to study in America that they call Mei Guo, or the Beautiful Country. But his subterfuge in his work with Taiwan takes the cake.

At this point, it is important to note that the latest column of Manila Times writer Bobi Tiglao exposes the Philippine Daily Inquirer senior editor for publishing Mosher’s article. Mosher’s article was sourced from, “the website of the religious Right that is notorious for posting misleading or totally false news and a blog written by a fire-breathing anti-China writer”.

Owners and editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer are identified with elements in the U.S. political structure that have been escalating the “Cold War II” campaign to the point of rabidity in a manner similar to mad dogs. One such escalation is the claim by US intelligence officials of a Chinese cover up of 21 million coronavirus dead based on the drop of cellphone registration.

Ironically, the above claims were quickly denied even by US fact-checkers who quickly explained that, like many around the world, the Chinese have multiple phones and SIM cards. With the lockdown and limited activities, phone use fell, and extra phones and SIMs were dropped. In just one city, Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, if each citizen drops one SIM card, that would already be a drop of 11 million. In point of fact, at least 80 million Chinese citizens were locked down.

Recently, a lavishly produced video entitled “The first documentary movie on CCP virus, Tracking Down the Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus” started circulating on social media. Predictably, the video spins this tale of Chinese biowarfare and the demonization of WHO. The video producer has turned out to be the Falung Gong, a cultist group led by Li Hongzhi who claims to be “the ruler of the world and bigger than the universe.” Among others, the cult counts on the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Freedom House as supporters.

Talents for the above video include mainstays of the Epoch Times, a publication of the Falung Gong. These include the infamous Gordon Chang who has made a lucrative living predicting China’s collapse since his 2001 book “The Coming Collapse of China” which remains forthcoming, and Judy A Mikovits, a jailed fraudster.

US elements are trying to poison the global atmosphere for solidarity against the existential threat of the COVID-19 even as China overcomes obstructionism and is leading the world out of the pandemic through its persistence in setting aside politics and applying the vision of the “Community of Shared Future for Mankind”.

Fortunately for the US, President Donald Trump did set aside the pejorative term used for the virus and received President Xi Jinping’s phone call at the end of March 2020 to cooperate instead of contend. The very next day, the National Public Radio reported “Project Airbridge’ To Expedite Arrival of Needed Supplies” and a planeload of health care supplies arrived in New York from China.

Late-breaker: As I send out this article for publication on April 15, 2020, US President Donald Trump has announced the end of US funding, amounting to about $ 400-million per annum, to the WHO. As many have commented, ending US support to the WHO at this time is “criminal”, as it leaves billions of the earth’s poor to the mercies of disease, ill-health and epidemics. This certainly seals the fate of the US as a superpower in the world.

There is absolutely no fear that the WHO will be left to suffer as many other countries will certainly step in to fill the gap. The United Kingdom has already pledged to donate £200-million. And there is no doubt that China, which has already shown immense magnanimity in sending anti-COVID 19 aid to over 100 countries, will step in. 




About the Columnist

Image of Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.