The move deepened a puzzle that included the harmful spread of a deadly pathogen, an intricate epidemiological conundrum, the opaqueness of a totalitarian system, and the bitter overtones of a superpower rivalry. It will cast doubt on the World Health Organization’s ability to learn lessons from the current crisis in order to prevent future pandemics.
In the U.S., both the former Trump administration and the Biden White House are facing calls for transparency about their efforts to determine how the virus began and whether politics interfered with their investigative efforts. If the virus is found to have escaped a laboratory, then former President Donald Trump may have a justification claim. But it would also highlight how his repeated habit of destroying the truth and twisting the intelligence to suit his own political goals destroyed his credibility on this and other issues.
The focus on laboratory theory in recent days in Washington has multiplied calls for the US to get China to pay a price for the pandemic before the full extent of its origins is known, in what is a geopolitical tournament that sparks a new cold Could trigger war confers more toxicity.
Under his own political pressure, Biden issued a statement on Wednesday that outlined two theories that US intelligence agencies considered “likely” for the virus to develop.
The first has long been considered the most credible possibility by public health experts – that zoonoses, possibly from live animals in a “wet” market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, could spread to humans.
However, the president warned that there is still no final conclusion, saying that “an element” of US intelligence is “leaning” towards the possibility that the virus may escape a laboratory in Wuhan.
The Biden administration is now facing demands to show that it has taken the possibility of Chinese culpability sufficiently seriously, especially as prominent Trump team officials and Republicans start winning – mostly – after promoting claims about the Wuhan lab last year with no clear evidence.
But Trump supporters also appear to be making yet another attempt to whitewash the story of his disastrous handling of a pandemic that left hundreds of thousands dead on his watch.
“No cherry harvest”
The medical and political priority now is a credible, in-depth investigation.
Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, told the CNN Newsroom that such a probe must be based on a scientific method, “which means you don’t go into it with a preferred conclusion and then choose yours.” Data to draw that conclusion. ”
Such concerns are why the Biden administration closed the investigation opened by ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two sources told CNN’s Kylie Atwood.
The Trump administration, blamed in election year for the botched treatment of a pandemic long downplayed by the ex-president, had a strong incentive to find Chinese negligence regardless of the actual story. It has also been reported that science and intelligence have been designed for political purposes and inconvenient expertise has been rejected.
It is now up to the Biden administration to prove that it has the power and willingness to track down the origin of the virus. There will be questions about whether intelligence agencies are the best way to find the truth, given the notorious difficulty of breaking into the Chinese security state. It is not yet clear whether China fully understands the origin of the virus. And the starting points of pandemics can be difficult to pinpoint.
“Many of us believe that it is more likely that this is a natural event … where it goes from an animal reservoir to a human. But we don’t 100% know the answer to that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s best infectious disease expert, said at a Covid-19 briefing Tuesday at the White House.
However, the Biden White House has some political attention on the matter. Last year, the Democrats reprimanded Trump for leaving the WHO because it was dominated by China. The US rejoined the global body shortly after the new president took office. If Beijing turns out to have misled WHO, which downplayed laboratory theory, senior Trump officials can claim a justification.
The White House is hardening the line
In the past few days, the US line with WHO and Beijing has tightened noticeably, and the White House has covered its tracks.
Andy Slavitt, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, said Tuesday that the US needs a “fully transparent process from China. We need WHO to help on this matter. We don’t feel we are have now.”
His comments raise the question of whether the WHO, in its current configuration, has the diplomatic weight and ability to conduct an investigation that is likely to hamper China.
“The World Health Organization is unable to conduct this investigation because the Chinese are frankly not allowing it,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio argued on Fox News on Wednesday. The Florida Senator is one of several Republicans who could run for presidency in 2024, and a hard line against China will be part of the price of entry into the main race.
A winning lap
Trump administration veterans and supporters responded to recent events by claiming they were entitled to make allegations against China even though they had not yet presented public evidence.
“We need to know what happened here. The Chinese Communist Party knows what happened here. They know who Patient Zero was. They know exactly where this started,” Pompeo told Fox News on Monday.
Pompeo asks sensible questions, even if he has political motives. The Chinese government belatedly warned the rest of the world of the tragedy that unfolded in Wuhan
And WHO appears to have struggled with timely and detailed responses to events in late 2019 and early 2020 when the virus broke out.
Indiana Republican Senator Todd Young told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday that the global health agency needed to act quickly to restore its reputation by convincing China to provide more data on the origins of the virus.
“I see no other way for the World Health Organization to restore its credibility in the eyes of Americans and many people around the world who have seen them frankly put more trust and respect in the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party than they do they have to the western world, “said Young.
Trump himself already had the impression in May 2020 that he had some information about the development of the virus and said: “Something has happened.” “It came from China. It should have been stopped. It could have been stopped immediately,” Trump said.
However, the ex-president frequently referred to conspiracy theories, guesswork, and manipulated intelligence and facts to serve his own political reasoning. He also politicized the virus for his own ends. Hence, it was not considered a particularly credible source. And the question remains, if the Trump team had evidence of the laboratory theory, why didn’t they tell the world when they had every incentive to do so?
Claims that Trump was “right” about Covid-19 also distract from his own guilt for mismanaging a virus that he repeatedly said was not a problem.
Regardless of the origin of Covid-19, history will doom Trump for his neglect and denial once he hits U.S. soil. He actually hampered US readiness at the start of the crisis by not putting pressure on Beijing to get answers.
In seeking a trade deal with China to polish his re-election campaign, he flattered China’s president. Trump said in early 2020 that the Chinese are “working very hard” and doing “very well”. From Xi, Trump tweeted: “He is strong, sharp and focused on leading the counterattack on the coronavirus.”
It was only when the impact of the virus on his own election prospects became clear that he changed his mindset and reinforced the idea that he has political motivation to hold China responsible for the pandemic.
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