Viewpoint: China should not be given a pass for its central role in creating the COVID-19 scourge

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Wuhan Institute of Virology. Credit: AFP

[A]s evidence grows that the… deadly Covid-19 pandemic may stem from a Wuhan virology lab’s accidental leak followed by a Chinese government coverup, most politicians across the globe have been strangely silent. Unless policy makers understand the novel coronavirus’s origins, the world remains vulnerable to an even deadlier pandemic in the future.

The closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 is a virus sampled by Chinese researchers from six miners infected while working in a bat-infested cave in southern China in 2012. These miners developed symptoms we now associate with Covid-19. Half of them died. These viral samples were then taken to the Wuhan Institute of Virology—the only facility in China that’s a biosafety Level 4 laboratory, the highest possible safety designation.

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Above all, China’s extensive coverup raises red flags. In the critical first weeks after the initial outbreak, Beijing actively suppressed essential information and prevented World Health Organization investigators from entering the country while samples were destroyed.

It’s easy to understand why Beijing would not be thrilled about a deep investigation into the origins of the pandemic. If the deaths of so many people around the world were traced to a lab accident and coverup, the consequences within China and globally would be monumental.

It is harder to understand why so many people outside China are stepping so gingerly.

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