With the Covid-19 pandemic seeing a resurgence across the world, there is a renewed focus on China‘s guilt. The Wuhan lab-created virus may just have turned into a Frankenstein’s monster with Beijing locking downtowns and municipalities following fresh outbreaks too. A report released by a US Republican Congressional Panel, citing copious open-source data, renewed allegations on Monday that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab before 12 September 2019.
Evidence cited in the report includes satellite imagery showing a surge in hospital traffic around the WIV’s headquarters and an increase in the use of internet search terms related to Covid-19 symptoms soon after the outbreak was detected on 12 September, extravagant spending on safety protocols for the facility even though it was less than two years old, and a virtual military takeover followed by the virus database being taken offline in the middle of the night.
Shortly after the removal of the database, the lab requested bids for additional security at the lab such as gatekeepers, guards, video surveillance, security patrols, and people to handle the registration and reception of foreign personnel, the GOP report said. The report revealed that Major General Chen Wei, biological and chemical weapons defence expert, had taken control of one of the institute’s labs in late 2019.
“As we continue to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, I believe it’s time to completely dismiss the wet market as the source of the outbreak. Instead, as this report lays out, a preponderance of the evidence proves that all roads lead to the WIV,” Congressman Mike McCaul, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement accompanying the report, which parallels efforts by the Joe Biden administration and the WHO to determine the origins of the pandemic outbreak.
The report cited “ample evidence” that scientists from WIV, aided by US experts and Chinese and US government funds, were conducting gain of function research under unsafe conditions, and working to modify coronaviruses to infect humans. It called for a bipartisan inquiry into the matter.
The Republican-Democrat duel
The GOP indictment of China comes amid the party’s reluctance to adhere to Covid-19 mandates and protocols in the US, where there is a surge in cases in Republican-governed states with low vaccination rates. Reports that the Delta variant is spreading faster and making people sicker has lent a sense of urgency to the vaccination campaign, with renewed mask mandates that many conservative Republican citizens are revolting against, citing individual freedoms.
Florida, whose Republican governor Ron DeSantis — a potential 2024 presidential aspirant — is among those resisting mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, even as the state sees record infections and hospitalisations. Texas in another hold-out. The situation is complicated by local counties and towns with Democratic majorities wanting to adhere to federally suggested protocols.
Instead, Republican voices are training their guns on perceived violations by prominent Democrats, among them former president Barack Obama who was called out on Monday for reportedly inviting 500 people for his 60th birthday party at his mansion in Martha’s Vineyard next weekend even though all guests will have to be Covid tested and vaccinated.
Unease about the soiree comes after reports of an outbreak near Cape Cod appeared to establish the lethality of the Delta variant, including its ability to affect even vaccinated people. Some experts and city officials and now recommending that even people who have been vaccinated wear masks indoors to prevent the virus from spreading, leading sceptics to question the effectiveness of the vaccines and whether the war on the coronavirus will ever end.