Chinese researchers are attempting to shift blame for the Wuhan coronavirus, which has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, this time pointing to India as the possible source of COVID-19.
In a paper published last week titled “The Early Cryptic Transmission and Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in Human Hosts,” the researchers developed a way to trace the “least mutated strain using SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequences.”
“We further investigated the SARS-CoV-2’s adaptive evolutionary process in human hosts using the least mutated strain as the phylogenetic root and analyzed its strain diversity in different countries/regions,” the paper said.
The researchers reportedly found that according to statistical analysis of the virus’ strain diversity among different regions and countries, “the Indian subcontinent has the highest strain diversity.” They estimate the earliest human transmission dates to the summer of 2019.
“From May to June 2019, the second-longest recorded heatwave had rampaged in northern-central India and Pakistan, which created a serious water crisis in this region. The water shortage made wild animals such as monkeys engage in the deadly fight over water among each other and would have surely increased the chance of human-wild animal interactions. We speculated that the [animal to human] transmission of SARS-CoV-2 might be associated with this unusual heatwave…In this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitable and the Wuhan epidemic is only a part of it,” they claimed.
The researchers concluded that Wuhan is not the source of the first human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.
“Before it spread to Wuhan, SARS-CoV-2 has already experienced adaptive evolution during its human-to-human transmission,” they state. “The positive selection sites could contribute to the different clinical features of different SARS-CoV-2 strains. Both the least mutated strain’s geographic information and the strain diversity suggest that the Indian subcontinent might be the place where the earliest human-to-human SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurred, which was three or four months prior to the Wuhan outbreak.”
‘Chinese scientists claim COVID-19 originated in India and then spread to Australia, before emerging in Wuhan in their latest attempt to shift blame for the pandemic.’ Maybe we should go back to calling it Wuhan Flu...https://t.co/oMOGYpZSjW pic.twitter.com/XFgmq4zVo5— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 28, 2020
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May the outbreak began in Wuhan but "we don't know from where or from whom, and those are important things."
"We have repeatedly asked to have teams go in to assist them in identifying where the virus originated," he added.
Indeed, China lied about the novel coronavirus, disappeared doctors who tried to sound the alarm, destroyed evidence, and ignored offers to help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization early in the outbreak, which hindered the international community's ability to combat the virus. By March, the country had kicked out U.S. journalists.
Around that same time, the PRC attempted to shift blame to the United States military.
"When did patient zero begin in U.S.? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” tweeted Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman. “Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owe us an explanation!"
Beijing has also pointed fingers at Italy as the source of the outbreak.