US claims Chinese researchers had coronavirus symptoms before initial reported cases

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jan 18, 2021, 05.04 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US also claimed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been conducting experiments on a virus which is genetically similar to the new coronavirus

China's city Wuhan has often been blamed for the origin of the deadly coronavirus. Now, after several scientists and health experts, the US Department of State has also accused China of establishing unjustified "secrecy" around the virus.

As per a new statement by the US Department of State, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a "deadly obsession with secrecy and control". 

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The US also claimed that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been conducting experiments on a virus which is genetically similar to the new coronavirus.

According to the US Department of State, several researchers at a lab in Wuhan had been experimenting on RaTG13, which was a bat coronavirus and is the closest sample to SAR-CoV-2. These experiments were being conducted "under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure", according to the US.

Following these experiments, several researchers fell ill and their symptoms were "consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses".

The US has, however, clarified they are not yet sure if and when did the virus transmission to humans take place. 

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"We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China," their statement read. "The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic."

Providing an alternate theory, the statement read, "Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection."

This accusation from the US has come at a time when a team of researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) have gone to China's Wuhan city — the original epicentre — to investigate the origin of this deadly virus, which was earlier believed to have spread from a wet market in Wuhan.

"The majority of scientists believe there is a natural origin of the virus, we know that bats are a natural reservoir of other coronaviruses, we really want to go and see and get the data," WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic had told US media.

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