The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) alleged that U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks on U.S. vaccine development for the Wuhan coronavirus may indicate that the virus originated in America, according to a report Sunday by the CCP propaganda newspaper Global Times.
At a White House press conference on May 15, President Trump described the U.S. effort to work toward a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine:
Scientists at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] began developing the first vaccine candidate on January 11th … within hours of the virus’s genetic code being posted online … Then, my administration cut through every piece of red tape to achieve the fastest-ever, by far, launch of a vaccine trial for this new virus, this very vicious virus. And I want to thank all of the doctors and scientists and researchers involved because they’ve never moved like this, or never even close.
The CCP latched onto this statement over the weekend, arguing the president’s stated timeline was not possible if the virus originated in China, as the development process of a vaccine could not possibly have begun that early, on January 11.
“Trump said that scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health [NIH] began developing the first vaccine candidate on January 11, while on January 12 Beijing time, China first shared the genome sequence information of the new coronavirus with the World Health Organization [W.H.O.]. January 11 is one or two months earlier than the February-March initial reported outbreak in the U.S. and 10 days earlier than the first confirmed coronavirus case reported in the U.S. on January 21,” the article claimed.
Much of January 12 Beijing time would have still been January 11 in the Western Hemisphere, a fact omitted in the report.
“Unless the U.S. had patients contracted with the coronavirus beforehand or had strains of the virus in hand, there was no possibility that within hours of the virus genetic code being posted online that the U.S. had already started vaccine candidate development,” the report claimed, implying that the U.S. had hidden knowledge of and may have possessed samples of the Wuhan coronavirus prior to January 11.
Statements released by both the NIH and the private industry vaccine developers it has been collaborating with, such as Moderna, support the president’s statement that researchers “began developing” the work toward the vaccine on January 11.
In March, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) published a report indicating that Wuhan authorities documented the city’s first coronavirus case as early as November 17, 2019. The journalists cited unreleased government data reviewed by the newspaper. This contradicts China’s own coronavirus timeline, as CCP authorities claim they notified the W.H.O. about their first known coronavirus case on December 8.
As early as January 1, Wuhan police arrested local residents for sharing information online about the coronavirus, such as advice on how to avoid getting sick. This indicates both that the coronavirus outbreak was well established by then and that authorities were already attempting to suppress information about the virus as early as late December 2019.
On May 15, the Chinese National Health Commission confirmed that Chinese health officials destroyed early samples of the Wuhan coronavirus. This was done to “prevent the risk to laboratory biological safety and prevent secondary disasters caused by unidentified pathogens” according to commission official Liu Dengfeng. Some observers, who long suspected the CCP had compromised early coronavirus samples, believe the action was taken to prevent confirmation of human-to-human transmission for as long as possible, information which the CCP infamously waited to disclose to the public.
At a G20 summit in March, CCP party leader Xi Jinping said that China hoped to capitalize off of the Wuhan coronavirus by monopolizing vaccine development, proposing a “global network of control and treatment” led by China. Xi urged all nations to “pool” their medical data into this network, allowing the CCP full access to the source of intellectual property and virus manufacturing knowledge. Xi added that China would generously offer any coronavirus vaccine it develops to the public for free.
According to a report shared by Chinese state media on Monday, “American politicians continue to concoct and fuel conspiracy theories of COVID-19 [Wuhan coronavirus].”
On the same day, China claimed that America “deliberately concealed its knowledge of the impending epidemic.”
Prior to that report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian promoted a CCP conspiracy theory that the Wuhan coronavirus began in an American laboratory and was propagated by the U.S. Army.
“[I]t might be the U.S. Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Zhao tweeted in March. Backing up Zhao’s tweet, Chinese state media published a report shortly afterward identifying a U.S. Army laboratory in Maryland that closed last summer, alleging that this indicated that the facility may have leaked the coronavirus to the American population earlier than officially documented.
On May 8, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying elaborated on this conspiracy theory, alleging that the lab, Fort Detrick, was responsible for a spate of coronavirus deaths in the area last summer that U.S. authorities disguised as electronic cigarette-related deaths.
“There are also reports that soon after the closure [of the Fort Detrick laboratory], ‘E-cigarette disease’ broke out in the surroundings,” Hua stated at a press conference.
The CCP attempted to support this conspiracy theory over the weekend when it alleged that the U.S. had early knowledge of the virus, even possessed samples of the virus, prior to January 11. The May 14 report cited supposed “Chinese military experts” as encouraging China’s ally, Russia, to join Beijing in demanding an international investigation into the Wuhan coronavirus’s alleged origin in the U.S.
This report was published a few days before at least 116 member nations of the World Health Assembly (W.H.A.) – the W.H.O.’s decision-making body – called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus and of the W.H.O.’s response to the pandemic. The W.H.O.’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has been criticized by most nations and has led many to believe it was designed to aid the CCP in its cover-up of the virus’s initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.
On Monday, President Trump once again commented on the American development of a Wuhan coronavirus vaccine, this time to praise Moderna as it announced the successful preliminary trials of its vaccine.
“It’s incredible what they can do, and I’ve seen results and the results are staggeringly good,” the president affirmed.