By Zhong Sheng
Some American politicians just played their same old trick again, making irresponsible remarks on multiple occasions that the novel coronavirus originated from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). They declared, in a high-sounding manner, to make an investigation, and such ridiculous remarks were even hyped by Fox News.
Anyone with conscience can see through the groundless and vicious accusation that totally goes against science. However, politicizing science issues, disseminating conspiracies and stigmatization are in essence attempts to impede the global solidarity and cooperation, which will cause huge damages especially when the world is currently facing extremely urgent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeking the origin of the virus is a serious and rational issue that calls for science-based and professional approaches. The so-called assumption that the virus came from a lab had long been dispelled by global scientists. Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) reiterated that there’s been no evidence showing the virus was produced in labs or for the purpose of making bioweapons.
On Feb. 19, 27 medical experts from 8 countries issued a joint statement on The Lancet, making strong condemnation on conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.
The statement said that “Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), 1 and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife as have so many other emerging pathogens. This is further supported by a letter from the presidents of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine13 and by the scientific communities they represent.”
Such opinion was later expressed again by a research team consisting of scholars from the U.S. Scripps Research Institute, Columbia University, Tulane University, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney. The research team stressed in an article they published on journal Nature Medicine that the novel coronavirus originated from natural evolutionary process, and is not a laboratory construct.
The U.S. politicians cooking up anti-science stories have their secret political goals. They just can’t wait to stir up troubles, divert attention and shift responsibilities, from accusing Beijing for not informing Washington about the epidemic in a timely manner, to stigmatizing China by associating the virus with the country, and to hyping the relations between the virus and the WIV. However, anyone that is rational and respects science would scoff at such farce staged by these American politicians.
Scientific and professional issues need to be addressed with science-based and professional approaches. “We have no argument to claim that this virus would have escaped or been manufactured in a laboratory,” said Belgium’s spokesperson for COVIN-19-related issues and virologist Emmanuel André, adding that the genetic structure of this virus is natural. The hypothesis that a virus was created in a lab in Wuhan sounded “a conspiracy vision that does not relate to the real science,” said Jean-Francois Delfraissy, an immunologist and head of the scientific council that advises the French government on the COVID-19 pandemic. Well-known academic journal Nature from the UK pointed out that “Continuing to associate a virus and the disease it causes with a specific place is irresponsible and needs to stop.”
Lies can never outrun justice. The repeated politicizing of the pandemic by American politicians, which impedes the international cooperation on COVID-19 containment, has aroused huge indignation from the international society. On April 2, the Communist Party of China issued a joint open letter with 230 political parties from over 100 countries, saying “We call for science-based professional discussions on issues like prevention measures and the origin of the virus. We strongly oppose the politicization of public health issues and the stigmatization of other countries under the excuse of COVID-19. We stand firmly against all discriminatory comments and practices against any country, region or ethnic group.”
Global challenge calls for global cooperation. Initial results of a UN initiative to help decide the future direction of the Organization have revealed overwhelming support for international cooperation, which has grown significantly since COVID-19 began spreading around the world. The results indicate that cooperation and solidarity remain a mainstream voice when the world is threatened by major public health crisis and infectious disease. The pandemic once again proved the importance and urgency of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
The “presumption of guilt” that runs afoul of science will never be admitted by genuine scientific and professional spirit. Anyone that challenges science will not end up well.
The American politicians had better stop playing the ridiculous political games that run counter against science, stop politicizing the pandemic, and join international cooperation to fight the disease with concrete actions so as to dispel the dark clouds of the pandemic with the light of cooperation. This is for the lives and health of Americans, as well as the public health security of the world.
All human beings dwell in the same community with a shared future, so it’s better to do more to secure the homeland.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)