Political economy of Covid origin

Syed Saifuddin Ali
The entire world has been fighting the Covid coronavirus for almost two years now. In addition to tireless search for its preventives, researchers and experts have also been keen on tracing the origin of the catastrophe. It has been given emphasis, considering that knowing how the virus came into existence and has been able to create such a massive impact within such a short period might help to see newer solutions and help to better prepare for similar situations. But a rather peculiar and seemingly biased attempt to the origin tracing of Covid-19 has created further chaos.
At the centre of the debacle are, quite presumably, the United States and China.
In March 2021, the World Health Organisation published an official report with conclusions from the initial phase of Covid-19 origin tracing that took place in China. Backed by scientists, the report stated that a case of leak from the virology lab in China’s Wuhan is ‘extremely unlikely’ to have been the source of the virus. While nobody, not even China, proceeded towards any conclusion based on this statement, the United States was suddenly seen to press heavily on the issue, followed by recommendations for another investigation.
The authenticity of the report was thoroughly questioned by the Biden administration and the US government went on to undertake the matter on its own. Its own intelligence community took charge of the alleged second-phase origin-tracing investigation in China. At the same time, it managed to get a number of allied countries to be on the same page, all in all, to ‘press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.’
One might question, how come the WHO does not respond to the critique of its scientific research data-based report? The WHO has rather been quiet as the issue gradually saw a change of colour, from scientific to political. Although more than 80 members of the WHO soon stepped in urging a fair and transparent report that is beyond the influence of political manipulations, all that followed was a perplexing silence.
As the number of death from Covid-19 escalates, global leaders continue to throw questions at each other although very little attention is given to the way the United States has responded to the pandemic. There remains no concrete reason for the deflection of attention from the precarious management of the United States of Covid cases (not to forget the Brookings Institution’s research findings that 400,000 deaths could have been avoided with a better response by the United States). And even if it was subject to further inquiry, why would the intelligence service be needed to take charge, instead of scientists, doctors and statisticians?
There is another side to this strange backtracking. With the next investigation report hastily produced by intelligence personnel, even if there is no clear clue of Covid-19 originating from China, the United States could still bring objections that China’s non-cooperative attitude regarding the second-phase investigation has led to the persisting global misery. For the second phase, the United States provided the WHO with a framework under which, investigation teams from the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan will have access to all parts of China and China must share all information on the virus, clinical cases and biological samples. It is not clear who could possibly validate (or invalidate) one such demand that could potentially violate the privacy of millions, but we move on.
With Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in hindsight, it should not take a genius to smell something suspicious. A thick layer of ambiguity continues to envelop activities inside Fort Detrick in Maryland. Media manipulation and mass deception is no longer new in 2021 as the gloomy conjecture against China continues to spread among the masses with each posting on social media and clickbait portals, irrespective of the truth, still eclipsed.
Data show that bio-samples testing positive for Covid-19 were collected from patients across the United States and Europe, even dating back to September 2019, earlier than the Wuhan outbreak. This indicates that equal measures of investigation and origin-tracing are required to be taken in the United States, Europe and other countries as well where the very initial samples were found from. Rather than turning the matter into a political tool, it is imperative that we now should focus on reaching the roots of it at the earliest so that we can save more lives. The history of mankind forbids all such blame games, if only we were to oblige.