Report: Beijing Lab Mapped COVID Weeks Before Global Outbreak

    Report: Beijing Lab Mapped COVID Weeks Before Global Outbreak
    Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • According to federal documents released Wednesday, a Chinese researcher had submitted the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to a publicly accessible US database two weeks before the PRC shared the information publically. The documents were obtained by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    • US Department of Health and Human Services documents reportedly show that Dr. Lili Ren — a virologist at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing — uploaded the information to GenBank, run by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), on Dec. 28, 2019.

    The Spin

    Anti-China narrative

    The two-week delay between Lili Ren's submission of a paper with a near-complete genetic sequence of COVID and China's official revelations about the disease may have proven costly to the world. This new information puts the spotlight on PRC opacity, even in matters of such crucial importance to the world such as an early pandemic warning. All this needs a comprehensive probe that can be placed before the world to determine what went wrong.

    Pro-China narrative

    The report of a Chinese researcher's apparent submission of COVID's near-complete genetic sequence is another example of the West looking to put China in a spot over the pandemic. While tracing the origins of the disease is a global need, politicizing it all hinders the process, dividing the world and undermining vital healthcare. Distortions and innuendos are not the scientific way to investigate the origin of an unprecedented global crisis. Washington's partisan animosity should not translate to scapegoating Beijing.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 44% chance that a majority of US Intelligence Community organizations will support a lab leak hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 over a natural origin hypothesis by 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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