China‘s state media allegedly invented a Swiss biologist and quoted him claiming the US had pressured the World Health Organisation into investigating the theory Covid-19 was leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
The People’s Daily, China Daily, and CGTN television channel all quoted so-called biologist Wilson Edwards but removed the content yesterday after the Swiss Embassy said it had no record of him as a citizen.
Beijing has repeatedly pushed claims the US pressured the WHO to investigate the possibility Covid-19 was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, where the virus was first found in December 2019.
China has insisted a leak would have been ‘extremely unlikely’ citing the conclusion reached by a joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan in January.
Edwards was quoted by state media terming the WHO investigation a ‘political tool’ and saying the ‘international scientific community’ was ‘disappointed’ in the US.
China’s state media allegedly invented Swiss biologist Wilson Edwards and quoted him claiming the US had pressured the World Health Organisation into investigation theories Covid-19 was leaked from a lab in Wuhan
The People’s Daily, China Daily, and CGTN television channel all quoted Wilson Edwards but removed the content yesterday
Beijing has repeatedly insisted that a leak from Wuhan Institute of Virology (researchers at the Institute pictured in 2017) would have been ‘extremely unlikely’, citing the conclusion reached by January’s joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan
The People’s Daily reported Edwards told them: ‘Unfortunately, Washington’s re-entry has brought geopolitical competition to the science-spearheaded world body’
China Daily reported Edwards’ Facebook post, quoting him as saying ‘as a biologist, I’ve witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of Covid-19 was politicized’.
The article added Edwards branded the WHO’s probe was ‘largely politically motivated’, without elaborating.
While state-run television channel CGTN reported Edwards said he was worried about the ‘WHO’s independence’ and claimed the group of investigators probing the origin of Covid-19 would become a ‘political tool’.
CGTN said Edwards claimed he and fellow researchers were under ‘enormous pressure’ and ‘intimidation’ from the US and some media outlets after voicing support for the joint WHO-Chinese investigation which in January concluded a lab leak was extremely unlikely.
The state-run television outlet also reported Edwards quoted an unnamed WHO sources as saying ‘the US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings’.
State-run television channel CGTN reported Edwards said he was worried about the ‘WHO’s independence’ and claimed the group of investigators probing the origin of Covid-19 would become a ‘political tool’
China has insisted a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology would have been ‘extremely unlikely’ citing the conclusion reached by a joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan in January
Edwards had Facebook and Twitter accounts – both of which have since been deleted – which peddled claims the US pressured the WHO.
His Facebook page was created on July 24, boasted three friends, and had only one post which said President Joe Biden would ‘spare no efforts’ to rebuild US influence over the WHO.
The page indicated Edwards was from the Swiss capital Bern and included a picture of Oxford University’s Radcliffe Camera, but provided no further details about the so-called biologist.
Both pages were deleted after the Swiss Embassy’s statement yesterday which said they were ‘looking for Wilson Edwards’.
‘If you exist, we would like to meet you!’, the embassy wrote on Twitter.
The Embassy said it could not find any academic articles authored by Edwards, pointed out his Facebook page was created only days before he was quoted in Chinese state media, and said there was no registry of a citizen with the name.
‘It is more likely that this is fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts,’ it added.
Both of Wilson Edwards’ social media pages were deleted after the Swiss Embassy’s statement yesterday which said there was no registry of a Swiss citizen with the name
Beijing last month refused to cooperate with the WHO investigation, accusing the health body of showing ‘disrespect’ and ‘arrogance towards science’ after it said it would audit Wuhan labs as part of the probe.
The WHO said a second stage of the probe should include audits of Chinese research centres amid increasing speculation about the lab leak theory and pressure from the US.
The proposal outlined by the health body chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus included ‘audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019’ – referring to Wuhan.
But China’s vice health minister Zeng Yixin told reporters he was ‘extremely surprised’ by the plan, which he said showed ‘disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science’.
He claimed no workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology ever became ill with the virus and said they did not carry out gain-of-function tests at the lab.
He hit back at what he called ‘rumours’ about the lab, insisting Covid-19 was not a ‘manmade virus’ and rejecting the WHO’s origin tracing study.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s proposals include ‘audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019’
The institute in Wuhan has come under increasing pressure amid the pandemic after claims emerged that the virus may have been manufactured in China
China’s vice health minister Zeng Yixin (pictured) told reporters last month that he was ‘extremely surprised’ by the plan
First derided by many as a right-wing conspiracy theory and vehemently rejected by Beijing, the idea that Covid may have emerged from a lab leak has been gaining traction.
Donald Trump peddled the theory early after the pandemic started but he was criticised by many in the mainstream media who believed it originated naturally in the Wuhan wet market.
In recent months, the theory has gained momentum after US intelligence reports claimed three workers at the lab were hospitalised with a flu-like illness in November 2019, just as the first cases were identified.
At the same time, Chinese officials and state media have pushed an alternate theory that the virus could have escaped from the US military research lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Nationalist tabloid Global Times said it had collected five million signatures from Chinese web users on a petition to investigate the US lab.
Top officials have also amplified theories that the virus may have been imported with frozen food.
The UN health agency has been under intensifying pressure for a new, more in-depth investigation of how the disease that has killed more than four million people around the world first emerged.
The WHO was only able to send a team of independent, international experts to Wuhan in January, more than a year after Covid-19 first surfaced there, to help Chinese counterparts probe the pandemic’s origins.
The investigators concluded it was ‘possible’ the virus was leaked from a lab, but said it was ‘extremely unlikely’ and did not warrant further study.