Trump will have a serious problem if it transpires that COVID-19's grandma, grandpa and great grandpa are actually domiciled in the US, notes Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.
The search for the genesis of COVID-19 is developing into an epic story.
Thanks to the insinuations by US President J Donald Trump -- 'China virus', 'Wuhan virus', etc -- that were explosive in their political and strategic content, Beijing is now more determined than ever to get to the bottom of the story.
Which is a good thing, because now that Beijing has been touched to the quick and is turbo-charged this story will appear in the public domain sooner rather than later.
In an unusual move last weekend, China's envoy to Moscow Zhang Hanhui highlighted that the whole story about COVID-19 is only unfolding and there are surprises in store for the world community.
It is inconceivable that Ambassador Zhang spoke without the knowledge of Beijing.
Significantly, the Chinese envoy chose the Russian state news agency Tass (external link) for making some startling disclosures.
According to the ambassador,
- Five top Chinese scientific organisations have collected the data for 93 genome specimens of COVID-19 that have been published in a global database based on inputs from 12 countries on four different continents.
- The research has shown that COVID-19's earliest 'ancestor' is a virus known as mv1, which subsequently evolved into haplotypes H13 and H38. (A haplotype is a group of genes within an organism that was inherited together from a single parent.)
- In turn, H13 and H38 evolved into a second-generation haplotype -- H3 -- which subsequently involved into H1 (COVID-19).
- That is to say, in plain terms, COVID-19's 'father' is H3; its 'grandparents' are H13 and H38; and, its 'great grandfather' is mv1.
- Now, although the virus that was discovered in the Wuhan seafood market (COVID-19) was of the H1 variety alright, only its 'father' H3 has been spotted in Wuhan -- and that too, NOT in the seafood market.
- Importantly, the COVID-19's 'grandparents' -- H13 and H38 -- have never been spotted in Wuhan.
'This suggests that the H1 specimen was brought to the seafood market by some infected person, which sparked the epidemic. The gene sequence cannot lie.' (Ambassador Zhang)
Suffice to say, the original source of COVID-19's spread is yet to be traced and the trail could lead to any direction.
As of now, although COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, its exact origin is yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, there are tell-tale signs.
Thus, Ambassador Zhang recounted:
- A married couple from Japan contracted COVID-19 while in Hawaii (where the US Pacific base is located) sometime between January 28 and February 3, although they had not visited China or had come into contact with any Chinese person. Notably, the husband had symptoms by February 3.
- The media reported that COVID-19 has first appeared in Lombardy in northern Italy as early as January 1.
- According to the renowned Italian medical specialist Giuseppe Remuzzi, the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy had begun spreading even before it started in China.
- The well-known American virologist Robert Redfield -- currently director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the leading national public health institute of the US and a federal agency) and the administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (a a federal public health agency based in Atlanta, Georgia) -- has speculated that the large number of flu deaths in the US could have in fact been caused by COVID-19, but the US did not test for it at that time. (An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu (external link) and its complications last winter.)
- Shockingly enough, Italy wanted to trace the first infection case of COVID-19 by conducting an exhumation in the US of so-called flu victims, by the US has flatly refused permission.
However, contemporary science and technology is well-equipped to trace the trail of COVID-19 and it is absolutely certain that 'sooner or later, the day will come when everything that's been concealed will be revealed.' (Ambassador Zhang)
Interestingly, since the appearance of Ambassador Zhang's interview with TASS, President Trump has calibrated his previous allegation of Chinese complicity and mala fide intentions.
Whereas Trump had pointedly threatened Beijing with retribution, he has since moderated his stance and said on Saturday at a media briefing at the White House:
'You know, the question was asked, "Would you be angry at China? " Well, the answer might very well be a very resounding "yes," but it depends: Was it a mistake that got out of control or was it done deliberately? Okay? That's a big difference between those two.'
'In either event, they should have let us go in. You know, we asked to go in very early, and they didn't want us in. I think they were embarrassed. I think they knew it was something bad, and I think they were embarrassed.'
Trump no longer alleges culpability on China's part.
It's no longer an open and shut case, either.
Presumably, it's now negotiable.Trump spoke only two days after Ambassador Zhang's interview appeared.
Clearly, the Chinese diplomat hinted that the trail of COVID-19 can and will be scientifically traced. Trump will have a serious problem if it transpires that COVID-19's grandma, grandpa and great grandpa are actually domiciled in the US.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar served the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years. He has served as India's ambassador to Turkey and Uzbekistan and has been a contributor to Rediff.com for well over a decade.