Chinese scientists allegedly discussed weaponizing coronaviruses 5 years ago
Scientists and public health officials in China had allegedly discussed the possibility of manipulating, weaponizing, and releasing a coronavirus-like species five years ago, Weekend Australian reported citing an official Chinese document. The Chinese paper carried information on a "new era of genetic weapons" that could be "artificially manipulated into an emerging human disease virus." Here are more details on this.
The paper was reportedly published in 2015
The paper is titled "The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons." It suggests that a third World War would be fought with biological weapons. The document was reportedly published in 2015, years before the deadly COVID-19 pandemic originated in China. China has maintained the virus originated from a meat market in its Wuhan city.
'As close to a smoking gun as we've got'
Peter Jennings, the Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), told news.com.au that the paper is significant. "It begins to firm up the possibility that what we have here is the accidental release of a pathogen for military use," Jennings reportedly said, adding the document may explain why China has been reluctant toward international investigations into the origins of COVID-19.
The document is not fake, cyber expert says
Meanwhile, Robert Potter, a cyber security specialist, was asked by The Australian to verify the alleged paper. Potter says that the document is not fake, news.com.au reported. "We reached a high confidence conclusion that it was genuine...It is not fake but it's up to someone else to interpret how serious it is," Potter was quoted as saying.
'It's a shame': China rubbishes the report
In China, the report has received severe criticism. Chen Hong, a professor and director of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University, rubbished the report as a "conspiracy theory." "It is a shame for anti-China forces in Australia to back their own ideology against China at the expense of basic professional journalistic ethics, conspiring to twist the real meaning of the book."
WHO probe says the virus came from meat markets
However, in sharp contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier this year filed a report on its investigations into the origins of the novel coronavirus. The top health body said that meat markets selling dead and alive animals in China's Wuhan area were the most likely source of the latest pandemic, thereby denying the theories that it came from a laboratory.
COVID-19 killed over 33 lakh across the globe
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been caused by a coronavirus called SARS-Co V-2, that emerged in December 2019. Since then, the virus - which causes a respiratory disease in humans - has sickened more than 15.89 crore people around the world and claimed the lives of over 33 lakh. Several countries, including India, are currently facing newer waves of the pandemic.