Chinese media quotes 'inexistent' biologist to back COVID-19 origin study
Chinese media has removed comments of a Swiss biologist on reports about the origin of COVID-19 after the Switzerland Embassy in China questioned whether the biologist even existed. One "Wilson Edwards" was quoted by Chinese media as saying that he and fellow researchers are facing "enormous pressure" and "intimidation" from the United States to establish China's role in the origin of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
What did the Swiss Embassy say?
Soon after the comments of Wilson Edwards were published, the Swiss Embassy in China urged the Chinese media to remove the articles as they contained "false" news. "The Embassy of Switzerland must...inform the Chinese public that the news is false...There is no registry of any Swiss citizen with the name 'Wilson Edwards', there are no academic articles in the biology field under his name."
What did the 'biologist' say in Chinese media reports?
In July, Chinese media outlets such as CGTN, Shanghai Daily, and Global Times picked up a Facebook post by an account named Wilson Edwards. He was quoted as saying that he has witnessed America's efforts to "politicize" the origin of COVID-19. Edwards said, "[WHO] is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings" due to the US' obsession with attacking China.
Facebook account was newly-created; had 3 friends
The Swiss Embassy confirmed that the Facebook account was opened on July 24 and has only three friends. "It is likely that this Facebook account was not opened for social networking purposes," the Embassy added.
Notably, China has been at odds with the United States over the origin of the novel coronavirus. The US has been stressing the theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory. US President Joe Biden had also ordered intelligence to probe the possibility in May. Last month, WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the possibility of the coronavirus leaking from a laboratory.
China denies 'lab leak' theory
China, on the other hand, strongly denies this theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese laboratory. To the WHO's remark, China in July reminded the global agency of its March report, where it stated that a "lab leak leading the outbreak is extremely unlikely."