Chinese and U.S. representatives at a handover ceremony for masks donated by the Chinese province of Fujian to Oregon, the United States, on April 27 (XINHUA)
By May 14, confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the United States had crossed 1.39 million, with the death toll surpassing 84,000.
However, instead of concentrating on fighting the pandemic domestically, some U.S. politicians have been fabricating allegations to pin the blame on China and hide their irresponsibility.
But the facts speak for themselves.
Origin of COVID-19
Did COVID-19 originate in Wuhan in Central China? Not necessarily. The place that first reports a virus may not be its place of origin. Increasing evidence proves that the Spanish flu did not originate in Spain.
The origin of COVID-19 has still not been identified. Source tracing is a serious scientific matter, which should be based on science and be done by scientists and medical experts. Calling the virus "Wuhan virus" or "China virus" is stigmatization.
On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19. It was done on the basis of its 2015 Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases, which clearly stipulates that the naming of a disease should not be associated with a particular country or place.
There is also abundant evidence showing that cases occurred outside China earlier than deemed. USA Today reported on May 6 that 171 people in Florida showed symptoms of COVID-19 as early as in January, and none reported traveling to China.
Michael Melham, Mayor of Belleville in New Jersey, said he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, and may have been sick with the virus back in November last year—over two months before the first reported case in the United States on January 20.
Mainstream Western media, including The New York Times, ABC and BBC, all have reported how the wrongful connection of Asian communities with COVID-19 stoked serious xenophobia and frequent discrimination and harassment of these communities in the United States.
WHO and scientists worldwide have fiercely rebutted the allegation made by some U.S. politicians that the virus was constructed and leaked by the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib stressed on April 21 that all available evidence suggested the virus has an animal origin and is "not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else." Chaib also said it most likely has its ecological reservoir in bats but how it was transmitted from bats to humans is still to be discovered.
British medical journal The Lancet said in a report published on February 19 that COVID-19 originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.
Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic in an interview published on May 4, "If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated."
China has provided timely information on the virus in an open, transparent and responsible manner.
On December 27, 2019, three cases of pneumonia of unknown cause were immediately reported by Zhang Jixian, a doctor in Wuhan, after she received the patients. It was the first reporting of suspected cases of a new disease by the local authorities. On the same day, epidemiological investigation and tests on the patients were conducted by the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The next few days witnessed two emergency notices and a situation report by the Wuhan authorities. On December 31, 2019, China informed the WHO China Country Office of the cases of pneumonia of unknown cause and from January 3, began sending regular, timely updates about the novel coronavirus to WHO and different countries, including the United States.
China completed the identification and sequencing of the virus as early as on January 7 and shared the genome sequence information with WHO and different countries on January 11.
Nine days later, the National Health Commission informed the media that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted from person to person. On January 22, WHO issued a warning about the potential risk of human-to-human transmission on its website, and eight days later, it declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
China's transparency in data releasing has been consistent. On April 17, Wuhan issued a notification revising up confirmed cases by 325 to a total of 50,333, and fatal cases by 1,290 to a total of 3,869.
Revision doesn't mean covering up. On the contrary, it was out of a high sense of responsibility to the people and to the lives lost to the coronavirus that Wuhan took the initiative. When the city was first hit by the virus, the hospitals were overloaded and some patients passed away at home. These deaths were missed, in addition to delayed, inadequate or inaccurate reporting of cases.
On April 28, Christoffer Koch and Ken Okamura, two economists from the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, jointly published a paper based on studies of the data from China, Italy and the United States. They said the confirmed infections in China are similar to those in the other two countries and there was no possibility of manipulation of figures.
Hollow export claims
The comprehensive and rigorous measures taken by the Chinese Government within the shortest possible time limited the number of infections to more than 700,000 fewer than expected in the absence of intervention measures and the chain of transmissions was broken domestically.
Wuhan was put under lockdown from January 23 to April 8. So it was impossible for Wuhan residents to travel overseas during this period.
Social distancing measures were strictly observed nationwide, effectively curbing the spread of the virus. Suspected cases and their close contacts were placed under quarantine at designated places to stem further spread of the virus.
China's response, demonstrating speed, scale and efficiency, have been rarely seen in the world, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, adding that China's experience is worth learning for other countries.
This explains why China's infection rate stayed relatively low once the measures kicked in. As for the allegations that China spread the virus to the rest of the world, this is what research found outside China.
In the United States, The New York Times cited U.S. research as concluding that most New York coronavirus cases did not come from Asia.
In Canada, data from its major provinces showed that the virus was brought into the country by U.S. visitors.
In France, research found that the virus strain circulating locally was of unknown origin.
In Singapore, cases imported from China were less than one 10th of those from other countries.
In Japan, researchers believed that the strain confirmed in the country since early March was not from China.
In Russia, none of the imported cases was from China.
In the middle of the pandemic, the United States decided to halt funding WHO, saying it "failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion." Some U.S. politicians alleged China was manipulating and bribing the organization.
This accusation is absurd. WHO is a specialized UN agency composed of 194 member states. Its 21-strong leadership team has 11 members from the United States, the EU, Canada and Australia and only one from China. They are all trained or practicing doctors, epidemiologists, rescue workers and public health experts.
Where WHO funding is concerned, assessed contributions from members account for less than a quarter of total funding, with the rest being voluntary contributions. China is the ninth biggest contributor. So can WHO be manipulated by one single country?
Help with a motive?
China has been doing its best to help the countries in need. As of mid-May, China had set up a 2-billion-yuan ($282 million) fund for COVID-19 cooperation. It has provided anti-epidemic supplies to more than 150 countries and international organizations and shared its experience on prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment with the rest of the international community. It has also sent 21 teams of medical experts to 19 countries.
Besides donating $50 million to WHO, China agreed to suspend principal and interest repayment for 77 developing countries' debts due between May 1 and the end of 2020, in response to the debt service suspension initiative for the poorest countries adopted at a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of Group of 20 countries in April.
China's assistance to other countries is a return of their kindness in helping China with its COVID-19 response. The support and assistance has been widely recognized by the international community. It is also a concrete step to put into action the vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity despite some U.S. politicians distorting the efforts as serving "political and propaganda purposes."
This is an edited version of an article by Xinhua News Agency and the author is a writer with Xinhua
(Print Edition Title: Facts vs. Fabrications)
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