The BBC and the Associated Press (AP) recently reported that Chinese authorities prevented their journalists from visiting mineshafts and bat caves in China’s Yunnan Province, where a team of Chinese scientists conducted research on the source of the CCP virus, which sparked the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization will send a team of scientists to China next month to investigate the origin of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, known by the scientific name SARS-CoV-2. But the international community has questioned WHO’s role in enabling the Chinese regime to conceal the spread of the virus in the early stages of the outbreak.
The bat caves are located in an abandoned copper mine deep in the mountains of Tongguan, a town in Mojiang county of Yunnan Province, in southwestern China. The BBC pointed out that many samples taken from the caves have been transferred to the Wuhan Institute of Virology—a lab located near the Huanan food market that authorities initially hypothesized as the source of the outbreak.
According to the BBC, when its team tried to visit the caves, they were followed by plainclothes police officers and other officials in unmarked cars.
The AP also reported that its journalists were tailed by Chinese security personnel and denied entry into one of the caves in late November. The report pointed out that samples taken from the caves by a bat research team were confiscated. However, some scientists who are affiliated with the Chinese military are allowed on the site, but the Chinese regime is closely monitoring their findings and mandates that the publication of any research must be approved by a new task force managed by the central government, under direct orders from Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to internal documents obtained by the AP.
The abandoned copper mine in Tongguan that the BBC team wanted to visit may have been infected with bat coronavirus as early as 2012, when six copper mine workers contracted a mysterious disease, which eventually claimed the lives of three of them, the Sunday Times reported earlier this year.
Virologist Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology published her findings on the bat coronavirus RaTG13 in the scientific journal Nature in February. She claims the whole genome homology with the COVID-19 in this outbreak is 96.2 percent. The state official media China News reported on Sept. 21 that there was a sequence named TG13 in the database of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which had been previously discovered by Shi’s team in a Yunnan mineshaft in 2013.
Shi and her team have taken samples from the bat caves for five years and detected 293 kinds of coronaviruses in the collected samples. And bat coronaviruses have been found to infect people at the end of 2017, according to the BBC report.
On Feb. 5, the Chinese state-run media The Beijing News published an article which claimed that Shi’s team discovered that the bat coronavirus infected people. The report said that in October 2015, the team tested blood serum samples from 218 villagers who lived near two of the bat caves in Yunnan. Six people tested positive for a coronavirus similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
Scientists say it is likely SARS-CoV-2 originated in animals, though they are still unclear how the virus jumped to humans.
The chief virus expert of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences and major general Chen Wei said in a speech that the authorities began producing COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 26, just one month and three days after the authorities announced that Wuhan was sealed off due to the outbreak, according to Chinese news portal Sohu. The outside world generally questioned how Chen’s team developed a vaccine in such a short time.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Dec. 21 that she doesn’t “doubt that for one second” that the CCP has deliberately blocked information about the danger of the virus, causing it to spread.
U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) said in an interview with Fox Business News: “China knew about this virus. They failed to warn us. They lied to us and they covered up and then denied doing that.”
The WHO and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus have been criticized by the international community for enabling the Chinese regime to cover up the severity and scale of the CCP virus when it first broke out in Wuhan city a year ago, despite evidence that authorities suppressed those who tried to sound the alarm about the disease. The WHO repeatedly praised Beijing’s handling of the situation and waited until Jan. 30 to declare the outbreak a global health emergency.
The WHO announced in July that it would send an investigative team to Yunnan to identify the source of the CCP virus. According to Reuters, the group is expected to go to China in the first week of January.