Top Chinese officials are again peddling false stories about the Wuhan coronavirus’s origins and spreading rumors about the U.S. vaccines developed during President Donald Trump’s presidency. 

China has intensified its pandemic misinformation campaign after independent trials found the much-feted Chinese vaccine to be highly ineffective. Clinical trials in Brazil showed that the Chinese Sinovac “vaccine is significantly less effective than previous data suggested – barely over the 50% needed for regulatory approval,” the BBC reported earlier this month. The Pfizer vaccine, in comparison, is 95 percent effective. 

This revelation is a big blow to Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy,” aimed a polishing China’s global image by promising cheap shipments to poor countries in Asia, African, and Latin America. 

“A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab,” the Associated Press reported Monday. “Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe.” the AP added.

Here is more from The Associated Press

Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China.

As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China’s vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm.

State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus.

Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland.

“It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.”

Besides the U.S., China has claimed the Wuhan virus to have originated in India and Italy. 

While peddling such bizarre theories, China has systematically stifled independent inquiry into the origins of the virus. Earlier this month, Beijing blocked the entry of a World Health Organization (WHO) team looking into the origins of the pandemic. Officials gave the team access after a global outrage

WHO, the United Nations health body, has severe credibility deficits when it comes to investigating China. Right from the onset of the outbreak, the UN body has been involved in pushing Beijing’s propaganda and misinformation.   

Moreover, there is every reason to doubt that WHO experts, led by Chinese minders, will ever find out the truth. “The WHO team will be heavily reliant on their Chinese hosts for access: to key places” as well as “to research material, human and animal samples and data gathered by China’s authorities,” the BBC reported. 

With foreign investigators practically shut out, Beijing has set up an elaborate system of monitoring and censoring research on the Wuhan virus’s origins, media reports suggest. 

The Communist regime “is handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to scientists researching the virus’ origins in southern China and affiliated with the military” but it is “monitoring their findings and mandating that the publication of any data or research must be approved by a new task force managed by China’s cabinet, under direct orders from President Xi Jinping.” the AP reported late December.

There are lingering doubts about how the virus really originated. Earlier this month, outgoing U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, added weight to the claims that the contagion may have escaped a Wuhan virology lab and not jumped from bats to humans, as widely believed. 

“The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the (Wuhan Institute of Virology) became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses,” Secretary Pompeo said on January 16. “Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,” he added. 

Pompeo: China’s pandemic response a ‘classic communist disinformation effort’

 

 
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