The COVID-19 pandemic that arose 18 months ago has killed more than 3.5 million individuals worldwide. The daily body count is thankfully easing, and attention is shifting from solely saving lives to retracing the trail of death to its source. Finger-pointers can wind up digitally challenged, but avoiding future calamity means responsible parties must be held to account.
It is human nature for the guilty to avoid looking in the mirror. China, where the coronavirus inarguably originated, has made it clear that an apology is not forthcoming. As if the lack of Chinese contrition isn’t maddening enough, Beijing has stated that it will no longer cooperate with any investigation into the virus’ origin.
However, China cannot force the world to unlearn what it already knows. As The Washington Times reported Friday, U.S. intelligence agencies have identified a virus strain studied in the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a possible “backbone for the creation of a pathogenic chimeric virus,” pointing to an experimental rather than a natural cause. This echoes what Bill Gertz wrote in The Washington Times in January 2020, and no amount of silencing by Facebook and other media outlets will alter the truth.
As facts come into focus, China is meeting criticism with belligerence. The Chinese Communist Party’s semi-official Global Times recently declared the nation must be prepared for an “intense showdown” with the U.S.: “The number of China‘s nuclear warheads must reach the quantity that makes U.S. elites shiver should they entertain the idea of engaging in a military confrontation with China.” In other words, Americans angered by China‘s affronts must be frightened into silence.
With characteristic bluntness, former President Trump has issued a statement calling for financial compensation: “China should pay $10 trillion to America, and the World, for the death and destruction they have caused!”
But some Americans have their own issues with mirrors. Freedom of Information Act requests have produced more than 3,000 emails, some revealing that while National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci reassured the nation in early 2020 that COVID-19 likely originated in nature, he directed his deputy to study up on whether the Wuhan lab, which his institute partially funds, engaged in “gain of function” research, which can produce deadly pathogens.
The wall of denial is crumbling before emerging evidence that coronavirus is anything but natural. Even President Biden, who rode the public’s fear of death into the White House, has bowed to inevitability. He has called for a 90-day investigation into whether the virus originated in a Chinese lab. To wonder why such a query is not automatic is to forget that sometimes the truth hurts. It’s a lesson not lost on State Department employees who warned that such an investigation could “open a can of worms,” according to Vanity Fair.
There is value in turning the other cheek, but humanity has already done that. COVID-19 is likely the fifth pestilence to emerge from China in the last 20 years, says Trump National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. If this pandemic proves to be the result of a leaky lab, China must open its checkbook.
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