Editor's note: The video column does what the name says – takes note of ideas that may make people uncomfortable. By taking notes and breaking down various opinions, we try to provide an alternative line of thinking that will hopefully generate deeper discussion.
I was mostly on duty during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 and wrote about many of the situations at the time. The earliest piece I wrote about the virus and politics was on January 26, three days after Wuhan was locked down. It was in response to a U.S. professor's comment that the lockdown violated human rights and would be unconstitutional in the U.S.
Bruce Aylward, co-head of the China-WHO joint mission, once said during a press conference that "and I just thought it's important that we recognize that to the people of Wuhan, it is recognized. The world is in your debt, and when this disease finishes, hopefully we will have a chance to thank the people in Wuhan for the role that they played in it."
I saw one of the comments below: "WHO is a joke. Well, I mean, the CHO." It meant China Health Organization.
You see, from the very start, WHO stepped on the wrong side of U.S. values. It was viewed as being in league with China, an impression that it has never quite managed to shake off, even now. Now, with a second phase study of COVID-19 origins, the Americans are happy. Finally, WHO is doing something that is in line with what they believe.
But science sometimes doesn't make people feel good. Scientific evaluations could contradict what people like to believe to be true.
If we switch places, if Americans could put themselves into Chinese shoes, do you think that the Chinese feel good when they hear about the lab-leak theory? Of course not. It was a fringe theory turned mainstream by politicians to serve their political interests.
But when WHO took that up and wanted to look into it, what did China do? It opened its doors and welcomed them in because it is science's mandate that the WHO looks into every possibility. And that mandate was respected – even though China doesn't like and doesn't believe in the theory.
That brings us to the second phase. If a theory like that should be taken up, then what about all the other possibilities? There are many questions over Fort Detrick in the U.S., over a university in North Carolina. Or how about the early positive testing in Italy? Scientists have found COVID-19-related dermatosis in Milan around November 2019. Neutralizing antibodies were found in blood taken from healthy volunteers a month earlier.
If we respect science's mandate, these cases should be looked into too. And if phase one has deemed the lab-leak theory "extremely unlikely," what evidence has shown up that's bringing it to the top of the list again? Where's the science in this change?
Science can't be picked and chosen based on political pressure or public preference. Its purpose is to put a hypothesis through the most rigorous testing to get the most objective results. Whether people like the results or not should never be scientists' worries.
Maintaining neutrality is very difficult at this time. It can't be expressed just with words, but with deeds. Origins-tracing, as politicized as it is, is a scientific matter. And in science, all possibilities require careful study.
Scriptwriter: Huang Jiyuan
Cameraman: Song Yawei
Video Editor: Liu Shasha
Managing Editor: Huang Jiyuan
Senior Producer: Zhang Peijin
Supervisor: Mei Yan
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