Skip to content


Christian Alonso

China, at the eye of the storm.

- A virology laboratory in China ten miles from the epicenter of the pandemic. Was the covid an invention?

China, at the eye of the storm.

After four months in confinement, the city of Wuhan, China, has begun to resume its daily activities. The epicenter of the pandemic, which currently affects more than two million people worldwide, has been constantly questioned about the existence of the famous wet markets (places where the coronavirus is suspected to have originated), as well as about the null certainty of the figures given by the central government regarding the total number of deaths from the virus.

Today, China is once again in the eye of the hurricane. A joint investigation between the United States and the United Kingdom revealed the existence of a virology laboratory just ten miles from the epicenter of the pandemic, which would mean, for some, that the virus was created in a laboratory. As if that were not enough, Taiwan has made public a series of emails sent weeks before the first "official" outbreak, informing the World Health Organization of the danger of an imminent pandemic. Given the null response from the WHO, there is much speculation about whether there is a tilt in the balance in favor of the Asian giant.

Wuhan, the confinement of an ancient city.

The city of Wuhan has been characterized, for a few months, as the epicenter of SARS-CoV-2. The newscasts worldwide showed images referring to the famous "wet markets" over and over again, linking the origin of the virus to the existence of these establishments. Despite the great criticism generated by the West, the truth is that Wuhan is much more than coronaviruses and exotic animals. An ancient city of great importance to China that was confined for its own survival.

Located on the banks of the Yangtze River and with a population of just over ten million inhabitants is Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Founded 3,500 years ago, its location is crucial to China's economic development. It is the seventh largest city in the Asian country and number 42 worldwide. It is a strategic point in the high-speed rail network, since it is located a few hours from the main cities of the country. Its location is the entry point to 9 of the 23 provinces that make up China.

Wuhan is a very important city for trade, culture and tourism. Leader in the automotive sector, the pharmaceutical industry, railway engineering and bridge construction. It has one of the largest and most important intermediate ports along the Yangtze River tributary, connecting ships between the cities of Shanghai and Chongqin, making it one of the 10 largest economies in the Asian giant.

Wuhan is one of the ten largest economies in China. Source: Reuters

Terror broke out at the end of December 2019 when the Chinese authorities reported the existence of a new type of coronavirus. The number of infected skyrocketed and the number of deaths began to grow exponentially. Just a month after the detection of the first cases, China decided to confine one of its main cities.

The measures to stop the spread of the virus began with the suspension of public transport. The closure of airports and train stations followed. The almost 11 million inhabitants were asked to remain inside their homes at any cost while the health authorities searched for patient zero. Many theories revolved around the outbreak of this epidemic. Some claimed that it was a virus created by the United States to slow down China's economic advance, others, on the contrary, believed that it was a false alarm. The first conclusions pointed to only one place, the Wuhan wet market.

Until the start of the pandemic, little was known about the term "wet market" in the West. With how volatile information turns out to be today, the headlines of hundreds of newspapers worldwide had begun to use that term to point out the origin of the coronavirus. Overloaded with images featuring exotic animals on display for purchase and eminent consumption, China's wet markets jumped out at everyone's sight. However, despite the strangeness, the truth is that each of us, at least once in our lives, has set foot in one of these crowded places.

"If you've ever been to a shopping area where butchers and grocery stores sell fresh produce straight from the farm, then you've been to what, in some parts of the world, would be called a wet market."CNN News

The term "wet" comes directly from the practice of washing floors, vegetables, and fish with a kind of hose. They differ from "dry markets", especially in the type of products they offer, since the latter are characterized by the sale of non-perishable items, such as grains, or household products. The existence of exotic animals in closed spaces and unsanitary practices have been the focus of attention since, according to experts, they can create the right conditions for viruses to develop.

In the Wuhan market, countless wild animals were offered for human consumption, including skunks, armadillos, pangolins and civets, the spread of a virus was just a matter of time. However, one of the most replicated theories since the origin of the pandemic has been that of the famous "bat soup", an exotic dish consumed by a large part of the city's inhabitants. This theory not only attracted the eyes of the whole world towards the eating habits of the Chinese population, but also the great criticism of the international society towards the existence of these markets.

According to Anthony Fauci, America's chief epidemiologist, all wet markets in China should be closed indefinitely. And so it was, at least for a while. Despite the controversy generated by the sale and consumption of wild species, 94% of wet markets in China have returned to normal operations as of March 22. Such actions have called into question the responsibility of the Asian country to prevent the spread of new viruses.

Banning and closing these establishments may seem like the most viable option from a Western perspective, however these are unlikely to be sustainable solutions. Many experts agree that ending the illegal trade in wild animals for human consumption is the most important means of preventing future pandemics, however, in the long term, if demand persists, a ban would drive underground, making even more difficult to contain the outbreak of new viruses.

If there is something that can be done, it is to rethink our consumption logic. Many individuals display their sense of moral superiority by criticizing and exposing the eating habits of the Chinese population as if they were the only sources of infection. It will be necessary to remember that viruses are not only present in wild animals. Western diets based on pork, chicken and beef have been triggers in previous epidemics. Just to remember a few, there are swine flu, bird flu and the famous "mad cow" disease. Are our eating habits actually better and healthier than in China?

China, between international responsibility and reason of State.

The impetus that Donald Trump possesses in his bloody trade battle with China is well known. Through sanctions and economic restrictions, the US president has tried to subdue the Asian giant, however, in an interconnected world, the repercussions of a dispute between the two countries are reflected on any scale. On Saturday, April 18, 2020, tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated again, all this due to Trump's statements regarding the possible "consequences" that China would suffer if one of the many theories regarding the origin of the coronavirus is verified, this time that of an infectious disease laboratory on the outskirts of Wuhan.

This theory is based on a report from the United States Embassy in Beijing, where it states that, after several visits to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2018, insufficient measures were detected to contain infectious diseases. In addition, a specialized area dedicated to the study of the coronavirus in different species of bats was discovered, which reinforces the possible origin of the pandemic.

The head of the virology laboratory denied it and stated that it is impossible for the virus to have been created in a laboratory, maintaining as official the theory that COVID-19 comes directly from human exposure in the Wuhan wet market. The Chinese Foreign Relations spokesman pointed out that it is a serious accusation, devoid of sense and evidence, however, months ago this character did exactly the same, by means of a tweet in which he affirmed that the virus had been brought to China by the military. americans.

While the theory is proven or not, the only thing that these statements achieve is to reaffirm the skepticism of thousands of people in the world, who believe that the virus is nothing more than a biological warfare between the United States and China. For Trump, these investigations are a relief for his presidential campaign, which has been stained due to his deficient actions in containing the virus. Today, the United States accounts for about a third of all infections worldwide and is the most affected country in the world.

Another reason that casts doubt on the veracity of the official data provided by China is the publication of a series of emails that the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry had urgently sent to the World Health Organization weeks before the first official contagion of the new coronavirus. In these emails, the Taiwan health authority reported an outbreak of atypical pneumonia in mainland China, transmissible from person to person.

"Due to its experience with the SARS epidemic in 2003, Taiwan closely monitored information about the new outbreak. On December 31, 2019, Taiwan sent an email to the IHR focal point of the World Health Organization (WHO), informing WHO of its understanding of the disease and also requesting further information from WHO.” Taiwan Center for Disease Control (CDC)

The WHO denied on a couple of occasions the existence of said communications between the Taiwan authority and the International Organization, however, with the leaking of these tests the veracity of the Organization has been left in doubt. Taiwan is about 130 kilometers from mainland China, but has declared itself an independent nation for more than 70 years. However, China refuses to recognize Taiwan's sovereignty, constantly fighting to bring them back under Beijing's control. In the midst of this diplomatic fight, the WHO has sided with China, preventing Taiwan from being a member and participating in panels on health.

The repercussions for the WHO have been overwhelming. A few days ago, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, announced that he would withdraw funding for the Organization, considering that it is "very focused on China." The loss of approximately $823 million annually represents a serious decline in the potential for the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases worldwide. Even in difficult times, the soft war between the United States and China continues at its best.

Another of the serious accusations against the Asian country was presented by a damning report by the Associated Press, which states that China withheld vital information between January 14 and 20, downplaying the spread of the virus. This report reveals that person-to-person contagion was possible. China did not indicate this clearly and allowed the mobility of thousands of infected people. The Wuhan health commission reported that the outbreak was preventable and local, resulting in global health authorities being insufficiently prepared to contain the virus.

The international community praised the actions of the Chinese government to contain the virus. Many of us were stunned to see the construction of a specialty hospital in just ten days. More and more Chinese doctors were landing in affected countries with the sole purpose of helping to flatten the contagion curve. The WHO reiterated over and over again that the Chinese model was the most efficient to counter the epidemic. China turned out to be an example for everyone. However, days ago the veracity of the data has once again been questioned, the Chinese health authority has increased the total number of official deaths in the city of Wuhan by 50%, which once again reinforces skepticism in the data provided for the Asian country.

We will never know the real origin of the pandemic. Many continue to speculate if it comes from a laboratory, from a market or even, something totally absurd, from 5G technology. The media do nothing more than feed the conspiracy impetus of a few, while reality remains hidden behind the scenes. If the transmission data was known to senior officials and not disclosed in advance, the massive containment effort China prides itself on could be overshadowed.

International Significance.

As the radial graph shows, the international significance of the issue in question covers various fields. In terms of economics, if the theory formulated by the US is verified, it is expected that the consequences for China will be economic blockades and a reduction in the export and import of products, which would be reflected in an impact on its trade. The political question is one of the most affected. With Trump's statements, the tension between Washington and Beijing has grown, to this have been added a series of actors such as Australia, France, Japan and the United Kingdom, who deliberately accuse China of omitting information regarding the origin of the pandemic, generating thus a diplomatic spat.

In environmental matters, the impact is minimal, it is well known that the current global contingency has given the planet a breather, however, our mode of consumption and production will continue to impact deliberately when all this is over. Lastly, if it were found that the virus was created in a laboratory, the technological repercussions would be overwhelming. It would lead to believe that diseases are created by human beings and research in this area would lose credibility. To be honest, I doubt this will happen.

The best content in your inbox

Join our newsletter with the best of CEMERI

Related articles

Alonso, Christian. “China, en el ojo del huracán..” CEMERI, 29 jun. 2023,