August 11, 2021

Workers handle swab samples for coronavirus tests at a hospital lab in Yantai, China, on Aug. 7. (Chinatopix/AP)

According to The Washington Post on August 11, Chinese state media has seized on a Swiss scientist critical of a Covid origins probe. The one problem: He might not exist.

Under the name Wilson Edwards, a Facebook user on July 24 penned a post critical of the U.S. position on the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus. Claiming to be a Swiss biologist, Edwards argued that the probe had been politicized. The Biden administration had “spared no efforts in rebuilding U.S. influence in the organization,” he wrote.

It was the United States, not China, that was seeking to influence the investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, Wilson argued, citing sources at the WHO who he claimed had told him: “The U.S. is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings.” The post drew wide attention from Chinese state media, which used it to vindicate China’s stance on the investigation. CGTN, China’s state broadcaster, wrote that the post indicated “intimidation” on the part of a WHO advisory group tracing the origins of the coronavirus.

But on Tuesday, Swiss diplomats raised an inconvenient detail: Wilson Edwards does not actually appear to exist. Suggesting that the account was likely a source of “fake news,” the Swiss Embassy in Beijing asked Chinese media companies to take down their stories. CGTN and other Chinese media outlets appear to have quietly complied.

(Bilingual Statement of the Swiss Embassy in China)

Internationally, some have argued that the virus could have inadvertently infected humans during research on bat coronaviruses in a Wuhan lab.

In May, President Biden gave the U.S. intelligence community 90 days for a renewed search for evidence about the origins of the coronavirus. Head of WHO Tedros also called for the WHO to continue its own probe, though Chinese officials suggested last month that it would be “impossible” for Beijing to accept a continuing China-focused probe.

The fake “Wilson Edwards” account did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Chinese state media outlets have been accused of using fake identities before.

Chinese state-backed media outlets have suggested without verified evidence that the United States could be where the coronavirus originated. Recently the Chinese state media has massively reported similar “news”, and a group of Chinese think tanks have called the US a “failed country” and a “suspected source of the outbreak” of the Covid-19 pandemic and published such a “report”, titled America Ranked First?! The Truth about America’s fight against Covid-19.

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Edited by:【Himalaya London Club UK】