Takeaways from AP report on how the search for the coronavirus origins turned toxic

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The Chinese government stopped meaningful efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, despite saying it supported an open inquiry. Documents, recordings, and interviews revealed that this freeze started early in the outbreak due to internal disputes in China and international tensions.

Efforts to trace the virus’ origins were hindered by officials in Wuhan trying to avoid blame, who misled the central government, silenced Chinese scientists, and controlled visits by international officials.

The start of the COVID-19 outbreak remains unclear, with different dates reported for when Chinese authorities began searching for the virus’ origins. There’s evidence that inspections of the Wuhan market occurred earlier than officially stated, but these were not publicly acknowledged.

The first scientist to publish the COVID-19 virus sequence faced repercussions from Chinese authorities, with his lab being shut down after urging swift action. Criticism grew within China as doctors and scientists felt the government was looking for someone to blame.

When the World Health Organization negotiated with China for an investigation into COVID-19, political interests took precedence over scientific inquiry. China controlled the terms of the investigation and sidelined WHO scientists, promoting theories that shifted blame away from China.

Despite WHO-led visits to Wuhan, the origins hunt became politicized, with Chinese officials manipulating information to deflect blame. China dismissed the possibility of a lab leak and limited future investigations into COVID-19 origins.

Chinese scientists faced continued pressure, with some facing repercussions for publishing research on the coronavirus. The fear of uncovering China’s role in the pandemic still lingers, hindering global cooperation on investigating the virus’ origins.

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