Things are not always what they appear as far as the media coverage of international politics is concerned. This is also true of the current visit to Wuhan in China by an international team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) which, along with Chinese doctors and virologists, is looking for the origins of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 that turned into a pandemic and caused death and devastation across the entire planet. Media reports suggest that the visit by the WHO team took months to negotiate after China only agreed to it amid massive international pressure at the World Health Assembly meeting in May 2020, and Beijing has continued to resist calls for a strictly independent investigation. Yet there is also circumstantial evidence to suggest that the Chinese are not as reluctant as they have been made to seem by the international press and this visit, in fact, has been deliberately designed to sweep away certain ‘misconceptions’ surrounding the origin of the deadly virus and dilute global suspicion and condemnation of China’s role. It may be recalled that at the very beginning the virus was thought to have had its origin in an animal market in Wuhan, being transferred from a bat or a pangolin to ‘patient zero’. China then had been accused by the international community of being less than transparent and allowing the disease to enlarge into a pandemic.

The fact that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is located in the very city from which the pandemic was thought to have begun had been grist to the mills of conspiracy theorists. No less a person than former US President Donald Trump had fuelled suspicion that the lethal virus had somehow escaped from this institute, leading him to call it the ‘China virus’ rather than Covid-19. The WHO team, after preliminary investigation, has categorically declared as ‘improbable’ the possibility of such a leak and asserted that it will not be suggested as an avenue of future study, thereby giving China a clean bill on this aspect. China for quite some time now has been forwarding alternative theories as to how the virus ‘entered’ the country from a foreign source and propagating the possibility that it had come along with imported frozen meat. Curiously enough, the findings of the WHO team do not contradict such a postulate and its spokesman has contented himself by asserting that more research was needed on the various avenues by which a pandemic that has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide might have first started. The stark reality is that this much-anticipated visit by the WHO team has left humanity none the wiser as to where and how Covid-19 began, though its spokesman’s assertion that the Chinese authorities had been absolutely transparent with the team perhaps hints at latent intentions!