(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – China has become used to public confessions on television. But this time the words came from one of the nation’s top officials and had seismic global implications.
‘At first, we assumed the seafood market might have the virus, but now the market is more like a victim,’ said Gao Fu, director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
This was a stunning admission. For the same scientist had unequivocally pointed the finger of blame at Wuhan’s market where wild animals were sold when his country eventually told the world about a deadly new virus in the city.The market was shut and cleaned up like a crime scene, in the words of another expert, as global attention focused on the ghastly trade in wild animals.
Gao’s initial analysis had made sense after previous outbreaks of zoonotic viruses (diseases that jump from animals to humans). Yet suspicion grew over the Chinese government’s failure to share data from animals sampled in the market following its early cover-ups.
Now Gao has admitted no viruses were detected in animal samples. He said they were found only in environmental samples, including sewage – before adding an intriguing aside that ‘the novel coronavirus had existed long before’.No-one should doubt the significance of the statement since Gao is not just China’s top epidemiologist but also a member of the country’s top political advisory body.