The investigative skills of the World Health Organisation team looking into the origins of the outbreak of Covid in China are, unfortunately, more akin to the abilities of the Keystone Cops than to the crack sleuths of TV’s CSI.
Initially, after being carefully guided around Wuhan by Chinese government officials, they declared that a laboratory leak was ‘extremely unlikely’ and would not be investigated further.
Worryingly, too, some of the original investigation team are among the West’s most ardent friends of China.
One member, Peter Daszak, is a former business partner of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and, for years, worked with its bat-borne coronavirus expert Dr Shi Zhengli.
Not that Mr Daszak thinks there was anything dangerous in what they were doing in such research.
Last year, he spent months deriding as conspiracy theorists those asking legitimate questions about the Wuhan lab’s potential role in the origins of Covid.
He organised a letter to a scientific journal claiming that scientists had not yet accepted any explanation as feasible.
To the Beijing regime, any idea of questioning its official narrative or any suggestion that its laboratory safety protocols warrant scrutiny is not just unreasonable but insulting (Pictured: President Xi Jingping)
Several theories have accused the Wuhan lab in China (pictured) of accidentally leaking the Covid-19 virus
Security guards keep the media at bay outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China
In view of this lobbying – and, perhaps, I suggest, in an effort to placate the Chinese – he was appointed to the WHO investigation team.
The big question remains: is the Chinese Communist Party hiding something?
If Covid-19 was truly the result of the transmission of a virus from animal to human, surely, any responsible government would welcome urgent investigation to examine all the available evidence. But no.
Instead, the deputy chief of China’s National Health Commission has said he was ‘shocked’ that any inquiry should be looking at whether anyone in his country had violated laboratory procedures, ‘causing virus leakage’.
To the Beijing regime, any idea of questioning its official narrative or any suggestion that its laboratory safety protocols warrant scrutiny is not just unreasonable but insulting.
This is not the first time Chinese officials have blocked even the perfunctory WHO examinations.
It is now clear that they knew about the human-to-human transfer of Covid as early as November 2019 and that Beijing spent the latter part of the following month suppressing scientists who tried to warn of this fact and of the dangerous nature of Covid.
When China finally alerted the WHO in late December, it said it was just a small flu outbreak.
For its part, and equally irresponsibly, the WHO declined at first to declare an international public health emergency two days before 56 million people in Hubei province were put into lockdown.
Shockingly, it wasn’t until March 11 that the WHO declared a global pandemic.
Scientists at work at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (file photo) in China
While China has insisted the virus originated elsewhere, some academics, politicians and media have contemplated the possibility it escaped from the Wuhan lab- raising suspicions that Chinese officials simply hid evidence of the early spread
During the delay, the virus had spread around the world. The WHO’s poodle-like participation in China’s Great Covid ‘Cover-Up’ continued.
When its team of investigators were finally allowed to visit Wuhan – having repeatedly not been given the necessary visas and permits – they were fobbed off with an inaccurate assessment of Covid’s first victims.
Indeed, the information supplied to the WHO team has now been thoroughly discredited by journalists, and the Chinese themselves have admitted that it was inaccurate.
And yet the gullible WHO departed, having accepted the Chinese version of events.
A very revealing comment on this sorry state of affairs came recently from Liang Wannian, head of the Chinese experts on the WHO-China team, who said: ‘Just to protect the privacy of patients, we did not agree to provide original data, nor did we allow them to copy it or take photos.’
He also claimed that ‘the international experts also fully understood this’.
Based on its utterly unsatisfactory track record, it seems increasingly obvious that any meaningful attempt by the WHO to ascertain Covid’s origins will be blocked again and again.
As such – without freedom to determine the evidence it sees or what hypotheses it might explore, or where it may visit – this is a perversion of the word ‘investigation’.
Instead, we are witnessing an exercise that has helped China in further muddying the waters as to its culpability.
Not surprisingly, US President Joe Biden has, in effect, given up on the WHO investigation and asked the US intelligence community to come up with its own verdict.
Sadly, the British Government remains muted about China’s responsibility for this global debacle.
The fact is that Ministers have form on placating Beijing – refusing to impose import controls on Chinese products suspected to have been made using slave labour.
I am sorry to say, but I, like many others, believe this is a policy of appeasement – of the kind which, in the 1930s, cost the world much in human terms.
Governments across the globe – many in the media, too, with the notable exception of this newspaper – seem to have given up on trying to get to the truth about Covid and understand how our world was turned upside down.
I am surprised, for example, how BBC News has reported very little on the subject.
Had the cause of this tragedy been the responsibility of any other nation, I wager that scarcely a day would have gone by without loud calls for the perpetrator to be held to account.
Also, it was very wrong that when Australia bravely called for an inquiry, China retaliated by imposing punitive sanctions on its wine and barley exports – and most other governments failed to back Australia.
Meanwhile, independent research continues into the virus’s origins. A Southampton University study has found that if the authorities in Wuhan had intervened earlier, the number of cases could have been reduced by up to 95 per cent.
As millions continue to mourn those who have died, it is only fair to ask: Why do the WHO, other global institutions and governments continue to kow-tow to China, a secretive and repressive regime that breaks all the norms of decent behaviour?
A regime that commits genocide on its own people, suppresses freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law and now covers up its own guilt over the death of so many beyond its own borders?