COVID-19 Outbreak in China –An Intent Gone Wrong?
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 17 Mar , 2020

Factor II: Power Politics

In a major crisis of epidemic, a nation or group of nations holding the capability to produce a vaccine can produce ‘power dependency’. Much of the ongoing research and development related to lethal pathogen worldwide is occurring within this framework. According to Dr. Francis Boyle, a vaccine to cure the 2019-nCoV already exists in the United Kingdom (Pirbright Institute) and has been patented in the US[28]. The element of power manifests itself in first creating a crisis through genetic re-engineering of a pathogen (weapon grade) and followed with a vaccine to stabilize the crisis. The difference in-between the two manifestation of power results in economic and political power benefits.

It is to be noted that the Ebola outbreak is not associated to West Africa alone, historically the Ebola type of virus first broke out in Germany (Marburg Virus) followed by Reston in the United States ( Prof. Horace Campbell). Hence its outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was perhaps a result of human intent given that it occurred close to an American laboratory in Uganda near DRC border[29]. An outbreak that began with an 18 month old index patient in Guinea (December, 2013), ended after two and a half years with more than 28,616 cases and 11,310 deaths[30]. An additional 36 cases and 15 deaths occurred when the outbreak spread outside of the three West African countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone). Some experts believe the outbreak of Ebola is directly linked to the US bio-warfare labs on West African coast[31]. There has been an exponential increase in the number of American bio-labs mostly in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, DRC, Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Egypt) in last ten years – from 20 to 400[32].

History of biosafety incidents involving the US bio-labs worldwide forced the U.S. Government to pause new government funding for gain-of-function research on influenza, MERS or SARS viruses in October, 2014. Following this The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) in its May 2016 report – Recommended Policy Guidance for Departmental Development of Review Mechanisms for Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care and Oversight–lifted the pause on gain-of-function research[33].

The US Department of Defense (Cited in DILYANA.BG)

While all major powers are signatories of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) – the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons – originally drafted by United Kingdom (10 April, 1972) and entered into force on 26 March, 1975, sovereignty and absence of formal verification regime limits the effectiveness of the convention. According to an unclassified (24 February, 1977) Department of the Army (US) report – US Army Activity in the US Biological Warfare Programs – the US biological warfare (BW) program began amidst the Second World War and was banned by President Nixon in November, 1969. However, the report states – “….because a potential BW threat still exists the US still maintains a defensive BW program in accordance with the 1969 Presidential policy statement.” Furthermore, the report states that the US policy regarding BW was to first deter its use against the US and its forces, and secondly to retaliate if deterrence failed[34].

Given this dimension of power politics and quest for superiority in the domain of BW should not surprise anyone of the similar efforts made by rising powers such as China. On 13 March, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman [ deputy director general of the foreign ministry’s information department] Zhao Lijian through his tweets has provided official support to the theory that the origin of the COVID-19 may not be Wuhan, but the United States. Such a view was based on reports that suggest the US Army’s participation in the international Military World Games held in Wuhan in October, 2019 to be the original cause of the pandemic. It is quite clear that in the absence of credible evidence and pending investigations theories based on counterfactuals will remain in effect. Human intent going wrong cannot be ruled out for the time-being as the chief cause for this global crisis.


[1]Professor of international law at the University Of Illinois College Of Law.

[2]On 12 February, 2020 the World Health Organization renamed 2019-nCoV as – COVID-19.

[3] Pam Barker (2020), India to Probe Wuhan Institute of Virology; Dr. Francis Boyle – Coronavirus is a Bio Weapon [VIDEO], 04 February. Available at [Accessed on 07 February, 2020].

[4]Prashant Pradhan, Ashutosh Kumar Pandey, Akhilesh Mishra, Parul Gupta, Praveen Kumar Tripathi, Manoj Balakrishnan Menon, James Gomes, Perumal Vivekanandanand Bishwajit Kundu (2020) “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag”bioRxiv, 31 January. Available at [Accessed on 06 February, 2020].

[5]“Indian Scientists Discover Coronavirus Engineered With HIV (AIDS) Like Insertions”GreatGameIndia, 01 February, 2020. Available at [Accessed on 07 February, 2020].

[6]Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[7]Han Xia, Yi Huang, Haixia Ma, Bobo Liu, Weiwei Xie, Donglin Song, and Zhiming Yuan (2019), “Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory User Training Program, China” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 05 Vol:25, No:05, May. Available at [Accessed on 07 February, 2020].

[8]National Development and Reform Commission of People’s Republic of China “Vision and actions on jointly building Silk Road economic belt and 21st-Century maritime Silk Road” [in Chinese]. 2015 March 30 [cited 2018 Dec 5]. Link [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[9]Kat Eschner (2020), “We’re still not sure where the Wuhan coronavirus really came from” Popular Science, 28 January. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[10]Huo Jingnan, Emily Feng, Scott Neuman (2020), “China to Investigate After Whistleblower Doctor Dies From Coronavirus” NPR, 07 February. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[11]“Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China” The Lancet, 24 January, 2020. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[12]Kristian Andersen (2020), “Clock and TMRCA based on 27 genomesScripps Research, 25 January. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[13]“01 Dead, 41 Diagnosed with Coronavirus-related Pneumonia in Wuhan” Job Tube Daily, 12 January, 2020.

[14]Jon Cohen (2020), “Wuhan seafood market may not be source of novel virus spreading globally” Science, 26 January. Available at [08 February, 2020].

[15]Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO cited in “Emerging understandings of 2019-nCoV”The Lancet, Vol.395. 01 February, 2020.

[16]Refer “CDC SARS Response Timeline”Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Available at [Accessed on 03 February, 2020].

[17]Antonie Roger Lokongo (2015), “Ebola: Who created this terrible virus and why?Pambazuka News, 08 January. Availabe at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[18]Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[19]Pam Barker (2020), “India to Probe Wuhan Institute of Virology; Dr. Francis Boyle – Coronavirus is a Bio Weapon [VIDEO]”Europe Reloaded, 04 February. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020]

[20]Pilot Dovih, Eric D. Laing, Yihui Chen, Dolyce H. W. Low, B. R. Ansil, Xinglou Yang, Zhengli Shi, Christopher C. Broder, Gavin J. D. Smith, Martin Linster, Uma Ramakrishnan, Ian H. Mendenhall (2019), “Filovirus-reactive antibodies in humans and bats in Northeast India imply zoonotic spillover”PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease, 31 October. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020]

[21]Bindu Shajan Perappadan (2020), “Study on bats and bat hunters in Nagaland to be probed” The Hindu, 03 February. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[22]Novel coronavirus infection — updates — revised interim case definition. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2012. Available at http:// index.html.

[23]Ali Moh Zaki, M.D., Ph.D., Sander van Boheemen, M.Sc., Theo M. Bestebroer, B.Sc., Albert D.M.E. Osterhaus, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Ron A.M. Fouchier, Ph.D. (2012), “Isolation of a Novel Coronavirus from a Man with Pneumonia in Saudi Arabia” The New England Journal of Medicine, 17 October. p.01.

[24]A year ago Dr. Plummer had chosen to participate in a surgical trial for experimental brain surgery to treat his alcoholism. “World-renowned HIV researcher Frank Plummer, 67, diesBBC, 05 February, 2020. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[25]“Chinese Researchers Caught Stealing Coronavirus From Canadian Lab” GreatGameIndia, 23 July, 2019. Available at [Available at 08 February, 2020].

[26]“CLADE X EXERCISE: IMPROVING POLICY TO PREPARE FOR SEVERE PANDEMICS” Ladex (Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security), May, 2018. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[27]J.R. Nyquist (2020), “Did China’s Plan to Destroy the United States Backfire?” The Epoch Times, 31 January. Available at [Accessed on 08 February, 2020].

[28]Dr. Francis Boyle interview to Geopolitics and Empire. Available at [Available at 08 February, 2020].

[29] “USA and epidemic spreading in Africa” The Standard, 05 August, 2017. Available at [Accessed on 12 February, 2020].

[30]“2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 08 March, 2019. Available at [Accessed on 12 February, 2020].

[31]Aggeliki Dimopoulou, “US Bio-warfare Laboratories in West Africa Are the Origins of the Ebola Epidemic” Africaspeaks, undated. Available at;wap2 [Accessed on 12 February, 2020].

[32]Gain-of-function studies, or research improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease, help define the fundamental nature of human-pathogen interactions. Refer, “U.S. Government Gain-of-Function Deliberative Process and Research Funding Pause on Selected Gain-of-Function Research Involving Influenza, MERS, and SARS Viruses”, 17 October, 2014.

[33]Final Guidance Statement, 09 January, 2017. Available at [Accessed on 12 February, 2020].

[34] “US Army Activity in the US Biological Warfare Programs: Volume 1” (Unclassified 24 February, 1977), National Security Archive, Available at [Accessed on 12 February, 2020].

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About the Author

Dr Rajasimman Sundaram

teaches history, politics, and culture and a member of the Institute of BRICS Studies and College of Multi-Languages at Sichuan International Studies University [四川外国语大学] (The People’s Republic of China)". 

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