A Chinese scientist who disappeared after being called “the world’s first Covid patient” is still missing despite a year-long manhunt for fear of the state being covered up.
Huang Yanling was named as Patient Zero in early online reports spread across China last February when the scale of the deadly virus first came to light.
The researcher, who worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was believed to be the first to sign Covid in the fall of 2019 before it was officially recognized.
The claims suggested a link between the pandemic and the institute that houses zoonotic bat diseases, and sparked fears that the beetle accidentally leaked during the experiments.
State officials and laboratory agents were quick to discard the reports and remove them from the Internet.
They claimed that Huang was safe and had just changed jobs. A Chinese news agency even claimed to have spoken to their new employer.
(Image: Wuhan Virology Institute)
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Despite numerous requests from the US State Department to stop hiding information, China has yet to physically produce the scientist.
Her reluctance has fueled the theory that she is either dead or being held by the state to cover up the institute’s role in the pandemic, the Mail reported on Sunday.
The country is now under increasing pressure to provide conclusive evidence of Huang’s whereabouts and the true origins of the pandemic.
A post claiming to be from the scientist later appeared on WeChat news service, telling its colleagues that she was alive and that the reports were false.
It read: “To my teachers and fellow students, how long I haven’t spoken. I’m Huang Yanling, still alive. When you get an email [regarding the Covid rumour]please say it’s not true “
But since then, Huang seems to have disappeared from social media and her name is no longer mentioned on the institute’s website.
(Image: @BonicMichael / Twitter)
“Beijing is still holding back important information that scientists need to protect the world from this and the next deadly virus,” added Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday.
Pompeo also revealed new studies by US intelligence that found scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology contracted symptoms consistent with Covid in the fall of 2019 – earlier than previously thought.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has vowed to reveal the bomb’s secret service, which links the virus to the scientific facility, to prove that China is to blame.
(Image: Wuhan Virology Institute)
“This raises questions about the credibility of lead WIV researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that WIV staff and students were not infected with SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses,” Pompeo said.
He spoke after a US government official said the “most credible” theory regarding the origin of the coronavirus was that it escaped from the Wuhan laboratory.
Trump’s senior adviser Matthew Pottinger claimed leaders in China “admit” that there is a chance theories suggesting Covid-19 started in a “wet market” are wrong.
(Image: Internet unknown)
Pompeo has suggested that the virus is a natural virus that escaped the lab by accident rather than man-made.
But he asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to examine the laboratory in question just a day after a team from the organization landed in Wuhan.
The team will address the “wet market” that was originally associated with early infections. However, it is believed that there are no plans to investigate whether the virus accidentally escaped the lab.
A State Department briefing said: “Accidental infections in laboratories have resulted in several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people and killed one.”