By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-05-01 19:02:16
Two conflicting news items from the US showed how the Covid-19 crisis is being viewed differently by different sections of the decision making machinery in that country. In the first item, the US Office for the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement confirming Covid-19 originated in China. But it also said that "the intelligence community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified." The agency also reported that the intelligence chiefs were working to find out whether Covid-19 "began through contact with infected animals, or if it was the result of an accident in a laboratory in Wuhan."
In direct contrast to this, US President Donald Trump seemed to trash intelligence reports and suggested that he had evidence to prove that the Chinese made the virus and released it. When he was asked if he had seen anything that has given him such a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, Trump replied in the affirmative. Trump said he could "do it differently" and act in "probably a little bit more of a forthright manner" when asked about reports that he could cancel US debt obligations to China.
President Trump had earlier accused China of spreading the virus and misleading the world and the WHO in this regard. He even stopped the US funding for the WHO pending an inquiry. It is now clear that he will make Chinaâs involvement in releasing and allowing the spread of the Covid-19 virus his main reelection plank. But since reports are emerging from the scientific community that suggests that the virus does not show any genetic modification and is probably not man-made, it remains to be seen how the US public will take his assertions in the absence of any solid proof linking Chinaâs active involvement.
It seems his charge of Chinaâs initial attempt to mislead the world is going to stick. China did not do enough to alert the other countries or the scientists across the world about the emergence of a novel off-shoot of the coronavirus which was not responding to any current vaccines or medicines. Neither did it act promptly to stop its spread by imposing travel restrictions. Hence, Trumpâs ire with China is justified. But the US public will also question his initial carefree attitude, despite the problems that were being faced in Europe, that allowed the virus to spread so rapidly in the United States.