- According to federal documents released Wednesday, a Chinese researcher had submitted the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to a publicly accessible US database two weeks before the PRC shared the information publically. The documents were obtained by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.1
- US Department of Health and Human Services documents reportedly show that Dr. Lili Ren — a virologist at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Institute of Pathogen Biology in Beijing — uploaded the information to GenBank, run by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), on Dec. 28, 2019.2
- The NIH reportedly sought more information from Ren, stating her submission was incomplete. However, her work on tests, treatments, and vaccines to combat the virus was deleted from GenBank's processing queue on Jan. 16, 2020 — this occurred after she did not provide the requested follow-up information.1
- At that time, Beijing repeatedly called the COVID outbreak in Wuhan a viral pneumonia 'of unknown cause.'3
- Ren's findings were similar to what China presented to the World Health Organization on Jan. 11, 2020. At this time, global transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was well underway.4
- Members of the House committee have suggested Ren's failure to provide additional information suggests interference from Beijing. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) expressed a need to further probe what the PRC and US officials knew in the early days of COVID.4
- Anti-China narrative, as provided by The Hill. The two-week delay between Lili Ren's submission of a paper with a near-complete genetic sequence of COVID and China's official revelations about the disease may have proven costly to the world. This new information puts the spotlight on PRC opacity, even in matters of such crucial importance to the world such as an early pandemic warning. All this needs a comprehensive probe that can be placed before the world to determine what went wrong.
- Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. The report of a Chinese researcher's apparent submission of COVID's near-complete genetic sequence is another example of the West looking to put China in a spot over the pandemic. While tracing the origins of the disease is a global need, politicizing it all hinders the process, dividing the world and undermining vital healthcare. Distortions and innuendos are not the scientific way to investigate the origin of an unprecedented global crisis. Washington's partisan animosity should not translate to scapegoating Beijing.