The COVID-19 virus may have been circulating for years and so trying to identify its geographic origins could be a waste of time, according to a leading scientist.
Tom Jefferson, an honorary senior research fellow at the Oxford, England-based Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, told CGTN it was important to depoliticize the discussion and focus on how the virus behaves and spreads.
“People have tried to pinpoint: ‘It comes from Russia; it comes from China; it comes from there; comes from there.’ Maybe it comes from nowhere,” he told CGTN’s Emma Keeling. “I am not sure that pointing to the exact geographic location is very helpful, unless we have a clear idea of some particular animal/mankind interaction, which happened in a particular situation and could shed light on this situation.”
So far, no one with expertise has come forward with evidence to explain the exact origin of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a similar message to Jefferson, also pointing out the unhelpfulness of using geographic locations to try to work out the origin of COVID-19.
The WHO’s comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump used the expression “Chinese virus” on several occasions when referring to the coronavirus.
When Trump faced accusations of racism, he replied by saying: “It’s not racist at all. No it’s not at all. It’s from China. That’s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has previously used the expression ‘Chinese virus’ when referring to COVID-19. /AP
Recent testing of sewage in Barcelona has suggested the virus may have been present in the Spanish city in March last year, many months before China identified the pathogen in the city of Wuhan in December 2019.
Jefferson said that, while the Barcelona results still require confirmation, other research in France and Italy also suggests the disease may have been circulating much earlier than previously believed.
The Oxford researcher has called for further studying of all microorganisms in order to understand how they evolve, how they live and how they transmit.
If these things are known “we can intervene,” he said.
Many viruses, he noted, are known to lie dormant in the environment for long periods before suddenly becoming capable of causing dangerous outbreaks.
“If the Barcelona results are confirmed, it would certainly suggest that kind of thing,” he said.
“The question is, what wakes them up and what makes them aggressive?” Climatic conditions such as wind, humidity and levels of ultraviolet radiation are factors that scientists have considered may activate deadly viruses, but more research is required to understand them better, he added.
The War in the Shadows: Challenges of Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang | Trailer
Challenges Of Fighting Terrorism In Xinjiang: The Black Hands
For years, extremists in and out of Xinjiang have turned to the internet to spread their separatist ideologies. Recruitment and propaganda videos, including some that taught how to make weapons such as explosives, were being uploaded online. To counter this threat, Xinjiang’s internet guardians have been actively scanning the internet for suspicious materials and activities.
This is one of many stories in CGTN’s exclusive documentary “The war in the shadows: Challenges of fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.” Watch the full documentary here.
The War In The Shadows: Challenges Of Fighting Terrorism In Xinjiang
Xinjiang, in the far western land of China, hosted one of the world’s first and most important trade routes known as the Silk Road, which linked ancient Chinese civilization to the West through the Eurasian continent.
The land of fortune, however, has not always enjoyed tranquility. Thousands of terrorist attacks from 1990 through 2016 killed large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers. Horrific stabbings and bombings wrecked the land, leaving its people in shock, grief and panic. The damage was incalculable while stability in the region quickly deteriorated. Authorities have been trying hard to restore peace to this land.
In CGTN’s first three documentaries on fighting terrorism in Xinjiang, we presented never-before-seen footage documenting the frightening tragedies in Xinjiang and the resilience of its people.
The fourth exposé “The war in the shadows: Challenges of fighting terrorism in Xinjiang” – the last of the tetralogy – exposes the extremist thinking and the challenges facing China’s efforts to tackle terrorism inside and outside Xinjiang.
It gives answers to these questions: Why has violent terrorism continued to plague Xinjiang? For those who were once known as “Two-faced people” among the legal and political elites in Xinjiang, how much damage have they done to anti-terrorism efforts in the region? How come poisonous education materials alleging ethnic victimization and “Turkic heroes” have been used for 13 years in primary and middle schools? Why must we stop the invisible hand of foreign advocacy abetting violent terrorism infiltrating our country?
The documentary reveals the methods used by extremist and separatist forces including the “Two-faced people” among the region’s high-ranking officials, as well as how music and videos advocating violent terrorism and inciting ethnic hatred penetrated the region. Plus, it also tells of the very hardship police officers have been mired in for decades.
Over the past four years, violence has largely been contained, giving way to rapid urbanization and economic growth. Safety and tranquility never come easy. But it’s only a preliminary victory in China’s fight against terrorism.
The documentary is 55 minutes long and consists of four parts: “The network,” “Enemies within,” “The textbooks,” and “The black hands.”
We present you with the first three documentaries — each under an hour — below.
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