A new report details that China purchased a massive amount of testing equipment for viruses like COVID-19 months before the WHO filed official reports of the outbreak in December 2019. The testing equipment in question is what is known as a PCR test or polymerase chain reaction test. These tests can be used to detect viruses in humans or animals.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, spending for the tests soared in China's Hubei Province — where Wuhan is located — months before the official outbreak in December 2019. An U.S.-Australian cybersecurity firm known as Internet 2.0 compiled data points of the PCR equipment purchases into a report.
The report indicates that spending for PCR tests jumped in China from 36.7 million yuan in 2018 to 67.4 million yuan in 2019. The report also details that "notable, significant and abnormal" purchases of PCR equipment were made in 2019 "in Wuhan by the People's Liberation Army Airborne Army Hospital (May 2019), The Wuhan Institute of Virology (November 2019), the Wuhan University of Science and Technology (October 2019), and the Hubei Province Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May-Dec. 2019)"
"We have come to the conclusion," the Internet 2.0 report states, "that based on the data analyzed it suggests the virus was highly likely to be spreading virulently in Wuhan, China, as early as the summer of 2019 and definitely by the early autumn."
According to Newsweek, former director of U.S. National Intelligence John Ratcliffe says the increased purchases of PCR tests is compelling evidence that China knew of a circulating virus prior to the first WHO report.
"I think there's more than just smoke here, I think there's fire from a whole bunch of different sources," Ratcliffe says. "I think that would be another compelling piece of evidence, if you need more. I don't need more."
However, according to David Robinson, Internet 2.0's co-chief and lead researcher on the report, and Robert Potter, the co-CEO, the data in the report didn't provide conclusive evidence on COVID-19's origins.
"This data does not support any origins' conclusions on COVID-19 but in the future some part of this data might support an origins finding," the two CEOs said in a statement. "Nor does this report identify a specific point in time where a pandemic emerged. The fact that China has gone to great lengths to ensure conclusive evidence is unobtainable means unfortunately we may have to rely on third-party data points."
However, not all agree with the report's findings, even if it is inconclusive. According to a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, only scientists can understand science and questions of the virus' origin should be left to scientists.
"Virus traceability is a serious scientific issue that should be addressed by scientists," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday. "China's anti-epidemic campaign is open to the world, the situation is clear, the facts are clear at a glance, and stand the test of time and history."
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