Did China’s Chief Epidemiologist Say That There Is No Proof That COVID-19 Exists?

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A tweet claims that Dr Wu Zunyou, the Chief Epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) apparently admitted that the COVID-19 virus was supposedly never proven to exist.

The tweet that appears to be a screenshot from a live broadcast on NBC News further indicates that Dr Zunyou also said that they did not isolate the virus.

Background

According to the World Health Organization, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China’s Wuhan City on December 31, 2019, and the virus later declared a global emergency on March 11. It has since affected 221 countries as of March 11, 2021 and claimed the lives of more than 2.6 million people. With the roll-out of vaccination programs in different countries, the impact of the virus is expected to gradually subside.

A BBC report illustrates that vaccination against COVID-19 would have a significant impact, citing that;

“Vaccination reduced the risk of symptomatic infection by 57%; for those infected the risk of being admitted to hospital was reduced by 40% and then if people were admitted to hospital it (vaccination) reduced the risk of dying by 56%.”

Verification

Upon searching for the screenshot attached to the tweet claiming that COVID-19 was allegedly not proven to exist, Piga Firimbi found that the screenshot is indeed from a live broadcast that aired on NBC News. Footage from the broadcast was published on the NBC News YouTube channel on January 24, 2021.

The tweet is however misleading and drawn out of context as Dr Zunyou does not explicitly say that there is no proof that the COVID-19 virus does not exist. He does however say that they did not isolate the virus while responding to the question on why China has not shared data in regard to Wuhan being the original location from where the virus emanated.

Dr Zunyou said that they did not isolate the virus, neither is the source of the virus– which was initially said to be an animal – believed to be the original source of the virus.

“They did not isolate the virus, that is the issue”, he said. When asked about live animal samples, Dr Zunyou said, “It doesn’t tell you anything. I do not suspect it’s (COVID-19) coming from what we originally thought.”

The claim that COVID-19 was not proven to exist has previously been debunked in a fact-check that was published on the Reuters website in October 2020. The Reuters fact-check was based on a CDC document that was misinterpreted through claims that stated that since the virus was not isolated, there is therefore no proof that it exists.

Explanation from a doctor quoted in the Reuters fact-check clarifies that CDC had used synthetically produced genetic material that is identical to that carried by the COVID-19 virus, which is a common process, and this is no reason to question the existence of COVID-19.

The Myth Detector website also published a report illustrating that COVID-19 has previously been isolated and identified as is elaborated in this medical journal, and also points out to this video from December 8, 2020 where Dr Zunyou acknowledged the exitence of COVID-19.

Verdict

Claims that China’s Chief Epidemiologist of the CDC admitted that COVID-19 was never proven to exist are FALSE.

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Linda Ngari