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State-Backed Chinese Media Quote Non-Existent Swiss Scientist to Draw Attention Away From COVID-19 Origins

Published: August 12, 2021
Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on Feb. 3, 2021. (Image: Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

A Swiss biologist, Wilson Edwards, has been widely quoted by China’s state-run media as criticizing the United States for politicizing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic; the problem is, he doesn’t exist. 

China Daily, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece quoted the biologist as saying, “As a biologist, I’ve witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of Covid-19 was politicized.”

Shanghai Daily’s digital platform, SHINE, quoted him as saying, “The US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings.”

The quotes have been traced back to a single Facebook post on an account that was created on July 24, 2021 that had posted only once and had a total of three friends. 

Switzerland’s embassy in Beijing was quick to correct the record in a tweet on August 10 stating, “In the last several days, a large number of press articles and social media posts citing an alleged Swiss biologist have been published in China. While we appreciate the attention on our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must unfortunately inform the Chinese public that this is false.”

The embassy noted in their tweet that there was no registry of any Swiss citizen with the name “Wilson Edwards” adding that a search had revealed no academic articles in the fictitious man’s name while drawing attention to the highly questionable Facebook account. 

Taking a diplomatic stance the embassy said, “While we assume that the spreading of this story was done in good faith by the media and netizens, we kindly ask that anyone having published this story take it down and publish a corrigendum.”

A “corrigendum” is a correction of an error, especially in print. 

Within hours of the tweet, Chinese state-run news outlets had removed all references to the fake biologist’s name. 

Chinese propaganda mill

China is being accused of waging a massive propaganda campaign in an attempt to deflect blame over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over 4.3 million lives and infected over 205 million people to date. 

Beijing did welcome an international team of scientists, sent by the World Health Organization (WHO), to Wuhan — ground zero of the pandemic — earlier this year however the experts were met with limited access to conduct their investigation. 

Following their departure, Beijing then called on the WHO to investigate other countries, including the United States. 

China has been countering allegations that the virus may have leaked from the now infamous Wuhan Institute of Virology in late 2019 with increasingly bizarre accusations including suggesting the virus escaped from a U.S. military lab. 

On Monday, a team of Chinese researchers held a widely publicized event to launch a report titled, “America Ranked First?! The Truth about America’s fight against COVID-19.”

In the report the researchers accused the U.S. of covering up the pandemic while floating baseless conspiracy theories claiming the virus originated in a lab at Fort Detrick while accusing the U.S. of attempting to stall the WHO’s investigative efforts. 

This is a typical strategy employed by the CCP; project, lie and project again. 

Originally labelled a conspiracy theory by western media, the idea that the virus did indeed escape from a lab in Wuhan has garnered significant attention. 

While the Biden administration has instructed the U.S. intelligence apparatus to once-and-for-all determine the origins of the pandemic, the widely accepted theory is that the virus jumped from a host animal into the human population.