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Fears China 'disappeared' Wuhan lab's missing ‘Patient Zero’ as WHO admits it may never find first Covid victim
THE coronavirus pandemic's so-called "patient zero" may never be tracked down, warns the World Health Organisation's lead expert.
The stark revelation came as fears grow for a Chinese scientist who mysteriously vanished from a top secret lab at the start of the outbreak.
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Huang Yanling, believed to be the world's first Covid patient,disappeared 12 months ago amid claims of a cover up orchestrated by Beijing.
Since then rumours have circulated claiming the researcher – based at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – died of the virus and was hastily cremated
Other unconfirmed reports say she was "vanished" by paranoid state officials along with whistleblowers who first exposed the horrors of coronavirus.
While some have claimed she was moved to work at another state-run lab and told never to return to the outbreak city of Wuhan.
Now the WHO's technical lead on the disease has said it is feared the pandemic's first victim may never be tracked down.
Maria Van Kerkhove said: “We need to be careful about the use of the phrase patient zero, which many people indicate as the first initial case.
“We may never find who patient zero was. What we need to do is follow the science and follow the studies."
Last February, the Wuhan Institute of Virology denied claims the first person to contract coronavirus was from there.
Bosses added Huang, who received a master's degree from the institute in 2015, had moved to work and live elsewhere and had not been back in years.
"She has never been infected by the virus and is in healthy condition," according to a statement on the institute's website.
The statement came after claims circulated on the internet stating Huang was "Patient Zero."
"At a crucial time fighting against the epidemic, this rumor has greatly disrupted the institute's research work," the statement added.
However, China’s reluctance to produce Huang has fuelled the theory she is either dead or is being held by the state to cover up the institute’s role in the pandemic, reported the Mail on Sunday.
The US State Department believes she was the first of several working at the controversial institute who fell ill in the autumn of 2019 – months before it was officially acknowledged.
A post said to be from the scientist later appeared on the WeChat messaging service informing colleagues she was alive and claiming the reports were false.
It read: "To my teachers and fellow students, how long no speak. I am Huang Yanling, still alive.
"If you receive any email [regarding the Covid rumour], please say it’s not true."
Since then Huang appears to have vanished from social media and any mention of her appears to have disappeared from the institute’s website.
The US State Departmentsays the Chinese Communist Party had prevented investigators from interviewing researchers in Wuhan "including those who were ill in the fall of 2019."
"Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus and the next one," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added on Saturday.
Pompeo revealed new studies from the US intelligence claim that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill in the autumn of 2019 – earlier than previously believed – with symptoms consistent with Covid.
"This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli's public claim that there was 'zero infection' among WIV's staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses," Pompeo said.
However, China has dismissed claims Covid may have originated the Wuhan lab slamming it as baseless “conspiracy theories” and dubbing outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo “Mr Lies.”
Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying insisted today that a US State Department “fact sheet” published Friday was “full of fallacies,” according to Bloomberg.
“The so-called fact sheet is another lie sheet produced by the US side,” Hua added.
“This fully demonstrates that some US politicians are keen on violating science, hyping up conspiracy theories, spreading political viruses for their personal gains, while paying no attention to public security and people’s lives.
“This is also the last madness of Pompeo- Mr. Lies.”
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