Chinese state media quoted a Swiss biologist who said the United States had interfered with WHO investigations into COVID-19. The Swiss embassy says the biologist probably doesn’t exist.

China Switzerland

Chinese honor guards wave Swiss and Chinese flags during the Swiss president’s visit to Beijing in 2019. MADOKA IKEGAMI / POOL / AFP via Getty Image

  • Chinese state media have published several articles claiming that the United States has meddled in WHO investigations into the origins of COVID-19.

  • The media reports were based on Facebook posts made by an account assigned to a Wilson Edwards, who Chinese media said was a Swiss biologist.

  • The Swiss Embassy said it had no record of a Swiss citizen by that name.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

Chinese state media withdrew their articles citing claims by a Swiss biologist that the United States had meddled in World Health Organization [WHO] coronavirus investigations, after the Swiss Embassy in Beijing said the biologist probably did not exist.

The media reports were based on a Facebook post from an account linked to a Wilson Edwards, who Chinese media said was a biologist. Edwards’ profile, which has since been deleted, indicated that he had grown up and lived in Bern, Switzerland, according to BBC’s Edward Lawrence screenshots shared on Twitter.

Edwards posted on Facebook in July that the United States had exerted “enormous pressure and even intimidation” on researchers investigating the origins of the coronavirus, according to The Guardian.

“WHO sources told me that the United States is so obsessed with China’s attack on origin tracing that they are reluctant to open their eyes to the data and the findings. Edwards wrote on Facebook, according to The Guardian.

Several state media in China published articles citing Edwards’ comments. “The United States tries to reverse the report, making the WHO a political tool “, read the headline of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. World time, a tabloid known to reflect the opinions of party officials, published an article with the title, “Tracing the origin of COVID-19: An allegation of “bullying” emerges from the United States. “

On Tuesday, the Swiss mission to China tweeted its doubts about the reality of Wilson Edwards.

“I’m looking for Wilson Edwards, a suspected biologist, quoted in the press and on social media in China in recent days. If you exist, we would love to meet you!” the embassy tweeted.

In its tweet, the Swiss mission said it had no record of a Swiss citizen named Wilson Edwards and no evidence of academic biology articles cited under his name. He said Edwards ‘Facebook account was created on the same day as the accusing post, and Edwards’ account only had three Facebook friends. Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request to comment on the origins and authenticity of the Wilson Edwards Facebook account.

The embassy has called on Chinese media and internet users to remove social media posts citing Edwards.

“The Swiss Embassy in China posted this tweet to draw attention to the fact that the person mentioned is not Swiss,” a spokesperson for the Swiss Embassy told Insider in an email. . “The embassy released this wording after it became apparent that Chinese press and social media were reporting what was falsely presented as the work of a Swiss biologist.

The People’s Daily and the Global Times withdrew their articles on Wednesday. The Chinese mission in Switzerland, the Global Times and the People’s Daily did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the BBC’s Edward Lawrence said Edwards’ Facebook profile photo was a photo from the University of Oxford’s Radcliffe Science Library taken from a travel blog.

China has rejected theories of other countries that the The coronavirus could come from a lab leak in Wuhan. He denied these allegations and in turn pushed his own theories on the virus starting elsewhere.

A WHO investigative report in January indicated that it was “extremely unlikely” the virus came from a lab leak, but debate resumed after a US intelligence report obtained by the Wall Street Journal said staff fell ill a month before the virus was discovered. In May, President Joe Biden ordered a new 90-day investigation by US intelligence on the origins of the virus.

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