Australian virologist travelling to China to investigate the origins of coronavirus

An Australian member of an international team travelling to Wuhan to investigate the origins of coronavirus wants to shine a light on how the pandemic began.

Sydney virologist Dominic Dwyer is among 10 experts from the World Health Organisation who flew to China on Thursday.

Professor Dwyer admits they are ‘unlikely’ to track down patient zero, but is hoping to find some answers.

He wants to establish whether the virus truly started in Wuhan or began somewhere else and was then amplified in the Chinese city, which has a population of over 11million people.

Professor Dominic Dwyer (pictured above), a leading Sydney virologist is travelling to China to shine a light on how the pandemic began

Professor Dominic Dwyer (pictured above), a leading Sydney virologist is travelling to China to shine a light on how the pandemic began

China has angrily refuted suggestions from other nations that the coronavirus started in Wuhan

China has angrily refuted suggestions from other nations that the coronavirus started in Wuhan

He also wants to know whether Covid came from an animal source and if so which one, as well as what role laboratories played.

After completing two weeks of quarantine on arrival in China, Dwyer is hoping to visit the wholesale seafood and animal market linked to an early cluster of patients.

He is also keen to visit Wuhan’s institute of virology and hospitals that treated the first coronavirus patients.

‘The Chinese authorities have told the WHO team that they are happy for people to go where they feel they need to go,’ Dwyer told ABC radio this week.

The trip comes more than a year after the global pandemic began and eight months since China first agreed to let the WHO team into the country.

The WHO investigation is being jointly conducted with the Chinese government and Dwyer is keen to avoid the politics that could accompany the study.

‘There clearly is political pressure and concern, both within China and outside of China,’ he said.

The Chinese government is keen to portray the coronavirus as starting elsewhere and wants the WHO to conduct research missions in other countries.

In December last year, political representatives from Beijing claimed that the virus may have spawned from outside China. They suggested it travelled to a wet market in Wuhan via frozen food imports from other countries, including Australia. 

Night markets in Wuhan, China (pictured above) are always teaming with people

Night markets in Wuhan, China (pictured above) are always teaming with people

In November of 2020 as trade tension between Australia and China continued to escalate, Beijing blocked Australian exports, including coal and seafood. 

Then they slapped a 212 per cent tariff on Aussie wine, which effectively banned the product. 

Among the other grievances included Australia’s decision to ban Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from the country’s 5G network and blocking foreign investment bids by Chinese companies.

Tension first began to mount between the two nations last April last year when Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus.

China’s grievances with Australia

1. ‘Incessant wanton interference in China’s Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs’

2. ‘Siding with the US’ anti-China campaign and spreading misinformation’

3. ‘Thinly veiled allegations against China on cyber attacks without any evidence’

4. ‘An unfriendly or antagonistic report on China by media’

5. Providing funding to ‘anti-China think tank for spreading untrue reports’

6. ‘Foreign interference legislation’

7. ‘Foreign investment decisions’

8. ‘Banning Huawei technologies and ZTE from the 5G network’

9. ‘Politicisation and stigmatisation of the normal exchanges and coorperation between China and Australia’

10. Making statements ‘on the South China Sea to the United Nations’

11. ‘Outrageous condemnation of the governing party of China by MPs and racist attacks against Chinese or Asian people’

12. ‘The early drawn search and reckless seizure of Chinese journalists’ homes and properties’

13. Calls for an independent inquiry into Covid-19

14. ‘Legislation to scrutinise agreements with a foreign government’

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