The state of Missouri became the first in the nation to file a lawsuit against China over their role in the coronavirus pandemic. Also named in the suit are the Communist Party of China, the government of Wuhan City, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Filed on Tuesday in the Eastern District of Missouri, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt accuses China of knowing that "COVID-19 was dangerous and capable of causing a pandemic, yet slowly acted, proverbially put their head in the sand, and/or covered it up in their own economic self-interest," according to Fox News.
During the critical weeks of the initial outbreak, Chinese authorities deceived the public, suppressed crucial information, arrested whistleblowers, denied human-to-human transmission in the face of mounting evidence, destroyed critical medical research, permitted millions of people to be exposed to the virus, and even hoarded personal protective equipment—thus causing a global pandemic that was unnecessary and preventable. -State of Missouri v. The People's Republic of China et al.
According to the complaint, the defendants are responsible "for the enormous death, suffering, and economic losses they inflicted on the world," and "should be held accountable."
"When their actions began to kill hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, Defendants sought to minimize the consequences, engaging in a coverup and misleading public relations campaign by censoring scientists, ordering the destruction and suppression of valuable research, and refusing cooperation with the global community, all in violation of international health standards," the complaint continues.
Missouri cites a Fox News report that the US is currently conducting "a full-scale investigation into whether the novel coronavirus, which went on to morph into a global pandemic that has brought the global economy to its knees, escaped from" the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). The complaint also notes that an emerging theory states that WIV was "studying the virus as part of a commercial activity."
Fox News has reported that sources have increasing confidence that the coronavirus escaped from a Wuhan laboratory, not as a bioweapon but as part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States. The U.S. is conducting a full-scale investigation into whether that's the case.
But U.S. officials and the intelligence community have confirmed to Fox News that they have taken the possibility of the coronavirus being man-made or engineered inside China as some sort of bioweapon off the table and have ruled it out at this point. -Fox News
It also states that "on or around Late December 2019, healthcare professionals in Wuhan were reporting infections indicating human-to-human transmission" of the disease.
According to Chinese sources cited in the National Review, on December 25, 2019, “Chinese medical staff in two hospitals in Wuhan [were] suspected of contracting viral pneumonia and [were] quarantined. This is additional strong evidence of human-to-human transmission.” This was corroborated by the Wall Street Journal.
According to the South China Morning Press, “On December 27, Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, told China’s health authorities that the disease was caused by a new coronavirus. By that date, more than 180 people had been infected, though doctors might not have been aware of all of them at the time."
China is also accused of allowing the virus to spread by knowingly letting approximately 175,000 individuals leave Wuhan on January 1 to travel for the Lunar New Year. In mid-January, Wuhan leaders hosted a potluck dinner for 40,000 residents, "increasing the potential spread of the virus."
According to the suit, "On December 30, 2019, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission released a notice to medical institutions that patients visiting the Wuhan Seafood Market had contracted a pneumonia-like illness." The notice warned medical professionals that "Any organizations or individuals are not allowed to release treatment information to the public without authorization."
Researchers at the University of Toronto observed China "censoring key words about the virus on Chinese social media platforms," including WeChat, which "has become increasingly popular among [Chinese] doctors who use it to obtain professional knowledge from peers. Because of social media’s integral role in Chinese society and its uptake by the Chinese medical community, systematic blocking of general communication on social media related to disease information and prevention risks substantially harming the ability of the public to share information that may be essential to their health and safety."
Meanwhile, authorities in China were physically cracking down against dissidents.
On January 1 or 2, the Wuhan police stated that they had “taken legal measures” against eight people who “published and shared rumors online,” and one of them is believed to be Dr. Wenliang.
According to CNN, “The police announcement [against the eight people] was broadcast across the country on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, making it clear how the Chinese government would treat such ‘rumormongers.’"
The message reportedly said, “The internet is not a land beyond the law ... Any unlawful acts of fabricating, spreading rumors and disturbing the social order will be punished by police according to the law, with zero tolerance.
As described by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The punishment of eight doctors for ‘rumor-mongering,’ broadcast on national television on Jan. 2, sent a chill through the city’s hospitals,” and suppressed information from reaching the rest of the world.
The suit also accuses China of misleading the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of a coverup - delaying reporting on COVID-19 to the organization for weeks after the outbreak was identified within the Chinese medical community. When the CCP finally did inform the WHO, they denied human-to-human transmission, "despite having significant evidence to the contrary."
This "induced the WHO to also deny or downplay the risk of human-to-human transmission in the critical weeks while the virus was first spreading."
Missouri's complaint also alleges that China worked to hoard personal protective equipment (PPE) in dire need by healthcare workers around the world in the treatment and handling of coronavirus patients.
Read the entire complaint below: