A TOP scientist has revealed he heard about the Covid outbreak in Wuhan some two weeks before China finally warned the world about the virus.
Ian Lipkin, a professor at Columbia University in the US, made the revelation that appears to blow open Beijing's narrative on the early origins of the pandemic.
Professor Lipkin told a new documentary by director Spike Lee that he learned of "the new outbreak" on December 15 – some two weeks before China notified WHO on December 31.
China has long denied any wrongdoing over its role in the early days of the pandemic, but the Communist state has been repeatedly accused of a cover up.
It has been speculated figures such as death tolls and case counts may have been falsified, doctors who warned about the virus silenced, and the origins of the virus may have been whitewashed.
Lipkin, who was honoured by China for his work on the SARS outbreak, was even asked to clarify the date – and he once again repeated December 15, reports The Mail on Sunday.
China claims there were only five known patients before that time in Wuhan – and states the earliest confirmed case just one week before.
The scientist said he had been "tracking' the disease with "my friends there" at the Centre for Disease Control "and in the national government" since the middle of December.
Prof Lipkin also told a podcast he had been tipped off by his Chinese research partner Lu Jiahai, a public health professor at a Guangzhou university who has said the epidemic could have been prevented with better early warning systems
His claims completely undermines China's narrative that the first time a new virus was reported was in December 27.
Beijing claims a hero doctor reported the virus – that became known as Covid – after treating a case in her hospital on Boxing Day.
However, it appears the infection may have already been running rampant by that point and Chinese scientists were already aware of the danger.
It is also claimed a private lab in Guangzhou had "assembled a nearly complete viral genome sequence" of Covid.
And it is alleged that this information was passed on to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences due to its similarity to SARS.
However, Prof Lipkin has since said he had "no new substantive comments" to make regarding his remarks.
He said: "Outbreaks of infectious disease occur continuously worldwide.
"The majority never come to the attention of larger organisations because they don't evolve into pandemics."
The scientist went on to work with China in monitoring the early pandemic – and has praised the efforts of Beijing to deal with the virus.
He has also co-authored articles which rule out the theory that Covid may have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology – but his view has since softened.
"If they've got hundreds of bat samples that are coming in, and some of them aren't characterised, how would they know whether this virus was or wasn't in this lab? They wouldn't," he said in June.
China and the West remain at loggerheads over the early days of the virus, with Beijing defending its actions and saying the US is playing politics over its failure to continue its own outbreak.
The US intelligence community released an “inconclusive” report, claiming it still doesn’t know if Covid-19 originated in a Chinese lab.
But the agencies did conclude that the virus was "not developed as a biological weapon,” according to the unclassified report's summary released last week.
It suggests “the [intelligence community] remains divided on the most likely origin of Covid-19".
But every agency hypothesizes that either there was natural exposure to an infected animal or there was a “laboratory-associated incident.”
WAR OF WORDS
Specifically, four members of the US intelligence apparatus say they have low confidence that the virus was initially transmitted from an animal to a human.
A fifth intelligence agency only has moderate confidence that the first human infection was linked to a Chinese lab.
President Joe Biden pushed for a fact-finding mission to determine the root causes of the pandemic back in May.
However, China's foreign ministry shot back at the US investigation prior to the report's release.
"Scapegoating China cannot whitewash the U.S.," Fu Cong, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' arms control department, said.
China is now also attempting to blame the US – suggesting Covid have have escaped from the US Army's Fort Detrick base in Maryland.
Despite its vast population of 1.4billion and cramped cities, China has only admitted to having 95,010 cases and 4,636 deaths from Covid.
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