Chinese official shares TIME magazine cover in misleading tweet about ‘origins of the pandemic’

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As tensions rose between the United States and China over the origins of the pandemic, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman tweeted a cover story from TIME magazine which she said illustrated that Washington was ” origin of the epidemic. The claim is misleading: the magazine’s article actually focused on a Covid-19 cluster at the White House in October 2020. The first major outbreak of Covid-19 was recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the misleading claim in a tweet posted on July 17.

It reads: “Look back at what has happened since the outbreak: #China has done its best to bring the #epidemic under control domestically and spared no effort to help other countries in the world with hundreds of millions of medical supplies, masks and 1/6 doses of #vaccines in the world.

“In contrast, #US has seen over 600,000 deaths and exported countless infections and political viruses. As TIME’s coverage recounts, the US is the largest source of viruses and the origin of the epidemic.”

In the tweet, she shared a photo from the cover of TIME magazine from October 19, 2020.

It shows an illustration of virus plumes spewing from the White House chimneys.

A screenshot of Hua Chunying’s misleading tweet taken on July 26, 2021

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced its intention to audit Chinese laboratories as part of a further investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, angering Chinese authorities. AFP reported on the developments here.

The TIME magazine cover was shared with a similar claim on Twitter here and here, and on Weibo here.

The claim is misleading.

The first significant outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 was recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019.

China confirmed the first death from the virus in Wuhan on January 11, 2020, as reported by AFP here.

In January 2021, the WHO sent a team of independent international experts to Wuhan to help its Chinese counterparts investigate the origins of the pandemic.

In July 2021, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for more studies of animal markets in and around Wuhan as part of the second stage of an international investigation into the origins of the disease. pandemic.

Magazine cover

A search of Time magazine covers listed on the publication’s website reveals that the cover is from the October 19, 2020 issue.

The cover was published alongside an article titled: “Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis forces him to confront his personal and political vulnerability.”

A screenshot of the cover story of Time Magazine’s October 8 issue taken on July 26, 2021 (AFP)

The article was critical of then-US President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

He questioned his decision to hold a celebration at the White House for the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in September 2020.

Trump “derided Joe Biden’s mask-wearing” and “winked when he saw aides wearing masks,” the article said.

Trump tested positive for Covid-19 days after the White House reception. His wife Melania Trump and close aide Hope Hicks also tested positive.

There is no mention of the origins of the pandemic in the TIME story.