'Wilson Edwards', a Swiss scientist, who reportedly accused the United States of pressuring the World Health Organisation to investigate the COVID leak theory, does not exist. The 'biologist' was quoted widely by the Chinese state media in their bid to discredit the claims that COVID-19 was manufactured in Chinese lab.
China's Wuhan province reported the first case of fatal coronavirus in December 2019. Initially, Chinese authorities blamed the outbreak on a wet market located near the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology. However, several experts believe that the virus was man made and manufactured in a lab.
Chinese Media Widely Quoted 'Edwards'
According to the Daily Mail, The People's Daily claimed that Edwards told them: "Unfortunately, Washington's re-entry has brought geopolitical competition to the science-spearheaded world body"
Further, China Daily also reported Edwards' Facebook post, quoting him as saying "as a biologist, I've witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of Covid-19 was politicized". The state-run television channel CGTN also reported Edwards saying that he was worried about the 'WHO's independence' and claimed the group of investigators probing the origin of Covid-19 would become a 'political tool'.
In its report, CGTN said Edwards claimed he and fellow researchers were under 'enormous pressure' and 'intimidation' from the US and some media outlets after voicing support for the joint WHO-Chinese investigation which in January concluded a lab leak was extremely unlikely.
In a Facebook post made on July 24, a user named Wilson Edwards stated that he has learnt of US efforts to politicize the World Health Organization's Covid-19 investigations from within. He quoted unnamed WHO sources and "fellow researchers" complaining of having endured "enormous pressure and even intimidation from the US side as well as certain media outlets".
"The WHO sources told me the US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings," he wrote in the post which was soon picked up by Chinese state media.
Interestingly, Edwards' Facebook page appeared to have been created on July 24 and had only three friends. It was mentioned that Edwards hailed from Bern and carried a photo of Radcliffe Camera's building at Oxford University.
Swiss Embassy Calls on 'Edwards'
The Guardian reported that following Edwards' growing publicity in the Chinese media, the Swiss embassy in Beijing sprung into action to find the citizen records and academic publications of the 'scientist'. In a tweet made on Tuesday, the embassy called on 'Wilson Edwards'.
"Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged [Swiss] biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a [sic] fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts," read the tweet which also carried a statement citing that the Chinese reports were false, and there was no registered Swiss citizen named Wilson Edwards, or any academic articles in the biology field under his name.
By Wednesday the articles quoting Edwards in the Chinese state media including Global Times and CGTN were quietly removed. The Wilson Edwards Facebook account was also deleted.