The basic story is known, and Bitter Winter told it as early as March 27. The Associated Press documents, however, add new details. On December 27, 2019, one Chinese laboratory, Vision Medicals, had managed to sequence “most” of the genome of the new virus, and sent it to the authorities in Wuhan and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. By January 2, Shi Zhengli, a famous virologist in Wuhan, had detected the full sequence of the genome. On January 5, the Shanghai Public Clinical Health Center, led by another well-known virologist, Zhang Yongzhen, was the third laboratory to sequence the virus’ genome. It also correctly concluded that it was transmitted from human to human. Other two laboratories followed.
Rather than informing other countries and the WHO, on January 3, China’s National Health Commission issued an order, asking the laboratories to destroy the samples and forbidding them to divulge their results. Based on comments by Chinese doctors on social media, on January 8, the Wall Street Journal reported the outbreak of a SARS-like pneumonia in Wuhan. The AP documents reveal that the article greatly embarrassed the WHO. “Dr. Tom Grein, chief of WHO’s acute events management team, said the agency looked ‘doubly, incredibly stupid,’” and Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies program, started realizing that China was lying about the events in Wuhan.