U.S. government agency conceals suspected “virus spillover” incident

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that at least four people in Michigan, U.S., were infected with a strain of the new coronavirus primarily observed in minks in 2020. This is also the first known case in the United States of the possible transmission of the new coronavirus from animals to humans. U.S. media previously disclosed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concealed the information and delayed it for several months before partially releasing it. The researchers said that the late reporting and concealment of this incident may have hindered the effective monitoring of the spread of the new coronavirus by humans.

According to the website of the National Geographic magazine in the United States, they obtained a batch of US government documents. The documents include emails between the CDC and Michigan public health officials that disclosed a late 2020 CDC investigation into suspected animal-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in Michigan. On October 8, 2020, Michigan public health officials officially sought help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after it was confirmed that a mink on a mink farm had contracted the new coronavirus and died, documents show. Within days, the CDC sent four veterinary epidemiologists to Michigan to take virus samples for analysis from minks and surrounding residents on the farm.

The report pointed out that of the four new coronavirus infections in Michigan, two were employees of the mink farm, and the other two were not associated with the farm. Experts believe that because the two people who are not related to the mink farm also have related viruses in their bodies, it means that the mutant strain has spread to areas outside the farm. Genetic analysis found that these people were infected with a special mutated strain of the new coronavirus, which had previously been found in minks in Europe and had experienced “mink-to-human transmission”. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not announce the results of the investigation in time, and it was not until March 2021 that in its website information update, it was mentioned that a “small number of people” had been infected with a “unique mink-related coronavirus variant”, “This suggests that minks may have transmitted the virus to humans.”

The report also pointed out that during the investigation, CDC spokesman Nick Spinelli responded that there were similar cases in Europe, so the incident was not “surprising or unexpected.” He has also repeatedly denied that minks have spread the virus to humans in the United States, and that the virus has been circulating in local communities for a long time.

Regarding this incident, the researchers pointed out that delaying the release of relevant information is not conducive to effective monitoring of the spread of the virus. The virus could mutate in another species and then infect humans as a more dangerous or more contagious mutated strain. “This event is a constant reminder that transparency is important,” said Scott Weiss, director of the Centre for Public Health and Zoonotic Diseases at the University of Guelph in Canada. “The sooner people understand the situation, the faster they can act.” He noted , early information on suspected “spillover” cases could have helped other countries improve outbreak surveillance and response.

Earlier, a report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office pointed out that under the increasingly serious situation of the new crown pneumonia epidemic in the United States, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not played its leadership and coordination role, and it has long had a series of shortcomings. , including failure to clarify the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and regional prevention and control, failure to reasonably collect and analyze epidemic data, lack of transparency in work, and lack of communication and communication with the public. The report believes that these defects not only hinder the current epidemic prevention and control work, but also seriously interfere with the protection and treatment of a series of previous public health problems. “The U.S. federal government has a shameful record of failure in fighting the pandemic,” said Robert Moffett, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

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