Chinese spending on PCR tests rocketed months before coronavirus reported, Australian study finds

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An Australian internet security company has claimed that coronavirus was ‘spreading virulently in Wuhan’ by mid-2019 after examining sales data for testing equipment in China

Internet 2.0, based in Canberra, reached its damning verdict after analysing 1,716 procurement contracts for the purchase of equipment potentially used to test for Covid-19 in Hubei province.

The claims add fuel to a growing understanding that the Chinese government withheld information and even lied about many aspects of the devastating virus. 

Internet 2.0’s white, ‘Procuring for a Pandemic’, found ‘abnormal’ and ‘dramatic increase’ in the equipment by The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese army, the local disease prevention centre and a local university.

An Australian internet security company has claimed that Coronavirus was ‘spreading virulently in Wuhan’ by mid-2019 after examining sales data for testing equipment in China

Abnormal increases in the sales of PCR testing equipment inside China in 2019 - before Covid-19 official existed - have been detected by Australian cyber security company Internet 2.0

Abnormal increases in the sales of PCR testing equipment inside China in 2019 – before Covid-19 official existed – have been detected by Australian cyber security company Internet 2.0

Internet 2.0's white paper, 'Procuring for a Pandemic', found 'abnormal' and 'dramatic increase' in the equipment by The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese army, the local disease prevention centre and a local university. Pictured is the People's Liberation Army Airborne Army Hospital in Wuhan

Internet 2.0’s white paper, ‘Procuring for a Pandemic’, found ‘abnormal’ and ‘dramatic increase’ in the equipment by The Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese army, the local disease prevention centre and a local university. Pictured is the People’s Liberation Army Airborne Army Hospital in Wuhan

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4.5million people over the last 22 months, it has irreparably damaged businesses, cost governments trillions and dominated government policy in almost every country on earth.

An Aussie cyber security company produced a report which claims virus testing equipment sales show Covid-19 was active six months before the Chinese government reported it

An Aussie cyber security company produced a report which claims virus testing equipment sales show Covid-19 was active six months before the Chinese government reported it

In Australia, 1,346 people have died and the Federal Budget in May allocated $311billion to tackle the pandemic for 2021-22.

‘We assess with high confidence that the pandemic began much earlier than China informed the World Health Organisation about COVID-19,’ the Internet 2.0 report’s conclusion said.

In 2019, it found the sale of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests reached 67.4 million yuan ($14.3 million), more than twice the amount spent in 2017, which was 29.1 million. 

‘We assess with medium confidence the significant increase from 2018 to 2019 in Hubei province …is due to an event like the emergence of COVID-19.’

Internet 2.0 admitted its report contained ‘no insights into the origins of COVID-19 – which have been speculated to have escaped from a Wuhan lab.

In late September, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on calls for an independent review into the origins of Covid-19 in an address to the United Nations (pictured) despite China inflicting months of economic pain on Australia

In late September, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on calls for an independent review into the origins of Covid-19 in an address to the United Nations (pictured) despite China inflicting months of economic pain on Australia

Chinese students queueing to receive the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a university in Wuhan in April 2021. According to cyber security company Internet 2.0 the virus was circulating there nearly two years before

Chinese students queueing to receive the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a university in Wuhan in April 2021. According to cyber security company Internet 2.0 the virus was circulating there nearly two years before

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus (COVID) patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a designated hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, February 6, 2020

Medical workers in protective suits attend to novel coronavirus (COVID) patients at the intensive care unit (ICU) of a designated hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, February 6, 2020

A woman wears a mask while walking past a makeshift barricade built to control entry and exit to a residential compound on August 11, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The city is known to be the source of the virus

A woman wears a mask while walking past a makeshift barricade built to control entry and exit to a residential compound on August 11, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The city is known to be the source of the virus

The official version is that Covid-19 crossed over from bats to humans at a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan where exotic animals were sold in late 2020.

But Internet 2.0’s findings suggested the Chinese government knew about the devastating virus much earlier than it has admitted. 

‘We have come to the conclusion that based on the data analysed it suggests the virus was highly likely to be spreading virulently in Wuhan, China as early as the summer of 2019 and definitely by the early Autumn.’

While the research is not definitive, it supports the grounds for suspicion many nations have had towards Beijing over beginnings of the virus. 

‘These findings challenge existing assumptions around when the pandemic began and support further investigation,’ the report said.

‘The study concludes that a significant increase in spending in PCR equipment correlates to the spread of COVID-19.’

Last December China farcically claimed the pandemic may have arrived there from Australia.

Beijing claimed that coronavirus may have spawned outside China and travelled to a wet market in Wuhan via frozen food exports from countries including Australia.

In late September, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on calls for an independent review into the origins of Covid-19 despite China inflicting months of economic pain on Australia.

Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 18, 2020

Medical staff members carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a mysterious SARS-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on January 18, 2020

 ‘Australia called for an independent review, and sees understanding the cause of this pandemic not as a political issue, but as being essential, simply, to prevent the next one,’ Mr Morrison said, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly.

‘We need to know so we can prevent this death and this calamity being visited upon the world again.

‘That can be our only motivation.’

In what appeared to be a reaction to April 2020’s original call for an independent review, China targeted Australia’s agricultural and resources sector.

Those measures affected export products including wine, seafood, barley and coal, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, also in September.

Western intelligence agencies had seemingly written off the 'remote' chance that the laboratory - where research into bat-derived coronaviruses is conducted - had played a role. Pictured: Researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, February 2017

Western intelligence agencies had seemingly written off the ‘remote’ chance that the laboratory – where research into bat-derived coronaviruses is conducted – had played a role. Pictured: Researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province, February 2017

Those trade actions have seen total exports to China fall by around $5.4 billion over the year to the June quarter, Mr Frydenberg said, although most of these goods were successfully redirected elsewhere.

The Prime Minister also said Australia supported calls for a stronger and more independent World Health Organization, with enhanced surveillance and pandemic-response powers.

The World Health Organisation is set to start a new investigation into the origins of the Covid outbreak and probe whether the virus came from a Wuhan lab. 

A new team of experts will be appointed, including experts on biosecurity, laboratory safety, genetics, and how viruses spread to humans, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

They will look into whether coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, at the end of 2019 – a claim denied by China, which also wants the WHO to examine if the virus originated in another country. 

It comes after US President Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the ‘lab leak’ theory.

A WHO spokesman said the new team’s ‘priority needs to be data and access in the country where the first reports were identified’.  

The earlier investigation recommended China examine the earliest suspected coronavirus cases, with the team claiming in its final report that the data provided by the country was insufficient.

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