Local View: Origin of COVID-19 could lead to conflict with China

From the column: "If a lab in China is to blame, the story of this pandemic will have a new twist. It will give the world a villain."

Darryl Scarborough.jpg
Darryl Scarborough

The flashpoint of a conflict with China may not be from a regional dispute but from a lab in Wuhan.

Currently, China has become a peer competitor with the U.S. due to the nation's GDP growth and military expenditures. Although some analysts believe war is unlikely between the U.S. and China, that does not go for China’s neighboring countries.

Therefore, to ensure conflict does not come to the doorsteps of our regional allies, like India, the U.S. must hold fast and enhance the capabilities of our partners around those regions in the reach of the Chinese sphere of influence.

I believe the way a war between the U.S. and China becomes likely will be a miscalculation and misunderstanding of a situation in a region if China continues to push its will and economic ambitions on other countries (consider the Belt and Road Initiative). I also feel the catalyst of China going from a peer competitor to a war footing with western nations could be from the evidence of the origins of the COVID-19 virus that sparked the greatest global pandemic since 1918.

At the beginning of this pandemic, I was on its frontline, managing a clinic where our priority was not only keeping our patients and staff safe but the families of the patients and staff. Confusion and fear ran rampant in the halls of the clinic. The clinical staff knew nothing of the capabilities and severity of the virus at the time. Our patients and organization were angry and confused and did not know what to be mad about — besides the invisible bug that would kill an estimated 600,000 U.S. citizens and 4 million-and-counting globally. The pandemic froze the world and its economies.


The administration of President Joe Biden and United States intelligence agencies released reports that the COVID-19 virus may have escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. If this is true, and if the COVID-19 virus was manufactured, then its discovery would give the public the finger to point directly at who is responsible. Thus, this news would have considerable consequence for the relationship between the U.S. and China.

If a lab in China is to blame, the story of this pandemic will have a new twist. It will give the world a villain. Anger and outrage could turn to the nation-state and provide the western government no choice but to act and get retribution for the damage the virus caused. The public will demand it.

Darryl Scarborough of Chaska, Minnesota, is a veteran of the armed services with overseas experience in humanitarian aid and assistance missions. He ran a specialty clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, during the pandemic. He wrote this for the News Tribune.

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