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This article is written by Vanya Verma pursuing B.B.A. LL.B (Hons.) from Alliance University. This article talks about whether China is responsible for spreading the coronavirus. Did the virus escape from Wuhan’s lab? It studies the allegations made by the US on China for spreading the virus and lawsuits filed against China as well as other actions taken by the US.


The outbreak of the novel coronavirus was initially suppressed by the Chinese officials. China had even punished the whistleblowers who had tried to inform the other countries by raising an alarm. Later, draconian restrictions were imposed by Beijing that included quarantine zones on an outstanding scale. These acts drew exuberant appreciation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

On 10 February, 2020, the experts from the WHO were allowed to visit and investigate the outbreak in China and by this time more than 40,000 cases had erupted in the country.

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The reporters of the White House said that Mr Trump too had applauded China’s actions in dealing with the novel coronavirus and downplayed the threat of the novel coronavirus at the country long after the novel coronavirus was declared by the WHO as a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The novel coronavirus was not previously known, it came to picture only after the outbreak of the virus began at the city of Wuhan in China in November 2019. The virus has now resulted in a pandemic with a low recovery rate and too many deaths around the world, the numbers increasing day by day with the largest number of cases in the US.

The thriving dispute between the world’s two major economic powers that is the USA and China is over WHO.

Donald Trump, the US President, blamed China for its failure to restrain the coronavirus at its initial stage and said that the virus has led to 184 countries “going through hell.” A demand was made by several American lawmakers to curtail the dependence on Beijing for minerals and manufacturing.

Trump has been publicly accusing China for the spread of the “invisible enemy” globally. He even initiated an investigation against it as he claims that the virus was not the result of bats but it originated from China’s lab in Wuhan. Further, he said that the US might be looking at “a lot more money” in damages from China than USD 140 billion that has been sought for the outbreak from Beijing by Germany.

Leaders of the United States, Germany and UK are of the opinion that the deaths of such a large population and the downfall of the economy globally could have been averted if China would have shared the information about the novel coronavirus in the initial phase of the outbreak.

Coronavirus Outbreak

It is believed that the novel coronavirus outbreak started from the Huanan seafood market in the city of Wuhan in China last year i.e. 2019. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 was not confirmed by the Chinese government as well as that the virus could be transmitted from human to human; it came out later in the month of January in 2020.

Some of the reports also mention that an attempt was made by China to cover up the news regarding the outbreak by intimidating the doctors, journalists, scientists and even lawyers.

According to the reports, China had suppressed the information about the virus and had announced it to the public later. 

On 2 January 2020, the Chinese authorities shamed eight doctors on a television show saying that they were spreading rumours.

It was reported by the Associated Press that Ma Xiaowei, head of China’s National Health Commission, had affirmed a “severe and complex” situation that was similar to the 2003 SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in a confidential teleconference on 14 January 2020.

The rest of the world was not warned by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping until January 20. A demand has been made to China by the US President, Donald Trump that the US investigators should be allowed to visit Wuhan to investigate the origins of a novel coronavirus, as Wuhan was the first city where the outbreak occurred last year in the month of December (some say even November). Along with this, the US investigators will also probe into the role of the Wuhan’s lab that is the Wuhan Institute of Virology as the allegations are being made on the lab that the virus has escaped from this lab and now causing disruption around the world.
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Lawsuit filed against China

The first lawsuit was filed by America’s State of Missouri against China. The impetus of the state of Missouri was that China did little to prevent the spreading of the novel coronavirus. The lawsuit mentioned the People’s Republic of China, among others, as a defendant. It also claimed that the act of negligence by China just cost Missouri tens of billions of dollars and seeks for cash compensation of the same.

The lawsuit was filed by Eric Schmitt, Attorney General of Missouri in the US District Court for the Eastern Missouri District. The suit was filed against the government of China, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), and other officials and institutions of China.

The lawsuit seeks relief for one count of abnormally dangerous activities, one count of public nuisance and two counts of breach of duty.

It has been alleged by Missouri that at the time of critical weeks during the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the public was misled by the Chinese authorities, crucial information regarding the novel coronavirus was suppressed, the country had arrested whistle-blowers, critical medical research was destroyed and the authorities had hoarded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The country also denied contagious nature of the virus in the face of mounting evidence, that is causing “irreparable damage” to the world leading to the loss of life by exposing millions of people to the virus and causing a non-preventable pandemic.

This was the first case where the State sued China for the COVID-19 outbreak. However, in Nevada, Texas and Florida few class-action suits have already been filed. Most accuse China of either releasing a bioweapon in the form of COVID-19 or not taking enough precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and allowing the coronavirus to become a pandemic outbreak.

The lawsuits filed against China claim for the economic loss due to negligent behaviour of the country in handling the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the countries to implement lockdown in their nations around the globe and thus bringing halt and all other economic activities to a halt.

Remedies could include cessation of abnormally dangerous activities, civil penalties and restitution, abatement of the public nuisance, punitive damages and more.

It has been estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that total economic loss due to this novel coronavirus could be around $9 trillion.

More than 10,000 people in the US filed an action lawsuit against China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. 

  • Berman Law Group

In Florida, the Berman Law Group filed the lawsuit to the tune of six trillion USD against China’s Communist Party. They contended that China has failed to issue a notification to the rest of the world about the coronavirus outbreak within time.

As per the Australian news portal 9News, more than 10,000 in the US have signed the class action of the Berman Law Group. The chief strategist behind the lawsuit filed by the Berman Law Group, Jeremy Alters told the news portal that, “They (China) failed to let us know in a timely fashion about the virus and have unleashed hell on our communities, on our countries, the United States, Australia and everywhere else.”

  • Healthcare Workers and Coronavirus patients

Several healthcare workers and coronavirus patients joined the lawsuit against the failure of China in handling the outbreak. 

One among the Berman Law Group had filed the case against China when her family of 7 got infected due to coronavirus.

  • Other Lawsuits

In California, small businesses seek damage to the tune of eight trillion USD from China for allegedly withholding the information regarding COVID-19.

According to the Newsweek, Larry Klayman, founder of the group Freedom Watch and a conservative lawyer led another action against China for allegedly releasing “biological weapons” into the public.

China had dismissed the lawsuit filed by the American State of Missouri as “nothing short of absurdity” and violation of sovereignty.

Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman reacted to the lawsuit by saying, “This so-called accusation has no factual and legal basis.”

Geng reiterated that since the novel coronavirus outbreak, the government of China has been acting in a responsible, transparent and open manner by reporting the information to the WHO, the US and other countries as well as issuing a general sequence of the virus.

Geng even said that since 3 January 2020 China was in communication with the US and has been ensuring updates related to the issue of the novel coronavirus.

Geng further said, “This is part of China’s important contribution and recognised by the international community. This so-called litigation is a malicious abuse of litigation. It violates the basic law and principle of equal sovereignty in international law.” He added that the response of the Chinese Government in the pandemic does not fall under the jurisdiction of the US Courts and that the US should reject and refute such abuse of litigation.

Not only the lawsuits were filed against China but it also faced severe criticism from Donald Trump and his top officials and politicians that included the allegations of covering up and underreporting of the casualties of the coronavirus.

Can China be sued over the coronavirus pandemic?

According to the expert opinions though the lawsuits are rising in the US against China but there is a lack of enough legal backing to sue the country for the economic crisis due to the novel coronavirus. 

The principle of sovereign immunity protects China and the Chinese government from being sued in the United States.

This principle works on reciprocity (and not upon benevolence) that says that no country can sue another country in one’s own territory. Till 1952, this was an absolute immunity in the US after which it started redefining it.

In 1976, a new law came into force, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. This law had two key points. First, that the courts will decide upon the question of legal liability and not the government of the country. Second, private players can be sued. 

The People’s Republic of China is a sovereign country and it is allowed by the law that a defendant based outside the country can avoid responding to the Court summons. All the allegations have been denied by China. It is certain that it will dump all the summons if any is sent to the country.

  • International Law

A German tabloid said that due to economic losses caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, China owes $162 billion to Germany. The charge was dismissed by China as xenophobic.

However, in the International law, arguments say that there is a window that can fix the legal liability on China over widespread of COVID-19 from one city of China, Wuhan to more than 190 countries, that is infecting millions and causing loss of trillions of dollars to the world economy.

The reference is being made to the WHO’s International Health Regulations-2005 (updated) to contend that China infringed its international obligations. A timely notification is made by Articles 6 and 7 of the WHO regulations and obligation of sharing information by the country where an outbreak takes place.

The allegations made against China are that the country tried to suppress the information of the COVID-19 outbreak to such an extent that it harassed the doctors and the health care workers who had raised an alarm in the month of December 2019 over the novel coronavirus. The other allegation made in China is that the country has been parsimonious in sharing the information of the behaviour of the novel coronavirus and their clinical experience in handling the case of the same.

Donald Trump, the US President and Emmanuel Macron, the French President questioned the role of China in tackling the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The denial of all the allegations by China nullifies the violation of Article 56 of the International Health Regulations. According to this article, the legal liability (through arbitration) can be fixed only if the country consents to it.

According to the Article 75 of the WHO Constitution, “Any question or dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Constitution which is not settled by negotiation or by the Health Assembly shall be referred to the International Court of Justice.”

This is primarily a minor technical gateway to bring China before the International Court of Justice over the COVID-19 pandemic. The consent of the defendant country is not required under this provision.

The country making the allegations must establish or create a suspicion that China had purposely withheld information of the novel coronavirus from the WHO and the international community at large. Article 63 of the Constitution of WHO furnishes the legal basis for this route.

This article says, “Each member shall communicate promptly to the [World Health] Organization important laws, regulations, official reports and statistics pertaining to health which have been published in the State concerned.”

This Section requires official reports that had allegedly not been published by China in a required transparent manner. The charge against China is that it did not inform the WHO and accurately about the COVID-19 infection leading the global health body to state in mid-January that this virus does not transmit from human-to-human.

Lab Testing

Mr Trump at a news conference in the White House told the reporters, “We’re looking at it, a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense,” when he was asked whether there was an investigation into whether the novel coronavirus has escaped from a Chinese lab in Wuhan. Trump said that the US is looking into the reports of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Trump said, “They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn’t in that area if you can believe this, that bat wasn’t sold in a wet zone… That bat is 40 miles away.”

The Fox News reported that a full-scale investigation is being carried out by the US to determine if the virus had escaped from the Wuhan lab.

In an exclusive report, it was mentioned that intelligence operatives were collecting the information about China’s laboratory and about the initial outbreak of the virus. The analysts are gathering all the information together, a timeline of what was already known to the government and “creating an accurate picture of what happened.” 

Mr Trump said, “A lot of strange things are happening, but there is a lot of investigation going on and we are going to find out. All I can say is wherever it came from, it came from China in whatever form, 184 countries now are suffering because of it.” 

Further, he said the US would end its grant to the level-IV lab in Wuhan. “(The) Obama administration gave them a grant of $3.7 million, we will end that grant very quickly.”

A letter was sent to the House and Senate leadership by a group of more than half-a-dozen legislators requesting that no future coronavirus relief funds be appropriated to Wuhan Institute of Virology.

James Smith, the lawmaker, accused China of suppressing the issue of coronavirus and said, “The communist Chinese government’s cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak allowed this virus to spread unchecked, threatening the health and stability of the free world. They must be held accountable.” 

“When the Wuhan population began to fall ill with the mysterious SARS-like illness, rather than working on containing the virus, the Chinese Communist Party ruthlessly was working to stop the spread of information. This secrecy has endangered millions of lives,” said the Congressman.

China denied suppressing the news about the extent of its COVID-19 outbreak and accused the US that it was striving to divert the public attention by inferring that the virus originated from the Wuhan lab.
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China seeks support of India

China seeks support of India to counter the US bid to lay COVID-19 blame on its door. Beijing has strived support of New Delhi to counter the US attempt for calling COVID-19 as “Chinese Virus” as well as accused China of its failure to detect the virus, to prevent it from spreading further and not warning the rest of the world about the virus early support.

Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China (In the Chinese government, Wang also holds the office of State Counsellor) and S. Jaishankar, External Affair Minister of India had a conversation over the phone just two days after the virtual G20 summit, that was on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wang Yi informed Jaishankar that the attempt made by the US to stigmatize China was “not acceptable and detrimental to international cooperation to label the virus, hope India opposes (opposes) such narrow mindset.”

Sun Weidong, China’s Wang ambassador to India said that Wang Yi expressed his hope that India would favour China and contradict the comments made by the President of the US, Donald Trump as well as by other senior officials of Trump’s administration calling the COVID-19 virus as a “Chinese Virus”.

Beijing’s envoy to New Delhi said: “Dr S. Jaishankar agreed to not to label the virus and the international community should send (a) strong signal of solidarity.”

US to halt funding to WHO, says Trump

The US President Mr Trump said, “I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

He further said that he is going to halt the funding to the WHO (World Health Organization) as it has “failed in its basic duty” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. He has accused the WHO of being biased towards China.

A decision on whether the US will resume the funding to the WHO will be taken after the review. Mr Trump said the review will last for 60-90 days.

Trump also blamed the UN agency and said that the UN must also be held accountable because of its mismanaging of the virus and covering up the virus outbreak. The UN’s Chief in response to this said, “it was not the time to cut funds to WHO.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General said, “It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19”. He also said that the international community should be uniting “in solidarity to stop this virus.”

In March, 2020 an appeal was made by the WHO for $675 million to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been reported that WHO is planning to file a fresh appeal for $1 billion.

The Microsoft founder, Bill Gates said on Twitter, “Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.” 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the second-largest funder of the WHO.

The US President, Donald Trump’s argument

Mr Trump accused the WHO and said that it had adequately failed to assess the spread of the virus when it first occurred in the city of Wuhan.

The US has the highest number of coronavirus cases till date with the highest number of deaths in the world with more than 600,000 cases and 26,000 deaths.

Mr Trump said, “With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible.”

He further added, “Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” and said, “This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage. Instead, the WHO willingly took China’s assurances to face value… and defended the actions of the Chinese government.”

He was praised for his decision to cut funding to the WHO by many Republicans in the Congress while he was accused by the Democrats for trying to shift the blame from himself in the election year.

The US President was criticised for acting slowly in placing restrictions on travel from China in late January to prevent the spreading of the virus.

US blocks UN Security Council vote on coronavirus pandemic

The UN Security Council was on the brink of voting on a bill to support peace in the global conflicts in order to better tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The US objected to the proposed resolution of the UN and prevented the vote blaming WHO and China.

The US delegation told the UN Security Council’s 14 other members that The United States cannot support the current draft.

According to the diplomats, the US prevented the vote by the UN Security Council to focus on the resources in a fight against COVID-19 outbreak.

The objection by the US to the resolution passed by the UN Security Council that was drafted by Tunisia and France indicates surging tensions between Beijing and Washington and evident differences within the administration of Donald Trump. The draft called all the countries to “enhance coordination” in fighting the virus and termination of resentment going on around the world.

This leaves the UN’s most powerful body helpless in countering the greatest crisis being faced by the world.

The US State Department representative said, “In our view, the Council should either proceed with a resolution limited to support for a ceasefire or a broadened resolution that fully addresses the need for renewed member state commitment to transparency and accountability in the context of COVID-19.”

The US even refused to support the language used in the draft by the UN Security Council to describe the WHO.

The draft highlighted “urgent need to support all countries, as well as all relevant entities of the United Nations system, including specialized health agencies.” This was viewed as an implied reference to the WHO but was not directly mentioned in order to appease the US.

It occurred that the reference was still definitive for the US. Trump had previously accused the WHO for not dealing with the seriousness of the pandemic in the month of January itself as it was protecting China and refused to publicly accuse the Asian superpower.

Antonio Guterres, UN Chief began pushing the worries for repercussions as war-torn countries like Yemen and Syria are seriously facing the problem due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A second wave of the novel coronavirus in the US may come sooner than expected

As the United States has eased the restrictions in certain parts of the states and businesses have been reopened, the scientists fear that the  “second wave” of the virus may not wait until fall, instead it may become a series of waves spreading unpredictably across the nation.

Most of the states that have reopened in the US have not even met the required minimum criteria which have been set by the public health experts for safety and in some states, the cases of the coronavirus are rising. A revitalization in the virus may not become apparent for two to three weeks, when some people would require hospitalization.

The question that arises now is that scientists are saying, whether the damages can be minimised by the country?

Evidence is elevating that if the mask is worn by everyone in the public areas, then it is far more effective in curbing the transmission than has been earlier realised. While adequate testing is not available, saliva testing and home-use nasal swabs are picking up their pace and may provide a clearer picture of where the virus stands.

Since mid-March, each day the USA has had a rise of 20,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus. According to the New York Times, a government projection raised this figure of new cases to 200,000 that includes 3000 daily deaths by the month of June.

Cases of novel coronavirus around the world

This data is as per the data recorded on June 17, 2020.

S. No.


Total Cases

Total Deaths

















































As per 17 June, 2020, according to the latest figures of coronavirus published by Johns Hopkins University, 8,173,940 cases have been detected worldwide, with 443,685 deaths. The COVID-19 is affecting 213 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances. To get the latest coronavirus cases updates around the world Click here.

Coronavirus Cases in India

In India, the confirmed cases have risen up to 354,161 cases; 187,552 people have recovered from the virus and 11,921 people have died (data recorded as 17 June, 2020). To get the latest number of coronavirus cases updates in India Click here.

The table is given below for the highest number of cases in the States in India:

S. No.







Tamil Nadu









Uttar Pradesh






West Bengal



Madhya Pradesh








Most of the new cases of novel coronavirus appeared in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, as has been happening every day since the virus cases came up in the state and new coronavirus cases in Chennai accounts for more than 55% of the total number of cases in the entire state. But the cases are not concentrated in Chennai alone, there are several other states where the bulk of cases are more than 50% in one or two major cities of that state. 

In Maharashtra, Mumbai accounts for more than 55% cases in the state. In Gujarat, Ahmedabad accounts for more than 70% cases. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Indore and Kolkata in West Bengal have a similar situation. These states along with having the highest number of cases have also tolled the highest number of deaths in the country.

The rise in the number of cases has started putting the health infrastructure of these states to test. Mumbai, which already has more than 10,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, is now short of hospital beds to accommodate new patients. The situation is now such that a waitlist is being prepared for the patients as the local authorities hustle to add more beds in both private and government hospitals.

If we look from the point of controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus, it is not a bad idea to concentrate cases in small areas. This helps the health administration to isolate and demarcate these areas. Compared to lower urban areas, large urban centres are better equipped with the health infrastructure. The problem will grow bigger soon and then it will become difficult to control. The rural areas and smaller towns will get affected much more quickly with a large number of new novel coronavirus cases.


The spread of the novel coronavirus would have been restrained had the Chinese authorities informed the world about the outbreak. However, instead of sharing the information, the Chinese officials were busy in suppressing the news by calling it as a rumour and punishing the whistleblowers who were raising an alarm. It was too late by the time WHO had confirmed that the virus could be contracted through human transmission. The WHO had been praising China for its role in controlling the virus– had it probed into the matter seriously, the result would have been better as of today.

The US claims that it will investigate into the matter as to whether the virus has spread from the Wuhan’s wet market or from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The result would come out later only after the investigation is complete.

Many coronavirus mutations are being seen around the world and there is less information as to whether any are more dangerous. It’s better if the countries take precautions and keep the health of the people as their priority. The situation will remain critical until the vaccination to cure the disease is found.


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