On 24 July 2021, a Facebook post on an account supposedly belonging to a Swiss biologist by the name of Wilson Edwards claimed to have knowledge of US efforts to politicise the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Covid-19 investigations from within the organisation.
The post was picked up by various Chinese state media, including the Global Times, which ran a story under the headline: US attempts to overturn report, leveraging WHO into political tool.
The Swiss embassy in Beijing was quick to respond with a Tweet stating that Edwards probably did not exist and that the post was fake news. “Looking for Wilson Edwards, alleged biologist, cited in press and social media in China over the last several days. If you exist, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is a fake news, and we call on the Chinese press and netizens to take down the posts.” – Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing (@SwissEmbChina) August 10, 2021
Edwards referred to unnamed WHO sources and fellow researchers complaining of having endured “enormous pressure and even intimidation from the US side as well as certain media outlets. The WHO sources told me the US is so obsessed with attacking China on the origin-tracing issue that it is reluctant to open its eyes to the data and findings.”
In an attached statement the Swiss embassy said that the Chinese reports were false, and there was no registered Swiss citizen named Wilson Edwards or any academic papers in the field of biology published under his name, according to RTS.
Not long after the Swiss embassy responded, Chinese state media articles referencing the mystery biologist began disappearing. The Facebook account, which had only three friends and was created on the day it published its only post also disappeared.