EXCLUSIVE: Hong Kong scientist Dr. Li-Meng Yan entered uncharted territory.
A few hours before boarding a Cathay Pacific flight on April 28 in the United States, the respected doctor specializing in virology and immunology at the Hong Kong School of Public Health had plotted his escape, packing his bag and walking past the censors and campus video cameras. .
She had her passport and purse and was about to leave behind her loved ones. If caught, she knew she could be thrown in jail – or, worse, made one of the “missing”.
Yan told Fox News in an exclusive interview that she thought the Chinese government knew about the new coronavirus long before it said it. She says that her supervisors, recognized as some of the best experts in the field, also ignored the research she was doing at the start of the pandemic that she believed could have saved lives.
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She added that they probably had an obligation to tell the world, given their status as a World Health Organization reference laboratory specializing in influenza viruses and pandemics, especially since the virus has started to spread in early 2020.
Yan, now in hiding, says the government of the country where she was born is trying to destroy her reputation and accuses government guards of choreographing a cyber attack against her in the hopes of keeping her quiet.
Yan thinks his life is in danger. She fears that she will never be able to return home and lives with the harsh truth that she will probably never see her friends or family there again.
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Yet, she says, the risk is worth it.
“The reason I came to the United States is because I’m carrying COVID’s message of truth,” she told Fox News from an undisclosed location.
She added that if she tried to tell her story in China, she would “disappear and be killed.”
Yan’s story weaves an extraordinary claim on cover-ups at the highest levels of government and apparently reveals the obsessive compulsion of President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party to control the story of the coronavirus: what China knew, when it knew it and what published information she peddled to the rest of the world.
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Yan, who says she was one of the first scientists in the world to study the new coronavirus, is said to have been asked by her supervisor at the University / WHO reference laboratory, Dr. Leo Poon, in 2019 to examine the strange cluster SARS- as cases from mainland China in late December 2019.
“The Chinese government has refused to let foreign experts, including those from Hong Kong, do research in China,” she said. “So I turned to my friends for more information. ”
Yan had an extensive network of professional contacts in various medical facilities in mainland China, having grown up and completed much of his studies there. She says this is the very reason she was asked to do this type of research, especially at a time when she says that her team knew she was not getting the whole truth from the government.
A friend, a scientist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, had first-hand knowledge of the cases and reportedly informed Yan on December 31 of human-to-human transmission long before either China or the WHO would admit such a case. spread was possible. .
She reported some of her first discoveries to her boss, said Yan.
“He just nodded,” she recalls, and told him to keep working.
A few days later, on January 9, 2020, the WHO published a statement: “According to Chinese authorities, the virus in question can cause serious illness in certain patients and is not easily transmitted between people … There is information limited to determine the overall risk of this reported cluster. ”
Yan said that she and her colleagues across China had discussed the particular virus but quickly noticed a marked change in tone.
Doctors and researchers who openly discussed the virus suddenly got excited. Those in Wuhan City – which will later become the center of the epidemic – were silent and others were warned not to ask them for details.
The doctors said worryingly, “We can’t talk about it, but we have to wear masks,” said Yan.
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Then, the number of human-to-human transmissions began to grow exponentially, according to his sources, and Yan began to look for answers.
“There are many, many patients who do not receive timely treatment and timely diagnosis,” said Yan. “The doctors in the hospitals are afraid, but they cannot speak. CDC staff are afraid. ”
She said that she reported her findings to her supervisor again on January 16, but that was when he told her to “keep quiet and be careful.”
“As he warned me before, ‘Don’t touch the red line,'” said Yan, referring to the government. “We will be in trouble and we will disappear. ”
She also claims that the co-director of a WHO affiliated laboratory, Professor Malik Peiris, knew this but did nothing about it.
Peiris also did not respond to requests for comment. The WHO website lists Peiris as an “advisor” to the Emergency Committee of the WHO International Health Regulations for pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
Yan was frustrated, but not surprised.
“I already know it would happen because I know about corruption in this type of international organization like the WHO against the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party,” she said. “So basically … I accept it but I don’t want this misleading information to spread around the world. ”
WHO and China have vehemently denied the allegations of concealment of the coronavirus.
WHO has also denied that Yan, Poon or Peiris ever worked directly for the organization.
“Professor Malik Peiris is an infectious disease expert who has participated in WHO missions and expert groups – as have many prominent people in their fields,” said the WHO spokesperson. , Margaret Ann Harris, in an email. “It doesn’t make him a WHO staff member and he doesn’t represent WHO. ”
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Yan says that despite all hindsight, she was emboldened by a feeling of good and bad and says that she had to express herself despite the personal and professional consequences.
“I know how they treat whistleblowers,” she said.
“I know how they treat whistleblowers. ”
Like so many others before her, once Yan decided to speak out against China, she discovered that her life was apparently in danger, as well as that of her loved ones.
It was a fear directly relayed by her and apparently confirmed by the American Hong Kong blogger Lu Deh, she said.
After sharing with him some of his theories and suspicions, he told her that she should move, perhaps to the United States, where she would not have to constantly look over her shoulder. Only then would she be safe and have a platform to speak, he said.
Yan made the decision to leave, but things got complicated when her six-year-old husband, who also worked in his laboratory, discovered the phone call between his wife and the blogger.
Yan told Fox News that she begged her husband to accompany her and said that although her husband, a well-known scientist himself, initially supported her research, he suddenly changed his mind.
“He was completely pissed off,” she said. “He blamed me, tried to ruin my confidence … He said they would kill us all. “”
“He said, ‘They’re going to kill us all.’ ”
Shocked and injured, Yan made the decision to leave without him.
She got her ticket to the United States on April 27. She was on a flight the next day.
When she landed at Los Angeles International Airport after her 13-hour trip, she was stopped by customs officials.
Fear gripped her and Yan did not know if she would end up in prison or be sent back to China.
“I had to tell them the truth,” she said. “I do the right thing. So I tell them, ‘Don’t let me go back to China. I came to tell the truth here on COVID-19… and please protect me. If not, the Chinese government will kill me. ”
The FBI was reportedly called to investigate. Yan says they interviewed her for hours, took her cell phone as evidence, and allowed her to continue on to her destination.
The FBI told Fox News that it could neither confirm nor refute Yan’s claims; however, Fox News has received evidence that appears to confirm an interaction.
As Yan tried to find her place in America, she said that her friends and family at home were put to the test.
Yan says the government has invaded his hometown of Qingdao and that agents have torn apart his tiny apartment and interrogated his parents. When she contacted her mother and father, they begged her to go home, told her that she did not know what she was talking about, and begged her to give up the fight.
The University of Hong Kong withdrew its page and apparently revoked access to its online portals and emails, even though it said it was on approved annual leave. In a statement to Fox News, a school spokesperson said that Yan was not currently an employee.
“Dr. Li-Meng Yan is no longer a staff member of the University,” the statement said. “Out of respect for our current and former employees, we do not disclose personal information about it. Your understanding is appreciated. ”
The Chinese Embassy in the United States told Fox News that it did not know who Yan was and claimed that China had handled the pandemic heroically.
“We have never heard of this person,” the statement said. “The Chinese government has responded quickly and effectively to COVID-19 since its inception. All his efforts were clearly documented in the white paper “Combating COVID-19: China in action” in complete transparency. The facts speak volumes. ”
WHO also continued to deny any wrongdoing during the early days of the virus. The medical branch of the United Nations has recently been attacked by scientists who challenge its official view of the spread of the virus. WHO has also changed the chronology of the coronaviruses on its website, now claiming to have obtained information about the virus from WHO scientists and not from Beijing authorities – as it claims for more than six months.
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Fox News also contacted the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Yan scientists accuse them of suppressing his concerns for comment.
Yan says she will keep talking – but knows there is a target on her back.