Social media accounts purporting to be a Swiss biologist have reportedly been fabricated by Chinese media to bolster a theory that the US pressured the World Health Organisation to investigate the origin of Covid-19.
Chinese state media quoted a man named Wilson Edwards in several reports this week claiming the "international scientific community" was disappointed in the US for its role in encouraging the WHO to investigate theories Covid-19 was leaked from a Wuhan lab.
The Embassy of Switzerland has since revealed that a person by such a name does not exist, and "more likely that this is a fake news".
China Daily quoted a post from a Facebook page in the biologist's name which read: "as a biologist, I've witnessed in consternation over the past months how the origin-tracing of Covid-19 was politicised", the BBC reported.
The page quoted had just three friends however, and was created on July 24.
The article, which has since been deleted, also quoted the persona as describing the WHO investigation "largely politically motivated".
Additionally, The People's Daily claimed Edwards told it that "unfortunately, Washington's re-entry has brought geopolitical competition to the science-spearheaded world body".
State-run TV station CGTN made similar claims, reporting Edwards as being concerned about the WHO's independence and its investigation becoming a "political tool".
It also claimed Edwards said he and other researchers were being subject to "enormous pressure" and "intimidation" from the US after expressing support for the WHO — China investigation.
The investigation in January concluded it was highly unlikely Covid-19 came from the lab, where it was first detected in December 2019.
Edwards also apparently claimed the US was so "obsessed" with attacking China on Covid-19's origin that it had lost sight of the "data and findings".
Switzerland launched an investigation of its own following the many reports claiming to cite a Swiss biologist and on August 10 revealed it had no citizens with the name Wilson Edwards.
"In the last several days, a large number of press articles and social media posts citing an alleged Swiss biologist have been published in China," a statement shared to Twitter read.
While we appreciate the attention on our country, the Embassy of Switzerland must unfortunately inform the Chinese public that this news is false."
"While we assume that the spreading of this story was done in good faith by the media and netizens, we kindly ask that anyone having published this story take it down and publish a corrigendum."
The embassy also said if there was a Wilson Edwards in the country, it would like to meet them.
Text by Brooke Rolfe, news.com.au