Reports are emerging from Wuhan, China that Chinese doctor Ai Fen, recently viral for blowing the whistle on the Chinese government's suppression of physicians, has gone missing. 60 Minutes Australia, a flagship show that has taken a front seat role in reporting about the outbreak in China, tweeted out, "just two weeks ago the head of Emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital went public, saying authorities had stopped her and her colleagues from warning the worldShe has now disappeared, her whereabouts unknown."
When the outbreak first began, Fen tried to alert officials to a new, "SARS-like virus." Instead of heeding her warnings, supervisors reprimanded her for, "spreading rumors and inciting fear." As time continued, and the virus worsened, Ai Fen decided to speak out. In an interview on March 12, 2020, she spoke out against Chinese officials, saying, "If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could."
Ai Fen directly challenged reports from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, stating that early on in the outbreak physicians could tell that human-to-human transmission was in fact occuring, “we watched more and more patients come in as the radius of the spread of infection became larger." Later on, she stated, “I knew there must be human to human transmission."
On March 31, the Intelligence Ledger released the results of an exhaustive investigation that sought to reveal examples of suppression, deception, and denial by the Chinese government. The story of Dr. Ai Fen is extremely similar to Dr. Li Wenliang, another physician in Wuhan who was arrested for simply telling the truth. After his release, he returned to work in a hospital, where he died combating COVID-19.
This is just one more example of the Chinese's government blatant deception and suppression campaign. Actions such as these severely hindered the opening stages of the international response to the virus, and cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives. When the pandemic is finally done, nations will want China to pay for the lies they have spread, and thus the lives they have taken. Thus, stories such as Ai Fen's will shape our world for years to come.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.