China rejects WHO’s plan to study coronavirus origins

WHO proposes second phase of study of origin of coronavirus in China this month

Beijing:

China on Thursday rejected the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plan for a second phase of its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, a top health official said, including the hypothesis that it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

The WHO this month proposed the second phase of a study into the origins of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories and markets in the city of Wuhan, demanding transparency from authorities.

“We will not accept this kind of origin-tracing plan, because it disregards common sense in some aspects and disregards science,” Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission (NHC), told reporters.

Zeng said he was astonished when he first read the WHO plan because it listed the hypothesis that Chinese violations of laboratory protocols leaked the virus during research.

Zeng said, “We hope that the WHO will seriously review the views and suggestions given by Chinese experts and in fact treat the origin tracing of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific matter and get rid of political interference.” Will give.”

China opposes the politicization of the study, he said.

There is controversy among experts regarding the origin of the virus.

The first known case was reported in December 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus is believed to have passed to humans from animals being sold for food in a city market.

In May, US President Joe Biden ordered aides to find answers to questions on the origin, saying US intelligence agencies were pursuing potentially rival theories, including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China.

Zeng, along with other officials and Chinese experts at the news conference, urged the WHO to expand origin-tracing efforts to other countries beyond China.

“We believe that a laboratory leak is highly unlikely and it is not necessary to invest much energy and efforts in this regard,” said Liang Wanian, leader of the Chinese team in the WHO’s joint expert team.

However, Liang said the laboratory leak hypothesis cannot be discounted entirely, but suggested that if evidence is warranted, other countries could look into the possibility that it leaked from their laboratories.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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