China has rejected the next stage of a World Health Organization-led probe into the origins of Covid-19 because researchers intend to treat the theory that may have escaped a Wuhan laboratory as plausible. .
Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission, told reporters at a press conference Thursday that he had been “shocked” to see the hypothesis of “laboratory leakage” that had become part of the plan proposed by the WHO for a second phase study.
“We cannot accept this kind of origin tracking plan,” he said and rebutted China’s claim that the theory that the virus may have escaped from a government lab in Wuhan, the central city. where the disease was discovered in late 2019, it was congested.
Beijing has consistently said the original investigation should not challenge a finding by Chinese scientists and the WHO in the first phase of the probe that a laboratory loss was “extremely unlikely.” China says investigators should look outside the country for evidence of early human Covid-19 infections.
But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, said last week it was “premature” to rule out the possibility that Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan. .
The plan proposed by the WHO for the next stage of its investigation has not been published. But Tedros said it included “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019.”
Scientists are divided on the theory of “laboratory leakage” and whether it should be a research focus to trace how Covid-19 infected early humans.
Many believe the virus probably jumped from one animal, probably bats, to another intermediate host due to a natural process before infecting humans. Others argue that existing evidence does not exclude the theory of laboratory leakage.
Joe Biden, the president of the United States, asked U.S. intelligence agencies in May to “redouble” efforts to reach a consensus on the most likely origin theory and called on the United States intelligence agencies to WHO to ensure that the next stage of its investigation includes China.
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Beijing has accused the United States of politicizing a scientific effort, as well as proposing that Covid-19 be leaked by Fort Detrick, a U.S. military laboratory. China has not provided any evidence to support its claim.
“The United States responds instantly whenever there is a call for a WHO inquiry into Fort Detrick,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign minister. “What dark secrets are hidden out of sight in Fort Detrick?”
Zeng also denied that Chinese researchers were trying to hide anything when they asked that Covid-19 sequencing data samples be deleted from a US database. The scientists had only asked that the samples be removed after the editing process was finished because they were no longer needed, he said.