Chinese officials said Thursday they were surprised and offended by a proposal by the World Health Organization to further investigate whether the coronavirus emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, exposing a growing gap in the investigation of the origins of the pandemic.
Senior Chinese Health Officials and Scientists they opposed energetically to the idea of opening the Wuhan Institute of Virology to a new investigation after WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, set out its plans to examine laboratories in the central city of Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in late 2019.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), reopens the controversy. Photo (Jean-Christophe Bott / Keystone via AP, File.
Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, said at a press conference in Beijing that he was “extremely surprised” by the WHO’s plan to renew attention on the possibility that the virus has leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.
“I could feel that this plan revealed a disrespect by common sense and a arrogant attitude towards science, “Zeng said.
Yuan Zhiming, director of the National Biosafety Laboratory (Wuhan) and professor at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, has already rejected the possibility. Photo REUTERS / Shubing Wang.
“We cannot accept such a plan to investigate origins.”
According to a report published in March, a joint investigation by the WHO and China concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus came out of a Wuhan laboratory.
Many scientists claim that the virus most likely jumped from animals to people through a natural contagion in a market or similar environment.
But some scientists have said that the initial research was early by dismissing the idea of the laboratory leak.
The United States and other governments have held down to China to share more information, especially from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
At Thursday’s press conference, several Chinese officials said that the WHO investigation was successful in the first one, and that there was no evidence to justify further laboratory controls.
WHO researchers should focus their search on the signs of natural transmission, they said, and on the possibility that the virus first spread outside of China.
In recent days, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Global Times, a communication medium supervised by the Chinese Communist PartyThey have gone even further in their response to Beijing’s demands.
They have reiterated claims – widely rejected by scientists – that the coronavirus could have escaped from a US military laboratory.
A petition organized by the Global Times calling for an investigation into the US facility claims to have collected nearly 6 million signatures.
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