China rejected a World Health Organization (WHO) plan on Thursday for a second phase of an investigation into the origins of the Covid-19, including the hypothesis that the virus could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official said, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, the WHO proposed a second phase of study into the Covid-19 origins in China, including auditing the laboratories and markets of Wuhan, calling for transparency from officials.
National health commission (NHC) vice minister Zeng Yixin on Thursday, said that China opposes politicising the study into the origin of the virus.
China’s enraged reaction comes after WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was premature to rule out a potential link between the Covid-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak. He had urged China to be more transparent while scientists search for the origins of the Covid-19.
Zeng said that he was shocked when he first read the WHO’s plan for study, because it lists the hypothesis that the Chinese had violated laboratory protocols and caused the virus to leak during research.
Some data could not be completely shared due to privacy concerns, Zeng said reiterating China’s position.
“We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference,” Zeng said.
He said that China opposed politicising the study.
The origin of the Covid-19 still remain debated among experts.
The first known cases of Covid-19 were reported fr the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. Before triggering the deadly pandemic, the virus was believed to have infected humans from the animals being sold for food at the city market.
Zeng, including other authorities and Chinese experts at the news conference, requested the WHO to expand origin-tracing efforts beyond China to other countries.
“We believe a lab leak is extremely unlikely and it is not necessary to invest more energy and efforts in this regard,” said Liang Wannian, the Chinese team leader on the WHO joint expert team. More animal studies should be conducted, in particular in countries with bat populations, he said.
Liang, however said that a lab leak hypothesis could not be fully discounted but recommended that if evidence warranted, other countries could look into the possibility it leaked from their labs.
One key part of the lab leak theory has centred on the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s (WIV) decision to take offline its gene sequence and sample databases in 2019.
Zhao Lijian on Wednesday said that in less than five days, nearly 5 million Chinese have signed an open letter, urging the WHO to investigate the US’ Fort Detrick lab over the origins of Covid-19 instead.
Zhao said that the rising numbers are a representation of the anger of the Chinese people at the political manipulation by some in the US on origins of Covid-19.