China on Friday rejected the World Health Organization’s calls for new investigations in its territory into the origins of the coronavirus, claiming that it supports a “scientific” rather than a “political” approach to determining how the virus spreads. .
The first coronavirus patients were identified in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan (center). Since then, the virus has spread around the world and has left more than four million deaths in its wake so far and dire consequences for the world’s economies.
Scientists struggle to trace its origin. Transmission from an animal? Leak from a Chinese lab? Beijing strongly opposes the latter hypothesis, as it does not want to appear responsible for the epidemic.
A team of international experts sent by the World Health Organization visited Wuhan in January 2021 to conduct a “phase one” study on the origin of the virus.
From there came a joint report in cooperation with Chinese specialists, in which it was concluded that the virus may have passed from bats to humans through an intermediary animal. Later, experts considered it “extremely unlikely” that the virus came from a laboratory.
But Washington defended this second hypothesis, in the context of political rivalry with Beijing and now the World Health Organization has re-launched this possibility, which on Thursday asked all countries, especially China, to publish “all data on the virus.”
The World Health Organization emphasized that “in order to be able to examine the laboratory hypothesis, it is important to have access to all raw data,” and that “access to data should in no way be a political issue.”
– “Private life” –
Beijing responded on Friday, asserting that the WHO report in Wuhan was sufficient, as it had already ruled out the laboratory leak theory, adding that requests for additional data concealed political motives.
“We oppose the politicization of searching for the origins of the ‘virus’ and abandoning the joint report between China and the World Health Organization,” Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said at a press conference.
“The findings and recommendations of the joint report have been endorsed by the international community and the scientific community,” the deputy minister said.
“Future research should and can only be done on the basis of this report. It is not about starting over,” he added.
As for the preliminary data requested by the World Health Organization, in particular regarding the first patients in Wuhan, China has again resorted to medical secrecy.
“We just want to protect patients’ privacy,” Liang Wanyan, head of the delegation of Chinese scientists who contributed to the China-WHO report, told reporters on Friday.
“Without their consent, no foreign expert has the right to photocopy or copy the original data,” he added.
– shocking statements –
Many experts have long rejected the laboratory leak hypothesis, but it has been reactivated in recent months, due to new and shocking statements by Peter Mubarak, the Danish head of the delegation of international experts that visited Wuhan in January 2021.
In a documentary aired Thursday on Danish public television 2, the world for the first time drew heavy criticism of Beijing.
“Even 48 hours before the mission ends, we still do not agree to mention the ‘lab thesis’ in the report,” Mubarak said.
As a result of these exchanges, the WHO delegation finally got permission to visit two laboratories where research is being done on bats, he explains.
“We were able to talk and ask the questions we wanted to ask, but we didn’t have the opportunity to go back to any documents,” said Peter Mubarak.
“Infection of an employee (in the laboratory) during sampling is part of one possible hypothesis. This is where the virus is transmitted directly from bats to humans.”
He added that none of the bats live in the wild in the Wuhan area.
He also said that the only people likely to have come into close contact with bats suspected of being infected with the virus that caused Sars-Cov-2 are employees of the city’s laboratories.
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