China on Friday rejected a call by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a new investigation into the origin of Covid-19, calling for a “scientific” rather than a “political” based approach.
Pressure on Beijing over the pandemic, which has already killed more than 4 million people worldwide and hurt much of the world economy, has been mounting in recent days. The WHO on Thursday called on all countries to release “all data on the virus.” The call is aimed in particular at China, where there is still the possibility of a coronavirus leaking from a laboratory in the city of Wuhan, where it was discovered in late 2019. A team of international experts from the WHO visited Wuhan in January 2021. Their report, prepared in collaboration with Chinese experts, made it impossible to draw a definitive conclusion on the origin of the virus.
Beijing responded to the WHO on Friday, reiterating the position it has been defending for months: the original research by China and the WHO is sufficient and the requests for more data are politically motivated. “We support scientifically sound research,” Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said at an online news conference. “We oppose the politicization of the search for origins and the abandonment of the joint China-WHO report,” he stressed.
According to the study, the most likely scenario is the transmission of the coronavirus from bats to humans via an intermediate host. It considered it “extremely unlikely” that the virus originated in a laboratory.
Ma Zhaoxu rejected calls from the world health organization for more in-depth research. “The conclusions and recommendations of the joint report have been accepted by the international community and the scientific community,” he said. “Future research should and can only be conducted on the basis of this report. It is not about starting from scratch.”
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