China has rejected the World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposal for a second phase of investigation into the origins of COVID-19, including the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab, a Chinese official said, Reuters reported.
“We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science,” the vice minister of the National Health Commission (NHC) Zeng Yixin, told reporters Thursday, according to Reuters. China instead offered its own proposal to investigate whether the virus originated in other countries, the outlet reported.
The WHO announced plans last week to further its inquiry into the animal markets around Wuhan and laboratories and research institutions in the region, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). (RELATED: House Committee Votes To Defund Wuhan Lab, Gain-Of-Function Research In Adversarial Countries)
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also called on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to be more transparent and to provide access to raw data on the first days of the virus’ spread in Wuhan. “We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened,” he said.
Zeng reportedly doubled down on China’s position at Thursday’s news conference, saying that the data Tedros requested could not be shared due to privacy concerns. “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 added.
China cannot accept the World Health Organization’s plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19, a senior Chinese health official said Thursday.https://t.co/xPaGTNqU3o
— KTXS News (@KTXS_News) July 22, 2021
Although China has denied the charge that a lab leak from WIV triggered the pandemic, the origins of the virus remain contested.
President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies in May to look into the origins, noting that the intelligence community had “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” one possibly being the lab leak theory.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the notion that COVID-19 originated from a lab accident in Wuhan was considered by many to be a mere conspiracy. The theory, however, has recently gained traction in the legacy media and political discourse.