China rejects need for further WHO coronavirus origins probe

China has opposed next-phase COVID-19 origins-tracing, saying that it is “inappropriate” that the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with the second phase of the study that focused on a lab-leak theory.

Beijing [China], August 13 : In recent months, the lab-leak theory has gained great traction after the Biden administration pushed for a fresh intelligence probe into the virus origin. “The next-phase COVID19 origins-tracing should be carried out worldwide in countries where horseshoe bat and pangolins reside, and which supply Wuhan Huanan market through cold-chain logistics,” said Liang Wannian, a Chinese expert in the WHO-convened joint team on origins tracing, as quoted by Global Times.
“It’s unacceptable and inappropriate that WHO came up with 2nd-phase of COVID19 origins-tracing that focused on a lab-leak theory, classified as extremely unlikely in the 1st-phase study, which ignored evidence and did not consult member states,” said China’s Health Commission official.
This comes hours after the WHO said that the next step in the search of the origins of COVID-19 will be the creation of a new advisory group that will develop a global framework to study pathogens with pandemic potential.
The WHO expressed hope that all countries, including China, can collaborate and put in place the conditions for more missions to be sent to Wuhan to duly probe the “lab hypothesis.”
“The International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO, is a new advisory group for WHO, which will be responsible for advising WHO on the development of a global framework to systematically study the emergence of future emerging pathogens with pandemic potential. For SARS-CoV-2, it will support the rapid undertaking of recommended studies outlined in the March 2021 report,” the WHO said in a statement on Thursday.
WHO last month proposed a second phase of studies into the origins of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories and markets in the city of Wuhan. Beijing, meanwhile, had rejected WHO’s proposal. In a statement on Thursday, WHO called for all governments to depoliticize the situation.
The first WHO fact-finding mission to China’s Wuhan, where the first COVID-19 outbreak was reported in late 2019, released its report in March. A WHO-led team of scientists struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its visit, and had little power to conduct thorough and impartial research.

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