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Origin of COVID-19: China rejects WHO’s proposal to return to Wuhan | Coronavirus pandemic news

Officials insisted that laboratory leaks were “extremely unlikely” and denied that the response lacked transparency.

China rejected a proposal by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the expert group investigating the origin of COVID-19 should return to the location where the coronavirus first appeared in China, saying that researchers should prioritize the “very likely” that the virus originated in animals and The possibility of expanding its work to other countries in the world.

Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission of China, said at a press conference of the National Information Committee that he was “surprised” by the WHO’s proposal of this team. return Go to the central city of Wuhan they visited earlier this year and investigate the hypothesis that it leaked from the laboratory.

It has been said that such a move is “unscientific.”

At a closed-door meeting last week, WHO Director-General Tan Desai proposed that the agency’s second phase of investigation of the origin of the coronavirus should include further research in China and laboratory “audits.”

“Finding the origin of this virus is a scientific activity and must be free from political influence,” Ghebreyesus said. “For this reason, we hope that China will share all relevant data in a transparent spirit to support the next stage of the scientific process.”

The WHO is facing increasing pressure to strengthen investigations into the origin of the virus, which first appeared in Wuhan and has now caused more than 4.1 million deaths worldwide.

Its international and Chinese expert team made their First time to Wuhan In mid-January, more than a year after the first case of “mysterious pneumonia” at the time was first discovered. They stayed in the city for four weeks and visited key locations including the now closed Huanan Seafood Market, as well as two research laboratories that study bat viruses-bats are suspected animal reservoirs for COVID-19.

China refutes the claim that the coronavirus may have leaked from the Wuhan laboratory, saying its operation complies with international safety standards [File: Shepherd Hou/EPA]

In a joint report released in March, the team stated that the virus may have originated from Bats vs. humans Pass another animal, but call for a deeper investigation into the origin of the virus Speculation It may have escaped from one of the laboratories. In May of this year, US President Joe Biden ordered a review of the origin of the virus, saying that intelligence agencies were divided on whether the virus came from an animal or a laboratory.

This hypothesis was also included in the World Health Organization’s second phase proposal, although the theory was downplayed in the team’s preliminary report.

“We hope that the WHO will seriously consider the considerations and suggestions put forward by Chinese experts, truly treat the tracing of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific issue, and get rid of political interference,” Zeng said.

Yuan Zhiming of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory who attended the press conference said that the biological protection system of the Wuhan laboratory is “stable and reliable” and meets international standards.

“The general consensus in academia is that the coronavirus is a natural occurrence,” Yuan said, and refuted reports that three researchers had coronavirus-like symptoms shortly before the first case in Wuhan, saying it was “completely out of nothing.” .

Liang Wannian, who is in charge of the WHO team of Chinese scientists and was interviewed by the media, also refuted doubts about China’s transparency, saying that the original data of the earliest patients could not be shared publicly or allowed to be copied because of privacy issues.

He emphasized the need to pay attention to the spread between animals and humans, not only bats, but also other species, including pangolins, minks and ferrets. He also emphasized that the place where the first cases were found may not be the actual origin of the disease, and an outbreak in Wuhan was found in many countries and cities where traces of the coronavirus were reportedly found in patients or wastewater.

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