China insists that Covid-19 origin be searched for in other countries

Beijing, Aug 13 (EFE).- China insisted Friday on expanding the search for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to other countries, reiterating that the Wuhan lab-leak theory is extremely unlikely and rejected politicization of the investigation.

“No country has the right to put its political interests before science,” Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said in a virtual press conference in response to what Beijing considers pressure from the United States to prove the theory that the virus came out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The report of the first mission of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Wuhan, published in April, pointed out four possible theories about the origin of Covid-19, although it indicated that that of a laboratory accident was the least likely.

“The WHO study should be respected by all parties, including the WHO itself,” Ma rebuked after the organization asked for space to continue its investigations after China’s rejection of another phase of its inquiries in its territory.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last month called on China to be “transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for in the early days of the pandemic,” while Beijing has repeatedly denied that it withheld information or hindered the work of the scientists who traveled to Wuhan.

“It’s unacceptable and inappropriate that WHO came up with a second-phase of Covid-19 origins-tracing that focused on a lab-leak theory, classified as extremely unlikely in the first-phase study, which ignored evidence and did not consult member states,” official Gu Jinhui said.

The head of the team of Chinese experts that investigated the origin of the coronavirus, Liang Wannian, said “the next-phase Covid-19 origins-tracing should be carried out worldwide in countries where horseshoe bat and pangolins reside.”

Liang also revived the theory that the virus was able to reach the Huanan market in Wuhan, where the first Covid-19 outbreak was detected, through cold chain logistics.

The state media launched a large-scale offensive this week, charging that the first outbreaks could have occurred in other countries, including Spain, Italy and France, and also pointed to the possibility that the virus escaped from the US laboratory of Fort Detrick, which closed in July 2019.

“If they don’t want to give up in this theory, we also should study other labs such as Fort Detrick. But the WHO classified a lab leak as extremely unlikely and it should be respected,” Ma said Friday.

The Chinese media went so far as to quote a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards, who it said denounced the politicization of the pandemic against China. However the Embassy of Switzerland later revealed that a person by that name does not exist.

Chinese state press purportedly fabricated a now-deleted Facebook page on which the non-existent biologist criticized the US and the WHO for pressuring China to allow further investigations into the Wuhan lab-leak theory.

The criticisms of Ma and the offensive by state media come almost three months after US President Joe Biden ordered his country’s intelligence services to issue a report on the origin of the pandemic after they said that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in November 2019. EFE


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