China opposes study of lab leak in any new probe of virus origin

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China has opposed the World Health Organization’s call for another investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which includes examination if he has leaked from a lab, saying there is no has no proof of theory and that defies common sense.

The pathogen most likely appeared in an animal, which transmitted it to humans via an intermediate host, a group of senior Chinese scientists insisted Thursday at a briefing in Beijing. They praised an earlier WHO report which indicated primarily animals, while finding the laboratory leak hypothesis “extremely impossible”.

The Wuhan laboratory at the center of the controversy “has never had the virus,” said Liang Wannian, an epidemiologist who led the Chinese team of experts working with the WHO. “We don’t need to devote more resources to a lab leak probe. “

The hypothesis has already been dismissed as a conspiracy theory by opponents of former US President Donald Trump, whose administration raised the possibility ahead of the 2020 election. The premise then gained traction as scientists rescheduled in question China’s reluctance to provide access to primary source material, attention has increased to the efforts of some virologists to make viruses stronger, called ‘gain-of-function’ work, and some world leaders called for a more in-depth probe.

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While China has consistently rejected the lab’s hypothesis, officials sought to draw a line in the sand on Thursday, signaling that Beijing would not engage in the original hunt if the theory remained on the line. This is China’s most direct rejection to date on calls from the WHO and others to investigate the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s high-level laboratory, which has studied pathogens transmitted by bats and other coronaviruses.

“The plan on the second phase of the original study, it contains language that does not respect science or common sense,” said Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission. “We will not follow such a plan.”

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US President Joe Biden said in May that the US intelligence community was divided over whether the virus came from human contact with animals or from a laboratory accident, and ordered them to ” redouble our efforts ”and report back by the end of August. The move rekindled suspicions that the virus may have escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where researchers are known to have studied other coronaviruses.

Chinese officials have said they are determined to uncover the origins of the novel coronavirus, a question that deserves serious study and should be based on science. WHO’s plans to make the laboratory leak hypothesis a priority for the next stage of research have been tainted with political postures and show “arrogance against science,” Zeng said.

China has been in the crosshairs since the pandemic began in late 2019, after being criticized for delaying research efforts and restricting access for independent investigators. Now, world leaders including the WHO chief, the Australian government and others are calling on Beijing to cooperate on the next step in deciphering the story of the creation of the virus, which is critical to understanding what arrived in the world and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in March that the world’s first probe failed to adequately analyze the possibility of a laboratory accident before deciding it was most likely from the pathogen transmitted from bats to humans via another animal. He said scientists would have “full access to data,” including biological samples from at least September 2019, and that he was ready to deploy more resources to investigate.

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