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China rejects US senator’s vaccine claims, asks for evidence

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (File photo)

China has rejected US Senator Rick Scott's claim that Beijing is trying to slow down or sabotage the development of a COVID-19 vaccine by Western countries, saying he should present evidence for his accusation.

"Since this lawmaker said he has evidence that China is trying to sabotage Western countries in their vaccine development, then please let him present the evidence. There's no need to be shy," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Hua made the remarks in response to the Republican senator’s comments during an interview on BBC TV on Sunday.

“We have got to get this vaccine done. Unfortunately we have evidence that … China is trying to sabotage us or slow it down,” Scott said, adding, “China does not want us ... to do it first, they have decided to be an adversary to Americans and I think to democracy around the world.”

When asked about the evidence, Scott declined to give any details, but said it had come through the intelligence community.

Hua further said the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is not a competition between China and the United States, expressing hope that Washington will mirror China's pledge and offer any vaccine it develops to the world for free.

The new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in the city of Wuhan in December last year, incrementally affecting the rest of the world.

Beijing and Washington have time and again clashed over the virus spread, further increasing tensions between the world's two largest economies.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to link the virus to China, calling it the “China Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus.”

He has also claimed that there is evidence Beijing created the coronavirus in a medical lab in the Chinese city. This is while the US intelligence agencies say they have seen no evidence to show the virus is “man-made.”

The US president and his aides have also accused Beijing of a lack of transparency about the viral outbreak. Trump has also suspended aid to the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing it of being “China-centric.”

China has fiercely defended its handling of the new coronavirus, repeatedly saying it “has been nothing but open, transparent and responsible” in informing the WHO and affected countries about the pandemic.

Scientific studies have already suggested that the virus originated through natural processes.

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19 and human trials of several existing antiviral drugs have yet to show efficacy.


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