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China rejects WHO call for further coronavirus origins probe

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)
A medical worker wearing full protective gear takes a swab sample from a journalist to be tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, nine hours before the press conference of China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing on May 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

China has rejected the World Health Organization (WHO)'s calls for a new probe into the origins of the coronavirus, saying it supports “scientific” over “political” efforts to find out how the virus started.

The rejection came on Friday after the WHO urged Beijing to share raw data from the earliest Covid-19 cases to revive its probe into the origins of the viral disease.

A WHO team of international experts went to Wuhan in January 2021 to produce a first phase report, which was written in conjunction with their Chinese counterparts, but it failed to find a conclusive position on the origin of the virus.

The WHO’s report said the virus jumping from bats to humans via an intermediate animal was the most probable scenario, an that a leak from the Wuhan virology labs was "extremely unlikely.”

China hit back at the WHO's call on Friday by reiterating its position that the initial investigation was enough and that request for further data were motivated by politics instead of scientific inquiry.

"We oppose political tracing ... and abandoning the joint report" issued after the WHO expert team's Wuhan visit in January, China’s vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters. "We support scientific tracing."

Ma rejected suggestions of new lines of investigation and said, "The conclusions and recommendations of WHO and China joint report were recognized by the international community and the scientific community.”

"Future global traceability work should and can only be further carried out on the basis of this report, rather than starting a new one," the Chinese official added.

The theory that the contagion had leaked from the Chinese lab was originally hyped up by, among others, the administration of former US president Donald Trump as part of his hawkish anti-China policies.

Since infecting its first victims in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, the pandemic has spread to nearly every country across the globe, killing more than four million people so far.

China also called on the US to give a full clarification on its bio-military activities at home and abroad, a matter of concern shared by Russia and others.


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