China on Wednesday, 31 March, called for expanding the search for the origins of the coronavirus in other countries, mainly America, as it sought to sidestep the WHO chief’s assertion that further probe is required on allegations that the deadly virus may have leaked from a bio-lab in Wuhan, saying he may have not been accurately quoted.
Releasing the much-awaited report of an experts team that probed the origin of Covid-19 after visiting the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, World Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reopened the Trump era allegation, saying that it required further probe.
”Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Dr Tedros, who was earlier accused by the previous Trump administration as ‘pro-China’, said in Geneva on Tuesday.
Coming from the WHO chief with whom China had built a close rapport while battling the allegations that it suppressed facts related to the deadly virus early and acted late in containing it in Wuhan the assertion that it requires further probe caught Beijing by surprise.
“I don’t think the quote is very accurate because what I see is the expert mission said they cannot exclude the possibility of lab leakage but they have found no scientific evidence for that,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said while answering a volley of questions on the experts’ team report and Dr Tedros’ comments.
Instead, Hua harped on the expert team’s remark that the lab leak theory is “extremely unlikely”.
“If necessary we should conduct studies in other places and we hope if necessary those countries can cooperate with WHO experts in an open and transparent manner just like China did. We believe this is in the interest of the world,” she said.
In response to the WHO report, the US and 13 allies including South Korea, Australia and the UK, voiced concern over its findings and urged China to provide full access to experts.
“Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings.” The group pledged to work together with the WHO.
Former US president Donald Trump was among those who supported the theory that the virus might have escaped from a lab in China.
Contrary to expectations, the experts team’s report left almost all questions, including that virus emanating from the wet market in Wuhan which was shut down, unanswered.