China rejected the World Health Organization's (WHO) latest decision to probe the origins of the Covid-19 virus on August 13, Friday. The country stated that it supported scientific endeavours to find out the origin of the virus over political ones, reported AFP.
Since it first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the novel coronavirus started a worldwide pandemic that has so far killed over four million people and disrupted economies worldwide. China is under pressure once more to consider a fresh probe to trace the origins of the virus.
A team of international experts from the World Health Organization made a highly politicized visit to Wuhan in January 2021 to conduct a probe into the virus' origins. A first phase report was authored along with their Chinese counterparts, but the report did not reveal the virus' origins. It did, however, state that the most probable scenario was the virus transmitting from bats to humans through an intermediate animal. The report also noted that it is 'extremely unlikely' that the origin can be traced back to a leak from Wuhan's virology labs.
Subsequently, WHO on Thursday asked China to share raw data of the earliest recorded Covid-19 cases to revive the probe into identifying the virus' origins, which China declined stating that the initial inquiry should suffice and that further probes are politically motivated rather than scientifically.
Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters that "We oppose political tracing ... and abandoning the joint report. We support scientific tracing," after the WHO teams visit in January.
He added that: "The conclusions and recommendations of WHO and China joint report were recognised by the international community and the scientific community. Future global traceability work should and can only be further carried out based on this report, rather than starting a new one."
The infamous lab leak theory claimed that the virus might have leaked out of a lab in Wuhan, but was later dismissed as a US far-right conspiracy theory. However, China's reluctance in reopening probes to outside investigators is increasing suspicion.
Director-General of the WHO Tedros Ashanom Ghebreyesus opined earlier that the initial probe into the virology labs in Wuhan did not probe far enough. US President Joe Biden also ordered a separate investigation conducted by US intelligence agencies to investigate the virus' origins.
Vice Health Minister Zeng Yixin was enraged by WHO's directive to include Wuhan labs' audits in the investigation's second stage, calling it "disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science."
Peter Ben Embarek, the Danish scientist who led the probe mission in Wuhan, suggested that a lab employee getting infected while taking samples can be one hypothesis on how the virus must have passed from bats to humans. He also told reporters that it is unlikely that ordinary people came in contact with the bats in question since the bats were not from the Wuhan region.