COVID's origin: US seeks deep probe into China's handtext_fields
Geneva: A report in the Guardian stated that the US mission to Geneva has urged the UN to carry out the second phase of investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and said that The People's Republic of China should co-operate with the ongoing investigation. Controversy over the virus' purported origins in a laboratory in Wuhan has been making rounds after a series of criticisms arose over the World Health Organisation's investigation into the pandemic.
A WHO-led team that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February with Chinese researchers said in a report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal, and that "introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway." However, the US mission called this investigation "insufficient and inconclusive".
"China must provide independent experts full access to complete, original data and samples relevant to understanding the source of the virus and the early stages of the pandemic," the U.S. statement said.
Simon Manley, Britain's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said in a separate statement: "Phase one of the WHO-convened COVID-19 origins studies was always meant to be the beginning of the process, not the end. We call for a timely, transparent, evidence-based, and expert-led phase two study, including in the People's Republic of China, as recommended by the experts' report."
US President Biden has admitted that the intelligence community remains divided on the issue with the laboratory origin of COVID-19 and natural transmission being investigated. On Wednesday, Biden gave the US intelligence agencies 90 days to report to him to reach a "definitive conclusion" about the origins of the coronavirus.
"The US intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how the Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially but has coalesced around two likely scenarios: either it emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals or it was a laboratory accident," a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said, as quoted by the Guardian.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that scientists at a key virus laboratory in Wuhan had become sick with COVID-like symptoms around the beginning of the pandemic in China, but experts did not know whether it was related to the pandemic at all.
Although China's official statement welcomed the thorough investigation into early cases of COVID-19 and even biological laboratories, Beijing reacted angrily to Biden's announcement, portraying it as part of a broader geopolitical struggle. The Chinese government questioned Washington's motives and railed against the "notorious track record" of US intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq.
"[The US's] one aim is to use the pandemic to pursue stigmatisation and political manipulation to shift the blame. They are being disrespectful to science, irresponsible to people's lives, and counterproductive to concerted global efforts to fight the virus," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Thursday.
American President Joe Biden has announced on Thursday that he will publish the results of a 90-day enquiry into the purported theory that COVID-19 may have been released from a Chinese laboratory, marking a departure from the previous approach that had left it up to WHO to investigate such claims.