Covid origins: China says US report without credibility, intelligence services known for 'fraud and deception'

WION Web Team
Shanghai, China Published: Nov 02, 2021, 03:21 PM(IST)

A debate over pronunciation of new Covid variant Omicron has begun (representative image). Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

Despite persistent allegations, China has consistently denied that the virus came from a specialist laboratory in Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first identified at the end of 2019

Declassified US intelligence reports claiming the COVID-19 pandemic could have originated in a lab are unscientific and without credibility, says a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry.

According to the updated US intelligence briefing published on Saturday, both a natural origin and a lab leak could explain how SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, first infected humans, though the truth may never be known.

Also read | We may never know how COVID-19 originated, say US intelligence officials

The spokesperson, Wang Wenbin responded on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website by saying that "a lie repeated a thousand times is still a lie", adding that US intelligence services are known for their "fraud and deception".

"The tracing of the origins of the novel Coronavirus is a serious and complex issue that should and can only be researched through the cooperation of global scientists," he said.

Despite persistent allegations, China has consistently denied that the virus came from a specialist laboratory in Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first identified at the end of 2019.

Wang also reiterated China's call for the United States to open up its own Fort Detrick laboratory to international experts.

Also read | WHO says it is 'last chance' to find origin of COVID-19

Earlier WHO report on COVID-19 origins

Earlier this year, China and the World Health Organization (WHO) published a joint study that all but ruled out the hypothesis that COVID-19 originated in a laboratory, saying it was more likely that it had infected humans naturally, perhaps through the wildlife trade.

The study, however, was critiqued for failing to investigate the Wuhan labs and for not examining the raw data necessary to understand the virus's early transmission routes.

Also read | China accuses US of 'politicisation' and 'scapegoating' over COVID-19 origin report

Earlier this month, the WHO also established a Scientific Advisory Group on Novel Pathogens Origins (SAGO) and had called on China to supply raw data to aid any further investigation. The Chinese government however has declined, citing rules governing patient privacy.

A group of scientists, in an open letter written last week to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that while they welcomed an investigation into COVID-19's origin, the proposed SAGO panel lacked the necessary skills and impartiality.

Watch | Gravitas Plus: The Lab Leak Theory

A few days later, on Monday, the WHO suddenly reopened applications for its SAGO panel for three days, seeking experts in social science, anthropology, ethics, political science, and Biosafety/biosecurity.

It is still unclear whether any of the 26 previously announced nominees had withdrawn or whether the panel is being enlarged. Following the publication of WHO's list on Oct 13, a two-week public consultation period was held to allow for public feedback.

(With inputs from agencies)

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