theThe first coronavirus patients were identified at the end of 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus has since spread all over the world, killing more than 4 million people so far. More than a year and a half after the pandemic began, scientists are still struggling to trace its origin and the topic has become another point of contention in the already strained relations between China and the United States.
On December 31, 2019, China disclosed to the World Health Organization (WHO) an outbreak of unknown viral pneumonia on its territory. But Beijing does not admit that the coronavirus is of Chinese origin and has even hinted that it may have been imported into the country. And President Xi Jinping’s regime is also fiercely fighting the theory that COVID-19 could have escaped from one of its laboratories, particularly those of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which the previous Trump administration (2017-2021) referred to.
This hypothesis has long been ignored by most experts, but it has been back in action in recent months. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asked himself last week to review labs in areas where the first cases of the coronavirus had been identified – a reference to Wuhan.
On Thursday, Beijing criticized the proposal and said it was “extremely surprised.” This shows a “disrespect for common sense and arrogance toward science,” Chinese Vice Health Minister Zeng Yixin told reporters. Mr. Zeng also dismissed the lab leak theory as a “rumour”.
He assured reporters that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had “never conducted research” on coronaviruses.
The response of the United States, engaged in an all-out confrontation with the Asian giant, was short-lived. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday that China’s position was “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” “Now is not the time to block,” she criticized.
The head of the World Health Organization, long accused of being too complacent about Beijing, caused a surprise in March when he asked for additional investigations. A few weeks earlier, international experts sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization deemed it “extremely unlikely” that the virus came from a lab, preferring to trace natural contamination from animals.
This conclusion, however, is questioned by Washington. The US administration has repeatedly emphasized that the WHO team does not include specialists who are able to assess the safety of laboratories. Dr Tedros told him last week that Beijing had not shared “preliminary data” on the virus, which poses a “problem” in tracing the origin of the epidemic.
China denies this and in turn criticizes the lack of transparency on the part of the United States. Chinese officials and state media alike point to the Fort Detrick laboratory near Washington in particular as the source of COVID-19. This site is at the heart of American research against bioterrorism.
to me Global TimesFive million Internet users, a Chinese daily with an assertive nationalist tone, signed a petition on Wednesday to open an investigation into Fort Detrick. The controversy is likely to be on the list of discussions to take place in China from Sunday on Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the highest-ranking US official to visit the country since Joe Biden came to the White House.
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