China on Friday again turned the tide on whether it would support a second investigation into the origins of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.
The WHO said in February that its first joint report with China on the origins of the pandemic found it “extremely unlikely” that the virus had come from a laboratory and advised “future studies”. The organization said later in July that it would correct the multiple “unintentional errors” found in its report, according to The Washington Post.
Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters on Friday that China opposes “political tracing” and will drop the joint report “that the WHO started in January.” We support scientific tracing. ” , he said, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“The conclusions and recommendations of the joint WHO-China report have been recognized by the international community and the scientific community,” he said, according to AFP. “Future global traceability work should and can only be continued on the basis of this report, rather than starting a new one.”
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China backtracked later on Friday and pledged to participate in the search for the origin of COVID-19 when Ma said that “China’s position on the search for the global origin was consistent and clear “, according to Chinese state media Xinhua. Ma, however, continued the narrative that dismissing the findings of the first report would be disrespectful to global scientists.
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“Any attempt to reverse or distort the findings of the joint study report is political manipulation and disrespect for scientists and the science of the world,” he said. “The label of ‘deny origin tracing’ can never be pinned on China. Instead, it is very appropriate for the United States itself.”
He also accused the United States of using coercion to pressure the WHO.
Zeng Yixin, deputy minister of the National Health Commission, said in July that he was “rather surprised” that the plan included further investigation into the theory that the virus may have leaked from a Chinese laboratory.
The WHO and China have faced strong criticism from around the world over their response to the pandemic, with China barring WHO investigators from entering Wuhan for months in 2020. They finally arrived in mid-January of this year and released the first findings a month later.
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The first cases of coronavirus were discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
One may the Wall Street newspaper A report citing previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence documents revealed that some of the Wuhan Institute of Virology employees who fell ill in 2019 required hospital care, giving weight to what some have dubbed the “virus theory. laboratory leaks “.
The WHO in a new statement on Thursday admitted that the lab leak was not “extremely unlikely” after all.
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“When reviewing the phase 1 study report, the WHO determined that there was not enough scientific evidence to rule out any of the hypotheses,” the statement continued. “More precisely, in order to answer the” laboratory hypothesis “, it is important to have access to all the data and to take into account the best scientific practices and to examine the mechanisms that the WHO has already put in place. square.”
Evie Fordham of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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