(Bloomberg) -- China pushed back against the World Health Organization’s call for another probe into the coronavirus’s origins that includes examining whether it leaked from a lab, saying there’s no evidence for the theory and it defies common sense.
The coronavirus pandemic most likely arose in an animal, which transmitted it to humans via an intermediate host animal, a group of top Chinese science officials insisted at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday. They praised an earlier report from the WHO that pointed primarily to animals, while finding that the lab leak hypothesis was “extremely impossible.”
The Wuhan laboratory at the center of the controversy “never had the virus,” said Liang Wannian, an epidemiologist who headed the team of Chinese experts working with the WHO. “There’s no need for us to put more resources into a lab leak probe.”
China is committed to uncovering the origins of the novel coronavirus, a matter that deserves serious study and should be based on science, the officials said. The WHO’s plans to make the lab leak hypothesis a priority for the next stage of study has been contaminated by political posturing and displays “arrogance against science,” said Zeng Yixin, vice minister of the National Health Commission.
China has been in the crosshairs since the start of the pandemic in late 2019, after being criticized for delaying research efforts and restricting the access of independent investigators. Now the World Health Organization, the Australian government and others are calling on Beijing to cooperate with the next stage of deciphering the virus’s creation story, which is essential to understanding what befell the globe and reducing the risk of future pandemics.
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