A senior Chinese health official rejected the next stage of a World Health Organisation investigation into the origin of Covid-19, which plans to audit labs and markets in the city of Wuhan.
Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of the National Health Commission, said in a press conference in Beijing that he was taken aback by a hypothesis listed on the WHO plan that a violation of laboratory protocols caused the virus to leak from a Chinese laboratory during research.
“We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science,” Zeng told reporters.
The WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this month that investigations in China are being hampered by the lack of raw data into the first days of the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan. China’s position is that some data cannot be shared due to privacy reasons.
Zeng said China hopes the WHO would “truly treat the origin tracing of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference.”
Liang Wannian, the Chinese team leader on the WHO joint expert team, said more animal studies should be conducted in countries beyond China, in particular those with bat populations.
“We believe a lab leak is extremely unlikely and it is not necessary to invest more energy and efforts in this regard,” Liang said at the conference.