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Scientists call for new probe into COVID-19 origins - with or without China

CoronavirusApr 08, 2021 10:26AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: WHO team at a news conference in Wuhan 2/2

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -A joint China-World Health Organization (WHO) study into COVID-19 has provided no credible answers about how the pandemic began, and more rigorous investigations are required - with or without Beijing's involvement, a group of international scientists and researchers said on Wednesday.

The joint study, released last week, said the likeliest transmission route for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, involved bats and other wildlife. It all but ruled out the possibility it had leaked from a laboratory.

In an open letter, 24 scientists and researchers from Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan said the study was tainted by politics.

"Their starting point was, let's have as much compromise as is required to get some minimal cooperation from China," said Jamie Metzl, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, who led the drafting process for the letter.

The study's conclusions were based on unpublished Chinese research, while critical records and biological samples "remain inaccessible", the letter said.

Claims by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus that China has withheld data have been rejected by Liang Wannian, China's senior COVID-19 expert. Liang also appeared to rule out any further joint investigations in China.

Metzl said the world might have to "revert to Plan B" and conduct further investigations without China's involvement.

China has rejected allegations that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a research laboratory in Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 was first identified.

The joint China-WHO study said the lab leak theory was "extremely unlikely", saying there was "no record" that any laboratory had kept SARS-CoV-2-related viruses. Tedros said more research was required to "reach more robust conclusions".

But Metzl said China should disclose information that would allow the lab-leak hypothesis to be disproved.

"China has databases of what viruses were being held... there are lab notes of the work that was being done," he said.

Responding to the letter on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said its "purpose was self-evident" and that countries like the United States, not China, were guilty of politicising the inquiry into COVID-19's origins.

"They insist on politicising the issue of traceability, damaging and disrupting China's cooperation with the WHO, discrediting China and publicly challenging the independence and scientific conclusions of scientists," he said.

Scientists call for new probe into COVID-19 origins - with or without China
 

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Comments (7)
David David
David9 Apr 08, 2021 10:09PM ET
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This is done and final by the WHO. All other tests and research will become he said she said....
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu Apr 08, 2021 3:34PM ET
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Chineese leaders have as much respect for safety as they have for intellectual property.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Apr 08, 2021 11:01AM ET
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Darwin grew peas in labs without modern cutting tools. Samething can be done with viruses. The can alter viruses in labs without modern cutting tools. It just takes much much longer time. Why WHO keeps looking for ‘cutting’ evidence is beyond s/t/u/p/ity.
John Mage
John Mage Apr 08, 2021 10:38AM ET
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Does anyone actually believe that China would any records of their gain of function research on this virus after what has happened?
Hola Jak
Hola Jak Apr 08, 2021 10:34AM ET
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That's what these scientists do to get more fundings.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Apr 08, 2021 10:32AM ET
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The WHO is a corrupt organization that is partner with China, they did this to remove Trump
Simon Liu
Simon Liu Apr 08, 2021 10:31AM ET
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As strengthened many time by USA, please respect the international rule, where WHO is definitely one of them.
Terry Dude
Terry Dude Apr 08, 2021 10:31AM ET
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english please
Pat Mathieu
Pat Mathieu Apr 08, 2021 10:31AM ET
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He means we should respect the WTO and not question the CCP comrad.
 
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