'Defies Science': China Rejects 2nd Phase of WHO's COVID-19 Origin Probe

Presently, experts hold differing opinions on the origin of the novel coronavirus.

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China's National Health Commission (NHC) on Thursday, 22 July, declined further inquiry by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of the coronavirus, which hypothesises that it could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory.

The second phase of the probe included audits of Wuhan's laboratories and markets, urging transparency from concerned authorities, Reuters reported.

Vice-Minister of NHC Zeng Yixin said, "We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science," Reuters quoted.

He expressed that China opposes "politicising the study" and added:

"We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the COVID-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference."
Zeng Yixin, as per Reuters

Experts hold differing opinions on the origin of the virus.

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in December 2019 from Wuhan, a city located in central China. The two prevailing theories of its origin were that it either jumped from bats to humans via an intermediate animal or spread through an accidental lab leak.

Yixin, with other Chinese officials and experts at the news conference on Thursday, urged the WHO to take its origin-tracing efforts beyond Chinese borders, Reuters reported.

Liang Wannian, the Chinese team leader on the WHO joint expert team said, "We believe a lab leak is extremely unlikely and it is not necessary to invest more energy and efforts in this regard."

(With inputs from Reuters)

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