China calls WHO's lab leak theory a political 'lie'

China on Friday pushed back against a report from the WHO saying more data was needed to investigate the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic and called the theory of a laboratory leak a "political lie." (Stephen Shaver/UPI)

Beijing disputed the suggestion that the novel coronavirus may have resulted from a laboratory accident on Friday, calling it a political attack in response to a World Health Organization report recommending additional research into the COVID-19 pandemic's origins.

During a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian described the lab leak theory as "a lie concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes."

In addition, he refuted allegations that China attempted to conceal the original breakout of the virus and has been uncooperative with investigators.

According to Zhao, China has "shared the most data and research results" regarding the genesis of the novel coronavirus.

After a 12-day visit to China in early 2021 to explore the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, WHO scientists determined that it was "extremely unlikely" that the virus escaped from a laboratory and spread to humans.

In a report released on Thursday, however, a WHO advisory group stated that "key pieces of data" are still needed to complete the picture of how the pandemic began.

The 43-page report states that the panel would "remain open to any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses,"

Some critics accused the WHO of being too subservient to China and dismissive of the lab leak idea in an earlier study. Later, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the United Nations organization, stated that there had been a "premature push" to rule out the option.

Friday, Zhao reiterated China's unfounded claims that the coronavirus may have originated from bioweapons research conducted in American labs.

"Since the advisory group report proposes to investigate the national biological laboratories with early cases around the world, the next stage should be the investigation of highly suspicious laboratories such as Fort Detrick in the United States and the University of North Carolina," Zhao added.

He also requested that the WHO investigate "unexplained childhood hepatitis and monkeypox outbreaks" in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

According to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the novel coronavirus was first found in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 before spreading globally, infecting more than a half-billion people and killing 6.3 million.

Publish : 2022-06-10 19:24:00

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