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US terms China's position on COVID-19 origin probe as 'dangerous'

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Washington DC | July 23, 2021 1:15:00 AM IST
After China rejected the second phase of the World Health Organisation (WHO) probe, the United States on Friday accused Beijing of "stonewalling" the study of origins of COVID-19.

Addressing a press briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said, "The US supports the WHO plan for phase two, which commits to ensuring these studies are scientific, transparent, expert-led, and free from interference."

Responding to Beijing's decision, Psaki said, "We have certainly seen the PRC's [China's] comments, again, rejecting phase two of the WHO study. We are deeply disappointed. Their position is irresponsible, and frankly, dangerous."

She said the US continues to call for China to provide much-needed access to data and samples. "And this is critical to prevent the next pandemic. This is about saving lives in the future and not time to be stonewalling," Psaki added.

China's decision to reject the phase-two study came after the possibility of lab leak theory was included in the WHO proposal. Citing Chinese Deputy Head of the National Health Commission Zeng Yixin, CNN reported that Beijing was surprised to see lab leak listed as a research objective under the second phase of the investigation."In some aspects, the WHO's plan for next phase of investigation of the coronavirus origin does not respect common sense, and it is against science. It is impossible for us to accept such a plan," Yixin said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also urged Beijing to be transparent and open to cooperate. "We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened," he said.

Zeng Yixin, meanwhile said that "no worker or researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology got infected by coronavirus before the first documented cases of COVID-19".

US officials overseeing an intelligence review into the origins of COVID-19 consider the theory of virus accidentally escaping from a lab in Wuhan as equally plausible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild.

In recent months, the lab-leak theory has gained great traction pushing US President Joe Biden to give the American intelligence team a 90-day deadline to find answers into the virus origin.

A WHO-led team of scientists that travelled to China in early 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its visit, and had little power to conduct thorough and impartial research. (ANI)

 
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