China denounces WHO’s fresh plans to probe COVID-19 origins

Beijing: Lashing out at the World Health Organization (WHO), China on Friday called the WHO’s second stage plan to probe into the origins of COVID-19 as “a product of political manipulation”.

On Thursday, China’s National Health Commission rejected the WHO plan for a second phase of the investigation. Later, the US had expressed disappointment with the decision and termed it “dangerous”.

Addressing a press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, said, “One cannot help but think that this work plan is made to echo the ‘lab leak theory’ advocated by certain countries such as the United States. And the lack of transparency in the drafting process also added to the suspicion that the work plan is the product of political manipulation.”

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The spokesperson said that this work plan is inconsistent with the requirements of the resolution of the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA). He also said this work plan is inconsistent with the conclusions and recommendations of the WHO-China joint mission report.

On Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the second study will include an audit of labs and research facilities in the area where the first cases of COVID-19 were registered in December 2019. The new study is part of a five-stage plan which the WHO put together to identify where the coronavirus came from.

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.

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