Coronavirus: China presents findings on origin of COVID, ahead of WHO report

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Coronavirus: China presents findings on origin of COVID, ahead of WHO report


BEIJING – Chinese officials briefed diplomats on Friday about ongoing research into the origin of COVID-19, ahead of the expected release of a long-awaited report from the World Health Organization.
The briefing appeared to be an attempt by China to make its views known on the report, which became entangled in a diplomatic row. The United States and others have raised questions about Chinese influence and the independence of the findings, and China has accused critics of politicizing a scientific study.

“Our goal is to show our openness and transparency,” said Yang Tao, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “China has fought the epidemic transparently and has nothing to hide.”

The report, which has been repeatedly delayed, is based on a visit earlier this year by a team of WHO international experts to Wuhan, the central Chinese city where infections from a novel coronavirus were first reported at the end of 2019.

The experts have been working with their Chinese counterparts and the two sides must agree on the final report. We don’t know when it will be released.

Feng Zijian, a member of the Chinese team and deputy director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said experts had looked at four possible routes for the virus to Wuhan.

These are: a bat carrying the virus infected a human, a bat infected an intermediate mammal which transmitted it to a human, shipments of cold or frozen food and a laboratory that searches for viruses in Wuhan .

Experts voted on the assumptions after extensive discussion and concluded that one of the two animal routes or the cold chain was most likely the way it was transmitted. A lab leak was considered extremely unlikely, Feng said.

His remarks were reported by state broadcaster CCTV, which said envoys from 50 countries and the League of Arab States and the African Union attended the briefing at the Foreign Ministry.

“China strongly opposes attempts by some countries to politicize the issue of tracing of origin and make baseless accusations and hold China accountable,” the ministry said in an online post about the briefing.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “I would like to stress that virus testing is a scientific issue that should be studied by scientists through cooperation.”

She told reporters that experts were still discussing the content and translation of the report and that she did not know when it would be published.

At a press briefing later in Geneva on Friday, the World Health Organization expert who led the WHO mission to China said the nearly 400-page report was finalized and underway. verification and translation.

“I hope that in the next few days this whole process will be completed and we will be able to make it public,” said WHO expert Peter Ben Embarek.

During a Biden administration health briefing on Friday, U.S. CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said the agency was eagerly awaiting the release of the WHO report.

Dr Anthony Fauci said the explanation that “most public health officials agree” on how COVID-19 appeared in humans is that the virus is likely spreading in China under radar for several weeks, allowing it to be well adapted to the time it was recognized.

Comments from the government’s leading infectious disease expert came in response to former CDC chief Robert Redfield’s speculation on CNN that COVID-19 was coming from a lab.

“What he probably expressed was that there are certainly possibilities … of how a virus adapts to spread effectively among humans,” Fauci said.

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