China's opposition to audit of labs 'dangerous', says White House
- China has rejected the plan proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes the audit of laboratories in areas where the first cases of Covid-19 were identified.
China’s opposition to the second phase of the probe into the origins of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is “irresponsible” and “dangerous”, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. China has rejected the plan proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes the audit of laboratories in areas where the first cases of Covid-19 were identified.
"Their position is irresponsible and frankly dangerous ... It's not a time to be stonewalling," Psaki told reporters during a press briefing.
The UN health agency’s proposal marked a change in its stance on the lab leak theory which it had earlier dismissed as “extremely unlikely”. An international team of experts had visited Wuhan in January this year to investigate the origins of Sars-Cov-2 and published a report in March.
The report identified two most likely scenarios of coronavirus transmission to the human population, including the one involving intermediary host species. On the lab theory, which had been floating around since the start of the pandemic, the report said that the hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.
Last week, however, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the push to discount the lab leak theory was “premature.” Acknowledging the possibility of virus leak, Tedros said, “I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen. It’s common.”
The WHO chief asked Beijing to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus, triggering an angry response from China. China’s national health commission (NHC) vice minister Zeng Yixin said he was “shocked” by the proposal as it contains language that does not respect science, adding that China opposes politicising the study into the origin of the virus.