Beijing (AP) — Chinese health officials called on Wednesday to extend the investigation into the origin of the coronavirus beyond China, the day after a closely monitored World Health Organization report on the issue was released.
They also rejected criticism that China did not provide sufficient data to the WHO team of international experts who visited Wuhan, a Chinese city where the first case was detected earlier this year.
The quest for the origin of the virus has become a diplomatic feud. While the United States and other Western countries have repeatedly asked questions about delays, transparency, and data access, China is pushing for a theory that suggests that the virus may have come from elsewhere.
Liang Wannian, head of the Chinese team working with a group of WHO experts, said:
He said experts agreed that the location where the first case was identified was not necessarily where the virus appeared. “Based on this scientific consensus, we should have a broader perspective on procurement,” he said.
Experts agree that the virus may have come from elsewhere and that neighboring countries in Southeast Asia may be major, but China’s claim to expanding research faces Western criticism. Seems to be partly politically motivated.
The WHO report concluded that the virus or its precursors were most likely carried by bats that infected another animal that infected humans. Researchers have yet to track bats and intermediate animals, but suspect bat habitats in southwestern China or nearby Southeast Asia.
Bats carrying a virus similar to the one that causes COVID-19 have been found in Yunnan, China, but Chinese experts have pointed out that such a virus has also been identified in Southeast Asia. The same applies to the other mammal, Pangolins, which is thought to be a potential carrier.
“Therefore, we feel that we need to conduct virus source research under a global framework,” said Tong Yigang, Animal and Environmental Group Leader for the Chinese team.
Liang called the accusation that China did not share the data “invalid.” He said it was hard to imagine experts examining all the samples and records, instead they said they used the database to perform the analysis.
“What our Chinese experts can see on this issue is the same as what foreign experts can see,” he said.
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian expert on the WHO team, can argue that they should have been allowed to visit Wuhan before, but the team is “very good” from their Chinese colleagues. He said he got “cooperation”.
“Yes, there are probably other things that could have been given to us,” he told Australian broadcaster ABC. .. “
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, a spokesperson for the Japanese government, reiterated the concerns expressed by the US government and the European Union.
“We are concerned that this investigation was delayed and we faced a lack of access to virus samples,” he said Wednesday, calling for a “quick, independent, expert-led investigation without surveillance.”
China and WHO say they are doing collaborative research rather than research, and even the terminology is a source of controversy.
Mari Yamaguchi, an Associated Press writer in Tokyo, contributed to this report.