A top Chinese health official stated on Thursday that China will not accept the World Health Organization's plan for the second phase of the COVID-19 study. Zeng Yixin, the vice-minister of the National Health Commission, expressed surprise that the proposal involves additional study of the notion that the virus may have spilled from a Chinese lab.
He rejected the notion as a rumor that contradicts logic and science. "We cannot approve such an origin-tracing strategy," he stated during a press conference scheduled to discuss the problem of the COVID-19 origin.
The quest for the virus's roots has become a diplomatic problem, worsening China's ties with the United States and many of its allies. According to the United States and others, China has not been forthcoming about what transpired in the early days of the pandemic. China accuses criticism of politicizing a problem that scientists should handle.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that it was too soon to rule out a possible link between the pandemic and a leak from a Chinese government facility in Wuhan, where the illness was first discovered in late 2019.
The majority of experts believe that a slab leak is unlikely to be the cause. The dilemma is whether the idea is so distant that it should be dismissed out of hand, or whether it warrants more investigation. The first phase was carried out earlier this year by an international team of scientists who traveled to Wuhan to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts. The team was accused of caving into Chinese pressure after first indicating that more research was unnecessary.
Zeng stated that the Wuhan lab contains no viruses capable of directly infecting humans and that the WHO panel decided that a lab leak was very improbable. He further denied that employees and graduate students at the lab had been affected and may have initiated the virus's spread across the city.