China accused the World Health Organisation of trying to “smear” Beijing. The boss of the global health organization said that data linking coronavirus and raccoon dogs should be shared many years ago.
A market in Wuhan, where the first cases were discovered in late 2019, showed that contained DNA from raccoon dogs and the virus.
Tedros Adhanom, the WHO’s director general, stated last month that the newly disclosed genetic material should have been shared “three years ago”.
Chinese officials in health defended their search to find the source of the virus and branded the WHO chief’s comments as “offensive” and “disrespectful”.
Shen Hongbing is the director of China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. She said that the WHO was “attempting smear China” and should not help others “politicise .”
He said that “As responsible countries and scientists, we have always actively partnered with scientists around the globe,” during a news conference.
Continue reading: COVID origins linked to Wuhan market raccoon dogs
China laboratory leak’most likely’ to have caused the outbreak, FBI director states
What is the Wuhan coronavirus laboratory leak theory?
Outbreak origins still debated
The causes of the outbreak remain a matter of debate and are the subject of bitter political disputes.
Scientists believe that the virus spread from animals to humans at Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market, where it was first reported.
There have been hints that it may have come from a laboratory leak in the city. This city houses many laboratories, including China’s top virus collection facility.
The Communist Party, which is the ruling party, tried to divert criticisms of its handling of this outbreak by spreading uncertainty over its origins. Officials repeated anti-US conspiracy theories that the virus was created in Washington before being smuggled into China.
The government also suggested that the virus could have infected China via mail or food shipments, though scientists have not seen any evidence to support this theory.
Chinese officials suppressed initial information on the Wuhan epidemic in 2019 and penalized a doctor who warned of the new disease.
In a futile effort to control the disease, the ruling party reversed course and closed down travel to major cities and other international destinations in 2020.
The WHO referenced genetic material that was recently uploaded to a global data base, but was collected at the Wuhan marketplace in 2020 where wildlife was sold.
Scientists claim it supports the hypothesis that coronavirus originated from animals and not a laboratory leak, but it doesn’t resolve the question about where it came from. The virus could have spread from humans to raccoon dogs, according to scientists.
The FBI director stated last month that COVID-19 was “most likely” to have originated from a laboratory leak in China. However, four other US agencies and a national intelligence panel still believe the pandemic was natural transmission. Two are not yet certain.
After foreign scientists asked the CDC for information, Chinese officials removed the data from the database. However, the information had been copied and shared by a French expert with researchers outside China.
According to Mr Shen, scientists looked into the possibility of a leak in a laboratory and “fully shared their research and data without any concealment nor reservation”.
Although he said that COVID-19 was not yet found, he noted that it took many years to find the AIDS virus and its source is still unknown.
“Some forces and people who participate in politicising traceability and trying to smear China shouldn’t assume that the visions of the scientific community worldwide will be blinded because of their clumsy manipulation,” Mr Shen stated.