Update (1300ET): White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the White House press corp during Thursday's briefing that Bejing's refusal to cooperate in the investigation of COVID's origins was "dangerous".
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Beijing has decided not to cooperate in a second WHO-sponsored investigation into the origins of COVID-19, thwarting the NGO's plans to carry out a second, more credible, investigation.
During a Thursday press conference, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of China’s National Health Commission, said Beijing wouldn't cooperate with another probe. However, the refusal to cooperate likely won't help China's cause in the West, as it tries to convince the Americans and Europeans that COVID wasn't the result of a careless lab leak.
Zeng says he is "surprised" to see research into the lab leak theory, which was initially dismissed by the WHO as highly unlikely, included as a reason for a second hoped-for visit by a WHO team to Wuhan.
"In some aspects, the WHO’s plan for the next phase of investigation of the coronavirus origin doesn’t respect common sense, and it’s against science. It’s impossible for us to accept such a plan," he said.
Liang Wannian, a senior scientist and the representative for the Chinese side of the WHO's joint investigation, said during the briefing that, instead of returning to China, the team of experts should prioritize the "very likely" possibility that coronavirus originated in animals, and was later transferred to humans.
He also cited confusing research claiming traces of COVID-19 had been found in wastewater outside China around the same time that the disease was first detected in Wuhan. With this in mind, Liang suggested that investigators expand their research to locations outside China.
Chinese officials also used the press conference to reiterate Beijing's insistance that the Wuhan Institute of Virology had no links to the outbreak. Yuan Zhiming, director of China’s National Biosafety Laboratory and professor at the Wuhan lab, stressed that, before Dec. 30, 2019, he and his colleagues had never studied the virus.
After a team of WHO scientists led by Dr. Peter Daszak, whose was later exposed for his conflict of interest regarding COVID-19's origins given his involvement in a scheme by the NIH to funnel money to the WIV to circumvent US laws prohibiting 'gain of function' research.
The team spent around four weeks in China early this year, and the experts concluded in their initial report - which the WHO eventually rejected - that the virus likely originated in an animal before spreading to humans in December 2019. However, the, WHO has promised another probe since the initial probe's data was deemed unreliable. President Biden has also ordered American intelligence to conduct their own assessment and figure out exactly what is going on.
The theory that COVID likely leaked from a laboratory possibly at the Wuhan Institute of Virology was first rejected by the American press as a "conspiracy theory". US media outlets initially rejected the theory as implausible and even dangerous. Zero Hedge was even banned from twitter for months after daring to suggest that the leaked virus might have been intended to be a 'bioweapon'. In recent months, the theory has gone mainstream, as even Democrats now believe the virus leaked from the lab.
Now, the question remains: what, if anything, will the US government do about it?