WHO set to audit Chinese labs in Covid-19 origins probe —



*It is disrespectful for you to probe us, says Chinese authorities
By Doosuur Iwame, Abuja
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it has concluded it plans to commence to audit Chinese labs as part of further investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is just as described the proposed audit of its labs as disrespectful and arrogance towards science.
The WHO had disclosed last week that a second stage of the international probe should include audits of Chinese labs, amid increasing pressure from the United States for an investigation into a biotech lab in Wuhan.
The proposal outlined by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus included “audits of relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of the initial human cases identified in December 2019” — referring to the Chinese city of Wuhan.
But China’s vice health minister Zeng Yixin told reporters Thursday that he was “extremely surprised” by the plan, which he said showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science”.
Long derided as a right-wing conspiracy theory and vehemently rejected by Beijing, the idea that Covid-19 may have emerged from a lab leak has been gaining momentum.
Beijing has repeatedly insisted that a leak would have been “extremely unlikely”, citing the conclusion reached by a joint WHO-Chinese mission to Wuhan in January.
At the same time, Chinese officials and state media have pushed an alternate theory that the virus could have escaped from the US military research lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The UN health agency has been under intensifying pressure for a new, more in-depth investigation of how the disease that has killed more than four million people around the world first emerged.
The WHO was only able to send a team of independent, international experts to Wuhan in January, more than a year after Covid-19 first surfaced there, to help Chinese counterparts probe the pandemic’s origins.
Thursday’s comments come ahead of a weekend trip to China by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to address deteriorating ties between the two countries.
It is the highest-level visit under President Joe Biden and comes amid tensions between the two powers over issues including the pandemic’s origins, human rights and cybersecurity.


Read the Source post on Daily Times Nigeria.

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