China is refusing to cooperate with WHO plans to audit Wuhan labs to further investigate the origin of COVID-19, accusing the organization of showing “disrespect” and “arrogance towards science.”
Last week, the WHO said a second stage of the investigation should include audits of Chinese research centers as lab leak speculations mount.
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,” the Daily Caller reports.
However, China’s health minister Yeng Yixin said he was “extremely surprised” by the proposal, which he said showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science.”
China has repeatedly urged that a lab leak would have been “extremely unlikely,” while pushing the theory that the virus could have escaped from Fort Detrick in Maryland.
At a press conference Thursday, director of the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Yuan Zhiming said “no pathogen leakage or staff infection accidents have occurred” since the lab opened in 2018.
He blasted the “rumors,” about the lab insisting it had “never carried out gain-of-function research on coronaviruses.”
“There is no way that we accept such an origin tracing study proposal,” he said.
Tedros urged China to “be transparent, to be open and cooperate” on a second phase of the probe.