China calls for COVID origins tracing in US

FM spokeswoman says politicization of virus hampering global cooperation

People wait in line for a free COVID-19 test in Los Angeles, California on Dec 21, 2021.

China has called for the World Health Organization to conduct COVID-19 origins tracing in the United States, blasted the US for politicizing the origins tracing issue and urged the country to share information about the pandemic.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday the organization "continues to call for China to be transparent in sharing data", adding that "continued politicization" only makes it harder to identify the origins.

Commenting on Tedros' remarks, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Monday that China, which has twice received WHO experts for origins tracing cooperation since the pandemic broke out, has shared more data and research findings than any other country.

The WHO and China issued a joint report on origins tracing in March 2021 after their experts worked together for about a month in Wuhan, Hubei province from January to February that year.

According to the report, the introduction of the virus through a laboratory incident was considered to be "extremely unlikely". It also recommended further research "around earlier cases and possible hosts" for the virus "around the world".

The report is scientific and authoritative, and has laid a solid foundation for global origins tracing, Mao said.

China has recommended experts to join the WHO's Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, and organized events for Chinese experts to share research findings with the WHO secretariat and SAGO, according to Mao.

"China always supports and takes part actively in science-based global origins tracing, and at the same time firmly opposes all forms of political manipulation," the spokeswoman said.

The US has ignored the conclusions in the WHO-China joint report, and pressured the WHO into repeatedly demanding origins tracing in China, Mao said.

Meanwhile, the US has never invited WHO experts to the US for relevant research or shared any early data, the spokeswoman said, adding that the country has "turned a blind eye" to the world's concerns about its bio labs in Fort Detrick and elsewhere around the world.

Politicizing origins tracing of the virus will only hamper global cooperation over the issue and disrupt the world's cooperation to tackle the pandemic, Mao said.

"We hope the WHO secretariat will take a science-based, objective and just position, reject disturbances of politicization and conduct origins tracing studies in the US, among other countries," the spokeswoman said, urging the US to share with the WHO the data of suspected early cases and disclose information about its bio labs.