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US’ politicized virus origin report condemned

Passengers with face masks in a bus are seen in New York City, the United States, Aug 2, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The United States intelligence community's report on the origins of COVID-19 lacks credibility and marks another attempt to politicize the pandemic, experts said in calling for intensified international cooperation to fight the coronavirus. They also made clear that efforts to determine how the virus arose should be left to scientists.

"We must be clear that it is the summary of a report that is prepared by intelligence networks, not through any scientific team, approach or a method," said Irfan Shahzad Takalvi, president of the Eurasian Century Institute, a think tank in Islamabad, Pakistan.

"The world must not forget that it is the same intelligence community that told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, killed hundreds of thousands under that pretext, and it was proved to be false."

The intelligence community's assessment on the origins of COVID-19, released on Friday, does not rule out either natural exposure or a laboratory accident. It falsely claims that China "continues to hinder the global investigation, resists sharing information and blames other countries". The report was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Irfan Shahzad Takalvi, president of Pakistan-based think tank Eurasian Century Institute, said the US has openly attempted to politicize the issue since the beginning, and this has hurt the global fight against the virus. In addition, the issue has been turned into a means to instigate hatred against Asians, especially Chinese

China had repeatedly criticized the preparation of the report, saying that the use of intelligence officials, rather than scientists, to produce a report on the origins of the novel coronavirus is a manifestation of how the US has politicized the issue.

Takalvi said the US has openly attempted to politicize the issue since the beginning, and this has hurt the global fight against the virus. In addition, the issue has been turned into a means to instigate hatred against Asians, especially Chinese.

"The US must give serious thought to allowing investigations on its own soil, involving its own facilities," said Takalvi, adding that the newly unclassified report summary is yet "another attempt to highlight China in a negative light in global discourses".

Nako Stefanov, chief executive of the Bulgarian Strategic Management Institute, called the report "ironic".

Given that tracing the origins of COVID-19 is a matter for science, "problems in the scientific field should still be investigated by experts in related fields" rather than the intelligence community, he said.

Rana Jawad Asghar, chief executive of Global Health Strategists and Implementers, a consultancy in Islamabad, said the US report was inconclusive and did not show any new information.

ALSO READ: Politics has no place in origins tracing, says WHO chief scientist

Asghar, who is also an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Nebraska in the US, said the world needs to focus on the anti-pandemic fight and enhance cooperation, while leaving the origins tracing discussions to the academic world.

"Infectious diseases don't respect national borders. Our fight against this should be in the mentality that we are all human beings and we need to fight it out together," he said.

Politics does not have a constructive role to play in overcoming the human and economic toll that this virus has inflicted on different countries.

Cavince Adhere, Kenyan international relations expert 

According to Kenyan international relations expert Cavince Adhere, the efforts to politicize the origins of the virus are reminiscent of the unprogressive policies and decisions made by the administration of former US president Donald Trump. Trump, who left office in January, played down the severity of the virus, failed to provide adequate support for its healthcare systems and transferred blame to other countries.

The US' obsession with politicizing the virus' origins instead of focusing on stemming the spread of the disease at home has made it the hardest-hit country in the world, Adhere said.

"Politics does not have a constructive role to play in overcoming the human and economic toll that this virus has inflicted on different countries," said Adhere, who stressed that multilateralism and international cooperation are the best way to prevail over the pandemic.

'Extremely unfortunate'

Fredrick Mutesa, general secretary of the Zambia-China Friendship Association, called it "extremely unfortunate" that US politicians insist on politicizing the pandemic by releasing a report without conclusive evidence. He objected to the move to put the presumption of guilt on China.

Mutesa also urged for "joint and transparent" investigations into the US military bio-lab at Fort Detrick in Maryland.

Ayman Salama, professor of international law at Egypt's Nasser Higher Military Academy, said the US report runs counter to the spirit of the United Nations Charter by ignoring scientific conclusions and blaming China.

READ MORE: Virus origin tracing must be scientific

In an article published in The Guyana Chronicle newspaper, Guyana's former president Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar said: "All of this is occurring because of the phenomenal and social economic progress that China has made over the last four decades."

Xinhua contributed to this story.