China has overruled terms suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) to further examine the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has asked China to be more cooperative about the initial stages of the outbreak, comprising with audits of laboratories.
Zeng Yixin, the deputy health minister, stated that it showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science”.
He mentioned that the plan was politicized and that China could not take it.
The WHO could only send a team of experts to Wuhan, where the virus was first identified in December 2019.
Their investigators resolved that it was improbable that coronavirus leaked from a laboratory, but the theory has persisted.
Earlier this month, Dr Tedros drew the terms of a planned second phase of the WHO investigation, comprising audits of science research institutions in the area where the virus was first recognized.
He insisted Beijing “be transparent, to be open and co-operate” with investigators and deliver raw patient data that had not been shared in the first probe.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Zeng mentioned he was particularly surprised by the WHO proposal because it stressed alleged violations of China’s laboratory protocols.
He maintained it was “impossible” for China to accept the terms, adding that the country had submitted its origins-tracing endorsements.
“We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the Covid-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference,” Reuters cited Mr Zeng as saying.
Yuan Zhiming, director of the National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, also turned up at the press conference. He said the virus was of natural origin and that no virus leak or staff infections had happened at the facility since it opened in 2018.
More than four million people have succumbed to death worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. Amidst this, the WHO has witnessed growing international pressure to further dig into the virus’s origins.