Today, Friday, Chinese officials briefed diplomats on the results of ongoing research into the origins of the coronavirus before a long-awaited World Health Organization report was released.
The diplomatic briefing appeared to be an attempt by China to express its opinion on the report, which coincided with a diplomatic dispute between Beijing and the West.
The United States and other countries have raised questions about Chinese influence in WHO and the independence of the findings. For its part, China has accused critics of politicizing a scientific study.
“Our goal is to demonstrate our openness and transparency. China has fought the pandemic transparently and has nothing to hide,” said Yang Tao, an official with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The report, whose disclosure has been repeatedly postponed, is based on the results of a visit by a team of international experts from the World Health Organization earlier this year to Wuhan, central China, where new cases of the new coronavirus were first recorded in late 2019.
Experts have worked with their Chinese counterparts and both sides have to agree on the final report, but it is unclear when it will be announced.
Feng Zijian, a member of the Chinese team and deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the experts discussed four possible ways in which the virus reached Wuhan.
These methods are: for a bat carrying the virus to infect a person, or for a bat to infect a mammal to be an intermediary in the transmission of the infection to humans, or the shipment of cold or frozen food, or a virus research laboratory in Wuhan was.
The experts voted after extensive discussion of the hypotheses and concluded that one of the two animal routes or the cold chain was most likely the mode of transmission. Feng said a leak in the lab was very unlikely.
Feng was quoted by the official CCTV television station as saying that envoys from 50 countries besides the Arab League and the African Union attended the briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
In a statement posted online for the briefing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “China is firmly opposed to attempts by certain countries to politicize the problem of persecuting the origins of Coronavirus, making unfounded allegations and holding China accountable.”
On the other hand, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “I want to emphasize that tracking down the virus is a scientific subject that scientists should investigate through collaboration.”
She told reporters that experts are still debating the contents of the report and its translation, and that she does not know when it will be published.
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