New WHO team will probe COVID’s origins, quickly rejected by China as ‘political’

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Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

A new team of specialists will investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Friday — a move quickly rejected by China.

“We should work all together,” WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told the United Nations while announcing the new International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens.

“You, me, everyone wants to know the origin of the worst pandemic in a century,” Chaib said Friday, as global infections had passed 205 million people, with 4,340,137 recorded deaths.

The group will start a “rapid undertaking” of further studies after the organization’s inconclusive fact-finding mission earlier this year to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic emerged in 2019.

This general view shows the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan.
The WHO announced that a new team of specialists will investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
AFP via Getty Images

Washington welcomed it, hoping the “emphasis on scientific-based studies and data driven efforts to find the origins of this pandemic” would help “better detect, prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks.”

But China quickly rejected it, insisting that the controversial initial WHO-led probe — which included scientists linked to the Wuhan lab eyed as a possible source — was adequate, according to Agence France-Presse.

“We oppose political tracing … and abandoning the joint report” issued after the initial fact-finding mission in January, vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters, AFP said. 

He insisted China was doing its own “follow-up and supplementary” research into the origins, saying, “We support scientific tracing.”

Researchers work in a lab of Wuhan Institute of Virology.
China rejected the new WHO investigation, insisting the initial WHO-led probe was adequate.
FeatureChina

Ma rejected suggestions of new lines of investigation — even though the lead scientist in the early WHO mission this week raised serious questions about the team’s findings.

Dr. Peter Ben Embarek told a Danish documentary team that the theory that the contagion leaked from the Wuhan lab was now his “probable hypothesis” for its origins.

President Biden has also ordered US spy agencies to investigate the escalating suspicions about the lab, with a report expected by the end of this month.

Still, China’s vice foreign minister still insisted that the initial report dismissing the lab-leak theory should stand.

“The conclusions and recommendations of WHO and China joint report were recognized by the international community and the scientific community,” Ma said.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
China’s vice foreign minister insists the initial report dismissing the lab-leak theory should stand.
AFP via Getty Images

“Future global traceability work should and can only be further carried out on the basis of this report, rather than starting a new one.”

That initial WHO team was mired in controversy, especially over the only US representative, Peter Daszak of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance.

Daszak had admitted his close ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and dismissed the lab-leak theory even before arriving in the city with the WHO team, calling it “conspiracy theory” that is “pure baloney.”

A recent, damning investigation by Republicans claimed he was “heavily involved in the gain-of-function research” at the lab — and was “the public face of a CCP disinformation campaign designed to suppress public discussion about a potential lab leak.”

With Post wires

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