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China rejects US report that says COVID may have come from Wuhan lab

Written by on 28/08/2021

A US report which says COVID-19 may have started in a laboratory is “not scientifically credible”, China has claimed.

The Chinese embassy in Washington also said the report wrongly claims that Beijing is hindering a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

US officials said the country’s intelligence community does not believe it is possible to resolve the debate about whether the virus emerged from a laboratory without more information.

A blocked entrance to huanan seafood market, where COVID-19 is believed to have first surfaced
Image: A blocked entrance to Huanan seafood market, where COVID-19 may have surfaced

Only China can help with the answers to remaining questions, they added.

President Joe Biden received a classified report earlier this week summarising the investigation he had ordered.

Its summary, which has been declassified, said several organisations within the US intelligence community thought COVID-19 had emerged via “natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus”.

However, they had “low confidence” in that conclusion.

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One segment of the intelligence community, the summary added, had developed “moderate confidence” that the first human infection with COVID-19 was possibly because of a “laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology”.

That theory was dismissed by a team led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that spent four weeks in and around Wuhan in January and February.

But their report, released in March, was criticised for not finding sufficient evidence to discard the idea – and the WHO’s director-general has since said there had been a “premature push” to rule out the lab leak theory.

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The new American report concludes that a “more definitive explanation” will not be possible without new information from China, including clinical samples and epidemiological data about the earliest cases.

“While this review has concluded, our efforts to understand the origins of this pandemic will not rest,” Mr Biden said.

“We will do everything we can to trace the roots of this outbreak that has caused so much pain and death around the world, so that we can take every necessary precaution to prevent it from happening again.”

The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the group has not ruled out any hypothesis.

 Sky News

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