BEIJING, July 19 (Xinhua) — Since a World Health Organization (WHO) panel released a preliminary report on COVID-19 origins tracing in June, some Western politicians and media outlets renewed their attempts to smear China by playing up the so-called lab-leak theory in tracing the origins of COVID-19.
Experts worldwide have pointed out that COVID-19 origins tracing should be treated in a scientific and objective manner, adding that the politicization of the coronavirus origins probe is a ploy to cover up some Western politicians’ botched pandemic response, and has seriously hindered the global source tracing and anti-pandemic process.
COVID-19 origins tracing is a scientific matter, which should be conducted by scientists worldwide with a rigorous approach.
A China-WHO joint study report released in 2021 has reached an authoritative scientific conclusion based on field studies by experts from many countries that a lab leak of COVID-19 is “extremely unlikely.”
Such a crystal-clear scientific conclusion has not only received wide support from the international scientific community, but also laid a solid foundation for future global virus-tracing work.
The first expert group that visited China on a mission to better understand the origins of the pandemic “largely discounted the idea of the virus having escaped from the laboratory,” said Kenya-based international relations scholar Cavince Adhere.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adhere noted, some Western countries have failed to take effective measures to protect their citizens from contagion, but politicized the pandemic, which has impeded global cooperation and response towards containing the health crisis.
Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, told Xinhua that it is necessary to have a thorough investigation of the COVID-19 origins, and that it is key to avoiding political hype.
The attempt to politicize and stigmatize the origins and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 “is not acceptable in scientific grammar and culture,” Mushtuq Husain, an adviser to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research under the Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
“That attempt to do so will only complicate the WHO investigation and global preparation against future pandemic threat,” said the Bangladeshi health expert.
“It is utterly unscientific to blame any particular country, region, group of people for infectious disease origin and transmission,” Husain noted. “It is a natural process.”
In fact, China is by far the only country that has invited more than once WHO expert groups to come for a joint SARS-CoV-2 origins study. It is also the only country that has shared research progress multiple times on origins tracing with the WHO. China has shared more data and research findings on SARS-CoV-2 origins study than any other country.
China’s open, transparent and responsible attitude towards this matter has been highly recognized by the international community.
In an attempt to shift blame to others to downplay the political, economic and social contradictions caused by the adverse response to the pandemic at home, some Western politicians and media outlets have been fabricating various lies and rumors against China on COVID-19 origins tracing.
Trsar Ziga, a Slovenia-based economics scholar, told Xinhua that China has always been open and transparent in sharing information on origins tracing with the WHO and the international community, and has provided urgently needed supplies to many countries.
In contrast, the United States played down the severity of the pandemic and did not take effective prevention and control measures at the early stage, which led to the number of cumulative confirmed cases and deaths in the country continuing to rank first in the world, Ziga added.
In order to divert attention from problems at home, the economist said, the U.S. government has been politicizing the pandemic and manipulating public opinion to smear China.
During an interview with Xinhua, Gennady Onishchenko, the first deputy chairman of the Committee on Education and Science of Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said, “topic of the lab origin of the coronavirus has been constantly raised.”
“First, (Donald) Trump started it, then (Joe) Biden supported it, obviously, the purpose is to blame China, all this is being done in order to politicize the topic of COVID-19 origins,” said Onishchenko.
ORIGINS TRACING COMPLICATED
Overseas experts and scholars stressed that the process of COVID-19 origins tracing is very complicated and may take years.
In fact, according to historical records, the place a pandemic was first detected and reported often turned out not to be the birthplace of the virus.
The 1918 Spanish influenza, for instance, is believed to have started with the infection of a U.S. soldier at a barracks in the U.S. state of Kansas, although it was first reported in Europe and named after Spain.
For the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have found traces of the coronavirus in human and environmental samples retained before December 2019 in many countries such as Italy, Spain, Brazil, with some dating as far back as the autumn that year.
Therefore, COVID-19 origins tracing needs to unfold in multiple localities worldwide, which requires countries to openly carry out scientific research cooperation and share the results.
“The U.S. government, notably the U.S. National Institutes of Health, has not been transparent or honest with the public and the world community about the research that the United States was funding,” U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs, also head of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, told Xinhua.
Sachs said the United States should have worked closely and honestly with China and other countries to identify the source of the virus. On the contrary, the U.S. government “blamed China, and hid the possible role of advanced U.S. biotechnology.”
(Web editor: Wu Chaolan, Hongyu)