Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, emphasized at a media conference on Thursday that the coronavirus did not escape from a laboratory in Wuhan. China is strongly opposed to the WHO reviewing the “laboratory leak theory” again.
Chinese Vice Minister of Health Zeng Yixin said at a media conference on Thursday that he was “extremely surprised” by the move. He accused the WHO of “disregard for common sense and arrogance towards science”.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus demanded on Friday that laboratories in China should also be checked in the second stage of the examinations on the origin of the corona. “Audits of relevant laboratories and research facilities” should be a priority in the investigation, he said.
Soon after the pandemic began, there was speculation that the virus might have escaped in an accident from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan, which is researching coronaviruses. The Chinese government vigorously denies this. An initial review of the “laboratory leak theory” by experts had been significantly hindered by China, according to the WHO.
A team of international experts on behalf of the WHO was only able to visit Wuhan in January – more than a year after the virus was discovered. The corresponding report was published at the end of March but did not provide any clear results.
At the time, the WHO experts classified the laboratory theory as “extremely unlikely”. Rather, it is “likely to very likely” that the Sars-CoV-2 virus has passed from a bat to humans via an intermediate host animal.
But doubts quickly arose about the report. Many states expressed concern that international experts had been denied access to data during their investigation in China. WHO chief Tedros said last week that the theory of a laboratory leak had been ruled out “prematurely”.