US intelligence community's probe on COVID-19 origin 'proceeded from wrong premise,' says Chinese embassy

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 26, 2021
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People wander near the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, June 22, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Whatever the conclusion, the U.S. intelligence community's investigation into the origins of COVID-19 "proceeded from a wrong premise," said the Chinese embassy in the United States on Tuesday.

Later this month, "the U.S. intelligence community will produce a report on whether the virus emerged from nature or from a lab leak. Regardless, the probe proceeded from a wrong premise in the beginning," said the embassy in an opinion article posted on its website, "because there is no such thing as any virus manufactured by a Chinese lab."

The article, titled "Support Science-based Origin Tracing, Oppose Political Virus," was planned to be submitted to some American media to clarify facts and refute baseless claims that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from Chinese laboratories, according to the embassy.

"But our submissions were all rejected. Wrongly blaming others without giving them the chance to defend themselves: is this what the American-style 'freedoms of the press and of speech' are all about?" the embassy said.

Authoritative WHO-China joint mission report

Learning the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is essential for taming this pandemic and fending off similar ones in the future. For a serious matter as this, science must be followed before conclusions can be reached, it said.

The embassy noted that World Health Organization and Chinese scientists, after two joint study missions in China, stated in their report that it is "extremely unlikely" for the virus to be introduced to humankind via laboratories.

"Their report is authoritative and can stand the test of science and history," it said, adding that SARS-CoV-2 originated from nature, a consensus reached from the international academic and medical communities.

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, pointed out in his blog on March 26, 2020 that the virus almost certainly originated in nature, and was not the product of purposeful manipulation in a lab.

In a statement on April 30, 2020, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that the intelligence community concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the virus was not manmade or genetically modified.

Last month, 24 world-renowned medical experts affirmed in The Lancet that suggestions of a laboratory-leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence.

In their co-authored article "On the origin of SARS-CoV-2 -- The blind watchmaker argument," 22 Chinese and foreign scientists used the theories of prominent British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to expound on why the virus could only come from nature.

So far, 70 countries have called for recognizing the findings of the WHO-China joint mission report in their letters to the WHO.

Rumors stop at the wise

"Rumors stop at the wise. Facts speak louder than words," said the embassy.

The P4 laboratory of Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has always remained in safe and stable operation, it said.

In her interview with Science magazine, Dr. Shi Zhengli, a WIV virologist, said that the three bat coronaviruses her lab has isolated and grown in culture only share 79.8 percent sequence identity with SARS-CoV-2 and are distantly related to it.

"It is out of the question for the virus to be designed, manufactured or leaked by WIV labs. It is also worth mentioning that WIV labs are professionally managed by the highest international standards and none of its staff or students contracted COVID-19," said the embassy.

The embassy emphasized that China was "completely open, transparent and cooperative" when WHO experts were in the country.

"The experts had full access. They visited every site on their list, met every individual they asked for, and were provided with all the data they wanted ... The scientists' work deserves to be respected," it said.

However, with no respect for science and facts, political forces have been working overtime to link the virus to a particular country.

Journalist Michael Gordon wrote about three WIV researchers who sought medical care for their COVID-19-like symptoms. "This is an outright lie. This journalist was the same man who falsely claimed that Iraq was trying to develop nuclear weapons 19 years ago, while the 'weapons of mass destruction' were never found there," said the embassy.

On Aug. 2, over 300 political parties, social organizations and think tanks from more than 100 countries and regions submitted a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat, calling for objectiveness and fairness in the global origins study and a rejection of politicization.

US should invite WHO to study virus origins

Growing evidence shows that the virus may have existed in multiple places before Wuhan reported its first case of pneumonia of unknown cause in late December 2019, and "the timeline of the outbreak in the United States was revised to earlier dates," said the embassy.

Michael Melham, mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, said he contracted COVID-19 in November 2019. In at least five American states, infections had been reported before the first confirmed case in America was announced.

According to a recent report by the San Jose-based newspaper The Mercury News, the first COVID-19 death in the United States was in early January 2020, several weeks earlier than previously announced by authorities. It is also believed that the virus had appeared in Europe as early as November 2019 or even before.

China's position on global origins tracing has been consistent and clear-cut, as China supports and will continue to take part in science-based origins tracing, but opposes efforts that go against the resolution of the World Health Assembly and forsake the WHO-China joint mission report, according to the embassy.

"Phase II study must be a comprehensive extension of Phase I and be conducted in multiple places and countries to find out the truth. This is what the 1.4 billion Chinese people and people of the whole world want to see," it said.

"With its own door tightly shut, the U.S. is agitating for tracing the origin in China again in an attempt to prove that the virus was leaked from the WIV," the embassy said, adding that the United States, given its own questionable record on laboratories, should invite the WHO to do origin studies in Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina.

"As two major countries, China and the United States should and can cooperate in global pandemic response and vaccines rollout, so that together, we can finally defeat it," concluded the embassy.

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