US renews calls for initial investigation into Covid-19

The Biden administration renewed the U.S. call for a more thorough investigation into the origin of Covid-19 after a report last week confirmed the theory that the disease was accidentally released from a laboratory. in the city of Wuhan in China.

Andy Slavitt, one of the coronavirus advisers to the president of the United States, on Tuesday said the investigation conducted last year by the World Health Organization had not yet done enough to explain how the disease began to spread among people.

He told reporters: “We need to go to it and we need a full process from China. We need the WHO to help with this matter. We don’t feel that is there right now.”

China has angrily rejected the U.S. call for an investigation into the possibility that the Covid virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a theory described by state media as “a conspiracy by intelligence agencies to US “.

Slavitt speaks after a reported in The Wall Street Journal It was claimed that three scientists at the Wuhan lab were diagnosed with Covid-19-like symptoms in November, a month before the first official case was reported.

Scientists working for WHO reported in March that the virus is “more likely” to have escaped from the lab and is more likely to spread from animals to humans.

Some scientists were quick to criticize that report, however, being hastened by China, while Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, admitted that it was not good enough. Tedros said WHO scientists have experienced difficulties accessing “raw data” from China, often denying the lab-leak hypothesis.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Tuesday said he still believes the disease has spread more widely from animals to humans.

But he added: “But, we don’t know that 100 percent of the answer is that. . . [and] it is important that we look into and investigate. ”

Fauci has also been targeted by China’s state media. He wrote Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the Communist party’s People’s Daily newspaper. The lab accident theory is a “conspiracy made by U.S. intelligence agencies and media outlets to harm China”, he added. “Is it a coincidence that Fauci repeats such lines?”

The World Health Assembly, which sets WHO policy, holds its annual meeting in Geneva, where members are expected to discuss the next phase of the organization’s investigation.

Meanwhile, the WSJ’s claims, have drawn attention to the lab-leak theory. The newspaper reported that an undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that three researchers at the Wuhan lab became so ill in 2019 that they sought hospital care. On Monday the White House said it had no “way” to verify the report.

On Monday, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, denied the accuracy of the intelligence report and said no staff at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been affected before December 2019.

“What is the real purpose for the U.S. to continue to play with the so-called lab leak theory? Is it really concerned with the initial virus tracking or just wants to divert attention?” He asked.

Researchers at the Wuhan lab last week released a research paper arguing that virus diseases found in bats in southwestern China are the “tip of the iceberg” for potential ancestors of Sars-Cov-2. They added that disease species could not be ancestors for the virus that had not previously affected an intermediate host animal.

Shi Zhengli, the leading coronavirus expert at the Wuhan Institute of Virology whose work on bat viruses is the focus of lab theories, is one of the authors.

The bat viruses studied in the paper, which have not been peer-reviewed, are incapable of binding to proteins known as human ACE2 receptors, which are an important component of Sars-Cov capability. -2 that can infect humans, and therefore human potential without adaptation in the future ”, write the authors.

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