White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on July 22 that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) recent move to reject a second investigation into the origins of COVID-19 is “dangerous” and called on the regime to allow investigators inside the country without any interference.
The World Health Organization (WHO) presented a plan days ago to audit laboratories and wet markets in Wuhan, where the CCP virus is believed to have originated in late 2019. That would include obtaining raw data about the beginning of the pandemic from China that the regime hasn’t yet shared with outside officials, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
But the vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, rejected the WHO’s proposal on July 22 and claimed that the proposal “did not respect common sense and violated science,” noting further that Beijing “cannot accept this kind of plan for origin-tracing.”
When asked about CCP officials’ comments during a briefing, Psaki said the United States supports the WHO’s proposal for the second phase of its investigations into the origins of the virus. A second probe must be transparent and free from any interference, she noted.
“We have certainly seen the [CCP’s] comments, again, rejecting phase two of the WHO study. We are deeply disappointed,” Psaki said. “Their position is irresponsible, and frankly, dangerous. It’s not a time to be stonewalling.”
Chinese regime officials have long insisted that the CCP virus was transmitted from bats to a yet-to-be-identified intermediary animal and then to humans. They have categorically rejected the theory that the pathogen escaped from a top-level virology lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic.
Critics have said that an earlier WHO-backed investigation in January was marred by a lack of transparency on the part of Chinese officials, who didn’t provide investigators with certain raw data nor records of the Wuhan lab. More than a dozen countries, including the United States, Australia, and the UK, later raised concerns about the credibility of the WHO investigation and cited a lack of access to “complete, original data and samples” in China.
Some scientists have questioned the study’s credibility and have accused the CCP of interfering with researchers’ work. Ultimately, the WHO report zeroed in on the animal-to-human transmission theory and mostly downplayed the Wuhan lab hypothesis.
The Wuhan lab theory also became a controversial topic during the 2020 election. A number of posts by news outlets, including The Epoch Times, were flagged by Facebook for including details about the potential lab leak, triggering concerns that the Chinese regime may have a hand in censoring information in other countries regarding the origins of the CCP virus.
But in May, the lab leak claim gained traction after President Joe Biden announced that a significant number of U.S. Intelligence Community officials believe the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab and asked them to deliver him a report within 90 days.
A January fact sheet released by the outgoing Trump administration questioned the activities being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). It said WIV scientists had begun conducting experiments involving RaTG13, identified to have the closest genetic similarity to the COVID-19 virus, from as early as 2016. The lab was also conducting “gain-of-function” research, that is, creating artificial viruses by adding new or enhanced capabilities, the fact sheet said.
Reports have since emerged that WIV staff became sick with COVID-19-like symptoms before the outbreak was disclosed.
Earlier this week, several experts told a Republican-sponsored congressional forum that the virus “likely originated” from the WIV.