‘The virus is winning’: China’s rebuff of WHO’s new Covid probe alarms experts

The experts say a complete probe inside China is necessary to pinpoint the origins of the virus, which has had a devastating toll around the world.

7/25/2021 5:01:00 PM

Leading U.S. infectious disease experts are warning that China's rejection of a World Health Organization plan for another Covid-19 investigation inside the country threatens to deny the world critical data needed to identify and head off future pandemics

The experts say a complete probe inside China is necessary to pinpoint the origins of the virus, which has had a devastating toll around the world.

The human implications of the pandemic’s economic impact have also been stark. A U.S.Congressional Research Service reportreleased on July 9 noted that as a result of the pandemic, worldwide “95 million people may have entered into extreme poverty in 2020 with 80 million more undernourished compared to pre-pandemic levels.”

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China’s rejection of the probe to learn the virus origin has drawn criticism on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA),chair of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation, told POLITICO in a statement that China’s move was “unacceptable.” Bera demanded a “comprehensive, transparent and independent analysis into the origins of COVID-19.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) speaks during a joint hearing before House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee and House Foreign Affairs Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. | Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBut acrimony toward China for its derailment of the proposed follow-up WHO investigation is not universal. Hotez places the responsibility for the rejection on the WHO for focusing on the Wuhan lab in the emergence of the virus. headtopics.com

“We are demanding things that the Chinese government will never agree to, [such as] banging on the door of the Wuhan Institute of Virology to show the notebooks which they will never agree to,"Hotez said. “There is a misunderstanding [by the WHO] that you will get to the bottom of this by talking to Wuhan Institute of Virology scientists and poring over notebooks. Are you going to do a search of 15,000 pages of Wuhan Institute of Virology notebooks and look for where someone wrote ’oops!’?

U.N. officials also fault the tone of the WHO’s communication with China about the follow-up investigation. Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of United Nations Sustainable Development Group, acknowledged Tedros’ has to do a “very difficult tightrope walk” in engaging with China at a “very volatile time” in its relations with major powers, including the United States and the European Union.

But he said China’s interpretation of the probe as arbitrary foreign diktat didn’t help. “Being a head of a U.N. agency, when I talk to China, when I talk to the U.S., I don't talk by kicking in the door and telling either capital ‘this is what you should do,’” Steiner told POLITICO.

A Geneva-based diplomat who participates in WHO weekly briefings with member countries offered a less charitable assessment of Tedros’ “tough talk on China.” He called Tedros’ July 16 announcement of the probe “the surprise of the year” and suggested it partially reflected his career ambitions. “Maybe Tedros has just done his calculations and realizes that China will not be able to block his reelection [for demanding a robust investigation into virus origins],” said the diplomat, who requested anonymity to be able to speak freely. headtopics.com

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Despite the challenges posed by the current impasse between the WHO and China, Beyrersays that the long-term risk of emergent deadly coronaviruses requires that the standoff be bridged. “We are in a struggle that the virus is winning,” he said. “But what we always want to do is prevent [future] pandemics and to do that you need to know how this thing emerged and became so fully adapted to human-to-human spread.”

Osterholm said the Biden administration’s potential role in helping broker a resolution to the impasse is limited and called for a U.S. government focus on support for the WHO to prevent future pandemics. “I think that at this point the administration is looking at all the information we have [about SARS-COV-2 origins]…but that still doesn’t get us back to what we need to learn from the Chinese,” he said.

But Hotez excoriated what he sees as Biden’s role in boosting the Chinese government’s hostility to a follow-up investigation through administration measures such as itsMay 26 orderfor intelligence agencies to “redouble” their analysis of the origins of Covid-19 and to produce a report on their conclusions within 90 days. Hotez called that request “ridiculous.”

“We have already thrown all the intelligence at this and not got to the bottom of it,” he said. Read more: POLITICO »

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Right, like they are gonna allow themselves to be probed. It's not happening. Just ask Fauci...much simpler... I've wondered if the insistence by GOP that this Virus is from a 'LAB LEAK' has anything to do with it Are they fearful that GOP is going to play the BLAME GAME in support of Trump!? I wouldn't want to subject myself to that ridiculous assault

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