TRACING COVID-19 ORIGINS / EP
US ‘inconclusive’ intelligence community report on COVID-19 origins ‘lack of confidence’: expert
Published: Aug 28, 2021 05:03 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times



The COVID-19 origins tracing report compiled by the US intelligence community failed to make any scientific conclusion and it's a way for the US to shirk responsibility and throw mud at China, Chinese experts said after the US intelligence community released a so-called investigation report on the origins tracing. 

Serving as a political tool to get the US out of a predicament and shift responsibility onto others, the report tries to drag the matter further to smear China using vague language, said the experts, adding that it has ruined the self-proclaimed professional ethics of the US intelligence community. They also called on the US to rectify its anti-science attitude and conduct origins tracing in its own country.

The so-called US intelligence report on the COVID-19 origins which was released on Friday said the intelligence community "remains divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19."

The report said they believe the virus was not developed as a biological weapon, and four intelligence community departments assess with low confidence that the initial virus infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus, one believed the human infected with the virus was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, while three others are undecided. The report said the intelligence community "assesses China's officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged."

Someone close to the WHO-China origins joint study told the Global Times that the outcome of the 90-day report is that even more of the US intelligence agencies than before are now leaning towards a "natural" origin, with only one in disagreement. The insider said the report cites no new evidence to support a lab leak, yet scientific papers demonstrating a valid pathway for origins from bats to intermediate hosts to people has now been published. "It's time for us all to put aside politics and let science take the lead so we can develop the collaborative studies to find the true origins of covid."

China has lodged solemn representations to the US over the origins-tracing report, urging it to listen to doubts from the international community and stop politicizing the issue, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said on Saturday after the Chinese embassy in the US released a statement slamming US' latest move.

The global origin-tracing issue is a matter of science, not politics or presumption of guilt and putting blame on others as the report intended to, Chinese Embassy to the US said in a statement on Friday responding to "COVID-19 Origins-Tracing" report released by the US. 

Chinese embassy said that the future study on the origins tracing must be built on a comprehensive extension of the Phase I research and it should be conducted in multiple places and countries, a point that is widely agreed on among international scientists. 

China's newly appointed Ambassador to the US Qin Gang also said in a twitter post that the "report by the US intelligence community has not produced a clear answer the US side wanted. Continuing such an effort will also be in vain, because its subject is simply anti-science and non-existent." 

Taiyi Sun, an assistant professor of the Political Science Department with the Christopher Newport University, told the Global Times that the Biden administration chose to release the report on Friday, a news dump moment, revealing that the administration preferred media not to pay much attention to the report as Biden obviously has no intention to dwell on this topic anymore.  

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times the report exposes US' lack of confidence over the issue as it has not got what the US government wanted nor made any new conclusions. "As we all know, making any clear conclusions is similar to slapping their own face."

By using such ambiguous language on the virus origins report, which is a political investigation in nature, the US tries to shirk any responsibility and to continue to smear China, Lü said. 

Li Haidong, a professor of China Foreign Affairs University, echoed Lü, saying the so-called 90-day investigation report did not come up with the conclusions the US government expected and it only functions as a weapon for the US to employ in order to smear China. 

Because Biden's intelligence officials have little solid evidence to support the "lab leak" theory, a hypothesis even US scientific institutions and allies find far-fetched, the US teams still made do with second-hand, unreliable evidence to compile a report that tries to smear China as the culprit for the virus origins, sources close to the matter told the Global Times previously.

The sources noted that the so-called evidence, which has been fabricated, is mostly circumstantial and completely unreliable. 

US President Joe Biden released a statement regarding the report on Friday and continued to accuse China of withholding information.

The US accuses China of lack of transparent, the truth is that the US has been shying away from allowing any origins-tracing research on its soil. If the US is "transparent and responsible," it should make the data of its early cases public and allow scientists to examine it, the Chinese embassy said. 

The report of the US intelligence community did not mention anything about investigating US labs or some European nations where early cases were also found. After releasing the fabricated report, the statement of the White House still urged like-minded partners to exert pressure on China.

This so-called investigation on the virus origins has ruined the self-proclaimed professional ethics of the US intelligence community, said the experts. 

"What the Biden administration is doing now is to further intensify the anti-science narrative in a country where that atmosphere is already tense. It would be meaningless if the US continues to rally up others on the scientific issue, not to rectify the anti-science narratives," Lü said.

A scientist with deep knowledge of COVID-19 origins tracing told the Global Times that tracing the origins of emerging diseases is a difficult work that requires deep scientific understanding, experience working in the field, and a close collaboration with the country that experienced the first known cases. 

If the US has any sense of responsibility over the pandemic and its people or the risk of future pandemics, it should also conduct origins tracing investigations in its own country just like what China did, Lü said.


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