WHO expert 'frustrated' over US unwillingness to share info on COVID origins tracing
Politicization makes matter of science difficult to conduct: observers
Published: Mar 05, 2023 09:36 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Politicization has made scientific tracing of the origins of COVID-19 a difficult matter to conduct, observers said, after a World Health Organization (WHO) senior expert expressed frustration about the US' reluctance to share more information on tracing the origins of the disease.

"If any country has information about the origins of the pandemic, it is essential for that information to be shared with the WHO and the international scientific community," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, tweeted on the same day saying she is "deeply frustrated" about the US not offering additional information from its reports assessing COVID-19's origins.

"We [WHO] welcome the US' support in seeking the origins of the COVID-9 pandemic and in preventing future pandemics. What you are doing does not help us achieve this," Maria posted.

"The origins tracing should be purely a matter of science, but since the beginning the issue has been mingled with politics. Driven by political interests, we've seen the US - from the accusations made by the FBI to the US Department of Energy - has never stopped politicizing the issue," a senior expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) told the Global Times, who requested anonymity.

"On the issue of origins tracing, the US opted to pretend to be deaf in hearing fact-based responses from other countries, and it only wishes to investigate countries that the US suspects, but isn't allowing the international community to investigate itself for being a suspect on this matter," a Beijing-based expert specializing in US studies told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Sunday. 

The US mind-set in dealing with the origins-tracing issue is exactly the same as how it copes with diplomatic issues - it always holds a hegemonic mentality as well as double standards. Allowing its intelligence community to be in charge of a matter of science clearly proves the US has been politicizing the issue, the expert noted. 

"Given the US intelligence community's track record of making up stories, there is little, if any, credibility in their conclusions. The US will not succeed in discrediting China by rehashing the 'lab leak' theory, but will only hurt the US' own reputation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning refuted on Wednesday. 

The US has been disregarding questions and concerns from the international community about its Fort Detrick and military biological labs around the world. Instead, it has been busy confusing right and wrong by making use of its loud voice and dominance of discourse power, experts said.

The FBI recently claimed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province. The Wall Street Journal on February 26 also reported exclusively that the US Energy Department had concluded that "the COVID pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak." However, the report was even labeled as being made with "low confidence" by the Energy Department itself, media reported earlier.

Tedros also said on Friday that"the continued politicization of the origins research has turned what should be a purely scientific process into a geopolitical football, which only makes the task of identifying the origins more difficult, and that makes the world less safe."

The politicization of the origins tracing has made the science-based investigation difficult to conduct, hindering the efforts of scientists, virologists and health experts around the world to find out the truth, a Chinese member of the WHO-China joint team told the Global Times on Sunday.

China attaches great importance to and actively participates in global traceability scientific cooperation, but to solve this serious and complex scientific issue, global scientific cooperation is needed, the member expert said, calling for an open and transparent attitude from individual countries on this matter.