A new report suggests a World Health Organisation team won’t bother visiting the top-secret lab – adding further credence to critics including Pres
A new report suggests a World Health Organisation team won’t bother visiting the top-secret lab – adding further credence to critics including President Trump, who says the global body is in thrall to Beijing. The WHO has been accused of “parroting Chinese propaganda” and heaping praise on Beijing but it said last week it was sending a mission to China. However, officials will only seek to “advance the understanding of animal hosts for COVID-19 and ascertain how the disease jumped between animals and humans”.
The statement appears to indicate the organisation accepts China’s story about the virus originating in a wet food market.
They will not be probing other substantive claims COVID-19 escaped from Wuhan’s bio-security laboratory where coronaviruses were being made more dangerous in a series of experiments which is a short walk away from the market the Chinese government says was the epicentre.
The Chinese Communist Party maintain the coronavirus was transmitted naturally to humans at Wuhan’s wet market which sells a range of specialist meat rarely seen in the west.
The Sunday Times reported WHO chiefs had now ruled out a visit to the Wuhan lab.
Questions have been raised about the activities of the Wuhan Institute of Virology after reports China found an almost identical coronavirus strain in bats and sent it to the lab for examination.
The WHO has hinted this month that its aim is to only look at the “zoonotic source” of the outbreak – meaning experts will only be analysing how the disease is directly transmitted from other animals to humans either through mediums such as air (influenza) or through bites and saliva (rabies).
The mission is being carried out two WHO experts who flew to Beijing last week.
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But Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was sceptical the mission would ever find the truth about the Chinese source of coronavirus.
He said: “An inquiry that presupposes – without evidence – that the virus enters humans through a natural zoonotic spillover and that fails to address the alternative possibility that the virus enters humans through a laboratory accident, will have no credibility.
“To have any credibility and any value, an investigation must address the possibility that the virus enters humans through a laboratory accident and must also address the further possibility that the ability of the virus to infect humans was enhanced through laboratory manipulation.”
Concerns were also raised by Nikolai Petrovsky, a professor of endocrinology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, who is leading his country’s first human trials of a vaccine.
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He said the WHO delegation have a duty to quiz their Chinese counterparts.
He said the WHO delegation must probe their Chinese counterparts on the virus strain reportedly being studied at the lab that is 96% identical to Covid-19.
It is being called RaTG13.
Petrovsky said: “Was any attempt made to clone the RaTG13 virus?
“Were any gene sequences from the presumed RaTG13 virus ever synthesised? If so, where and when?”
“What was done with these cloned sequences?”
Attacks have been made on the Chinese government for failing to act quickly on the outbreak.
China has also faced claims that its scientists were behind the outbreak in the first place.
However, they have brushed off any accusations and instead pointed the finger at the Wuhan wet market.