A top Chinese official rejected the WHOs proposal for a second phase of an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO experts said it was very unlikely the virus escaped from a Chinese lab, but the theory has endured.
Deputy health minister said he was shocked by the proposal and that the terms were “impossible” to accept.
China has rejected the next stage of a World Health Organization (WHO) plan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, reports BBC.
Plan for origin-tracing denied
The WHO wants to audit laboratories in the area the virus was first identified.
But Zeng Yixin, deputy health minister, said this showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance toward science“. “We cannot accept this kind of plan for origin-tracing,” Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, he said.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented the proposal to member states last week, and called on China to cooperate with the investigation.
“As you know we will need cooperation from the Chinese side,” Tedros said at the time. “We need transparency to understand or know or find the origin of this virus.”
Tedros’s call for a renewed investigation comes after the hypothesis that the novel coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan has gained renewed scrutiny.
Premature push to demise hypothesis
Zeng noted on Thursday that an investigation by scientists appointed by China and the WHO earlier this year concluded that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.” However, after WHO scientists finished their report, Tedros called for “further investigation” into the lab-leak hypothesis.
Tedros repeated the call for an additional probe at a press conference last week, saying there was a “premature push” to dismiss the lab-leak hypothesis.
“I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” Tedros told reporters.