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World Covid Origin Probe Controversy Heats Up as Scientists Protest

18:06  04 march  2021
18:06  04 march  2021 Source:   bloomberg.com

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(Bloomberg) -- The controversy over the investigation organized by the World Health Organization and China about the origins of Covid-19 heated up as a group of scientists called for an independent probe to consider all hypotheses and nail down whether the virus came from an animal.

virus bat GETTY sub © Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images virus bat GETTY sub

A group of more than 20 signatories said in an open letter published by the Wall Street Journal that the existing mission isn’t independent enough and demanded a new probe to consider all possibilities over the origin. Half of the joint team are Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, they said.

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  Covid Origin Probe Controversy Heats Up as Scientists Protest © Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

The criticism comes as the mission considers delaying an interim report, which was expected soon. The investigators may instead publish that summary statement on the same day as the full report, a WHO spokesman said.

Last month, the mission rejected speculation that the coronavirus could have leaked from a lab and said instead that it may have jumped to humans through an animal host or frozen wildlife products. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later said the United Nations agency hasn’t ruled out any hypotheses.

The WHO has faced criticism since the outbreak of the pandemic that it’s been too deferential to China. Former U.S. President Donald Trump advanced the theory that the virus might have escaped from a high-security virology lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first detected.

The mission followed months of negotiation with China. Stung by criticism that it initially covered up the extent of the crisis, Chinese state media and officials have promoted the theory that the virus didn’t start in China, but was brought in.

The scientists who signed the open letter included the lab scenario among the possibilities. None of the signatories were members of the WHO-backed mission.

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©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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