What We Know:
- The WHO released their objectives for the second phase into determining where COVID-19 originated. During an initial investigation, the group released in March that the virus “originated in an animal before spreading to human beings around December 2019.” However, during the Group of Seven Summit in June, many Western nation leaders questioned the claim’s validity. President Joe Biden requested that the WHO looked into other possible origins, prompting the second phase of investigations.
- Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, stated that they made a premature decision ruling out the possibility of a Wuhan Lab leak. They were focused on the live animals that are sold in the Wuhan markets and immediately ran with the notion that the virus jumped from a bat to a human.
- China refused to be a part of the second phase after seeing “the possibility of the virus leaking from a Wuhan lab” included in the revised proposal. Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the National Health Commission, stated that he was surprised to see the lab included in the proposal and believes the second phase goes against science and doesn’t respect common sense. China was a part of the first investigation and allowed international scientists into the Wuhan Lab to work with the Chinese team.
- The US State Department claimed that multiple Wuhan Institute of Virology employees were sick before the first reported case of COVID-19. Zeng debunked those claims stating that no one in the lab had COVID-19 before the first case was reported. He also claimed that the lab doesn’t have any viruses “that can directly infect humans and noted that the WHO team concluded that a lab leak was highly unlikely.” Yuan Zhiming, the director of the biosafety lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, emphasized that the institute “never designed, made, or leaked the novel coronavirus.”
- Ghebreyesus has asked China to participate in the investigation and be as transparent as possible. Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, and the Biden administration reiterated Ghebreyesus sentiments and believed China should corporate in the second phase of the WHO’s investigation.
Zeng stated that China is open to “scientific virus tracing” and will not participate in a study focused on “politicizing the issue.” China has issued mask mandates and lockdowns to help curb COVID-19 transmissions, and as of Thursday, have only had 12 new cases and zero deaths for months.