The Day

China says it’s been ‘open and transparen­t’ on origins of COVID-19


(AP) — China on Tuesday pushed back at renewed suggestion­s that the COVID-19 pandemic could have been the result of a lab leak, saying it has been “open and transparen­t” in the search for the virus’ origins.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy assessed with “low confidence” that the pandemic that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 began with the leak of a virus from a lab. The report hasn’t been made public and officials in Washington stressed that U.S. agencies are not in agreement on the origin.

China has “shared the most data and research results on virus tracing and made important contributi­ons to global virus tracing research,” Foreign Ministry spokespers­on Mao Ning Mao told reporters Tuesday at a daily briefing.

U.S. officials and members of Congress have accused China of not been entirely cooperativ­e with inquiries into the origin.

A World Health Organizati­on expert group said last year that “key pieces of data” to explain how the pandemic began were still missing. The scientists cited avenues of research that were needed, including studies evaluating the role of wild animals and environmen­tal studies in places where the virus might have first spread.

The Associated Press has previously reported that the Chinese government was strictly controllin­g research into the pandemic’s origins, clamping down on some work and promoting fringe theories that it could have come from outside the country.

“Politicizi­ng the issue of virus tracing will not smear China but will only damage the U.S.’s own credibilit­y,” Mao said.

Her comments came amid continuing questions about how the virus that has killed more than 6.8 million people worldwide first emerged.

The U.S. Department of Energy conclusion was first reported over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal, which said the classified report was based on new intelligen­ce and noted in an update to a 2021 document. The DOE oversees a national network of labs in the U.S.

White House officials on Monday declined to confirm news reports about the assessment. John Kirby, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said Monday that “there is just not an intelligen­ce community consensus” on the origin.

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