After China refused to participate in a World Health Organization (WHO) probe into the origins of the coronavirus, multiple medical experts and elected officials have sounded the alarm that this decision could lead to a lack of preparedness in dealing with future pandemics, according to Politico.
Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who himself faced criticism for his previous close ties to the Chinese government, announced plans for a new investigation into the origins of the virus, including whether or not it originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) rather than by natural means. In response, the vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, rejected the proposal and declared that it “disregards common sense and defies science.”
In response, multiple academics from across the country have warned that this refusal to cooperate could lead to repeat pandemics originating from China. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that “it’s more likely than not that we will have another coronavirus pandemic come out of China, so [the probe] is our best chance to get our hands around how this gets out of bats and into humans. We can’t do this without going to China.”
Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said that “what the WHO asked for was perfectly reasonable,” and that China’s rejection of the proposal “makes people suspect that this is a manmade virus with an intentional release.” Though once dismissed by the media and the Democratic Party as a conspiracy theory, the suggestion that the coronavirus was created in the WIV and released, intentionally or otherwise, has gained steam in recent months with the revelation of new evidence showing that the virus very well may have come from that laboratory.
Criticism even came from members of Congress, with Congressman Ami Bera (D-Calif.) calling China’s rejection “unacceptable,” and demanding a “comprehensive, transparent, and independent analysis into the origins of COVID-19.”
Both Hotez and Osterholm also criticized Joe Biden’s soft approach towards China as playing a role in emboldening China’s stonewalling efforts. Hotez condemned Biden’s order directing American intelligence agencies to conduct their own independent studies of the virus, pointing out that “we have already thrown all the intelligence at this and not got to the bottom of it.” Osterholm, who served on Biden’s pre-inauguration COVID advisory board, noted that the Biden Administration is focusing more on providing additional support to the WHO to prevent future outbreaks, but added that “that still doesn’t get us back to what we need to learn from the Chinese.”