China Health Officials Defend Virus Search

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Chinese health officials defended their search for the source of the COVID-19 virus and critisize  the World Health Organization after its leader said Beijing should have shared genetic information earlier.

The WHO comments were “offensive and disrespectful,” said the director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Shen Hongbing. He accused the WHO of “attempting to smear China” and said it should avoid helping others “politicize COVID-19.”

The global health body’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said March 17 that newly disclosed genetic material gathered in Wuhan in central China, where the first cases were detected in late 2019, “should have been shared three years ago.”

As a responsible country and as scientists, we have always actively shared research results with scientists from around the world,” Shen said at a news conference.

The origin of COVID-19 are still debated and the focus of bitter political dispute.

Many scientists believe it jumped from animals to humans at a market in Wuhan, but the city also is home to laboratories including China’s top facility for collecting viruses that prompted suggestions COVID-19 might have leaked from one.

AP/Oyenike Oyeniyi

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