WHO incapable of holding China accountable for COVID-19: Dissident
Washington: The chances of a deeper investigation on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and holding Beijing accountable will depend a great deal on Joe Biden administration, said Jianli Yang, a Chinese dissident and son of a former Communist Party leader, a former political prisoner in China, adding that he WHO is incapable of demanding transparency from the communist country regarding COVID-19.
Jianli, in an opinion article for The Hill, wrote that it is the lesson learned after the World Health Organization (WHO) team's visit to China produced no answers to key questions about how and where the coronavirus started.
"The WHO is still incapable of transparency regarding China and COVID-19," said the dissident.
"When the virus began to spread last year, allegations abounded that the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which collected extensive virus samples, may have caused the outbreak by accidentally or deliberately leaking the virus into the community. China strongly rejected that possibility. The WHO team said the accidental laboratory leak hypothesis does not explain how the virus was introduced to the human population and indicated this is an area for future study. Unfortunately, this is akin to giving China a clean chit," he wrote.
The WHO team, post the trip, said that the initial findings suggest that the introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely pathway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research.
"This obfuscates the fact that the virus was first identified in China and the only thing to be investigated is its origin there. When experts from 10 countries arrived in China on January 14, the Chinese government put limits on their research into the outbreak and prevented the WHO scientists from speaking with reporters," he wrote.
The team's mission was an initial step in tracing the virus's origin, Jianli pointed out adding that the Chinese state media and scientists have emphasized the theory that COVID-19 arrived in Wuhan through imported frozen food -- an attempt to bolster Beijing's claim that the virus did not originate in China.
"If the objective is to trace the earliest instances of the virus in Wuhan, the next logical step would be to trace its origin locally and not assume China's theory that the virus was imported from overseas," the former political prisoner wrote.
Jianli said that the chances of a deeper investigation will depend a great deal on the Biden administration's geopolitical interest in pursuing the WHO report to its logical conclusion.
"The WHO team's visit to China is a consequence of global pressure, but follow-up action could be marred by the inconclusive report. Lack of data is a factor, but we should not lose sight of the larger picture of China's control over the WHO," he wrote further in his opinion article for The Hill.
Chinese scientists refused to share raw data that might bring the world closer to understanding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, independent investigators for the World Health Organization in February.
The New York Times reported that the investigators who recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Wuhan, China said disagreements over patient records and other issues were so tense that they sometimes erupted into shouts among the typically mild-mannered scientists on both sides.
The investigation by the WHO was undertaken after a cluster of patients exhibiting pneumonia-like symptoms emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, a new coronavirus was identified to be causing the disease, which later became known as COVID-19, and triggered the global pandemic that infected over 90 million people and killed more than 1.9 million, reported Sputnik.
After the outbreak, then US President Donald Trump blamed China for the global COVID-19 pandemic by calling the new coronavirus "Chinese Virus"
Then US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Friday said the pandemic was avoidable adding that Beijing did not reveal vital information about the virus, which would have helped scientists to save the world from the disease.
Pompeo, in a statement said the United States has "repeatedly called for" a transparent and thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19. Understanding the origin of this pandemic is essential for global public health, economic recovery and international security.
China has been criticised widely across the world for its alleged role in the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected over 116 million people across the world. More than 2.5 million people have lost their lives to the virus.
While some accuse it of being complicit, others deem it culpable in the spread.