An expert who testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic hearing on the origins of COVID-19 criticized China for targeting international researchers.
Dr. Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told lawmakers on Wednesday that a bipartisan investigation into the origins of COVID-19 is “three years overdue” and must prioritize China’s responsibility for its lack of transparency during the pandemic.
“We are here primarily because the Chinese government has done everything in its power to prevent the kind of investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been delayed for three years and is still urgently needed. We are also here because there is more the United States can and must do to push forward, even if China continues to stonewall,” Metzl said in his opening remarks.
The Chinese government has denied reports that it has refused to cooperate with the World Health Organization’s study into the origins of COVID-19.
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A report published in Nature on Tuesday said the WHO canceled the “second phase” of its investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic because China would not allow researchers access to conduct their studies.
“China’s position on the study of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is consistent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday at a press conference in Beijing. “We always support and participate in science-based global provenance. At the same time, we strongly oppose any form of political manipulation.”
The spokesman mentioned two of his previous envoys WHO scientists was allowed to enter the country, claiming that China was “open” and “transparent” with the international community.
“China has shared more data and research findings on the study of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 than any other country,” Wang said. “This fully demonstrates China’s open, transparent and responsible attitude and support for the work of WHO and SAGO. China will continue to support the scientific basis for tracing global origins and maintain communication and cooperation with WHO .”
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However, Metzl said China’s flat denial of the lab leak case and repeated refusals to hand over data is anything but transparent.
“While the question of the origin of the pandemic remains open, there is no doubt that a research-related origin remains a very serious possibility, if not a distinct possibility. There is no smoking gun to prove the hypothesis of a laboratory origin, but the growing body “The evidence points to a gun that is at least warm to the touch,” he told House lawmakers.
Metzl said it was “inconceivable” that in the three years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a full investigation into the origin of the virus has yet to be carried out.
“The primary reason that there has not been a comprehensive investigation into the origin of COVID-19 is the reprehensible actions of the Chinese government,” he said.
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“Since the early days of the pandemic, the Chinese government has destroyed samples, hidden records, jailed brave Chinese journalists, silenced Chinese scientists, actively spread disinformation, and done almost everything possible to prevent the kind of unrestricted, based in research evidence that is so urgent. required,” he charged.
“Every person on earth must hold China accountable by demanding a full investigation into the origins of the pandemic,” Metzl continued, adding that scrutiny on China does not mean the U.S. and others should neglect to scrutinize the response them in the pandemic.
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He said that while the US should continue to pursue scientific cooperation and diplomatic relations with China, “we cannot buy these relations with our silence.”
Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.