OP-ED | Let’s say “No” to politicization of COVID-19 origin-tracing study together

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By Chen Xilai, (Chargé d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy)

COVID-19 is the most extensive global pandemic to afflict humanity in a century, a serious crisis and a daunting challenge for the entire world. Over the past year, different peoples stood in solidarity and made tremendous efforts to jointly combat the pandemic. However, the virus mutated frequently and the pandemic situation went up and down. To conduct scientific origin-tracing study of the virus and identify its source and the possible pathway is of great significance in the global fight against COVID-19, that is also the common expectation of the international society.

China has all along taken a scientific, open and transparent attitude as it engages in global cooperation on science-based origin-tracing.

Since the early stage of the outbreak of COVID-19, China has made clear its serious and responsible attitude toward origin-tracing and has put together teams of experts to conduct research. At the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) held in May last year, China co-sponsored the resolution supporting the global scientific origin-tracing study together with more than 140 countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized in particular that China supports global research by scientists on the sources and transmission routes of the virus. China took the lead by inviting WHO experts to China twice for origin-tracing research. The WHO experts team has conducted massive careful and in-depth research, and officially released the Joint Report of the WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part on March 30, 2021, which provides the most authoritative, professional and science-based conclusions on origin-tracing. The Report concludes that the lab-leak hypothesis is “extremely unlikely” and sets out detailed recommendations for future work in origin-tracing including conducting early cases research related to “the cold chain product” and in “countries and regions with initial reports of positive results”. These conclusions and suggestions are widely recognized by the international society and scientists. 70 countries have voiced support for the WHO-China joint study report via sending letters to the WHO Director-General and issuing statements or diplomatic notes, etc. Chinese experts also took the initiative to submit to WHO China’s proposal on the second phase of origin-tracing.

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Let science, not politics, speak on coronavirus origin.

Origin-tracing is a matter of science. It should be and can only be left to scientists to resolve the matter. The future global origin-tracing studies should be conducted on the basis of the scientific conclusions and suggestions of the WHO-China joint study report, instead of wasting time and money on the issues that have already been settled or even reinventing the wheel. However, certain countries insist on politicizing the scientific matter out of their own political interests. They have not only threatened and coerced WHO Secretariat and international experts by all kinds of means on the sly, but also instructed the intelligence agency in public to carry out origin-tracing investigation instead of scientists. They instigated the WHO Secretariat to unilaterally put forward a plan for the second phase of origin-tracing study that deviates from the requirements of the WHO resolution, without the consent of Member States, and attempted to repudiate and distort the conclusions of the WHO-China joint study report. Their politicization activities are damaging the scientific nature of the origin-tracing issue and are detrimental to the international COVID-19 cooperation. Many countries have expressed their concerns and objections over such kind of negative behavior. More than 300 political parties, civil society organizations and think tanks from over 100 countries and regions have submitted a Joint Statement to the WHO Secretariat, calling on the WHO to carry out origin-tracing studies objectively and impartially and firmly opposing politicization of the origin-tracing issue. This fully demonstrated the will of the people in the international society.

China will continue to contribute to the international COVID-19 cooperation.

The virus knows no borders and does not distinguish between races. China, like many other countries, is a victim of the pandemic, hoping to find out the origin of the virus and cut off its transmission as early as possible. China is willing to join hands with all parties in actively advancing the global scientific origin-tracing study, equally distributing vaccines, and aggressively combating the pandemic. Since September 2020, China has been and is still donating vaccines to more than 100 countries and exporting to more than 60 countries. The total amount of the vaccines provided by China has surpassed 800 million doses, which ranks first in the world. At the First Meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation held on August 5, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will strive to provide 2 billion doses of vaccines to the world and has decided to donate US$100 million to the COVAX Facility for distributing vaccines to developing countries.

As for Guyana, Guyana is the first English-speaking Caribbean country to receive the Chinese donated vaccines and the Chinese Embassy has just handed-over China’s 12th batch of medical supplies donation to Guyana.

China will stay committed to building a global community of health for all, put people’s interests and people’s lives first, actively promote global COVID-19 cooperation, and work with Guyana and other international partners to overcome the pandemic as early as possible.



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