A World Health Organization advisory board member said Monday that China even now continues to operate a “massive cover-up” on the origins and spread of the coronavirus that caused the global pandemic.
“The Chinese have engaged in a massive cover-up that is going on until this day, involving destroying samples, hiding records, placing a universal gag order on Chinese scientists and imprisoning Chinese citizen journalists asking the most basic questions,” Jamie Metzl said Monday on Fox News.
“The more that China stonewalls, the more suspicious that it looks,” Metzl added. “We can’t give China a veto over whether or not we investigate the world’s worst pandemic in a century and then do everything we can to make everybody safe.”
Investigators are probing whether the coronavirus could have been leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Meanwhile, China is reportedly planning on launching 25 to 30 biosafety level three labs and one biosafety level four lab, the kind operated by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, over the next five years.
The idea that the virus could have escaped from a lab was largely dismissed last year as a conspiracy as the pandemic tightened its grip on the U.S., but the theory has been revived in recent weeks after a U.S. intelligence report found that several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 with symptoms that resembled COVID-19 symptoms. China previously told the World Health Organization that the first person with symptoms similar to COVID-19 appeared in Wuhan the next month on December 8, 2019.
China is ranked substantially less prepared than the U.S. on biosecurity by the Global Health Security Index.
“There’s a reason why after a plane crashes, we do everything possible to understand what happened,” Metzl said. “If we don’t learn those lessons, there are other planes that are in the air. For all we know, the next pandemic is just around the corner and if we don’t understand and fix our biggest problems, we’re going to be at unnecessary risk. We have to get to the bottom of this, which means asking that tough questions and following the data wherever it leads.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) last week called the origins of the coronavirus the “worst cover-up in human history,” saying it is “more likely than not” that the pathogen’s spread was caused by a lab accident.
“You know, I do think it’s more likely than not it emerged out of the lab. Most likely accidentally,” McCaul said. “This is the worst cover-up in human history that we’ve seen, resulting in 3.5 million deaths, creating an economic devastation around the globe.”
House Republicans have called for a congressional probe into the origins of the virus, and some Democrats have joined them in urging for an investigation.
In January, the WHO delivered a rare rebuke to China, saying the country had refused to allow a team of scientists investigating the origins of the virus to enter the country.