WHO to Further Investigate Into COVID "Lab Leak" Theory
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- The World Health Organization is recommending further investigation into the theory that COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which the agency earlier dismissed as a conspiracy theory
- On Friday, Beijing responded to the report, noting that the lab leak theory is baseless and is concocted by anti-China forces for political purposes. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian noted further that the virus instead originated from an American laboratory
- He mentioned "highly suspicious laboratories such as Fort Detrick" in Maryland and the "University of North Carolina" as centers where the U.S. had developed the virus as a bioweapon
- The WHO's change in position came Thursday in the first report by its Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, known as SAGO, which has now agreed that the Wuhan seafood market "likely played an important role" in the early spread of the virus
- This report marks a dramatic shift in the WHO's stance, which had earlier claimed in its February 2021 report that a lab leak was "extremely unlikely." However, Director-General of the agency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus rescinded the statement after months of criticism and pressure from experts