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Politicizing WHO research harmful to anti-pandemic fight: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-01-14 20:22
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A staff member sprays disinfectant at a community which was classified as a medium-risk area for COVID-19, in Yuhua district of Shijiazhuang, North China's Hebei province, Jan 12, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

A World Health Organization-led team of scientists from different countries arrived in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Thursday, hoping to trace back the origin of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus from the city.

Perhaps not surprisingly that has prompted a revival of the finger-pointing at what are alleged to have been China's early mistakes.

But as the WHO has stressed, the purpose of the joint scientific research is to try and prevent such a devastating pandemic from happening again, by identifying the animal hosts from which the virus jumped to humans. It is by no means to hold any party accountable for the outbreak of the virus.

In other words, tracing the origin of the virus is scientific work, and politicizing it will only contaminate the atmosphere in which it is being carried out.

There are many hypotheses as to the origins, the evolution and the spread of the virus. As Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO's health emergencies program, said, "they all make for great stories, but at the moment, there is no proof that any of the hypotheses for generation or transmission are so."

That is why the WHO firmly opposes any speculation about the origins of the virus. Stigmatizing and politicizing the virus unavoidably harms international solidarity in the fight against this common enemy.

China has been open, transparent and responsible in its cooperation with the WHO, and it is one of the first countries to initiate virus origin tracing work with the world health body.

Just as it is the responsibility of everyone to play their part in containing the virus, it is the responsibility of all countries to try and help the world better understand the virus and its origins, so as to help get the pandemic under control as soon as possible. China is demonstrating its commitment to this work.

China will do all it can to help the WHO team in their research as that will be conducive to knowing the origin of the virus. Yet it should be borne in mind that looking for the origin of a virus is no easy task. There are unlikely to be any quick answers. Despite this, it is believed that the input is worthwhile as any findings the team does come up with will be important public health information.

All countries should reject any attempts to politicize the WHO-led team's visit to Wuhan, and cooperate with the WHO faithfully, as China does.

It is hoped the research in Wuhan can produce valuable findings that enrich the understanding about the virus for the future well-being of all.

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