Chief Chinese epidemiologist Zeng Guang calls for coronavirus inquiry in US

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A senior Chinese epidemiologist said the United States should be the priority in the next phase of investigations into the origin of coronavirus disease  after a study showed the disease could have been circulating there in  December 2019, Chinese state media said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

The study, published this week by the U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH), showed that at least seven people in five U.S. states were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease, weeks before the United States reported its first official infections.

A China-World Health Organization (WHO) joint study published in March said the coronavirus disease most likely originated in the country's wildlife trade, with the virus passing into humans from bats via an intermediary species.

But Beijing has promoted the theory that coronavirus disease entered China from overseas via contaminated frozen food, while a number of foreign politicians are also calling for more investigations into the possibility it leaked from a laboratory.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state-owned tabloid the Global Times that attention should shift to the United States, which was slow to test people in the early stages of the outbreak, and is also the home of many biological laboratories.

"All bio-weapons related subjects that the country has should be subject to scrutiny," he was quoted as saying.

Commenting on the U.S. study on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it was now "obvious" the coronavirus disease outbreak had "multiple origins" and that other countries should co-operate with the WHO.