TAIPEI—China rejects the World Health Organization’s proposal for a second phase of investigation into Covid-19’s origins, including a potential laboratory leak, and has put forward its own proposal to seek evidence in other countries, a top Chinese official said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented member states last week with a plan for further study that would include audits of laboratories and markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were identified. He also called for greater transparency from Beijing.
“We cannot accept this kind of plan for origin-tracing,” Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s National Health Commission, told a news conference Thursday.
Mr. Zeng said he was shocked by the proposal, adding that aspects of it “did not respect common sense and violated science.” Instead, he said Beijing had on July 4 submitted to the WHO its own proposal for a second phase, which he said should be based on the first phase that was conducted by a WHO-led team and their Chinese counterparts early this year.
China’s rejection of the WHO’s proposal presents a stumbling block in a painstaking global effort to find the origin of Covid-19, which has caused more than four million deaths around the world. Beijing is sensitive to other countries blaming it for the pandemic, and rising mistrust between the U.S. and China has compounded the difficulty of scientific collaboration and consensus.