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China resists further investigation into origins of coronavirus

Zeng Yixin, Vice Minister of China's National Health Commission, speaks at a press conference at the State Council Information Office in Beijing Source: AP

More than 18 months since the pandemic began, and a widely-backed independent investigation into how coronavirus originated has hit another roadblock. The World Health Organisation this month proposed a second phase of the probe in China, including audits of labs and markets in the city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first reported. But the Chinese government has rejected the plan, saying some information can't be completely shared due to privacy concerns.

WHO has called for transparency and cooperation from authorities, saying its investigations were being hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of spread in China.

Zeng Yixin is vice-minister of the National Health Commission.

"Mandarin, then translation: "To be honest when I first saw the WHO's second phase of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, I was very surprised. Because in this plan, the hypothesis of 'China's violation of laboratory procedures causing virus leakage' is one of the research priorities. In this aspect, I feel the plan disregards common sense and defies science."

But the United States says it will continue to push with allies for as much transparency as possible.

Jen Psaki is the White House press secretary.

"We're deeply disappointed. Their position is irresponsible and frankly dangerous. Alongside other member states around the world, we continue to call for China to provide the needed access to data and samples. And this is critical so we can understand to prevent the next pandemic. This is about saving lives in the future, and it's not a time to be stonewalling."

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