The search for the origins of the virus has become a diplomatic feud. The U.S. and other Western nations have repeatedly raised questions about delays, transparency and data access, while China has promoted theories that suggest the virus may have come from elsewhere.
“If we limit the study of origin within China, I think this is a scientific misunderstanding, because the source is still unclear,” said Liang Wannian, the head of the Chinese team that worked with the WHO group of experts. He said the experts agreed that the place where the first case was identified is not necessarily where the virus emerged. “Based on this scientific consensus, we should have a broader viewpoint in terms of sourcing,” he said.
Experts agree that the virus could have come from elsewhere, with neighboring countries in Southeast Asia a prime possibility, but China’s insistence on broadening the research seems partly politically motivated in the face of Western criticism.