Washington [US], January 16 (ANI): Calling for a transparent and thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Friday said the pandemic was avoidable adding that Beijing did not reveal vital information about the virus, which would have helped scientists to save the world from the disease.
Pompeo, in a statement said the United States has "repeatedly called for" a transparent and thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19. Understanding the origin of this pandemic is essential for global public health, economic recovery and international security.
"The COVID-19 pandemic was avoidable. Any responsible country would have invited world health investigators to Wuhan within days of an outbreak. China instead refused offers of help - including from the United States - and punished brave Chinese doctors, scientists and journalists who tried to alert the world to the dangers of the virus," he said.
"Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one... Until the Chinese Communist Party allows a full and thorough accounting of what happened in Wuhan, it is only a matter of time until China births another pandemic and inflicts it on the Chinese people, and the world," Pompeo added.
The top US diplomat added that Washington has "reason to believe" that several researchers inside the WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology] became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.
"This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli's public claim that there was 'zero infection' among the WIV's staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses," Pompeo said.
The US Secretary of State accused the WIV not been transparent nor consistent about its work with RaTG13 or other similar viruses, including possible "gain of function".
"Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China's military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017," the top diplomat added.
Earlier this week, the international team of experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in Wuhan to study the origin of the pandemic.
Amid this visit, the US Department of State shared some data about the outbreak in a hope that the WHO will press the Chinese authorities to get more information about the deadly virus.
Previously, Pompeo said the CCP "has offered not one, not two, but at least three alternative theories for where this began."
"They continue to attempt to obfuscate. Everything that we have seen indicates that this began not only inside of China but at Hubei province, Wuhan," he added.
Pompeo said there "will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands" more people continue to live in poverty as a direct result of the economic challenges that the 'Wuhan virus' has foisted upon the world.
As of Saturday, 7.52 am IST, the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) reported that the global coronavirus caseload stands at 93,787,372 while the fatalities across the world stand at 2,006,987. (ANI)