A senior Chinese expert has demanded to shift the focus of second phase of investigation in the origin of Covid-19 virus to the United States of America after a study showed the disease could have been circulating there as early as December 2019, according to 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 COVID-19, weeks before the United States reported its first official cases.
Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reportedly told Global Times that the US was slow to test people for Covid-19 at an early stage of the pandemic and it possesses many biological laboratories all around the world. "All bio-weapons related subjects that the country has should be subject to scrutiny," he was quoted as saying.
A China-World Health Organization (WHO) joint study published in March said COVID-19 most likely originated in the country's wildlife trade, with the virus passing into humans from bats via an intermediary species. But China was persistent that COVID-19 entered the country from overseas via contaminated frozen food.
As per the new findings of the study by U.S. National Institutes for Health (NIH), researchers detected antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 in the samples of nine participants, all of them from outside the major urban hotspots of Seattle and New York City, believed to be key points of entry of the virus in the US.
The origin of the pandemic has become a source of political tension between China and the United States, with much of the recent focus on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), located in Wuhan where the outbreak was first identified in late 2019.