Nigerian expert warns of consequences of politicizing COVID-19 origins tracing

(Xinhua) 09:43, August 20, 2021

ABUJA, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- A politically motivated COVID-19 origins tracing will not help contain this pandemic, and will discourage international cooperation on preparation for the next possible pandemic, a Nigerian expert has warned.

Despite clarifications by scientists that COVID-19 "most likely originated from nature and not in laboratory," the U.S. government kept turning the origins tracing saga from genuine scientific inquiry to "another cold war ideological armoury to besmirch China," Charles Onunaiju, director of the Abuja-based Center for China Studies, wrote in an article published Tuesday in local daily newspaper Vanguard.

"This is not helpful and will rob mankind of adequate understanding of the trigger of the malicious and vile virus that has caused humanity of untold sorrows," said Onunaiju.

He echoed some scientists' calls for turning down the heat of the rhetoric, as recriminations have not and will not encourage international cooperation and collaboration that might help to prevent a future pandemic.

While escalating the rhetoric about origins tracing of the virus and accusing China of lacking transparency, it appears that Washington's rhetoric is smokescreen to cover its own shocking failure in epidemic control and containment, Onunaiju said.

"While wagging fingers at the Chinese laboratory in the city of Wuhan, the United States has not mentioned or demonstrated any concern about the U.S. Army medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease at Fort Detrick," he said.

An outbreak of disease with similar COVID-19 symptoms happened just after the lab's serious safety accident in 2019, he noted, adding that the United States is "the world's largest funder of coronavirus research."

Noting that a research team at the University of North Carolina has long developed coronavirus synthesis, Onunaiju said a wide-ranging origins tracing of the virus should definitely include an investigation of those U.S. facilities.

China demonstrated a high sense of responsibility when its scientists published the genetic sequencing of the virus shortly after the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan and instituted the most rigorous lockdown of the city, in a bid to contain the spread of the disease, Onunaiju said.

"Had the American leadership and other Western countries then taken a cue from China's rigorous epidemic control measures, extended support and refrained from stigmatisation, the virus may have been contained much earlier," he said.

For developing countries, especially those in Africa, while tracing the origins of the virus is essential, the control and containment of the pandemic is of utmost concern, he stressed, adding that "China's support with materials and practical experience-sharing in pandemic control has been of tremendous value and unforgettable."

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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