Interview: Politicization of COVID-19 origins probe damages global cooperation, says U.S. expert

(Xinhua) 15:33, August 28, 2021

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The investigation of the origins of COVID-19 should be dealt with solely by scientists and any politicization of this issue is deeply regretted and damaging global cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, said a renowned U.S. scholar.


"The (COVID) origins inquiry...should be left to the scientists to do, and it will take time to come to a conclusion on that," Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, told Xinhua in an interview.

"But a lot of the evidence will be hard to sift through if it is not done during the early stages. So there should not be any interruptions and this sort of political raking up of issues stalls the issues at the scientists," Gupta said of the U.S. intelligence community's probe of the origins of the virus.

The U.S. intelligence community reached an inconclusive assessment about the origins of the virus following a 90-day investigation ordered by President Joe Biden, according to an unclassified summary of the probe released on Friday.

The report which "tends to give an equivalence to all the various theories" is "in my view very unfair" and will be remembered as "something negative," he said.


By doing this, the United States is "trying to maintain those two big narratives" as it first proposed that China was not transparent about the origins of the virus and was not quick enough to deal with and inform the global community about the virus, said Gupta.

"The whole purpose is to blacken China on the COVID-19 in some way. And that is how it has played out in the U.S. media with U.S. political leaders, giving oxygen to this argument, and considering the power of Western media that will de facto hover above us in some way, shape or form, even down the line," he said.

"They will try to stick that in our images, in our head. And so that itself is a challenge for China to deal with considering the power of the Western media," Gupta said.

The expert noted that "unfortunately there has been so much politics" with regard to the fight against COVID-19 starting from origins of the virus to masks and vaccination, and so on.


"Now what we are in fact having is a lack of political will to actually come together to deal with COVID-19. And the origins issue has hurt the political space to cooperate at a multilateral level and to deepen multilateral cooperation on global public health," said Gupta.

"We should have been thinking of a whole-scale route and brand-changing in how global public health is dealt with at the multilateral level. There has just not been that political foundation and political momentum to do it because so much of it has been spent in bickering about origins from a very politicized angle," he said.

"I think in the long run that will hurt us as a global community of not being able to create that institutional infrastructure to tackle these sorts of pandemics in the future," he said.

"There will be many more of these, and we know the extent of the damage it has created, not just in terms of human life, but also in terms of economic dislocation ... that is why any politicization of this issue is deeply regretted," said Gupta.

"I think the origins inquiry, which will take time, must allow to be proceeded on its own steam," he said, adding that the task "has been dealt with by scientists and should be dealt with solely by scientists."


Gupta said what China has done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is "incredibly commendable."

China's COVID response "has preserved human life. And I think it will, in the longer run, be a case study of how you deal with viruses," he said. "China has the global public health case study which will be written for posterity on how it needs to be followed."

"I think East Asia broadly, and China specifically, have done a great job. And this is really the model of how pandemics need to be dealt with in the future," he said.

(Web editor: Du Mingming, Liang Jun)


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