China has rejected the World Health Organization's proposal for a second phase of its investigation into the origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the Chinese National Health Commission, told reporters in Beijing Thursday that he was extremely surprised when he read the proposal offered by the U.N. health agency includes audits of laboratories in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019 that led to more than 192 million infections around the globe, including 4.1 million deaths.
Zeng said the WHO's origin-tracing proposal lacks "common sense" and displays a disrespect toward science that makes it "impossible" for Beijing to accept.
A team of WHO researchers visited Wuhan earlier this year to research the initial cause of the virus. The team concluded the virus likely jumped from animals to humans and that it was "extremely unlikely" that it leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as some experts have speculated. But WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has criticized China for not fully cooperating with investigators by not sharing raw data, and has called for a continued probe of all theories, including a lab accident.
Chinese officials and news outlets have begun speculating that the virus may have escaped from a U.S. military laboratory, a theory that has been widely dismissed by the scientific community.
Meanwhile, a new study says that two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are effective against the highly contagious delta variant of the disease. In a study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Public Health England found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are 88% effective at preventing symptomatic disease caused by the delta variant, compared to 93% against the alpha variant. The researchers also say two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are 67% effective against delta, compared to 74% against the alpha variant.
A single dose of Pfizer is just 36% effective against delta, the researchers say, while one shot of AstraZeneca was just 30% effective.
A study posted online Tuesday suggests that Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective against the emerging variants of the coronavirus, compared to either of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.