A senior Chinese official stated Thursday that China will not accept the World Health Organization’s second phase of its study into the origins COVID-19.

Zeng Yixin was the vice-minister of the National Health Commission and said that he was surprised that the plan included further investigation into the possibility that the virus may have leaked from a Chinese laboratory.

He dismissed the idea of a lab leak as a rumor, which is contrary to science and common sense.

He stated that it was impossible for them to accept such an origin-tracing scheme at a news conference to discuss the COVID-19 origins problem.

China’s diplomatic struggle to find out where the virus originated has led to a host of diplomatic issues that have fueled its deteriorating relations and alliances with the U.S. Others and the U.S. claim that China has not been open about what happened during the initial stages of the pandemic. China claims critics are seeking to blame it and to politicize an issue that should have been left to scientists.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged last week that WHO’s director-general had made a premature push to eliminate the possibility that the virus may have been released from a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan. This is the city where the disease was first discovered in late 2019.

Experts don’t believe that a laboratory leak is likely to be the cause. It is not clear whether this possibility should be dismissed or if it deserves further investigation.

An international team of scientists arrived in Wuhan earlier this year to collaborate with Chinese counterparts. After initial indications that more study was not necessary, the Chinese side accused the team of bowing down to their demands.

Zeng stated that the Wuhan laboratory does not contain a virus that could infect people directly and that the WHO team had concluded that there was no possibility of a leakage. Zeng said that the rumors that the virus might have spread to the city by infecting staff or graduate students at the Wuhan lab were untrue.

Yuan Zhiming was the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s biosafety laboratory. He said that they hadn’t stored or studied the coronavirus prior to the outbreak. He stated that …. The Wuhan Institute of Virology had never created, made or released the new coronavirus.

The WHO team found that the virus likely spread from animals to people, possibly from bats to intermediate animals. Experts visited Wuhan’s markets that sold live animals and recommended further investigation of the farms that supplied them.

“I believe animal tracing should remain the priority direction in the next step. It is the most valuable field in our efforts,” Liang Wannian (head of the Chinese side) said at Thursday’s news conference.

Tedros stated last week that he hopes for better data access and cooperation from China. He stated that he was asking China to cooperate and be transparent in its early days of the pandemic.

Jens Spahn from Germany, Germany’s health minister, spoke the same words at the virtual news conference and called on China for greater cooperation in finding the source of the virus.

Zeng stated that China supports “scientific virus tracking” and would like to see it extended to other countries. He said, “But, we are against politicizing the trace work.”

China has repeatedly sought to discredit accusations that the pandemic started in Wuhan, and was spread through bureaucratic mistakes and an attempt to cover up.

A number of government spokespersons called for an investigation into the possibility that the virus was produced in a U.S. military lab, which is a theory not shared widely in the scientific community.

China has successfully stopped the spread of COVID in its locality through mask-wearing and lockdowns. It has administered more than 1.4 million doses of Chinese vaccines. Only 12 cases of the disease were reported in China on Thursday, while the death toll from the virus in China has remained stable at 4,636 for months.