White House ohOfficials and world leaders gathered at the second COVID-19 summit on Thursday to talk about fighting the virus and preventing future pandemics, but China was absent from the discussion and lingering questions about the birth of COVID -19.
Some scientists and political leaders have criticized the Biden administration for the oversight, arguing that it is not possible to prevent another pandemic without knowing what caused the first.
QUOTE COVER, HOUSE REPUBLICANS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION INTO ORIGINS OF COVID-19
“An international summit on COVID-19 that does not address the origin of COVID-19 is doomed,” said Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University. “An American pandemic preparedness plan that does not include an investigation into the origin of COVID-19 and does not call for the strengthening of biosafety and biosecurity surveillance is a betrayal of the million Americans who have died of COVID-19 and their families.”
The announcement of the event touts the need for new spending in order to provide testing, treatment and vaccines across the world and to prepare for the next outbreak. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both spoke, as did Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha. None mentioned China or the origins of the pandemic directly.
A large multitude of government, business and philanthropic attendees included representatives from Europe, South America, Asia and Africa, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Organization World Health Organization and the World Bank. One panelist described the next pandemic as being “around the corner”.
Among the initiatives touted on Thursday is the creation of a $450 million pandemic preparedness and global health security fund at the World Bank, with one of the overall goals being to prevent future health crises.
But the focus on vaccines, tests and treatments ignores one of the most important issues, argued Dr Steven Quay.
“The first step in preventing a pandemic would be to know how the previous one started,” Quay said. “Science tells us that SARS-CoV-2 has characteristics never seen before in nature. But those same characteristics are a hallmark of gain-of-function research. Why does this summit ignore the question of origin? Is it because China and America collaborated on the search and agreed to bury their guilt?”
How the pandemic started remains a hotly debated topic, and government leaders and scientists have called for further research into the matter.
Some politicians want new investigations not only into the Chinese government’s role in starting the pandemic, but also into the actions of Western scientists such as Peter Daszak, who received US taxpayer-funded grants to conduct research on the gain of function on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated.
Republican members of the House Special Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in April called on the Biden administration to launch a new origins investigation, citing a possible cover-up as detailed in a vanity lounge expose.
Although Biden has said he is pushing Chinese officials to be more transparent in investigating the origins of the disease, conservatives have criticized his approach as being too soft.
“The Biden administration doesn’t even know how this pandemic started, and now President Biden wants to think about the next one, talking like it’s inevitable,” Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin previously said. . Washington Examiner. “Rather than grabbing another huge pile of cash, isn’t it time to give the American taxpayer a break?
China and Russia were conspicuously absent from Thursday’s summit. White House officials confirmed that Russia was not invited but were less clear on China, saying only that “with other countries, we have extended and requested financial or political commitment.”
Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, agreed that the summit would be more useful with China’s cooperation.
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“I wish China had accepted the invitation since the first report of the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak came out of Wuhan, as reported by the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019” , she said. “China should have valuable insight into the pandemic given this early report.”
Gandhi also pointed to the recent dispute between China and the World Health Organization as to why China may not have participated.
A WHO-led fact-finding mission to China in November 2020 concluded that transmission of the virus from a bat to a human was possible or probable, with a laboratory incident listed as “extremely unlikely”. Daszak was the only American representative on the trip.