Laboratory technicians work on samples in Wuhan
COVID Lab-Leak Theory is constantly disputed as China accuses the FBI Of ‘politicizing’ the issue. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

China fiercely opposed the FBI's assertion that the COVID-19 pandemic may have been caused by a virus that emerged from a Chinese laboratory on Wednesday, Mar. 1. They also urged the U.S. to "respect science and facts" in response.

"By rehashing the lab-leak theory, the U.S. will not succeed in discrediting China, and instead, it will only hurt its own credibility," said China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning in response to remarks made by FBI Director Christopher Wray this week.

Mao continued by saying that the bureau's involvement, in this case, was sufficient proof of the "politicization of origin tracing."

"We urge the U.S. to respect science and facts... stop turning origin tracing into something about politics and intelligence, and stop disrupting social solidarity and origins cooperation," she added.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Wray said, "The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in (central China's) Wuhan."

His remarks confirmed a finding in a Department of Energy report that determined with "low confidence" that the COVID-19 virus originated in a Chinese research facility, said reports.

The FBI director also stated that the U.S. government was still working to determine what caused the outbreak and accused China of attempting to obstruct the inquiry.

The lab-leak theory holds that the coronavirus may have escaped, either accidentally or otherwise, from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first discovered.

Its supporters point to the city's large biological research facility. For more than a decade, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been studying coronaviruses in bats, BBC reported.

The institute is about a 40-minute drive from the Huanan wet market, which was the site of the first outbreak of infections.

At the time, many in politics and the media dismissed these as conspiracies, but others urged more examination of the possibility.

Despite numerous scientists pointing out that there is no evidence to support the theory, it has endured.

In November 2019, right before the virus started infecting people in the city, three researchers at the Wuhan laboratory were reportedly treated in a hospital, according to a classified U.S. intelligence report that started circulating in U.S. media in 2021.

President Biden says he sought a report on the origins of Covid-19 after taking office in 2020, "including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident".

Mr. Biden instructed intelligence personnel to "redouble" their efforts in this regard in May 2021.

The Chinese government was reportedly tightly regulating research into the cause of the pandemic that has killed more than 6.8 million people globally, cracking down on some of the studies, and promoting ridiculous theories that it might have originated from elsewhere.

A World Health Organization (WHO) investigation was supposed to get to the bottom of it, but many experts believed it produced more questions than answers.

A team of WHO-appointed scientists flew to Wuhan in early 2021 on a mission to investigate the source of the pandemic.

After spending 12 days there, which included a visit to the laboratory, the team concluded the lab-leak theory was "extremely unlikely".

Mao earlier this week also insisted that China has been "open and transparent" in the search for the virus's origins and has "shared the most data and research results on virus tracing and made important contributions to global virus tracing research."

Officials in Washington claim that the Department of Energy report, which has not been made public, does not reflect a consensus held by all U.S. agencies.

While many scientists believe the virus originated in animals, mutated, and then leaped to people, as has happened with other viruses in the past, some experts are receptive to the lab-leak scenario.

Former White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, who oversaw the U.S. response to the pandemic before retiring last year, warned Monday that "we may never know" the source of the outbreak and urged people to keep an "open mind to all possibilities."

Given the massive human toll of the pandemic - with the recorded deaths of about 6.9 million people worldwide - most scientists think understanding how and where the virus originated is crucial to prevent it from happening again.

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