Make COVID-19 origin-tracing about science, not politics
by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng
The World Health Organization (WHO) late Tuesday released a report on its joint mission with China to trace the origins of the coronavirus.
This time those in the West who hoped to find a smoking gun in the report are surely feeling disappointed. The report practically denies the unfounded speculation that the pandemic was caused by a leak from a lab in China's central city of Wuhan.
It also stands as a powerful repudiation of the shameless lies some Western politicians and pundits have churned out to slander China over the months, and a sobering reminder that more hard work is needed to decode the secrets of the virus.
Now that science has spoken, the world community needs to take it as an opportunity to recognize COVID-19 origin-tracing for what it is: scientific research, not a political game.
Countries around the world need to first settle on a broad consensus that future origin-tracing missions should not be arbitrary probes that are based on the presumption of guilt. The aim of the missions should be about getting to know the virus better and understanding how it has evolved so as to help the human race beat the virus at an early date as well as prevent future outbreaks of the disease.
Since the start of the pandemic, science and common sense have been wrestling with conspiracy theories and lies. And so the battle for truth continues.
It is unfortunate to see that immediately before and in the wake of the report's publishing, some anti-China politicians and biased media outlets in the West are still trying to peddle their lies about China, manipulate public opinion and question the authority of the WHO report.
The world community should not forget that it is those despicable political tricks that have assaulted facts and science, fostered fear and misinformation, stoked prejudice and hatred, and jeopardized trust and solidarity among nations. As a result, the already exhausting battle against the deadly pathogen has been rendered even more onerous.
Compared with the lethal coronavirus, the political viruses those politicians and press have incubated and spread are even more hateful. As COVID-19 origin-tracing is still underway, the international community might as well trace back this political virus to see the ugly faces of those perpetrators, and hold them accountable.
While placing science front and center, the origin-tracing work also demands time, patience from the general public and perhaps a little luck.
And sometimes even with these, such complicated quests might still end up with no definite conclusions. History does not lack such examples. For many infectious diseases such as AIDS and the 1918 influenza, scientists are still unable to tell where exactly those viruses originated.
What is also key to solving the puzzles of the cunning coronavirus in a scientific fashion is to stay open. This means that targeting one single country for tracing back the origin of the virus can hardly be helpful in research.
Again, origin-tracing is a serious scientific endeavor. China was the first country to report COVID-19 infections. That does not mean the world's "patient zero" is in China.
It has been widely reported that a series of studies done in various countries have already found traces of the coronavirus elsewhere in the world long before the epidemic broke out in China.
Therefore, similar WHO origin-tracing missions that China has embraced should also be conducted in more countries and regions worldwide.
There is still a long road ahead to get to the bottom of the virus. Vanquishing political viruses and letting science prevail will bring the human race one step closer to the truth.