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06 August 2021, 15:37

Africans condemn politicized origin tracing

This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.
This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as novel coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19.

CAIRO, 6 August (BelTA - China Daily) - African political parties and opinion leaders have been increasingly adding their voices to a global condemnation of efforts to politicize investigations into the origins of the coronavirus.

The broad-based message from the continent is that scientific investigations must be kept free of political interference.

"Research into the origins of the virus is important from a scientific and global health policy perspective and it should not be used as a smokescreen for geopolitical contestation that has nothing to do with ending the pandemic or understanding how to prevent future pandemics," said Lindiwe Zulu, chairperson for International Relations at the African National Congress, South Africa's governing party.

The South African Communist Party has also released a statement denouncing the attempts by some countries to politicize COVID-19.

The party said that unbiased scientific findings should include the recognition that there are indications that COVID-19 infections took place before December 2019 in various places across the globe.

Adhere Cavince, a scholar of international relations focusing on China-Africa ties in Kenya, said that as the world fights new and potentially more deadly variants of the novel coronavirus, politicization of virus origin-tracing efforts threatens the gains made in the pandemic.

Earlier this year a group of experts from the World Health Organization conducted research in Wuhan and reached the conclusion that it was extremely unlikely that the coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in the Chinese city.

However, the WHO is moving away from the outcomes of the joint study in its plans to launch a second phase of an origin-tracing investigation that appears bent on peddling the lab-leak theory.

It's no surprise that the proposal has aroused strong opposition from the international community, and questions have been raised over the impartiality, integrity and utility of the WHO's move, Cavince said.

Scientists speaking up

Abbey Makoe, a former political editor at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, pointed out that a number of prominent scientists have called on the WHO to guard against the politicization of the scientific probe into the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19.

In an article published on the broadcaster's website, Makoe said that discourse around investigation into the origins of COVID-19 is the terrain of qualified scientists, and politics should never be allowed to interrupt scientific research work.

"Now that the scientists have spoken, politicians need to listen. There is absolutely everything untoward when less-knowledgeable people throw their weight around the society's brightest brains whose primary interest is science-based research and empirical evidence," Makoe said.

Usman Sarki, a former deputy representative of Nigeria to the UN, told China Central Television that the US is using the China card to address domestic problems during the pandemic, rather than having any real interest in finding out the virus' origin.

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