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‘Fort Detrick base is full of suspicions’: China asks US for explanation of 2019 respiratory disease after Biden’s new Covid probe

Speaking on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian asked the US to reflect on its own role in the pandemic and not “dump” responsibility on China alone. Citing the 33 million Covid-19 cases in the US and 600,000 deaths, Zhao asked “How safe is your conscience?”

The spokesman said that there was an unexplained respiratory disease in northern Virginia in July 2019 and a large-scale outbreak of e-cigarette disease in Wisconsin. “When will the US release detailed data and information on relevant cases to the international community? The United States owes an explanation to the international community.” 

The Maryland-based US Fort Detrick center hosts a biolab which has become a hot topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to issue a “cease and desist order” to halt operations at the germ lab over safety concerns.

Zhao’s comment comes after US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was giving intelligence agencies 90 days to pinpoint the origins of Covid-19. Biden said his administration would continue to push China to “participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence.” 

Reinforcing a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC on Wednesday evening, Zhao called on the US to stop “ignoring facts and science” and refrain from “repeatedly clamoring to reinvestigate China.” 

An earlier report from the World Health Organization after a mission in January suggested that early cases in Wuhan were believed to have been acquired from “a zoonotic source as many reported visiting or working in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market.” However, pinpointing the source was not possible.

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