China Admits that Labs Destroyed Coronavirus Samples on Safety Concerns: Reports

China has seemingly admitted that it destroyed early samples of the coronavirus, confirming US suspicions that Beijing told labs to destroy samples, but noted that the step was taken to prevent risks associated with the virus.

In a press briefing in Beijing Friday, senior Chinese health official Liu Dengfeng confirmed that the country’s National Health Commission had ordered destruction of coronavirus samples on January 3 “for pandemic prevention and control, which also played an important role in preventing biosafety risks,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month accused China of destroying samples as part of a cover-up over the People’s Republic handling of the pandemic. On May 3, Pompeo added that there is “a significant amount of evidence” the coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory. China rejects this version of events.

“If the laboratory conditions cannot meet the requirements for the safe preservation of samples, the samples should be destroyed on the spot or transferred to a professional institution for safekeeping,” the Journal reported Liu as saying.

The decision to name the coronavirus as ‘highly pathogenic’ necessitated “clear requirements on the collection, transportation, experimental use and destruction of the pathogen,” Liu added, US weekly magazine Newsweek reported.

The destruction of these samples would appear to fit within Chinese laws, highlighted by Liu, regarding the handling of highly pathogenic samples.

Liu went on to criticize Pompeo’s accusations of China’s handling of the virus, adding that the Secretary’s version of events “takes facts out of context with the aim of intentionally misleading people,” the Journal reported.

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