China under threat of action over coronavirus – ‘We need international investigation’

Speaking to Sky News, the crossbench peer called for an international investigation into the Chinese communist government and its mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

Lord Ricketts also urged western governments to learn how to rely on each other for future crises avoiding dependence on China and other nationalist authoritarian regimes.

He said: “Politically, I think what has happened and the fact that this came from China – there were clearly weaknesses in the initial Chinese response and lack of transparencies.

“There’s got to be an international investigation into how this happened.

“And I think western countries have got to learn from it.

“For example, to cooperate more closely on avoiding dependence on China for strategic technology and manufacturing.

“But also, looking again at the way we work among western countries more widely to see whether we can avoid a return of nationalism as a result of this crisis.

“The past suggests that that doesn’t end well.”

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It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that all available evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus originated in bats in China late last year and it was not manipulated or constructed in a laboratory.

US President Donald Trump said last week that his government was trying to determine whether the virus emanated from a lab in Wuhan in central China.

“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed virus in a lab or somewhere else,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a Geneva news briefing.

“It is probable, likely that the virus is of animal origin.”

It was not clear how the virus had jumped the species barrier to humans but there had “certainly” been an intermediate animal host, she added.

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White House adviser Peter Navarro charged on Monday that China may be withholding data about early coronavirus infections because it wants to win the commercial race to create a vaccine.

The United States, which has been the country worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic according to official statistics, has repeatedly calling on Beijing to share early data on the outbreak, which began in China.

Mr Navarro told Fox Business Network: ”One of the reasons that they may not have let us in and given us the data on this virus early, is they’re racing to get a vaccine and they think this is just a competitive business race, it’s a business proposition so that they can sell the vaccines to the world.”

“But we’re going to beat them. We’re going to beat them because of President Trump’s leadership. We’re going to beat them because HHS has already got a five-company horse race,” he added, referring to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

President Trump has named Mr Navarro, an outspoken critic of China, to work on supply-line issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic.


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There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has killed more than 165,854 globally, with more than 2.41 million infected, according to a Reuters tally as of 1400 GMT Monday.

The United States has more than 760,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and over 41,100 deaths.

The US Government has cut deals with Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc and said it is in talks with at least two other companies to prepare them to produce massive quantities of coronavirus vaccines even before safe and effective ones become available.

Most public health officials say no vaccine is expected to be ready for use until at least 2021, as they must still be widely tested in humans before being administered to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people to prevent infection.

The director of HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority told Reuters last month it plans to support five or six experimental vaccine candidates, with the hopes of having two or three successful ones.

China has approved at least three experimental coronavirus vaccines to be tested in human trials since the virus outbreak.

The state-controlled Beijing Daily newspaper cited the director at the Chinese Center for Disease Control Prevention, as saying that China might use experimental vaccines on some people, such as medical workers, as early as by the end of this year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week pressed China’s top diplomat on the need for full transparency and information sharing in the fight against the virus. China insists it has been transparent and has sharply criticised US officials who cast doubt on that.

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