WHO wants proof to support US claims of Covid origin
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the US, and other countries, to release intelligence on the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, cautioning against unsubstantiated speculations and “politicization” of the issue. The move comes after Washington claimed the pathogen “likely” leaked from a Chinese laboratory.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke at length about the need to identify the ultimate starting point for the global health crisis during a media briefing on Friday, calling it a “scientific” and “moral imperative.”
“If any country has information about the origins of the pandemic, it’s essential for that information to be shared with WHO and the international scientific community,” he said, noting he had been in touch with Chinese officials on the matter as recently as a few weeks ago.
The agency’s Covid-19 technical lead – Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist – also stated that the WHO had reached out to Washington’s embassy in Switzerland for more information on Covid’s origins, after FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed the virus “most likely” escaped from a Chinese lab in comments to Fox earlier this week, citing a bureau assessment that has not been made public.
“It remains vital that that information is shared,” she said, adding that the US has so far not offered access to its data.
Beijing has vocally denied suggestions the pathogen may have escaped from its high-security virology laboratory in the city of Wuhan – among the first sites Covid-19 was detected in late 2019 – with PRC officials dismissing the theory as an attempt to smear China.
Tedros went on to warn against “the continued politicization of the origins research,” saying that sparring between rival nations has turned the issue into a “geopolitical football, which only makes the task of identifying the origins more difficult. And that makes the world less safe.” Until there is greater transparency from world leaders on the question, he said “all hypotheses” on the origins of the virus “remain on the table.”