China Covid origin: WHO chief vows to extend probe: Wuhan report ‘not extensive enough’ | World | News
WHO chief vows to extend Covid origin probe: Wuhan report ‘not extensive enough’
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back at China and accused the Communist nation of withholding data from an expert WHO panel and said the lab-leak theory needed “further investigation”. This came after the report rejected the theory altogether.
While the report said the virus originating in a laboratory was “extremely unlikely”, Mr Ghebreyesus said all “hypotheses are open”.
He said: “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing.
“Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.”
The report added how Beijing’s theory that the virus originated elsewhere and travelled to China via frozen food imports was “possible”, although unlikely.
But scientists argued the virus passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal such as mink, pangolins, rabbits and ferret badgers.
However, the panel could not reach a conclusion on whether the Huanan seafood market – which was linked to early cases of the virus – was the place where the pandemic was born.
This comes amid ongoing backlash after the WHO praised China for the “remarkable speed” in responding to the pandemic.
Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth hit back at the organisation and said they were guilty of “institutional complicity”.
He told reporters last month: “WHO has absolutely refused as an institution to say anything critical about China’s cover-up of human-to-human transmission, or its ongoing refusal to provide the basic evidence.
“What we need is an honest, vigorous inquiry rather than further deference to China’s cover-up efforts.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s top diplomats dismissed the report and claimed it was biased towards Beijing.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded the report as a “sham” and claimed the Wuhan Institute of Virology “remains the most likely source of the virus”.
Mr Pompeo accused the WHO of being “complicit” in the outbreak of the virus.
Antony Blinken, the current envoy, said Beijing “helped to write it”.
Mr Trump famously attacked the WHO last year and accused the organisation of being a “puppet of China”.
The former US president began a 12-month process of withdrawing from the organisation last year but was reversed by his successor Joe Biden in January.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Trump said: “The WHO really blew it.
“For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric.
“We will be giving that a good look.
“Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”
Back in January, the WHO undertook a month-long investigation into the origins of the virus but produced no answers to key questions.
According to reports at the time, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in central China collected extensive virus samples, which led to allegations it may have caused the original outbreak of the virus.
The WHO’s research team intended to discover the origins of the virus, which is believed to have originated in bats before being passed to humans through another animal.
This first cases of the virus were reported as ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan back in 2019.
More to follow…