COVID-19

WHO DG Dr. Tedros asks China to be “transparent and open and to cooperate” in second phase of investigations into origins of Covid-19 pandemic

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros has asked China to be transparent and open and to cooperate in the second phase of investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China.

He said on Thursday that investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China were being hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of spread there and urged it to be more transparent. He told a news conference on Thursday, “We ask China to be transparent and open and to cooperate.” He further said, “We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened.”

Tedros will brief the UN health body’s 194 member states on Friday regarding a proposed second phase of study, WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said. “We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director general will outline measures to member states at a meeting tomorrow, on Friday,” Ryan told reporters.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who held talks with WHO DG Dr. Tedros on Thursday, urged China to enable investigations into the origins of the pandemic to continue, saying more information was needed. Spahn, speaking during a visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, also announced a 260 million euro (US$307 million) donation to WHO’s ACT-Accelerator programme, which aims to ensure the entire world, including poorer countries, receive Covid-19 vaccines and tests.

A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around the central city of Wuhan with Chinese researchers and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. It said that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway”, but countries including the United States and some scientists were not satisfied.

China has called the theory of virus escaping from a Wuhan laboratory “absurd” and said repeatedly that “politicising” the issue will hamper investigations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday that China is looking into the draft plan of second phase of study, made by the WHO secretariate.

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