All theories of the origin of Covid remain on the table: WHO after US China Lab’s claim



The WHO on Friday urged all countries to reveal what they know about the origins of Covid-19, following US claims of a Chinese lab leak and furious denials from Beijing.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News on Tuesday that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had now determined that the source of the Covid-19 pandemic was “most likely a possible lab incident in Wuhan.”

The first infections with the new coronavirus were registered at the end of 2019 in the Chinese city, where a laboratory for virus research is located.

Chinese officials have angrily denied the FBI claim, calling it a smear campaign against Beijing.

“If a country has information about the origin of the pandemic, it is essential that that information is shared with WHO and the international scientific community,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

“Not to blame, but to increase our understanding of how this pandemic started so that we can prevent, prepare for and respond to future epidemics and pandemics.

“The WHO has not abandoned any plans to trace the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told reporters.

The WHO insists on transparency

In 2021, the UN health organization established the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) to investigate the origins of the pandemic.

“WHO continues to call on China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct necessary studies and share the results,” Tedros said, adding that he had written and spoken to top Chinese leaders on multiple occasions.

“Until then, all hypotheses about the origin of the virus remain on the table.”

But he added that the politicization of origin research made scientific work more difficult — and the world less safe as a result.

FBI Chief Wray’s comments came after a report earlier this week said the U.S. Department of Energy determined a Chinese lab leak was the most likely cause of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The department collaborates with a network of national laboratories, including some involved in advanced biological research. Other agencies within the US intelligence community believe the virus originated naturally.

Share the data, says the WHO

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said WHO had contacted the US mission in Geneva for more information.

Until now, however, they had no access to the data on which the US reports were based, says Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist.

“It remains vital that that information is shared,” she added to advance scientific studies.

Tedros said it was a moral imperative to find out how the pandemic started, for the sake of the millions who lost their lives to Covid-19 and those living with a long Covid.

More than 6.8 million Covid-19 deaths and more than 758 million confirmed cases have been reported to the WHO, which acknowledges that the true number is much higher.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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