WHO urges countries to come clean on Covid origins amid ‘lab leak’ claims

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

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

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

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, stressed that “if a country has information about the origin of the pandemic, it is essential to share that information with the WHO and the international scientific community.”

“Not to apportion blame, but to advance our understanding of how this pandemic began so that we can prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics and pandemics,” he told a news conference. “

“WHO has not abandoned any plans to identify the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he stressed.

In 2021, the United Nations health agency established the so-called Scientific Advisory Group on the Origin of Novel Pathogens, which identified key studies needed in China and elsewhere to test hypotheses on the origin of the pandemic.

– WHO urges transparency –

“The WHO has been calling on China to be transparent in sharing data and conducting necessary investigations and sharing results,” Tedros said.

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

But he said the continued politicization of basic research was turning a purely scientific process into a geopolitical football, making the task harder – and thus the world less safe.

The first infection was recorded in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Ray’s comments come after a report earlier this week said the US Department of Energy had determined that a leak from a Chinese laboratory was the most likely cause of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The department works with a network of national laboratories, including some conducting advanced biological research. Other agencies in the US intelligence community believe the virus emerged naturally.

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