“Without Full Access…”: WHO Says China Has More Covid Origin Data
Geneva: The World Health Organization said Thursday it was sure that China had far more data that could shed light on the origins of Covid, demanding that Beijing immediately share all relevant information.
“Without full access to the information that China has, … all hypotheses are on the table,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
“That’s WHO’s position and that’s why we have been asking China to be cooperative on this,” he said, insisting that if Beijing does provide the missing data “we will know what happened or how it started”.
More than three years after Covid-19 first surfaced, heated debate around how the origins of the pandemic is still raging.
The issue has proved divisive for the scientific community and even different US government agencies, drawn between a theory that the virus jumped naturally to humans from animals and one maintaining that the virus likely leaked from a Wuhan lab — a claim that China has angrily denied.
Late last month, new evidence suddenly emerged that raccoon dogs, known to be able to carry and transmit viruses similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid, were at the Chinese market when the disease was first detected in humans.
The researchers who unexpectedly stumbled over the genetic data say that it supports — but cannot definitively prove — the theory that the virus originated in animals, possibly first jumping over to humans at the market in the city of Wuhan.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead, told journalist Thursday that the new data provided “clues”, but no clear answers, insisting that the data “collected in January and February 2020, more than three years ago” should have been shared long ago.
“Without information, without data to make a proper assessment, it’s very difficult for us to give a concrete answer. And in the present time, we don’t have a concrete answer of how the pandemic began,” she said.
But she voiced certainty that China’s “incredible scientists” had conducted far more studies and collected much more data that could be relevant in the search.
“We know there is more information that’s out there,” she said.
“We need scientists, public health professionals and governments to share this information. This is not a game.”