June 16, 2024

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Origin of Covid: WHO calls on Washington to tell all it knows

Origin of Covid: WHO calls on Washington to tell all it knows

The WHO on Friday urged all countries, including the United States, to share information about the origins of COVID after the FBI and the US Department of Energy ruled that a laboratory leak was the cause of the outbreak.

• Read more: FBI Says COVID-19 ‘Most Likely’ Caused by Lab Leak in Wuhan

• Read more: Origins of COVID: China considers itself “dirty” over new allegations

“If a country has information about the origin of an epidemic, it is important to share this information with WHO and the international scientific community,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Gebreus said during his regular press conference.

It’s not about “pointing to blame,” he said, but about “improving our understanding of how this epidemic started.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said this week that a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China, was “very likely” to be the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, a similar hypothesis put forward by the US Department of Defense two days after. Energy.

AFP

WHO’s head of the COVID response, Maria Van Gerkov, told reporters that the agency asked the Americans to share information from the Department of Energy and other agencies.

“At this time, we do not have access to these reports or the data that made it possible to draw these reports,” he admitted.

The scientific community believes that knowing its origin is important to better combat this scourge or avoid future outbreaks.

But it is divided between proponents of the intermediate animal transmission hypothesis and those who defend the theory of flight from a laboratory in Wuhan.

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Dr Tedros sees it as a “scientific imperative” but also a “moral” one for the millions of victims and their families.

He lamented the “continuous politicization” of this search for the origins of the worst pandemic in a century, turning what “should be a purely scientific process” into a geopolitical game.

According to unnamed sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and CNN, the new intelligence would have tilted the US Energy Department’s analysis in favor of the leak hypothesis.

The US intelligence world is now further divided, with some agencies believing that Covid emerged through natural transmission.

The FBI director also accused China of trying to block the US-led investigation into the causes of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beijing strongly denies these claims.

The epidemic has claimed more than 7 million lives since the end of 2019, according to figures that are undoubtedly far below reality.

A team of experts under the leadership of the WHO and together with their Chinese counterparts tried to unravel the mystery of the origin of Wuhan in China in early 2021, when the epidemic seems to have started.

In a joint report, they supported the hypothesis that the highly contagious virus was transmitted to humans by an animal that played intermediary between bats and humans, perhaps at a market in the city.

Neither team was able to return to China and WHO officials repeatedly requested more data, which until then had always been denied.

Dr Tedros on Friday repeatedly called on Beijing to “be transparent in sharing data, carry out the necessary investigations and share the results”, saying the WHO did not want to abandon the research.

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He reaffirmed that he had written to several senior Chinese leaders and had spoken to them on several occasions “a few weeks ago”.

For now, he concluded, “all hypotheses (…) are on the table.”

He also urged states to start negotiations soon at the WHO on a draft global agreement on infectious diseases, aimed at sharing information and addressing disparities in access to vaccines between countries.

Dr Tedros said he hoped the talks would be concluded by May 2024 and called on countries to “learn the lessons of this pandemic” to avoid repeating its mistakes.