WHO asks US to share information on origin of COVID-19 after China lab claims corona virus

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The World Health Organization has urged all countries to reveal what they know about the origins of Covid-19, following claims by multiple US government agencies that a Chinese lab leak was behind the disease, which Beijing has blamed. Strongly denied.

“If a country has information about the origin of the pandemic, it is essential to share that information with WHO and the international scientific community,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, told Fox News on Tuesday that his agency now assessed the source of the Covid-19 pandemic was “most likely a possible laboratory incident in Wuhan”.

The first infection with the coronavirus was recorded in late 2019 in the Chinese city, which hosts a virus research laboratory. Chinese officials have denied the FBI’s claim, calling it a smear campaign against Beijing.

Tedros stressed that the WHO did not seek to assign blame, but wanted to “advance our understanding of how this pandemic began so that we can prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemics and epidemics”.

The politicization of basic research is making scientific work harder and the world less safe as a result, he said.

In 2021, the United Nations health agency formed the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origin of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) to trace the origin of the pandemic.

“The WHO continues to call 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.”

Ray’s comments came after a report earlier this week said the US Department of Energy had determined that a Chinese laboratory leak was the most likely cause of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, this assessment was made with “low confidence”.

Other agencies in the US intelligence community believe the virus emerged naturally.

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

Van Kerkhove said, however, that until now, he did not have access to the data on which the US report was based.

“It’s important that that information is shared” to help advance scientific study, he said.

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

More than 6.8m Covid-19 deaths and more than 758m confirmed cases have been recorded by the WHO. The organization acknowledges that the true toll is much higher.

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