WHO asks China to give 'full access' to probe Covid origins: Report
PTC News Desk: World Health Organization (WHO) has urged China to be more transparent about the origins of Covid-19 and has shown readiness to send a second investigative team to look into the matter. The origins of the pandemic remain unknown nearly four years after the first cases came to light in Wuhan, China, according to the Financial Times.
"We are urging China to provide full access, and we are encouraging countries to raise this issue in their bilateral discussions, urging Beijing to cooperate," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We have already formally requested information from them and are also prepared to send a team if they grant us permission to do so," he added.
The WHO chief's remarks come as health officials update vaccines in response to an increase in Covid-19 infections. According to the Financial Times, a British daily business newspaper, while scientists concur that the world is no longer in the acute phase of the pandemic, the global health organization emphasized the necessity for all nations to increase surveillance of the highly mutated BA.2.86 and other Omicron subvariants.
World leaders will meet in New York next week to discuss pandemic preparedness at the United Nations General Assembly.
Tedros disclosed that in January 2020, he travelled to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to enable the first WHO team of experts to investigate Covid-19. This mission, led by WHO's Bruce Aylward, was the first to set foot inside China to investigate the virus's origins.
There are two main theories about the virus's origins: a zoonotic transfer from animals to humans via Wuhan's wet markets, or contagion stemming from an accidental leak from the city's virology laboratory.
However, no scientific consensus has been achieved, and Tedros highlighted that all possibilities remain "on the table," noting, "We cannot make definitive conclusions unless we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. But I believe we will find an answer. It is simply a matter of time."
Tedros detailed his encounter with President Xi, saying, "I met with the president and the officials beneath him initially hesitated to permit us to send a team. So I had to travel there to explain why it was so crucial."
The WHO designated Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the highest designation possible, the day after Tedros returned to Geneva. According to the Financial Times, it was only lifted in May of this year.