US raises concerns over China's interference in WHO's probe on COVID-19 origin


WASHINGTON: The US on Saturday raised concerns over the possibility of the Chinese government’s interference in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan.
“We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them,” said Jake Sullivan, US National Security Adviser.
He stressed on the importance of an investigation that is “free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government” into the origin of COVID-19.
“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” he added.
While President Joe Biden has moved to re-join the WHO, the US had recently refused to accept the latest findings by the global health body and said it will independently verify the results using its own intelligence.
“Re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards”, Sullivan said adding, “And at this critical moment, protecting the WHO’s credibility is a paramount priority.”
Weeks after a team of WHO experts launched a probe into the origin of the COVID-19 in Wuhan, the global health body on Tuesday had said that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulation in any animal species in China.
During a press conference, Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO mission in Wuhan, stated four hypotheses on how the virus spread but reiterated that “laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population”.
“It has not been possible to pinpoint any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease, and they indicate that currently and also back in 2019 it does not look like there was the circulation of the virus in any animal species in the country,” he said.
He further said that “four main hypotheses or groups of hypotheses” have been identified on how the COVID-19 virus might have introduced among the humans.
“Our initial findings suggest that introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely passway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research … The findings suggest that a laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population,” the WHO expert said.
Speaking on the virus got leaked from Wuhan’s institute of virology, Embarek said, “We also looked at Wuhan’s institute of virology … the laboratory and the state of the laboratory, and it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place. We also know that lab incidents are, of course, extremely rare.”

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