Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged China to be more transparent and share raw data about the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country to aid the ongoing international investigation into the origins of the pandemic.
The WHO head observed that the probe was being hampered by the lack of raw data.
Earlier in the year, a WHO lead team visited the central city of Wuhan, China, widely considered as the place of origin for the deadly coronavirus and submitted a joint report which stated that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.
Shutting down any arguments about a laboratory leak, the report remarked that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway”, an observation that is still contested by researchers from various countries including the United States.
“We ask China to be transparent and open and to cooperate,” the WHO official remarked during a press conference further adding that “We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened.”
Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China has called the possibility of a lab leak “absurd” while reiterating that “politicizing” the issue will hamper investigations. When asked about the WHO head’s comment on China’s reluctance to provide data, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mr. Zhao Lijian stated that some data could not be copied or allowed to leave the country as it involved personal information.
While referring to Dr. Ghebreyesus’ brief to the 194 WHO member states on the proposed second phase of the study, WHO’s Executive Director of Health Emergencies, Dr. Mike Ryan remarked that “We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director-general will outline measures to member states at a meeting tomorrow, on Friday.”