White House expresses concerns over WHO Covid-19 investigation, China responds

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 14, 2021 Published on February 14, 2021

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General   -  REUTERS

The White House on Saturday expressed concerns over the initial findings of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) expert team on the origins of Coivd-19.

United States (US) National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement said that President Joe Biden reversed the Trump Administration’s decision to disengage from the WHO understanding its importance. However, it also meant that it was holding the WHO “to the highest standards.”

“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. It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” Sullivan said in the statement.

“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak. Going forward, all countries, including China, should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies — so that the world learns as much as possible as soon as possible,” he further added.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday had said that the independent expert team sent to study the origins of the Covid-19 virus had completed its trip to China and was working on a summary report it aimed to publish next week. The full final report will be published in the coming weeks.

The WHO Director-General had said that the hypotheses of the investigation were yet open for further analysis.

“Having spoken with some members of the team, I wish to confirm that all hypotheses remain open and require further analysis and studies. Some of that work may lie outside the remit and scope of this mission,” he had said.

“We have always said that this mission would not find all the answers, but it has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the virus. The mission achieved a better understanding of the early days of the pandemic, and identified areas for further analysis and research,” he had added.

The expert team had spent four weeks in China as part of the mission to look for the origins of the virus and look further into the matter of whether the virus had escaped from a lab. WHO had said that the novel virus “most likely” emerged in animals and was transmitted to humans and it is unlikely that the virus spilled out of a lab in Wuhan, as per media reports.

A spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the US responded to the White House's concerns about the investigation criticising the US.

“What the US has done in recent years has severely undermined multilateral institutions, including the WHO, and gravely damaged international cooperation on Covid-19. But the US, acting as if none of this had ever happened, is pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself,” the spokesperson said.

“With such a track record, how can it win the confidence of the whole world? It is hoped that the US will hold itself to the highest standards, take a serious, earnest, transparent and responsible attitude, shoulder its rightful responsibility, support the WHO's work with real actions and make due contribution to the international cooperation on Covid-19. The whole world will be looking,” the spokesperson further added.

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Published on February 14, 2021
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