Too early to rule out a potential link between Covid & Lab Leak: WHO Chief

Berlin: The head of the World Health Organization has acknowledged that it was too early to rule out a potential link between the COVID-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak, saying he is asking China to be more transparent when researchers search for the origin of the coronavirus. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been a premature push to rule out the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan – undermining the WHO’s own March report, which concluded a laboratory leak was highly unlikely.Read also – The world is in the early stages of Covid-19 third wave: WHO warns in mid-Delta Variant Surge

I was a laboratory technician myself, I am an immunologist, and I have worked in the laboratory, and laboratory accidents happen, Tedros said.

Tedros also said accessing raw data had been a challenge for the international team that traveled to China earlier this year to investigate the source of COVID-19. The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Tedros told reporters that the UN health agency based in Geneva is actually asking China to be transparent, open and cooperative, especially about the information, raw data, that we asked for in the early days of the pandemic.

In recent months, the idea that the pandemic somehow started in a laboratory and may have involved a manipulated virus has gained traction, especially with President Joe Biden ordering a review by U.S. intelligence to assess the possibility in May.

China has backed off aggressively, arguing that attempts to link the origin of COVID-19 to a laboratory are politically motivated and have suggested that the outbreak may have started abroad. At the WHO’s annual meeting with health ministers this spring, China said that the future search for the origin of COVID-19 should continue in other countries.

Most researchers suspect that coronavirus is derived from bats, but the exact route by which it first jumped into humans – via an intermediate animal or otherwise – has not yet been determined. It typically takes decades to narrow down the natural source of an animal virus such as Ebola or SARS. Tedros said it is important to check what happened, especially in our labs, to nail down if the pandemic had any lab connections.

(With PTI inputs)

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