The White House on Saturday urged China to provide data from the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it had “deep concerns” about the way the COVID-19 report’s findings are reported World Health Organization.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement that it is imperative that the report be independent and free of “changes by the Chinese government,” reiterating the concerns of the administration of former President Donald Trump, who is also a WHO member had resigned over the problem.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy returned with a strongly worded statement that the United States has damaged multilateral cooperation and the WHO in recent years and should not point fingers at China and other countries that supported WHO during COVID – 19 pandemic.
China welcomed the US decision to revert to WHO engagement, but Washington should stick to the “highest standards” rather than targeting other countries, the spokesman said.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that all hypotheses about the origins of COVID-19 are still open after Washington announced it would review data from a WHO-led mission in China where the virus first appeared.
A WHO-led mission that spent four weeks in China investigating the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak said this week that it was no longer looking into whether the virus escaped from a laboratory, which thought it highly unlikely.
The Trump administration suspected that the virus could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, something Beijing strongly denies.
Sullivan noted that US President Joe Biden was quick to reverse the decision to break away from WHO, but said it was imperative to protect the organization’s credibility.
“Getting WHO back on track also means keeping them at the highest level,” said Sullivan. “We have deep concerns about the way the initial results of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process by which they were achieved.”
Biden, who is spending his first weekend at the Camp David Presidential Retreat in Maryland, should meet with his national security advisors on Saturday, a White House official said.
According to one of the team’s investigators, China refused to provide raw data on early COVID-19 cases to the WHO-led team to investigate the causes of the pandemic, potentially making efforts difficult to understand the beginning of the outbreak.
The team had requested raw patient data on 174 cases that China had already identified in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan city in December 2019, as well as other cases but only received a summary, Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious disease expert and member of the WHO teams, said Reuters.
“It is imperative that this report is independent and that expert results are free from interference or change by the Chinese government,” said Sullivan.
“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must provide its data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” he said.
The data problem was not addressed in the embassy declaration.
WHO did not respond to requests for comment.
Going forward, all countries, including China, should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies, Sullivan said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)