The World Health Organization on Monday beat up critics of its investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, challenging those who claim they know better to go about using the smoking gun.
A WHO investigation team is in Wuhan, China, where the first cases were discovered in December 2019. It’s trying to figure out how the virus jumped from animal to human before killing more than two million people.
UN agency emergency director Michael Ryan hit those who sniffed the mission, saying the people who claimed they had information about how the pandemic broke out should emerge from the shadows.
Ryan said many critics said they “will not accept the report if it comes out” or that “other information is available that may show different results” about how the virus broke out.
“If you have the answers … please let us know,” Ryan said at a press conference from WHO headquarters in Geneva.
He asked how responsible it was to “say you will not accept a report before it is even written? To say that you have information that has not been provided?”
The WHO mission comes with heavy political baggage – China denied the team access until mid-January and there are question marks about what the experts can hope for after a year.
Beijing is keen to focus on recovering from the outbreak. The team attended a propaganda exhibition on Saturday celebrating China’s recovery from the Wuhan pandemic.
Ryan responded to a question related to the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told NBC earlier Monday that China was “far behind the mark”.
“China must step up and ensure that it is transparent, provides and exchanges information, and gives access to international experts and inspectors,” said Blinken.
“Failure to do that is a real problem.”
Ryan said the field team deserves international support, and in the meantime, “it is time for people who say and think they have information to provide”.
He added that any infectious disease research finds information that then raises more questions.
“It’s a detective story,” he said.
Virology laboratory visit
The team of experts in Wuhan has now initiated on-site investigations, particularly the Huanan seafood market, where one of the first reported groups of infections appeared, and the hospital where early patients were treated.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for Covid-19, said the team will visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump advocated an unsubstantiated theory that the virus escaped the facility.
The team is having “very productive discussions with Chinese colleagues visiting various hospitals in the Wuhan area,” said Van Kerkhove.
“They had a very good visit to the market, saw the stalls firsthand and went through them.”
Van Kerkhove said they also met with colleagues from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“They are going to visit the Institute of Virology. That is being planned,” she added.
Meanwhile, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “encouraging” that the global number of new coronavirus cases had fallen for the third week in a row.
“It shows that this virus can also be controlled with the new variants in circulation,” he said.
“We’ve been here before,” he warned.
“There have been moments in almost every country over the past year when cases have been denied and governments opened up too quickly and individuals have lost their vigilance just for the virus to roar back.”
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)