The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently reached out to China in an attempt to get the Asian country to cooperate with international efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that has spread worldwide.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the international organization, said China needs to provide more access and transparency to its data. In February, WHO's first phase of investigations regarding the origin of the deadly virus ended.
Calling for China's Cooperation
The organization's analysis concluded that the notion of the COVID-19 virus leaking from a human laboratory in Wuhan, China, was highly unlikely. Researchers noted that the most possible source of the infection was bats.
On Thursday, the WHO head said the international organization needed to have access to raw patient data shortly before the start of the pandemic to accurately determine the source. However, the Chinese government refused to provide the necessary information regarding the virus. Ghebreyesus noted that China also did not cooperate with the organization during its first investigation.
The official also urged China to provide clear information regarding the Wuhan laboratory, arguing that he was aware of the possibility of accidents happening from time to time, BBC reported.
The WHO head's statements are the clearest signs that the international organization is still considering the lab leak theory as a possible origin story of the COVID-19 pandemic. The speculations that the virus started from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is one of China's top virus research labs, were spread last year, primarily supported by former President Donald Trump.
Continued Threat of the COVID-19 Virus
Ghebreyesus revealed that he is scheduled to discuss with WHO member nations regarding phase two of the international organization's investigations into the COVID-19 virus. He also urged other countries to pressure China into cooperating with the analyses by providing much needed data from the beginning of the health crisis, Forbes reported.
German Health Minister Hens Spahn also urged Chinese officials to allow investigations into the COVID-19 virus' origins to continue. During a visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Spahn announced a $413 million donation that would support the international organization's ACT-Accelerator Program. The program aims to distribute sufficient COVID-19 vaccines to all countries worldwide, ABC reported.
And as more and more people globally are starting to become complacent despite the risks posed by the pandemic, Ghebreyesus warned citizens that the health crisis is not yet over. The statement comes as deadly variants of the COVID-19 virus are emerging and are observed to be more transmissible than the original strain.
Committee chairman Didier Houssin said the organization was continuing to go after the virus and that the pandemic was still going strong. In Africa, deaths related to the coronavirus have surged by 43% in the last week, which is primarily a result of intensive care beds and oxygen in the country running dangerously low, the WHO said. All these issues follow growing doubt over WHO's capability to properly investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.