China under pressure after WHO chief revives lab leak theory

China confronted mounting pressure Wednesday over the investigation into the origins of Covid-19, after the WHO chief revived a theory it might have leaked from a Chinese lab and the United States led considerations over information entry.

A report by WHO and Chinese specialists launched on Tuesday had judged the lab-leak speculation extremely unlikely, saying the virus behind Covid-19 had probably jumped from bats to humans via an intermediary animal.

China warmly welcomed the report, seeing it as affirmation of its dealing with of the investigation following allegations it had tried to delay after which limit it.

The report additionally initially appeared to again China’s agency rejection of theories that the pandemic might have been triggered by a leak from a virology lab in Wuhan, the central Chinese metropolis the place the virus first emerged.

But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus on Tuesday reopened the lab leak theory, as he raised considerations concerning the stage of entry China offered to the specialists throughout their go to to Wuhan in January.

“In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data,” Tedros stated.

He referred to as for “timely and comprehensive data sharing” in future investigations.

Tedros additionally stated that though the specialists concluded the laboratory leak was the “least likely” hypotheses, this theory wanted to be probed additional.

“I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” Tedros stated of the potential for a leak.

“This requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.”

Tedros then emphasised that no theory had but been dominated out.

“Let me say clearly that as far as WHO is concerned all hypotheses remain on the table,” he stated.

The pandemic has killed almost 2.8 million folks worldwide because it first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019.

Throughout the pandemic, China has amplified theories that the virus might have surfaced outdoors of its borders or been imported on frozen meals.

China was closely criticised by the Donald Trump administration and different Western nations for delaying entry to the WHO specialists.

Joe Biden’s administration has continued to lift considerations about China’s dealing with of the probe.

The United States on Tuesday launched a press release with 13 of its allies — Britain, Japan and Australia amongst them — saying the inquiry lacked the info and samples it wanted.

“We join in expressing shared concerns regarding the recent WHO-convened study in China,” the assertion stated.

– Diverging info –

Beijing insists it was clear with the scientists.

It stated it offered open entry to moist markets, labs, sufferers and information from the primary torrid weeks of the virus, admonishing critics for “politicising” a world well being disaster.

Health officers in Beijing are as a result of give a press convention on the WHO report on Wednesday afternoon.

The motive for the diverging info from the WHO professional group was not instantly clear.

On the laboratory accident speculation, the pinnacle of the investigation group, Danish scientist Ben Embarek advised reporters on Tuesday that Chinese lab workers had acknowledged they initially feared a leak.

“Even the staff in these labs told us that was their first reaction,” Embarek stated.

“They all went back to their records… but nobody could find any trace of something similar to this virus in their records or their samples.

“Nobody has been capable of choose up any agency arguments or proof or proof that any of those labs would have been concerned in a lab leak accident.”

That said, Embarek added: “We have not carried out a full investigation or audit of any of the labs.”

Other WHO team members took to Twitter to defend the probe.

Peter Daszak, who was effusive in praise of his Chinese hosts during the January probe, hit out at the “pure politics” being performed with the findings led by components of the media.

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