World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus has admitted it was “premature” to rule out the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic may have originated from a Chinese laboratory.
Tedros told reporters that an international team which travelled to China earlier this year to investigate the pandemic’s origin had struggled to gain access to raw data.
He said there was a “premature push” to rule out the possibility that the COVID-19 virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan – even though the WHO said in March that a lab leak was “extremely unlikely.”
“I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” Tedros said. “It’s common.”
He said the WHO is “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”
“We need information, direct information on what the situation of this lab was before and at the start of the pandemic,” the WHO chief said, urging China to cooperate. “If we get full information, we can exclude (the lab leak theory).”
The theory that the virus may have originated in a lab has been doing the rounds for months but it has gained traction in recent months, with US President Joe Biden recently ordering a review of American intelligence to assess this possibility.
China has decried these theories as politically motivated and has urged the WHO to search for the virus’ origin in other countries.
What do you make of this development?