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China can’t be ‘compelled’ to give more info on Covid-19 origins: WHO

Members of a WHO team that visited China earlier this year hunting for Covid-19's origins have said they did not have access to all data, driving continued debate about the country's transparency

A top World Health Organisation official on 7 June said that the WHO cannot compel China to divulge more data on the origins of Covid-19. Mike Ryan, Director of the agency’s emergencies programme, said at a news conference that the “WHO doesn’t have the power to compel anyone in this regard”.

Meanwhile, he expected full ‘cooperation’ from member states. “We fully expect cooperation, input and support of all of our member states in that endeavour,” Ryan said.

He proposed that studies are needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”. There are competing theories that the virus jumped from animals, possibly starting with bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The Wuhan lab leak theory has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus. However, political observers suspect using the word “Wuhan” in place of China and stressing on “leak” is a Chinese ploy too, and that it’s Beijing that is behind the push to these stories, now that denying the origin of the virus in that country looks near-impossible.

The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak, but now it is no longer trying hard to challenge the theory.

Relevant article

Members of a WHO team that visited China earlier this year hunting for Covid-19’s origins have said they did not have access to all data, driving continued debate about the country’s transparency, reported Al Jazeera.

We fully expect cooperation, input and support of all of our member states in that endeavour, Ryan said.

There are competing theories: that the virus jumped from animals, possibly starting with bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Members of a WHO team that visited China earlier this year hunting for Covid-19’s origins have said they did not have access to all data, fueling continued debate over the country’s transparency.

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