As the second phase of investigations into the origin of Covid-19 virus in China is set to start, the World Health Organisation is asking China to provide access to the raw data captured on around when the disease started.
Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the ongoing investigations into the origin of the pandemic were being slowed by the lack of access to raw data on the first days of the spread in the Asian country.
A WHO-led team of investigators spent four weeks in Wuhan with Chinese researchers and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.
It said that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway, but countries including the US and some scientists were not satisfied.”
“We ask China to be transparent and open and to cooperate,” Dr Tedros said adding that “we owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened.”
Initially it had been speculated that the virus could have leaked from a Wuhan research laboratory, a claim that China denied, terming it absurd, and asking that the investigations should not be politicized lest it hampers the process.
“More information is needed before excluding the theory that the coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in China, which the country’s government has repeatedly denied, said Dr Tedros.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who held talks with Dr Tedros has also urged China to allow investigations into the origins of COVID-19 disease to continue, saying more information was needed.
Spahn also announced a $307 million donation to WHO’s ACT-Accelerator programme, which aims to ensure the entire world, including poor countries, receive COVID-19 vaccines and tests.