— Health

World Health Organisation backflips on China Covid-19 lab leak theory

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its previous stance that “no evidence” Covid-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan.

ON THURSDAY, the WHO chief urged China to cooperate more in the next phase of investigations into the pandemic origins, demanding more access to raw data.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also acknowledged that an initial push to all but rule out the possibility that Covid-19 may have escaped from a lab had been “premature”.

He said that WHO was laying the groundwork for moving forward with fresh investigations into where Covid-19 came from, adding: “We hope there will be better cooperation to get to the bottom of what happened.”

The UN health agency has faced intensifying pressure for a new, more in-depth investigation of Covid-19’s origins. WHO only managed to send a team of independent, international experts to China’s Wuhan in January, more than a year after Covid-19 first surfaced there in late 2019, to help their Chinese counterparts probe the pandemic origins. Dr. Tedros acknowledged on Thursday that one of the main challenges during the first phase of the investigation was “access to raw data.”


“The raw data was not shared. And now we have designed the study’s second phase, and we are asking China to be transparent, to be open and co-operate, especially on the … raw data that we asked for [in] the early days of the pandemic.”

Lab leaks ‘common’

After the first phase of the investigation, the long-delayed report was published in late March, with the international team and their Chinese counterparts drawing no firm conclusions about the pandemic origins.

Instead, they ranked several hypotheses according to how likely they believed they were, finding that it was most likely the virus jumped from bats to humans via an intermediate animal. In contrast, a theory involving the virus leaking from a laboratory was deemed “extremely unlikely”.

The investigation and report have faced criticism for lacking transparency and access and for not evaluating the lab-leak theory more deeply – a mere 440 words of the information were dedicated to discussing and dismissing it.

Long derided as a right-wing conspiracy theory and vehemently rejected by Beijing, the idea that Covid-19 may have emerged from a slab leak has gained momentum in the United States.

Dr. Tedros, who emphasized that all theories remained on the table immediately after the report was published, reiterated that more investigation into the lab leak hypothesis was needed.

“There was a premature push [to rule out that theory],” he said. The WHO chief, an immunologist, stressed that he had previously worked as a lab technician, “and lab accidents happen”.

“It’s common. I have seen it happening,” he said, stressing that “checking what happened, especially in our labs, is important”. “We need direct information on what the situation of these labs was before, at the start of the pandemic. Dr. Tedros had previously lamented that the international team could not access all the raw data needed to make a proper assessment.

Pointing to the more than four million official deaths from Covid-19 worldwide, the WHO chief said: “I think we owe it to them to know what happened. We need to know what happened to prevent the next one.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button