“To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak,” United States (US) National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says after the World Health Organization (WHO) has released it findings on a month-long study of the origins of the strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (CoViD-19).
WHO experts voiced their frustration over the lack of access to data during their recent mission to China to probe the origins of the coronavirus. China refused to give raw data on early coronavirus cases, according to one of the team’s investigators. They were only provided a summary, said Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious diseases expert and a member of the WHO team, told Reuters news agency.
US has ‘deep concerns’
The White House expressed “deep concerns” about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 report on the pandemic’s origin.
In a statement Sullivan says that it is imperative that the report be independent and free from “alteration by the Chinese government,” echoing concerns raised by former President Donald Trump’s administration on the issue. The Trump administration had exited the WHO, alleging the international health body was under Chinese influence.
“Reengaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards,” Sullivan said. “We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”
The Trump administration also said it suspected the coronavirus may have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, an allegation that Beijing strongly denies.
China hits back
Over the weekend’s two-hour phone conversation between the two nations, China hits back at the US over allegations from the White House that Beijing withheld some information about the coronavirus outbreak from World Health Organization investigators.
China released a statement from its Washington embassy on Sunday, that says the US had already gravely damaged international cooperation on Covid-19 and is now “pointing fingers at other countries who have been faithfully supporting the WHO and at the WHO itself”.
While it welcomes President Joe Biden’s decision to reverse the Trump administration’s move to leave the WHO, China hopes the US would “hold itself to the highest standards, take a serious, earnest, transparent and responsible attitude, shoulder its rightful responsibility, support the WHO’s work with real actions and make due contribution to the international cooperation on Covid-19” the statement says.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday all hypotheses were still open about the origins of Covid-19, after Washington said it wanted to review data from a WHO-led mission to China, where the virus first emerged. (JSM/JuanManila)