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The director-general of the World Health Organization has urged Beijing to provide more information about the origins of Covid-19 and is preparing to send a second team to investigate the matter, as the origins of the epidemic remain unclear nearly four years after the first case emerged. Chinese city Wuhan.
“We are urging China to grant full access and we are asking countries to raise this issue in bilateral meetings – [to urge Beijing] Cooperation,” Tedros said. “We have made a written request for information to be provided to us. . .and [are] We would be willing to send a team if they would allow it. “
The WHO director-general’s comments came as health authorities updated vaccines following a rise in coronavirus cases. While scientists agree that the world is no longer in the severe phase of the pandemic, global health agencies say countries should step up surveillance of the highly mutated BA.2.86 and other Omicron subvariants.
World leaders will discuss pandemic preparedness for the first time at a high-level meeting during the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
Tedros told the Financial Times that he traveled to Beijing to persuade Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow entry to the first Covid-19 expert team, led by the World Health Organization’s Bruce Aylward, in January 2020. China.
The two best-known theories posit that the disease was either transmitted from animals to humans via Wuhan’s fresh food markets, or that the infection occurred as a result of an accidental leak from the city’s virology laboratory. But the debate fell short of scientific consensus, and Tedros reiterated that all options remained “on the table.”
“We can’t say this or that unless we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. But he believes “we’re going to get answers. It’s just a matter of time.”
When meeting with Xi Jinping, Tedros said: “I went to see the president. The officials below him were unwilling to let us send a team. So I had to travel to convince him why this was so important.”
He said the day after Tedros returned to Geneva, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a public health emergency of international concern, the highest possible level. The designation was lifted only in May this year.
The World Health Organization has been accused of being too lenient with China’s slow initial response, which critics say allowed global transmission rates to spike beyond its borders. But Tedros denied that, saying the organization cooperated with China when it took steps to contain the virus and then publicly criticized Beijing when it did not allow health agencies to effectively investigate the origins of Covid-19.
The World Health Organization returned to China in early 2021 for its first origin-tracing mission, but returned an inconclusive and heavily criticized report, citing Beijing’s lack of cooperation as a factor. “Regarding the origins study, because they didn’t give us full participation, we started discussing it privately and then when they refused to cooperate, we made it public,” Tedros said.
“If we knew [the origin], then we can block the next one. So it’s science,” he said. “If we don’t know what’s going on, then it’s not morally correct. “
“This pandemic has been politicized from the beginning,” he said. In mid-2020, as scrutiny of the pathogen outbreak grew, former U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily withdrew funding and threatened to pull Washington out of the World Health Organization. Tedros said such moves complicate the need to build “global solidarity” around the management of public health crises.
Tedros said that while there were still no answers “for all those paying the price of this pandemic”, the coronavirus crisis had made many governments realize the value of improving health system resilience.
“In many countries, health is not seen as central to development. Health is actually seen as a cost,” he said. “Now [after the pandemic] I think people are starting to realize that this is actually an investment that can prevent a pandemic from happening. “