The United States and other countries have called for further investigation into the origins of the pandemic, after an international mission to China earlier this year proved inconclusive.
Addressing the main annual meeting of member states of the World Health Organization in Geneva, representatives from several countries stressed the continued need to solve the mystery of the spread of Covid-19 in humans.
“We stress the importance of a thorough and expert investigation into the origins of Covid-19,” US Representative Jeremy Konyndyk said at the meeting on Tuesday.
Australia, Japan and Portugal were among other countries calling for more progress in the investigation, while the British representative urged that any investigation be “timely, expertly conducted and based on evidence. solid science ”.
Determining how the virus that causes Covid-19 began to spread is considered essential to prevent future outbreaks.
But a long-delayed report by the team of international experts sent to Wuhan and their Chinese counterparts failed to draw firm conclusions about the origins of the pandemic. Instead, they ranked a number of hypotheses based on their likelihood.
The report said the virus passing from bats to humans via an intermediate animal was the most likely scenario, while saying a theory involving the virus escaping from a lab was “extremely unlikely. “.
However, after the report was released, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted that all theories remain on the table.
The investigation and report were also criticized for their lack of transparency and access, and for failing to further assess the theory of laboratory leaks. There had been calls for the WHA, which has the power to redefine the subject of the investigation, to decide on the next steps of the investigation.
One concern is the mandate for the investigation negotiated with Beijing at the WHA last May, which said the task was to identify the “zoonotic” – or animal – source of the virus.
US Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra supported the call for a new term.
“Phase 2 of the study on the origins of Covid must be launched with transparent, science-based terms of reference giving international experts the independence necessary to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of it. epidemic, ”he told the assembly. .
But amid diplomatic sensitivities, no resolution on the way forward is on the agenda.
“The purpose of the investigation is not to assign blame, but to be based on science, to find the origin of the virus and epidemics, and to help us all prevent future global disasters from unfolding. produce, ”Konyndyk said.