Tuesday, September 21

US Must Share Intelligence on Covid Origins, Says WHO-Affiliate Expert | Coronavirus


A health expert affiliated with the World Health Organization has asked the US to share any intelligence it has on the origins of the coronavirus outbreak with the WHO and the scientific community.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal quoted US intelligence agencies as saying they were told that three anonymous members of a laboratory staff in the Chinese city of Wuhan were sick enough to go to hospital in November 2019 with similar symptoms. to those of Covid.

Later, US intelligence chiefs stressed that they did not know how the virus was initially transmitted, but that they had two theories: Either it arose naturally from human contact with infected animals, or it was a laboratory accident.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend, Dr Dale Fisher said the theory that the virus leaked from a laboratory “was not out of the question” but remained “unverified. Fisher, president of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, which is coordinated by WHO, urged the US to share whatever intelligence it has. “The Wall Street Journal is not really the way to share science,” he said.

A field investigation by WHO experts earlier this year concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that the pandemic started with a laboratory incident. But the terms of reference of its mission, agreed with China, were limited to studying the possible animal origins of the outbreak.

The broad consensus among scientific experts remains that the most likely explanation is that Covid-19 jumped to humans from an animal host in a natural event. However, some experts have called for further analysis of the theory of the laboratory leak, once dismissed as a conspiracy touted by Donald Trump.

Referring to the WHO visit earlier this year, Fisher said: “We believe that all laboratory workers have had serology [tests] done and all those antibody tests were negative and that was part of the reason the risk was minimized. “

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, said he did not think the initial report was extensive enough and called for more research, adding that all hypotheses about the origins of the virus causing Covid-19 “remain on table”. .

Fisher urged the WHO to establish its plans for further investigation. He said, “People haven’t really heard anything since the February mission took place, and therefore people think they have stopped searching for origins, which is far from the truth, it really has only just begun.”

UK Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the WHO should be allowed to investigate fully, telling Sky News: “I think it’s really important that the WHO can carry out its unimpeded investigation into the origins of this pandemic and that we should not leave a stone unturned. “

Fisher, who participated in a WHO mission in 2020, suggested that China’s secrecy about the origins of the virus could be due to fear of compensation claims.

He said: “Any country that found any Covid-19 on its borders before the outbreak started would suddenly shut down. That is why I would say that diplomacy is the way to go with this, creating a culture without blame. The only way to get to the bottom of this is to just say, ‘Look, there are no sanctions, we just have to fix this.’


www.theguardian.com

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