A top World Health Organization official said on Monday that the WHO can’t compel China to divulge more data on COVID-19’s origins, while adding it will propose studies needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”, Reuters report.
Mike Ryan, director of the agency’s emergencies programme, when pressed by a reporter on how the WHO will “compel” China into being more open, said at a press conference that the “WHO doesn’t have the power to compel anyone in this regard”.
“We fully expect cooperation, input and support of all of our member states in that endeavour,” Ryan said.
According to Reuters, there are competing theories: that the virus jumped from animals, possibly starting with bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Members of a WHO team that visited China earlier this year hunting for COVID-19’s origins have said they did not have access to all data, fueling continued debate over the country’s transparency.
The Wuhan lab leak theory, as reporters have noted has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus.
The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted last year that there was “significant evidence” that the virus came from the lab, while releasing no proof and acknowledging that there was no certainty.
Ex-President Donald Trump was particularly critical of China and amplified conspiracy theories that Beijing deliberately released the virus.
Meanwhile, the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said six months since the first coronavirus vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered “almost 44 percent of the world’s doses.”
“Low-income countries have administered just 0.4 percent. The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn’t changed in months.”
Tedros has called for a massive global effort to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population of all countries by September, and at least 30 percent by the end of the year.
Accomplishing this will require an additional 250 million doses by September, with 100 million doses in June and July alone, Al Jazeera reports.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Al Jazeera | Reuters | POOL/AFP via Getty Images