All Theories Still Open Regarding COVID-19 Origins, WHO Chief Says

Sunday, 14 Feb, 2021

They also supplied aggregated data and analysis on retrospective searches through medical records in the months before the Wuhan outbreak was identified, saying that they had found no evidence of the virus.

Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at a news conference on COVID-19 at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva on Friday.

Liang Wannian, an expert with China's Health Commission, said Covid-19 could have been in other regions before it was detected in Wuhan.

"Well, I think the jury's still out".

He also called on Beijing to "disclose its data related to the beginning of the outbreak".

Ben Embarek said the team would have been keen to have access to raw data about earlier cases of illnesses, including pneumonia, flu and fever, that could conceivably have been COVID-19.

Psaki told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday that the administration was not involved in the "planning and implementation" of the investigation and wants to take an independent review of its findings and underlying data.

The head of the Chinese side of the mission, Liang Wannian, said the virus can travel long distances on the surface of cold chain products, and environmental samples from Huanan market - which sold frozen wild animals and seafood - showed "widespread contamination" of the virus.

The Trump administration in the United States, which left office last month, had said it suspected the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing strongly denied.

At a press conference Friday in Geneva alongside Wuhan mission leader Peter Ben Embarek, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the team had conducted a "very important scientific exercise in very hard circumstances".

He said the laboratory theory was "not in the hypotheses that we will suggest for future studies".

But as the preliminary findings were released, the Biden administration began expressing skepticism that the World Health Organization report would offer a full picture of how the virus spread throughout Wuhan into the rest of China and globally.

"It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or adjustment by the Chinese government", he added "To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak". However, some of the investigators have developed a habit of dropping little passive-aggressive complaints about China's secrecy into their public statements, as with Danish epidemiologist Thea Fischer remarking that "sometimes emotions have run really high" during her trip to Wuhan, or Dwyer shrugging off China's refusal to provide requested blood samples from influenza screenings conducted just before the pandemic erupted.

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Going forward, he said, the world should consider trying to run source investigations "in parallel".

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