WHO accuses China of holding back information on Covid origins
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has accused China of withholding information on Covid origins. The global health agency criticised China for not sharing scientific data samples taken from a market Wuhan in 2020, saying that it could have provided significant information and helped tackle the pandemic, which claimed millions of lives worldwide, reports The New York Times (NYT) newspaper.
It is widely believed that an animal market at Huanan in central China’s Wuhan city was the epicentre of the pandemic. It is claimed that from there, the SARS-CoV-2 virus rapidly spread to other locations in Wuhan in late 2019 and then to the rest of the world
On Friday, the WHO asked the Chinese why the data from three years ago was not shared and why the data could not be found now after it was published online in January.
“Every piece of data relating to studying the origins of COVID-19 needs to be shared with the international community immediately. These data could have – and should have – been shared three years ago,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Friday.
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“We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results. Understanding how the pandemic began remains both a moral and scientific imperative,” he said.
According to an NYT report, before the data got disappeared, an international team of virus experts analysed it and revealed that the samples support the idea that the pandemic could have begun from the illegally traded raccoon dogs.
The WHO chief said that while the data was online, scientists from a number of countries downloaded the data and analysed it.
“As soon as we became aware of this data, we contacted the Chinese CDC and urged them to share it with WHO and the international scientific community so it can be analysed,” he said, adding that WHO also convened the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO, which met on Tuesday.
The report further mentioned that the genetic data drawn from swabs were taken from in and around the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market starting in January 2020 “shortly after the Chinese authorities had shut down the market because of suspicions that it was linked to the outbreak of a new virus.”
(With inputs from agencies)