The World Health Organization urged all countries to come forward with any information they might have on the origins of COVID-19, but slammed the politicization of the virus’s source.
“If any country has information about the origins of the pandemic, it’s essential for that information to be shared with WHO and the international scientific community,” WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.
The politicization of the origins research “has turned what should be a purely scientific process into a geopolitical football,” Ghebreyesus said, making the task more difficult and the world less safe.
Ghebreyesus’ comments were a response to a recent report from the U.S. Energy Department which assessed that the virus most likely came from a “potential lab leak” in Wuhan. The agency’s assessment was made with “low confidence.” Beijing immediately rejected the report and accused the U.S. of trying to “smear” China.
A UN group set up in 2021 to investigate the origins of the pandemic said last year that studies must be done in China and other countries to either confirm or eliminate the various theories on the virus’s origins.
On Friday, Ghebreyesus called on China “to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results,” adding that in the meantime, “all hypotheses on the origins of the virus remain on the table.”
He also asserted that WHO “has not abandoned any plans to identify the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic,” contrary to media reports and politicians’ remarks.
The White House said there is currently no consensus in the Biden administration on where the virus originated, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Other U.S. agencies have drawn different conclusions to the Department of Energy's report, with some saying that the virus was transmitted from animal to human.