U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will “call” during Friday’s virtual G-7 summit of leaders, including President Biden, for the international community to “get to the bottom” of exactly how COVID-19 originated.
Johnson has backed demands by the Biden administration for China to come up with raw data that Beijing reportedly did not provide World Health Organization investigators during its four-week study of the disease in Wuhan.
In a recent response to emailed questions from Fox News, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic acknowledged, “It is customary that datasets are shared for parallel analysis.”
He said this raw data was provided by the Chinese for “some of the studies,” but he went on to note, it “will be discussed for other aspects of the work where this was not yet possible.”
Regarding reports there were “heated discussions” about getting hold of all the information the WHO wanted from Chinese officials about COVID-19, Jasarevic admitted to Fox News, “There were moments where strong, sometimes challenging, scientific dialogue took place.”
He added the organization will work with China “for the collection and interpretation of evidence … reserving ourselves the right from agreeing on anything that cannot be agreed upon.”
As to the actual origins of the coronavirus, the WHO did acknowledge to Fox News the disease could have been transmitted via “frozen food.” This has been a theory pushed by Beijing in an attempt to support its contention that COVID-19 started outside of China and was imported into the country. Chinese state media seized on the WHO statement when the international team wrapped up its study.
The World Health Organization was also criticized for initially downplaying further study that the virus could have escaped from the main virology lab in Wuhan. This is a theory that had been promoted by, among others, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In its recent communication with Fox News, the WHO did say a “laboratory-related incident” was a possible “hypothesis” for transmission.
The WHO official explained “the most likely pathway” for the disease was via an “intermediary host” to “another animal.” That is, for example (as has been widely suspected), from an infected bat to another animal sold at the now-infamous Wuhan seafood market.
In the end, the WHO official admitted, “We have always said that this mission would not find all the answers” but also that “it has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the virus.”
The official added, “Understanding the origins [of COVID-19] is important to guide current actions and to prevent future outbreaks.”
Added international pressure in recent days, though, seems to only have fueled more propaganda coming from Beijing, as it tries to deflect blame for both the coronavirus’s beginnings and its handling of the disease. It remains to be seen how China will cooperate with promised “further studies” from the WHO. A lot of lives depend on it.