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White House has ‘deep concerns’ over China role in WHO Covid-19 report

  • Biden administration requests data from early days of outbreak
  • Report must be free from ‘alteration by the Chinese government’

The White House on Saturday called on China to make available data from the earliest days of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying it had “deep concerns” about the way the findings of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 report were communicated.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement it was imperative that the report be independent and free from “alteration by the Chinese government”, echoing concerns raised by the administration of Donald Trump, who moved to quit the WHO over the issue.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said all hypotheses are still open about the origins of Covid-19, after Washington said it wanted to review data from a WHO-led mission to China, where the virus first emerged.

The WHO-led mission, which spent four weeks in China looking into the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak, said this week that it was not looking further into the question of whether the virus escaped from a lab, which it considered highly unlikely.

The Trump administration said it suspected the virus may have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing strongly denies.

Sullivan noted that President Joe Biden had quickly reversed the decision to disengage from the WHO, but said it was imperative to protect the organization’s credibility.

“Re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards,” Sullivan said. “We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them.”

Biden, who was spending his first weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in the mountains of western Maryland, would meet his national security advisers on Saturday, a White House official said.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed WHO investigators, reported on Friday that China had refused to give the World Health Organization raw, personalized data on its early Covid-19 cases that could help determine how and when the virus first spread in China.

“It is imperative that this report be independent, with expert findings free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government,” Sullivan said. “To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak.”

All countries, including China, should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies, he said.

Contenido publicado en The Guardian

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