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World

US leads concern over WHO-backed Covid origins report

  • Trump had promoted a theory that the virus could have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, which the WHO-backed experts dismissed in their report.
31 Mar, 2021

WASHINGTON: The United States led a chorus of concern on Tuesday over a WHO-backed report into the origins of the coronavirus in China, with accusations swirling that Beijing failed to give proper access to investigators.

The United States released a statement with 13 of its allies -- Britain, Japan and Australia among them -- saying the inquiry had lacked the data and samples it needed.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had earlier made a similar criticism, saying the team he dispatched to Wuhan had found it difficult to get raw data.

Neither Tedros nor the US-led statement mentioned China directly, but the country's foreign ministry hit back at the perceived criticism from the WHO chief, saying that Beijing had demonstrated "its openness, transparency and responsible attitude."

"To politicize this issue will only severely hinder global cooperation in study of origins, jeopardize anti-pandemic cooperation, and cost more lives," the ministry said in a statement.

The European Union called the report a "helpful first step" but highlighted "the need for further work," urging "relevant authorities" to help.

Mike Pompeo, the former top US diplomat under Donald Trump, blasted it as a "sham" and part of a "disinformation campaign," accusing the WHO of being in cahoots with the Chinese Communist Party.

Trump had promoted a theory that the virus could have leaked from a lab in Wuhan, which the WHO-backed experts dismissed in their report.

But Tedros stressed that "all hypotheses are open, from what I read from the report... and warrant complete and further studies."

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