In its search for the origin of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now putting pressure on it: in a letter to member countries, it listed the research priorities and announced a new permanent working group to look into research for the origin of new pathogens.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed in Geneva on Friday that in addition to the investigation into wild animals and animal markets in Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged ended 2019, laboratories must also be inspected.
Thesis of an “extremely improbable” laboratory accident
China had delayed the trip of the first WHO research team by several months. Although the WHO wants to continue the investigation, Beijing is doing nothing to allow work to continue in China.
The subject is delicate. The United States accuses China of preventing transparent analyzes. Beijing suspects the United States of blaming China for the spread of the virus. Authorities are spreading false theories that the virus could also have reached China from overseas via frozen products.
The WHO team, which was only allowed to visit China in January after months of unrest, reported in late March that it was “probably very likely” that the virus had spread from animals to humans via an intermediate host. The fact that the virus accidentally escaped from a virus lab and spread is considered an “extremely unlikely route”.
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The USA sticks to the thesis of a laboratory accident. This is seen as possible at least in parts of the U.S. Secret Service apparatus, U.S. President Joe Biden said in late May and ordered further testing. The secret services are due to return their report at the end of August.
China, for its part, still insists that origin must be sought “globally”. The United States has made the search more difficult with its “political manipulations,” as a State Department spokesperson said.