WHO Says Coronavirus Did Not Come from Chinese Lab, Calls Trump’s Claims ‘Speculative’
The WHO reiterated that the novel coronavirus that causes Covid19 is of natural origin, and called the U.S. President Trump administration’s claims that it originated in a Chinese lab “speculative.”
During a virtual briefing from Geneva last evening, the WHO said that from the evidence it has seen, and 15,000 genome sequences it has studied, it has reached the conclusion that the virus was of natural origin, and “will be with us for a long time.”
“Like any evidence-based organisation, we would be very willing to receive any information that purports to the origin of the virus. We have not received any data or specific evidence from the United States government relating to the purported origin of the virus — so from our perspective, this remains speculative,” Dr. Michael Ryan, Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said at the briefing yesterday.
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Last Friday, Trump had told reporters that he strongly believes the virus originated in the Chinese state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology. Other government officials in the U.S. contradicted this claim, and intelligence officers confirmed that the coronavirus was neither man-made nor genetically modified. However, Trump went on to call the WHO a “PR agency for China.”
Ryan also criticized and “aggressive investigation of wrongdoing” regarding the virus’ origin. “Science needs to be at the centre. If we have a science-based investigation and a science-based enquiry as to what the origin species and the intermediate species are, then that will benefit everybody on the planet,” he added.
Along with colleague and fellow-epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, Ryan emphasized the importance of focusing instead on which animals can act as intermediary hosts, and how exactly the coronavirus crossed over to humans — in a bid to formulate effective public health and animal-human interface policies rather than politicizing the issue.