The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the organisation will keep searching until it discovered the cause of the Covid-19 outbreak. This was in response to a report that suggested the organisation had given up.
For the purpose of preventing further pandemics, it is thought that understanding the origins of the SARS CoV-2 virus and how it first infected people is crucial.
Nevertheless, a report on the Nature website on Tuesday said that the WHO had given up looking for the outbreak after encountering China's lack of cooperation, where it started in late 2019.
“We need to continue to push until we get the answer,” agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, referring to the search for the origins of the virus. “Knowing how this pandemic started is very, very important and very crucial,” he said.
According to him, he just wrote to a senior Chinese official "asking for cooperation since we need cooperation and transparency in the information... in order to know how this originated." The virus either escaping owing to a lab mishap or naturally spreading from bats to an intermediary species and into people have been the two primary ideas that have been extensively contested.
The WHO reportedly "quietly shelved the second phase of its much-anticipated scientific investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak," according to the Nature report.
There is no phase two, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO expert in charge of the organization's Covid reaction.
According to her comments in the article, the WHO had intended for the work to be completed in phases, but "that plan has changed," she added, adding that "The politics throughout the world of this actually delayed progress on identifying the roots."
When questioned about the piece on Wednesday, Van Kerkhove reacted angrily, blaming the interpretation that the WHO had abandoned its origins search on "a reporting error, which is actually pretty problematic because it's producing some headlines that are false."
She stated that "WHO has not given up exploring the origins of Covid-19, we have not, and we will not."
No plans were quietly shelved, and we have been and will continue to be open and transparent. An international team of experts was dispatched by the WHO to Wuhan, China, in early 2021 to conduct a preliminary study. They produced a preliminary report in collaboration with their Chinese colleagues.
But that investigation faced criticism for lacking transparency and access, and for not sufficiently evaluating the lab-leak theory, which it deemed “extremely unlikely”.