WHO urges China to share more data on possible Covid link with raccoon dogs -Dlight News

WHO urges China to share more data on possible Covid link with raccoon dogs

The World Health Organization said China’s data that Covid-19 originated from animals in a wet market in Wuhan should have been shared with the world three years ago, adding that the findings “do not provide a definitive answer” about the origin of the virus.

The World Health Organization’s response to a recently analyzed genetic sequence casts more doubt on Beijing’s handling of the viral outbreak and will intensify the debate about the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general, on Friday called on China to make available all data on the origins of the pandemic globally. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020, Tedros has repeatedly criticized Beijing for its laxity with genetic material as well as its overall public health response.

A study, first report by the AtlanticMolecular evidence found that animals, including raccoon dogs, sold at Wuhan’s Huanan market in late 2019 were susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19, said Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead.

However, WHO officials stressed the findings, while important, were far from conclusive and all original hypotheses, including an accidental lab leak, remained on the table. Researchers with China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded the sequences to Gisaid, a global genomic repository, last week. Gisaid made them temporarily unavailable pending what it said were “new and additional data as part of the manuscript under review.” Gissed said on Friday that it was “not deleting the record”.

Three years after the pandemic, scientists have not reached a consensus on the epidemic’s origins, and deep divisions continue between politicians in Beijing and Washington over the likely cause. The two most prominent theories hold that the virus may have been an accidental byproduct of laboratory experiments — which Wuhan’s Institute of Virology is known to have conducted — or that it may have originated in animals. A WHO mission to China in February 2021 was largely inconclusive, with the health organization saying its scientists had not been shown enough raw data.

But the health body said all lines of inquiry should remain open. “Understanding how the pandemic started is a moral and scientific imperative,” Tedros told reporters on Friday.

Covid-19 was first described as a pandemic by the WHO in March 2020, two months after the health organization declared it a public health emergency of international concern, the highest possible designation under international regulations.

Tedros said he was “confident” the health body would be in a position to declare the public health emergency “over” this year.

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