Washington, February 10
It is imperative that the world learns as much as possible about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic so that the world can understand its origins and prevent future biological catastrophes, the US has said after international experts investigating the origins of the disease have dismissed as unlikely a theory that the virus came from a laboratory in China.
The US, which is the worst affected country from the pandemic, is looking forward to receiving the report and the data from the investigation by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) team of experts into the origins of the COVID-19 in China’s Wuhan city.
The WHO experts arrived in China last month for the long-awaited probe into the origins of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, the team dismissed that the virus could have leaked from a Chinese lab, a theory strongly supported by former US president Donald Trump.
The team members said that the deadly virus was most likely to have transmitted from an animal to humans.
“Broadly speaking, we have expressed our concerns regarding the need for full transparency and access from China and the WHO to all information regarding the earliest days of the pandemic,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Tuesday at his daily news conference.
“It’s imperative that the world learns as much as possible about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic so that we can understand its origins and so, importantly, we can prevent future biological catastrophes,” Price said.
“I think the jury is still out. Clearly, the Chinese, at least heretofore, had not offered the requisite transparency that we need and that just as importantly, again, the international community needs so that we can prevent these sorts of pandemics from ever happening again. This goes back to one of the very first actions that President (Joe) Biden took as president when he re-engaged with the WHO,” Price said.
China reported the first COVID-19 case in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and since then the disease has snowballed into a pandemic, affecting 106,880,652 people with 2,339,991 deaths worldwide.
According to Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, the US alone has reported 27,189,188 cases and 468,103 deaths from the deadly virus.
Trump had repeatedly blamed China for covering up and not sharing information about the virus with the world, leading to a strain in relation between the two countries.
However, China has refuted the allegations. While denying that coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China points to reports from Italy, Spain and the US about its prevalence to predating its emergence in Wuhan.
At the state department briefing, Price highlighted the importance of international cooperation in preventing future outbreaks of diseases.
“We know that there needs to be international cooperation if we are going to be able to be in a position to staunch future outbreaks or epidemics before they become pandemics. The WHO is leading this investigation. We clearly support this investigation.
“We recognise there is an urgent need for an investigation. But I wouldn’t want to be conclusive yet about any sort of cooperation that the WHO may or may not have received from China,” Price said in response to a question.
The United States, he said, is supportive of the WHO investigation.
“And I think more broadly too, we can speak to our own efforts. We will work with our partners and also draw on information collected and analysed by our own intelligence community to evaluate the report once we’ve received it as well as the data from the WHO evaluation,” he said.
Price said that rather than rush to conclusions that may be motivated by anything other than the science, the US wants to see where that data leads us, where that science leads us, and its conclusions will be predicated on that.
“We are talking in this case about the origins of the coronavirus. I don’t think there is any reasonable person who would argue that the coronavirus originated elsewhere, so that is why our focus is on this WHO investigation.
“We look forward, again, to seeing the report, to seeing the underlying data, to using what we may have within our own reach based on our own intelligence and analysis to corroborate what the WHO has found and to reach our own conclusions,” Price said. PTI