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W.H.O. Chief Tedros (Again) Pleads with China for ‘Full Access’ to Determine Coronavirus Origins

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants Beijing to open up on the origins of coronavirus and is ready to send a second team to probe the matter if he gets approval from the Chinese communist dictatorship to start an investigation, a report Sunday sets out.

The genesis of the pandemic still remains unclear nearly four years after the first cases emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan and Tedros seeks access to put an end to speculation – if given permission.

“We’re pressing China to give full access, and we are asking countries to raise it during their bilateral meetings — to urge Beijing to co-operate,” he told the Financial Times. “We have already asked in writing to give us information . . . and also [are] willing to send a team if they allow us to do so.”

World leaders will discuss pandemic preparedness at high-level meetings during the U.N.’s General Assembly in New York next week.

The Ethiopia-born government health official told the FT he travelled to Beijing in order to convince Chinese president Xi Jinping in January 2020 to allow the first coronavirus mission of W.H.O. experts, led by the health body’s Bruce Aylward, into the country.

China rebuffed that plea as well as subsequent requests from Tedros with his critics saying the health chief was beholden to Beijing.

The two most prominent theories envisage either a zoonotic jump from animals to humans via Wuhan’s wet food markets or contagion stemming from an accidental leak from the city’s virology laboratory.

No scientific consensus has emerged from the debate, and Tedros reiterated that all options remained “on the table.”

“Unless we get evidence beyond reasonable doubt, we cannot just say this or that,” he said. But he believes “we will get the answer. It’s a matter of time.”

On his meeting with Xi, Tedros said: “I went and met the president. The officials below him were not willing to allow us to send a team. So I had to travel to convince him why it’s so important.”

The W.H.O. chief’s comments come as health authorities and pharmaceutical companies across the world have been racing to update vaccines to combat newer emerging coronavirus variants.

Tedros has for long been pressing China to share its information about the origins of coronavirus, saying until that happened all hypotheses remained on the table, the FT report notes.

Each time he has asked for permission Beijing has simply said no access will be given while denying any role in the creation of the virus, even as the W.H.O. chief’s supporters gushed over his efforts.

The virus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, with many suspecting it spread in a live animal market before fanning out around the world and killing nearly seven million people.

Others point to it being a laboratory creation that escaped into the city of Wuhan.


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