He went for a month to Wuhan, cradle of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019. But Peter Ben Embarek and the other investigators dispatched to the scene by the WHO to try to understand the origin of the epidemic are still hungry. “We want more data. We asked for more data, ”said the head of the delegation in an interview with AFP.
“There is a set of frustrations, but also realistic expectations as to what is doable in a given timeframe,” he adds, hoping that the data requested from Beijing would be provided. These experts completed their mission at the start of the week without reaching any final conclusions.
The date and place of origin still unknown
They have so far appeared to rule out the possibility that the virus may have escaped the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as the Trump administration claimed. For them, this is a “highly improbable” hypothesis. But the boss of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, subsequently seemed to correct the situation by saying Friday that “all the hypotheses (remained) on the table” to explain the origin of the pandemic.
WHO experts believe that Covid-19 originated in bats and may have been transmitted to humans via another mammal. However, they do not know where and when the pandemic really started, even if no major outbreak was reported in Wuhan or elsewhere before December 2019.
The United States back in the WHO
To put a little more pressure on China, the White House is also stepping up to the plate. “We have strong concerns about how the first results of the Covid-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the procedure used to achieve it,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make its data on the first days of the epidemic accessible,” he added.
Under Donald Trump’s administration, the United States had left the WHO. The former Republican president accused the organization of being too conciliatory with China. But upon taking office on January 20, his Democratic successor, Joe Biden, announced Washington’s return to the WHO. “Reclaiming our place also means demanding the highest standards. And at this critical moment, protecting the credibility of the WHO is paramount, ”said Jake Sullivan.