May 15, 2022 1:53 pm

The head of the WHO asked the Chinese premier for “greater collaboration on the origins” of Covid-19

ZURICH (Reuters).- The director of the World Health Organization said on Saturday that he had discussed with the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, the need for further collaboration about the origins of Covid-19, a controversial issue that has strained Beijing’s relations with the West.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus previously pressured China to provide more data and information related to the origin of the virus.

“Delighted to meet with Premier Li Keqiang,” Tedros tweeted. “We talked about Covid-19 and the need for an aggressive effort at VaccinEquity this year to vaccinate 70% of all populations”, he said, referring to the WHO’s campaign for fair access to vaccines around the world.

“We also discussed the need for stronger collaboration on the origins of the Covid-19 virus, based on science and evidence,” he added.

The WHO created last year the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (SAGO) and asked China to supply data to help any new investigation. China refused, citing patient privacy regulations.

China has consistently denied allegations that the virus leaked from a specialized laboratory in the city of Wuhan, where Covid-19 was first identified in late 2019.

One joint study by China and the WHO published last year practically ruled out the theory that the Covid-19 originated in a laboratory, saying the most likely hypothesis was that it infected humans naturally, probably through the wildlife trade.

Last November, China said that a declassified US intelligence report that the pandemic likely originated in a laboratory was unscientific and unreliable.

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