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India supports WHO’s call on China to share comprehensive COVID-19 origins data

By Standard Reporter | April 12th 2021

Vaccination against Covid-19: India has supported WHO's efforts to get China to share Covid-19 information, including original data and samples. [AP, Standard]

The Indian government has expressed full support for World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ assurance that future collaborative studies will include more timely and comprehensive data sharing even as he raised concern over China’s continued delay in releasing Covid-19 information, including original data and samples.

Tedros, who has been accused of complacency towards China, has recently hardened his tone acknowledging concerns about China’s refusal to share raw data on early Covid-19 cases.

He conceded that international experts were facing problems with data access in Wuhan.

“In my discussions with the team, they expressed difficulties in accessing raw data. I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing,” he said.

Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy,” Tedros added.

India’s spokesperson from the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said that the report represents an important first step in establishing the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has listed four pathways concerning the emergence of the disease but has stressed the need for next-phase studies across the region. The report also stresses the need for further data and studies to reach robust conclusions,” he said.

“It is pertinent to note that the Director-General of the WHO has separately raised the issue of delays and difficulties in accessing raw data for the team conducting the study.

 We fully support the Director General’s expectation that future collaborative studies will include more timely and comprehensive data sharing. In this connection, we also welcome his readiness to deploy additional missions,” he added.

Mr Bagchi said New Delhi joins stakeholders in voicing their expectations as a follow up to the WHO Report on the need for further studies, including “an understanding of the earliest human cases and clusters on this critical issue.”

India’s remarks come as a group of 14 countries, including the United States and Japan raised concerns over a report on the origins of COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and China, arguing that the WHO team was “significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.”

The WHO last Tuesday released a long-awaited joint report on the origins of COVID-19. The report pointed to the transmission from bats to another animal and subsequently to humans as the most likely way the pandemic began.

The United States, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia and Israel said in a statement that they “fully supported the WHO’s efforts to bring an end to the pandemic, including an understanding of how it “started and spread”.

But they added it was “essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples”.

China has been criticized widely for its alleged role in the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected over 128 million people across the world.

 More than 2.8 million people have lost their lives to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.


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