US Health Secretary Xavier Becerra has urged the WHO to ensure that the next phase of investigation into Covid-19’s origins are more “transparent” and “science-based”, amidst media reports here suggesting growing evidence that the virus could have emerged from a laboratory in China.
In March, the WHO issued a report written jointly with Chinese scientists on the origins of Covid-19, saying the chances of it having started in a lab were “extremely unlikely”. But the US and some other countries have raised concerns about the way the mission of the WHO experts was carried out in China, including in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the lack of adequate cooperation from Beijing.
In a video message on Tuesday at the annual ministerial meeting of the WHO’s World Health Assembly, Becerra called for a second phase of the investigation to be launched “with terms of reference that are transparent, science-based and give international experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak.” “We need to improve transparency, immediately share critical information about outbreaks with pandemic potential, and strengthen health systems to withstand shocks,” Becerra said while calling for a “strong and agile” WHO.
WHO seeks more data on second Chinese vaccine
The World Health Organization is seeking more data on Sinovac Biotech Ltd’s CoronaVac as it weighs whether to authorize a second Chinese Covid-19 vaccine under international pressure to help distribute more shots to poor countries, the WSJ reported.
In recent weeks, the WHO has asked for more details regarding the safety of the shot and requested data about Sinovac’s manufacturing process to assess whether it is compliant with WHO standards, according to people familiar with the matter.