CoronavirusCovid-19HealthInternational

‘Premature’ to Rule Out COVID Lab Leak: WHO Chief

The head of the World Health Organization admitted it was “premature” to rule out that the global coronavirus pandemic may have been linked to a laboratory leak.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Thursday that getting access to raw data had been a challenge for an international team that traveled to China earlier this year to investigate the source of COVID-19, The Associated Press reported.

Tedros said the Geneva-based U.N. health agency is asking China to be “transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic,” according to sources that include a global health science report.

Noting that the first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Tedros stated that there had been a “premature push” to rule out the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan — undermining WHO’s own March report that concluded that a laboratory leak was “extremely unlikely,” AP reported.

“We need information, direct information on what the situation of this lab was before and at the start of the pandemic,” Tedros said, adding that China’s cooperation was critical.

“If we get full information, we can exclude” the lab connection, he said.

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