WORLD Health Organisation chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has demanded a new probe into the Wuhan lab leak theory on Covid’s origins.
His astonishing intervention came almost simultaneously as the WHO-China joint investigation team released a long awaited and much derided report which ruled out the possibility as “extremely unlikely”.
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The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been at the centre of a storm over the origins of CovidCredit: Reuters
Workers wearing protective suit walk next to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in WuhanCredit: AFP
WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been criticised for the health body’s handling of the virusCredit: AP
WHO investigators had been blasted over the 123-page document which has been branded an “insult to billions” as the medical body was accused of bending over backwards to appease China.
As lead investigator Peter Ben Embarek was briefing journalists on a Zoom press conference about the controversial report, Dr Tedros seemed to undermine the team’s work.
He called for investigators into the Covid-19 pandemic’s origins to delve deeper into a theory about a possible lab incident, which they all but ruled out.
“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,” he said.
The WHO chief also voiced concern that the international team had difficulty accessing raw data during the mission, adding: “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing.”
Ten experts from WHO spent a week in the Communist Party state where Covid originated as they were given a carefully stage-managed look at data and evidence accrued by China.
China has long been accused of attempting to cover up or distort its role in the story of Covid, and even the White House has raised questions over the authenticity of the probe.
The report concluded that the virus – which has killed 2.8million people – “likely” crossed from animals to mankind through an as of yet unknown creature.
And the paper agreed with the Chinese explanation that its “possible” it could have arrived in Wuhan on frozen.
The only one of the four prongs of the WHO investigation which was seemingly dismissed was the possibility of a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
WIV is known to have been studying coronviruses, was conducting gain of function research designed to increase their infectiousness, and is located just stone’s throw from where the virus emerged.
However, the joint WHO-Chinese probe found that the lab leak was “extremely unlikely”, and said they found the labs in Wuhan were “well managed” and had “high quality” facilities.
Jamie Metzl, a WHO advisor and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, who helped organise an open letter signed by 26 scientists calling for a new independent investigation, blasted the probe.
He told The Sun Online: ““This joint report isn’t just inadequate, it’s an insult to the billions of people around the world who have suffered from the pandemic.
“By bending over backwards to validate the zoonotic jump hypothesis despite the clear absence of evidence and glibly discounting the lab leak hypothesis without meaningful consideration, the report shows why having the Beijing government co-investigate a possible lab leak and deadly cover up is like asking the Kremlin to co-investigate Chernobyl.
“The world desperately needs a full and unrestricted international investigation into the origins of the pandemic. Tragically, this is not it.”
The WHO team arrive at WIV as part of their visit to ChinaCredit: Reuters
What do we know about the Wuhan Institute of Virology?
THE WUHAN Institute of Virology is the highest security lab of its kind in all of China – and can be found right at the heart of the origins of the global pandemic.
Various theories have been swirling about the lab, which is headed up by Chinese scientist Dr Shi Zhengli, known as “Bat Woman”.
Most scientists do not believe the virus leaked from the lab, and the lab itself has categorically denied the claims.
The lab specialised in bat-borne viruses and had been carrying out experiences on them since 2015.
Airlocks, full body suits, and chemical showers are required before entering and leaving the lab – the first in China to be accredited with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4).
BSL-4 labs are the only places in the world where scientists can study diseases that have no cure.
Scientists from the lab even tested mysterious
virus which killed three miners 1,000 miles away in Yunnan province back in 2012.
It has been suggested this fatal mystery bug may have been the true origin of Covid-19.
Experts at the lab also engineered a new type of hybrid ‘super-virus’ that can infect humans in 2015, according to medical journal Nature Medicine
Despite fears surrounding the research, the study was designed to show the risk of viruses carried by bats which could be transmitted to humans.
There is no suggestion the facility’s 2015 work is linked to the pandemic.
The lab was also recruiting new scientists to probe coronaviruses in bats just seven days before the outbreak.
China has began tightening security around its biolabs with President Xi Jinping saying it was a “national security” issue to improve scientific safety at a meeting last February.
The WHO report admits that “although rare, laboratory accidents do occur” and stats that the closest known virus to SARS-CoV-2 was found being held at WIV in bat anal swabs.
It also revealed the Wuhan CDC moved locations on December 2 to a new location near the Huanan Seafood Market – where the virus was first discovered just weeks later.
The paper acknowledges that such a move may have been “disruptive” – but goes on to rule out the lab leak.
It states: “In view of the above, a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely.”
Dr Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of VirologyCredit: AP
The Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying bat virusesCredit: Wuhan Virology Institute
WIV was found to have the closest known virus relative of CovidCredit: EcoHealth Alliance
US intelligence officials have insisted for the past year that they have compelling evidence that the virus may have escaped from WIV.
Taking to Twitter before the release of the report, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The WHO report is a sham continuation of the CCP-WHO disinformation campaign.
“It’s why I recommended we leave WHO. Dr. Tedros collaborated with Xi to hide human to human transmission at a CRITICAL juncture.
“WIV remains the most likely source of the virus — and WHO is complicit.”
Relations between the US and China remain strained as President Joe Biden’s administration has refused to accept findings from WHO over Covid’s origins.
China and the lab have always furiously denied any allegations of a possible leak, and WHO appeared to agree with them as they wrapped up their probe in Wuhan.
However, the White House has said it has “deep concerns” over the investigation which was carried out in a tightly managed fashion alongside China.
Scientists who were on the team have already broken cover and revealed China did not hand over all the data they requested, and there was always “politics in the room”.
Documents already revealed Beijing downplayed the bug to “protect its image“, and there have been repeated allegations that China has manipulated its death and case figures.
Earlier this year, new docs released by the US revealed scientists in Wuhan fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in late 2019 – months before the pandemic began to ravage the world.