WHO team to China to consult with Chinese side on virus trace work: epidemiologist

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to send a team to China next week to prepare to identify the source of coronavirus, and Chinese experts believe the team should hold discussions with the Chinese side on how to conduct the work globally and fairly, noting that the visit does not mean the virus originated in China. 

We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference on Monday. 

“We will be sending a team next week to China to prepare for that and we hope that that will lead into understanding how the virus started and what we can do for the future to prepare,” he said. He did not specify who will be in the team, nor what their specific mission will be.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times on Tuesday that although the exact arrangements for the WHO team are unknown, the team should communicate with Chinese experts on the preparation work to scientifically identify the source of the coronavirus and how the identification work should be conducted, and the team should also listen to Chinese experts’ opinions on it. 

It’s not an easy job, and a great deal of preparation must be made, such as discussing the technical methods to research and identify the source, Zeng said. 

“Identifying the source of the coronavirus must be based on negotiations and involve multiple countries,” Zeng said.

The WHO should have a top-level design on identifying the source of coronavirus. First, all evidence on the source of must be collected globally, and then be ordered according to when they happened, and then teams must be sent to all the involved countries for scientific identification and research, Zeng said. 

“It does not matter which country the scientific identification work starts with, as long as it involves all related countries and is fairly conducted,” Zeng said. 

A resolution on identifying the zoonotic source of the coronavirus and evaluating the WHO’s COVID-19 response was agreed by all the member states, including China, the US and Australia, at the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in May, rejecting political bias led by some Western politicians.

Some US and Australian politicians including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have, without any proof, repeatedly blamed China for causing the coronavirus pandemic and accused a Wuhan lab of leaking the virus. China has reiterated that the origin and transmission pattern of the coronavirus are a scientific question and should be left to scientists and medical experts to study, and experts from the WHO have repeatedly said that there is no evidence to show that the coronavirus was made in a lab. 

Six months after the coronavirus outbreak, the world has seen 10 million coronavirus cases and 500,000 deaths.


Source: Global Times


A medical worker samples throat swab for a kid at a nucleic acid testing station in Hepingli Qiqu community, Dongcheng district, Beijing, on June 23. Photo by Hu Qingming/Peoples Daily Online

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