COVID-19: the boss of the WHO wants an investigation into the thesis of the leak of the virus

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The boss of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called for a new investigation into the hypothesis of a leak of the virus from a laboratory in China to explain the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has criticized the insufficient sharing of data by the Chinese during the mission of international experts this winter.

Experts sent on mission from January 14 to February 9 in China, where the first cases of the disease appeared in December 2019, had nevertheless estimated that the hypothesis of a laboratory leak was the least likely.

But this requires further investigation, probably with new missions with specialist experts that I am ready to send, assured the head of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during an information meeting to the member countries of the Organization on the report officially published Tuesday.

He also pointed out that international experts had expressed their difficulties in accessing raw data during their stay in China. A rare public criticism of how Beijing handled this joint investigation.

According to elements of the report, which AFP obtained a copy on Monday, its authors judge the transmission of the virus to humans by an intermediate animal likely to very likely, while the hypothesis of a laboratory incident is, on the contrary, qualified asextremely unlikely.

People are talking in front of a building.

Experts from the World Health Organization are conducting an investigation in Wuhan into the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic in China in February 2021.

Photo: Reuters / ALY SONG

Natural transmission

The study favors the generally accepted theory of the natural transmission of the virus from a reservoir animal (probably the bat) to humans, through another animal not yet identified. Among the suspects are the domestic cat, rabbit or mink, or the pangolin or badger-ferret.

However, direct transmission of the virus via the reservoir animal is considered possible to probable by the experts. They do not rule out the hypothesis of transmission by frozen meat – a path favored by Beijing -, considering this scenario possible.

The report recommends continuing studies on the basis of these three hypotheses, but however brushes aside the possibility of transmission to humans during a laboratory accident.

The hypothesis of a laboratory leak has been strongly defended by the US administration under President Donald Trump. China has always fiercely denied this possibility.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the President of the European Council Charles Michel are also due to present on Tuesday a draft international treaty on pandemics aiming to better face the inevitable health crises to come.

Charles Michel standing behind a lectern.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel.

Photo: Reuters

There will be other pandemics and other large-scale health emergencies. No single government or multilateral body can tackle this threat on its own., underline the leaders of twenty countries in a column published Tuesday in many international dailies.

Among the signatories are French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and South Korean Presidents Moon Jae-in, South African Cyril Ramaphosa, Indonesian Joko Widodo and Chilean Sebastian Piñera.

Sanitary measures

At the same time, several countries in Europe hit by a third epidemic wave continue to announce measures to try to limit the spread of the virus, in particular concerning travel.

Germany will thus strengthen for the <q data-attributes = '{"lang": {"value": "fr", "label": "Français"}, "value": {"html": "8 to 14next days "," text ":" 8 to 14next days "}} 'lang =" fr”>Next 8 to 14 days controls around its land borders, in particular with France, Denmark and Poland.

The police will not be able to not dismiss travelers where they are coming from, but will verify that they have a negative test within 48 hours and have registered with the German health authorities.

Italy, most of whose territory is currently subject to severe restrictions, will for its part impose a five-day isolation for travelers coming from the European Union. They will also have to carry out a test before their departure, as well as another after their isolation.

In France, where the number of patients in intensive care exceeded the peak of the second wave in the fall, the authorities are under pressure to decide on new restrictions and not to cross the Red line the sorting of patients, a warning brandished by doctors.

The pandemic has killed at least 2.79 million people, according to an AFP report on Tuesday, fifteen months after the detection of the first cases of COVID-19 at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, China.


In the meantime, vaccination campaigns are gradually progressing.

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, winner of vaccine race in many countries.

Photo: Reuters

The German laboratory BioNTech announced Tuesday that it intended to manufacture in 2021 up to 2.5 billion doses of its vaccine developed with the American Pfizer, or 25% more than initially announced.

In the United Kingdom, the situation has improved markedly under the effect of the confinement imposed since the beginning of January and the vaccination campaign.

Health authorities have not reported any deaths in London for the day of Sunday, the second time this year.

More than 565 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in at least 179 countries or territories, according to a count made by AFP from official sources on Tuesday.

Read also :

  • Coronavirus investigation in China: WHO asks Beijing for "more data"
  • COVID-19: transmission by an intermediate animal, a probable hypothesis
  • Contagious variants of the coronavirus: WHO calls for better monitoring

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