WHO considers US statements on the origin of the coronavirus “speculative”

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday considering at this stage as “speculative”, having received no evidence, the statements of US leaders that the new coronavirus comes from a laboratory from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the cradle of the pandemic.

“We have not received any specific data or evidence from the United States government regarding the suspected origin of the virus, so for us it remains speculative,” said Michael Ryan, director of emergency programs for the WHO, during a virtual press conference from the organization's headquarters in Geneva.

After accusing China of having concealed the emergence and spread of the new coronavirus, Washington claims to have “evidence” that it came from a laboratory in Wuhan, and President Donald Trump has threatened Beijing of “punitive customs taxes”.

For the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, “this is not the first time” that China has thus put “the world in danger” because of “laboratories not meeting standards”.

WHO notes that it does not have physical evidence of the allegations made by the United States government, and stresses that it is based solely on the scientific data at its disposal.

“Like any organization based on evidence, we would very much appreciate receiving any information on the origin of the virus […]. If such data and evidence is available, it is up to the United States government to decide if and when it can be shared, but it is difficult for WHO to decide in the absence of information “supporting these assumptions, a advanced Michael Ryan.

Science must be at the center. Science will find the answers.

– Michael Ryan

“We focus on the evidence we have, and the evidence we have from sequencing and everything we get transmitted is that the virus is of natural origin, “he said.

“Science must be at the center. Science will find the answers, “said the senior official of the UN health agency.

Another responsible for the management of the pandemic at the WHO, Maria van Kerkhove, recalled that the sequencing of the new coronavirus had made it possible to determine that it came from bats and that it had been then probably transmitted to other wild animals sold on a meat market in Wuhan before infecting humans.

“We really need to know who was the intermediate host: the animal infected with bats and then who infected people in the first cases,” she said.

WHO has offered to help China with scientific research. “We can learn from Chinese scientists,” said Michael Ryan. If questions about the origin of the virus are “expressed as an aggressive investigation of a fault, I believe it may be much more difficult to manage. It becomes a political issue, “he warned.