The United States does not accept the World Health Organization’s findings in its probe of the origins of the coronavirus — which appeared to contradict the theory that it was artificially created in a lab in Wuhan, China.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US needed “full transparency and access” from both China and the WHO before any conclusions could be reached.
The agency, which launched what it described as a probe into the origins of the pandemic, downplayed the likelihood that it was leaked from a lab in Hubei province sometime in late 2019.
Rumors of the virus being artificially manufactured have hounded the Chinese government since the pandemic went global.
“Broadly speaking, we have expressed our concerns regarding the need for full transparency and access from China and the WHO — access from China and the WHO to all information regarding the earliest days of the pandemic,” Price noted in one part of his answer.
Medical staff work in the isolated intensive care unit in a hospital in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on Feb. 6, 2020.EPA/YUAN ZHENG
“So where we are today is that we look forward to receiving this report and the full data and to digging into that ourselves, knowing that we do need that full transparency,” he continued.
Asked if the United States was satisfied with the level of transparency Beijing had provided to document what caused the pandemic, Price said “the jury is still out.”
“I think, clearly, the Chinese, at least heretofore, had not offered the requisite transparency that we need and that just as importantly, again, the international community needs so that we can prevent these sorts of pandemics from ever happening again.”
Thea Koelsen Fischer of the World Health Organization team arrive at the VIP terminal of the airport to leave at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
“The WHO is leading this investigation. We clearly support this investigation. We recognize there is an urgent need for an investigation,” he continued. “But I wouldn’t want to be conclusive yet about any sort of cooperation that the WHO may or may not have received from China.”
President Biden resumed the US’ membership in the embattled global health agency by executive order during his first week in office.
Former President Donald Trump had withdrawn the nation from the agency last July due to its botched handling of the pandemic and frequent appeasement of China.
People visit an exhibition about China’s fight against COVID-19 on Jan. 15, 2021, at a convention center that was previously used as a makeshift hospital for patients in Wuhan.NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images
China, a nation that has faced a wave of international scrutiny over the past few years relating to its activities in Hong Kong and the mass internment of Uighurs, has seen global tensions reach new heights amid its refusal to accept responsibility for negligence and a lack of transparency at the onset of the outbreak.
As the virus grew completely out of Beijing’s control last year, Chinese Communist Party officials and state media went on the offense, praising the Communist regime’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic while mounting an aggressive effort to combat the international condemnation.
In the week before China began briefing the WHO, more than 3,000 unknowing individuals were exposed and infected, while government leadership remained silent.
Patients infected with the coronavirus rest at a temporary hospital converted from Wuhan Sports Center on February 17, 2020.Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua via AP, File
Audio recordings and documents taken between January and April of last year and obtained by the Associated Press in November revealed that leaders at the WHO declined to publicly call out countries with political clout that made repeated mistakes.
In dozens of recordings over the four-month period, the WHO repeatedly shied away from criticizing China, as well as Japan, France and Britain.
The agency defended itself against an onslaught of criticism over its unwillingness to hold any nations accountable for the virus at the time.
Thea Koelsen Fischer of the World Health Organization team speaks to journalists outside after a WHO-China Joint Study Press Conference held at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. AP Photo/Ng Han Gua
In a statement, a WHO spokeswoman said that since the beginning of the outbreak, “WHO officials have had and continue to have frank and open discussions with government counterparts … We are proud of an organizational culture that fosters candid discussion with the aim of reaching life-saving solutions.”