About Face: WHO Suddenly Calls out China for Its Lack of Transparency Regarding COVID Origin Data

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AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool
In a rather stunning turn of events, the World Health Organization, on Thursday, issued a highly critical rebuke of China regarding its apparent coverup of critical COVID origin data. While the WHO has (in)famously been quite deferential to China on the matter, a senior representative of the WHO called China’s lack of transparency over the origin of the virus “simply inexcusable.”

Beijing-affiliated researchers have only just publicly shared crucial samples taken from inside Wuhan‘s ‘ground zero’ — three years after the pandemic began. In a rare, blistering attack on Xi Jinping‘s communist regime, a senior WHO official fumed that this data ‘should have been shared immediately’. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid, also admitted that she thinks China could be sitting on even more bombshell evidence that could finally solve the mystery surrounding the pandemic’s origin. This could include, she hinted, details into risky experiments being carried out inside the secretive facility central to the ‘lab leak’ theory.

In an editorial published in the journal Science, Van Kerkhove called on China to “Share all SARS-CoV-2 data immediately,” writing:

When the first cases of human infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were reported from Wuhan, China, in December 2019, there was quick agreement across scientific and health communities that understanding the facts about its emergence would help prevent future outbreaks. Never could I have imagined the degree of politicization that would cloud this quest. Over the past 39 months, while reported deaths from COVID-19 increased to nearly 7 million worldwide, science on the virus’s origins has gotten smaller while the politics surrounding this question has grown ever bigger. Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) learned that scientists in China possessed data on viral samples from Wuhan that had been gathered in January 2020, which should have been shared immediately—not 3 years later—with the global research community. The lack of data disclosure is simply inexcusable. The longer it takes to understand the origins of the pandemic, the harder it becomes to answer the question, and the more unsafe the world becomes.

After explaining the critical nature of “every new piece of data” in understanding the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and potentially preventing future — possibly worse — pandemics, Van Kerkhove expressed confidence that China has additional data that needs to be shared.

China has advanced technical capabilities and I therefore believe that more data exist that have yet to be shared—on the wild and farmed animal trade; the testing of humans and animals in Wuhan and across China; the operations of labs in Wuhan working on coronaviruses; the earliest potential cases; and more. Lab audit data exist and have not been shared, for example. WHO continues to call on China and all countries to share any data on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, immediately. The world needs to move away from the politics of blame and, instead, exploit all diplomatic and scientific approaches so that the global scientific community can do what it does best—collaborate, focus on this health crisis, and find evidence-based solutions to thwart future pandemics.

The timing of this apparent about-face is interesting. As RedState reported, in mid-February, the WHO abandoned plans for a critical second phase of the investigation into COVID’s origins. A week later, the U.S. Department of Energy dropped a bombshell of a report asserting that “new intelligence” indicated a lab leak was the most likely origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two days later, FBI Director Christopher Wray sat across from Fox News’ Bret Baier and, in response to Baier’s question regarding the FBI’s determination, stated:

So, as you note, Bret, the FBI has — for quite some time now — assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.

Then, in March, another wrinkle. Per LiveScience:

Van Kerkhove’s statement was prompted by events that took place last month. In early March, researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) uploaded never-before-seen coronavirus data to Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), an open-access database that includes data on influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The data was later removed from GISAID but not before being downloaded by researchers outside China.

That set off the flurry of stories regarding “raccoon dogs,” seemingly linking them to the origin, though, as Bonchie noted at the time, the purported link wilted under scrutiny.

Based on the genetic data that the CCP put out, this team of “virus experts” wants you to believe that it should be seen as near definitive proof that COVID-19 began in nature. Yet, when you read further into the article, it becomes clear that the dots that are being connected don’t even connect, and that’s even if you are naive enough to believe China’s data. “The jumbling together of genetic material from the virus and the animal does not prove that a raccoon dog itself was infected. And even if a raccoon dog had been infected, it would not be clear that the animal had spread the virus to people. Another animal could have passed the virus to people, or someone infected with the virus could have spread the virus to a raccoon dog.” So let me get this straight. This big bombshell is based on data uploaded by China that doesn’t show that any raccoon dogs sold at the market were even infected? It’s just incredible to see the media propaganda organ at work.

In fact, Van Kerkhove notes this (that the data do not show that animals at the market were infected with SARS-CoV-2) in her editorial, as she continues to call for additional transparency on the part of China. Given their previous level of cooperation, I wouldn’t recommend Van Kerkhove hold her breath on that. And one is left to wonder: Why now? What prompted the upload of the China CDC data? What “new intelligence” resulted in the Department of Energy’s conclusion regarding the lab leak theory? How long was the “quite some time” that the FBI assessed a lab incident in Wuhan as the most likely origin? Why is the WHO suddenly taking China to task? Why are we still chasing our tails on this?
The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited for clarity.

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