The head of the World Health Organisation, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged China to be transparent, open and to cooperate better in the probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the first cases of which were seen in Wuhan in December 2019.  On Thursday, he told a regular press briefing in Geneva “we hope there will be better co-operation to get to the bottom of what happened,” calling in particular for access to raw data which so far has been inadequate.

Tedros said that investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in China were being hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of spread there and urged it to be more transparent. “We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened,” he added.

A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around the central city of Wuhan with Chinese researchers and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. It said that “introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway”, but countries including the United States and some scientists were not satisfied. China has called the Wuhan lab virus escape theory “absurd” and said repeatedly that “politicizing” the issue will hamper investigations.

WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan informed that on Friday, Tedros will brief WHO’s 194 member states regarding a proposed second phase of study. “We look forward to working with our Chinese counterparts on that process and the director-general will outline measures to member states at a meeting tomorrow, on Friday,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who held talks with Tedros on Thursday, called on China to make it possible for investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to continue, saying more information was needed. Speaking during a visit to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Spahn announced a 260 million euro ($307 million) donation to WHO’s ACT-Accelerator programme, which aims to ensure the entire world, including poorer countries, receive COVID-19 vaccines and tests.