India ‘Fully Supports’ WHO’s Call to China on COVID Origins Data

The virus causing COVID-19 most probably jumped from bats to humans via another animal, the who report said.

2 min read

Days after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report on the origin of the coronavirus, India on Thursday, 1 April, demanded an expert-led, expeditious and comprehensive investigation into the matter, after the WHO findings failed to meet the expectations of the US, the UK, among other countries.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi said, "We share the need for a comprehensive and expert-led mechanism that would expeditiously investigate the origin of COVID-19 in cooperation with all stakeholders."

According to the WHO report, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 most probably jumped from bats to humans via an intermediary animal, judging a lab leak to be an “extremely unlikely” source.

He added, “We join other stakeholders in voicing their expectations that follow up to the WHO report or further studies, including on an understanding of the earliest human cases and clusters by the WHO on this critical issue, will receive the fullest cooperation of all concerned.”

After the outbreak, countries, including the US and Australia, had demanded an investigation into the origin of the virus in Wuhan in December 2019.

The spokesperson also noted the comments WHO’s director general saying that he had raised the issue of delays and difficulties in accessing raw data for the team conducting the study.

The director-general of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had rebuked China for sitting on key data, AFP reported.

"We fully support the Director General's expectation that future collaborative studies will include more timely and comprehensive data sharing. In this connection, we also welcome his readiness to deploy additional missions," he added.

The spokesperson also said that the report is a vital first step in establishing the origins of the pandemic, however, it points towards the need for further data and studies to reach robust conclusions.

What Did the Report Say?

The report looked at four possible scenarios that could have introduced the virus: Direct zoonotic transmission to humans (spillover), Introduction through an intermediate host followed by spillover, Introduction through the (cold) food chain and Introduction through a laboratory incident.

Of the four scenarios, the study found the introduction through a laboratory incident to be an ‘extremely unlikely pathway’.

However, Ghebreyesus told the UN health agency’s 194-member states that, “I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough,” AFP quoted.

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