“Three years later, around seven million deaths from covid-19 were recorded, although we know that this number is much higher”, said this Friday, 17, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu. “Although we are increasingly hopeful that the pandemic will end, the question of how it started remains unanswered.”
In a press conference, Tedros questioned China, which, without notifying the WHO, published in late January information in the world’s largest database on SARS-CoV-2 sequences, Gisaid, which may be useful for discovering the origin of the pandemic. However, shortly after, he removed them from the air.
The organization reiterated its call on Beijing to increase transparency in the exchange of data on covid, after international experts discovered that China had published online – before withdrawing them for unknown reasons – new genetic data from samples collected in January 2020 in the market in Wuhan, the city where the virus was first detected.
In his speech, Tedros reported asking researchers from the Chinese CDC and the international group of scientists to present their analysis of the data.
“These data do not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic started, but all data is important in moving us closer to that answer, and all data related to studying the origins of COVID-19 needs to be shared with the international community immediately,” stated.
“This data could and should have been shared three years ago. We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data and to conduct necessary investigations and share the results. Understanding how the pandemic began remains a moral and scientific imperative,” said Tedros.
For him, it is only possible to face shared threats with a shared response, “based on a shared commitment to solidarity and equity”. “That’s what the pandemic agreement countries are now negotiating is about, an agreement between nations to work cooperatively with each other, not in competition, to prepare for and respond to epidemics and pandemics,” he said.
Raccoon Dogs and Covid-19
The WHO was informed about this publication in Gisaid on Sunday, not by China, but by scientists. The data, from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, refer to samples taken at the Huanan market in Wuhan in 2020, mainly from raccoon dogs.
This data, which the researchers went so far as to download and analyse, “does not provide a definitive answer to the question of how the pandemic started”, explained Tedros, but “could – and should – have been shared three years ago”.
So far, several theories have circulated about the origin of covid, from possible transmission to humans by an intermediate animal present in the Wuhan market to a laboratory leak.
The new Chinese data provide new elements, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, a doctor responsible for combating covid at the WHO, but there are still many questions to be answered about the animals that were sold on the market, such as whether or not they were domestic and where they came from.
Will Covid finally be the flu?
Soon, Covid-19 could be comparable to the threat of seasonal flu, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday (17). The organization hopes to further lower its maximum alert level this year.
Three years after the emergence of covid-19, its origin is still a mystery.
“We’ve reached a point where we can consider Covid-19 the same way we consider seasonal flu, which is to say, a health threat, a virus that will continue to kill, but a virus that doesn’t disrupt our society or our hospital systems.” , said the head of WHO emergency programs, Michael Ryan, at a press conference.
“I am very pleased to see that, for the first time, the weekly number of deaths reported in the last month is lower than that recorded when we first used the word ‘pandemic’ three years ago”, highlighted Tedros, showing “confident” that the organization manages to lower its alert level “this year”.
The UN agency declared an “international public health emergency” due to covid-19 on January 30, 2020, at a time when there were less than 100 positive cases and no deaths outside China. But it wasn’t until Tedros classified the situation as a “pandemic” in March 2020 that the world became aware of the seriousness of the health threat.
With information from AFP.