EU’s ‘bizarre’ refusal to criticise WHO lets China off hook over coronavirus, says analyst

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In total, 13 nations signed a joint statement in response to the admission by director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus that the WHO’s report on the origins of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 had been delayed and lacked access to complete data – but the EU refused to follow suit. The WHO investigation, written jointly with Chinese scientists, dismissed the idea that the virus escaped through a laboratory incident, instead stating that animal-to-human spillover was the more likely pathway, prompting immediate claims of a whitewash.

Pieter Cleppe, a research fellow with the Property Rights Alliance, has outlined his concerns in a new comment piece to be published on the think tank’s website.

He told Express.co.uk: “It is really bizarre that the EU does not join the ranks of Western nations, including the US, the UK, and a few of its own member states, on this particular topic.

“It’s one thing not to go along blindly with all US diplomatic initiatives on China, but surely demanding transparency should not be something the EU would have any problem with, certainly when it involves getting to the bottom of how the coronavirus, which has wrought havoc upon the world, has emerged.”

Turning his attention to the WHO itself, Mr Cleppe added: “This provokes more attention for the WHO, a truly dysfunctional international organisation, which has a bad track record on dealing with international health crises, which was visible last year when it ignored the warnings by Taiwan over the Coronavirus.

“A particular reason for the WHO’s lacklustre performance is its tendency to stray from the original core mission, which is to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

“The WHO has been involved in campaigns unrelated to communicable diseases but instead directed against the use of alcohol, tobacco, salt and sugar, often suggesting extra taxes or restrictions, from mandatory health warnings to bans on advertising or outright bans on products with a potential for harm reduction.

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“It’s unfortunate the EU doesn’t side with the US and the UK when it comes to the WHO.”

The statement, issued on Tuesday and also signed by Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, stated: “It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged.

“It is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.”

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The origin of the coronavirus which emerged towards the end of 2019 has been the subject of intense speculation ever since.

Conventional wisdom suggests it jumped species at a so-called “wet market” in the city of Wuhan.

But many have pointed to the presence of the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology, suggesting the disease may have originated there instead.

The WHO report suggested further research was needed in every area except the laboratory leak hypothesis.

However, sceptics have questioned the findings, arguing the presence of the top-secret lab is too much of a coincidence.

British science journalist Lord Ridley said:” We were expecting a whitewash and a whitewash is what we’ve got.

“The report, in 300 pages, dismisses in one paragraph, as very unlikely, the idea that the virus leaked out of a laboratory, but then spends 20 or 30 pages, going into great detail, how 45.000 animals – poultry, wildlife and things, that had been tested in China – were all found negative, yet nonetheless concludes that it is very likely that one of them carried the virus to Wuhan.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Ghebreyesus himself said: “I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough.

“Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.”

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