Jul 17, 2021 - Health

WHO chief says it's too early to rule out COVID-19 lab leak theory

Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus waits for a meeting.

Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, May 24. Photo: Laurent Gillieron/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The head of the World Health Organization said Thursday that it was too early to rule out a potential connection between the coronavirus pandemic and a laboratory leak, AP reports.

Driving the news: WHO is “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, per AP.

  • Tedros said there was a "premature push" to rule out the theory that the virus might have originated from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan.

The big picture: The theory that COVID-19 started in a lab has gained traction in recent months, especially following President Biden's move in May to order the intelligence community to investigate the origins of the virus.

  • More than halfway into Biden's 90-day push to determine the cause of the virus, the intelligence community remains divided over whether the virus leaked from a Wuhan lab or emerged naturally, CNN reports.
  • Some senior Biden administration officials overseeing the intelligence review now say that the theory that the virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan is at least as credible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild, per CNN.
  • China has dismissed attempts to link the origins of the virus to the lab in Wuhan saying attempts are politically motivated.

What they're saying: “I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” Tedros said. “It’s common.”

  • "We need information, direct information on what the situation of this lab was before and at the start of the pandemic."
  • "If we get full information, we can exclude (the lab connection)," Tedros said.

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