WHO chief again asks China to share requested data on COVID-19

ANIUpdated: Wednesday, December 21, 2022, 11:27 PM IST
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Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday once again called on China to share the data requested by the world health body to better understand the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Gaps in our understanding of post COVID19 condition mean we don't understand how best to treat people suffering with the long-term consequences of infection. Gaps in our understanding of how this pandemic began compromise our ability to prevent future pandemics," WHO chief said during a weekly press conference.

"We continue to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request. As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table," he added.

Tedros also expressed concern about the over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease.

"In order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground, WHO needs more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirements for intensive care units support," the WHO chief said.

"WHO is supporting #China to focus its efforts on vaccinating people at the highest risk across the country, and we continue to offer our support for clinical care and protecting its health system," he added.

Three years after its emergence in China's Wuhan, exactly how SARS-CoV-2 first emerged as a respiratory pathogen capable of sustained human-to-human transmission remains the subject of active debate.

Experts have put forward two dominant theories on the origins of the virus. The first theory is that SARS-CoV-2 is the result of a natural zoonotic spillover. The second theory is that the virus infected humans as a consequence of a research-related incident.

Last week, the WHO chief said that he is "hopeful" that the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer be considered a global health emergency next year. "We're hopeful that at some point next year, we will be able to say that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency," the WHO chief told a media briefing, as quoted in a statement on the organization's website.

He recalled that one year ago, the Omicron variant "had just been identified and was starting to take off." "At that time, COVID-19 was killing 50,000 people each week. Last week, less than 10,000 people lost their lives globally. That's still 10,000 too many - and there is still a lot that all countries can do to save lives - but we have come a long way," he added.

The WHO head said the criteria for declaring an end to the emergency will be discussed during the next meeting of the Emergency Committee in January.

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