- WHO experts have rubbished theory Covid leaked from a lab as fact-finding mission to China concludes
- Dr Embarek, who led the probe, said theory is ‘extremely unlikely’ and should not be studied any further
- But he called for further studies into whether virus was imported into China, possibly on frozen foods
- Findings will be a PR coup for Beijing, which has repeatedly pointed finger of blame for pandemic overseas
- It will also provide ammunition to WHO’s critics, who feared mission would become part of Chinese white-washing exercise with potentially embarrassing or incriminating evidence hidden from researchers
WHO scientists sent on a coronavirus fact-finding mission to China have today thrown their weight behind Beijing – dismissing theories the virus leaked from a lab wile backing theories that the virus was imported on frozen meat.
Peter Embarek, leader of the WHO team, said that ‘further research’ into the imported meat theory – which is being pushed by Beijing – is needed, along with studies looking at early cases of Covid reported outside of China.
At the same time, he dismissed theories that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, saying the possibility is ‘extremely unlikely’ and does not need to be investigated further – despite US government officials calling it ‘the most credible’ theory just a few weeks ago.
The findings, which mark the end of the WHO’s fact-finding mission, amount to an almost full backing of Beijing’s explanations for the source of the pandemic and will be a PR coup for the ruling communist party, which has repeatedly tried to pin the blame outside its borders.
It will also give ammunition to WHO’s critics, who feared the investigation would be used to give legitimacy to a Chinese white-washing exercise with possibly embarrassing or incriminating evidence hidden from investigators.
The WHO has come under fire from world leaders including ex-US President Trump for being ‘China-centric’ and uncritically parroting Beijing propaganda – playing down the severity of the disease until it was too late to stop it becoming a crippling pandemic.
Trump’s fury at the WHO led him to pull all US funding, robbing the organisation of its largest donor – a move that President Biden has now promised to reverse.
Dr. Tedros, the WHO chief, has also come in for heavy criticism for his praise of China – describing its ‘commitment to transparency’ as ‘beyond words’ during the early stages of the outbreak, despite strong doubts about data coming from Beijing and a past history of covering up potential pandemics.
It was also revealed that Dr Tedros received support from Beijing while in the running to become WHO chief, and that China has often donated large sums of money to governments or organisations that he has been a part of.