The World Health Organization has urged China to share data on the origin of the coronavirus that caused the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO’s director-general issued this call during a year-end press conference Wednesday to assess the global health situation in 2022.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus sought to put an optimist spin on 2022. He said the number of weekly reported COVID-19 deaths has dropped almost 90 percent since the peak of the pandemic at the end of January.
He noted, however, that too many uncertainties and gaps remain to be able to declare the pandemic over. He said gaps in vaccination rates are putting millions of people at high risk of severe disease and death. He also said gaps in the understanding of how this pandemic began are jeopardizing the ability of scientists to prevent future outbreaks.
“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 said.
The novel coronavirus that caused the pandemic was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. Since then, there have been nearly 650 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including more than 6.6 million deaths.
China has rejected previous calls for investigations into the origins of COVID-19, calling these demands politically motivated. It also has vehemently refuted reports that the virus may have escaped from a bio-lab in the country.
Tedros expressed concern over the evolving situation of COVID-19 in China. He said the WHO was increasingly receiving reports of severe disease spreading across the country.
“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 ICU support. WHO is supporting China to focus its efforts on vaccinating people at the highest risk across the country,” he said.
COVID-19 will continue to pose a danger next year and beyond; however, Tedros said the world has made tangible steps toward controlling and containing the spread of this deadly disease.
He said a new fund for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response has been created. This international legally binding agreement commits nations to work together to address the threat of future pandemics.