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‘All hypotheses remain on table’ on Covid-19 origins, says WHO

National leaders call for transparent and independent analysis “free from interference”

The World Health Organization has called for further studies into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying that “all hypotheses remain on the table”.

The WHO issued its statement on 30 March, alongside the publication of expert findings from a visit to Wuhan, China, where the virus first attracted attention.

The expert report after the trip said a laboratory origin for the disease was “extremely unlikely”, but experts did not reach any conclusion on the origin of the virus.

“We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said Tedros.

The origin of the virus has been a subject of international controversy, with scientists largely not giving credence to theories of a laboratory origin. China has faced complaints that it has not fully cooperated with investigations on the virus’s origins, but some Chinese officials have cast doubt on whether Covid-19 did first appear in humans in their country. 

On the same day as the WHO update, the leaders of more than a dozen governments issued a joint statement calling for a “transparent and independent analysis and evaluation, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Going forward, there must now be a renewed commitment by WHO and all member states to access, transparency, and timeliness,” said countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, the UK and the United States.