WHO calls on China to share data for Covid-19 origins probe
World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday called on China to share the requested data concerning Covid-19 in a bid to understand the origins of the virus.
"We continue to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies that we have requested, to better understand the origins of this virus," the WHO chief told a media briefing, as quoted in a statement on the organization's website. "As I have said many times, all hypotheses remain on the table," 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 spill-over. The second theory is that the virus infected humans as a consequence of a research-related incident.
According to Reuters, a WHO body meets every few months to decide whether the new coronavirus has killed over 6.6 million people, still presents a "public health emergency of international concern" (PHEIC).
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.
He added that the virus "will not go away," but all countries "will need to learn to manage it alongside other respiratory illnesses including influenza and RSV, both of which are now circulating intensely in many countries."