Just days after a team from the World Health Organization announced they were dropping an investigation into whether the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, the leader of that same international organization of medical experts has walked that announcement back.
Dr. Peter Ben Embarek had said early in the week that any theory of the novel coronavirus escaping from a Chinese laboratory was "extremely unlikely." But on Thursday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus struck a markedly different posture on the topic.
"The independent expert team to study the origins of the COVID-19 virus has completed its trip to China," Tedros said. "The expert team is still working on its final report, and we look forward to receiving both the report and a full briefing."
The director-general then added, "Some questions have been raised as to whether some hypotheses have been discarded. I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study."
China has faced international criticism for its persistent efforts to impede any investigation into the origins of the virus that has killed over 2 million people worldwide. The WHO team that has been in China to research first-cause theories announced 4 main hypotheses:
- Direct transmission animal-to-human
- Cold-chain product or frozen food transmission
- Laboratory-related incident
WHO critics were bothered by the apparent contradiction in messaging between Embarek and Tedros.
Former President Donald Trump had ordered the United States out of the World Health Organization, citing corruption and a cozy relationship with China that Trump believed was distorting the group's objectivity. President Biden returned the United States to full participation and funding of the WHO once he took office.