The World Health Organization is forming a team of about 20 scientists who will be tasked with uncovering the source of the Covid-1 outbreak outbreak – and officials have warned that time could run out, a report said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that UN public health officials have warned that the world may never know the origin of the virus.
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Lawrence Gostin, director of the faculty at Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, told the paper it was unclear whether the team’s order would be sufficient to move the investigation forward.
“China still holds all the cards, the WHO lacks power and it is unthinkable to me that the new committee will be able to negotiate to enter China,” he said.
The outbreak has caused additional tensions between the United States and China. The Biden administration is pressuring WHO director Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyasus to renew the investigation, the journal reports. The WHO did not immediately respond to a late email from Fox News.
A spokesman for the WHO told the paper that the team’s priority was to “have data and access to the country where the first reports were identified.”
The U.S. intelligence community failed to finally identify the origin of the coronavirus earlier this month and why experts split after a 90-day investigation ordered by President Biden. A report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) found that officials were unable to rule out whether the virus had escaped from the lab or spread to humans through infected animals.
Clone Kitchen, a former ODNI intelligence officer, told Fox News that it was in China’s interest to continue access to uncover the origin of the virus.
“China is extremely encouraged and able to deny us this information,” Kitchen said. “They are encouraging us to deny this information because whatever it is – whether it’s a wet market or a biological advantage as its origin – it’s embarrassing for the Chinese Communist Party.”
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The journal reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the UN General Assembly last week, saying his country would “support and engage in global science-based resource identification and stand firm against any form of political maneuvering.”