WHO urges China to release all COVID data after new study

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 WHO urges China to publish all COVID data after new study

Advisors to the World Health Organization on Saturday, March 18, urged China to make public all information regarding the origin of COVID-19 after the results of a new study were published briefly in an international database used by to track pathogens.

New SARS-CoV-2 virus sequences, as well as additional genomic data based on samples taken from a live animal market in Wuhan, China in 2020, were briefly uploaded to the GISAID database by Chinese scientists earlier this year, allowing them to review for researchers in other countries, according to a statement from the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on the Origin of New Pathogens (SAGO).

New evidence suggests that raccoon dogs may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Subsequently, access to this information was apparently restricted to allow for further updates by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

WHO officials discussed the matter with their Chinese counterparts, who explained that the new data was meant to update a preliminary study from 2022. According to the statement, the Chinese CDC plans to resubmit the article to the scientific journal Nature for publication.

The WHO says that such information, although not final, represents a new direction in the investigation of the origin of COVID and should have been provided immediately.

“These data do not provide a conclusive answer to the question of how the pandemic began, but every bit of information is important in getting us closer to that answer. This data could — and should have — be transferred three years ago”, — WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

“We continue to urge China to be transparent in data sharing, and to carry out the necessary investigations and share results“, — he said.

SAGO has been commissioned by WHO to continue its investigation into the causes of the pandemic that has killed nearly 7 million people worldwide.

“(This is) newly analyzed data and nothing new,” — George Gao, a professor at the CDC Institute of Microbiology, said when asked by Reuters why the sequences had not been uploaded before. He said GISAID, the pathogen database, removed the sequences, not the scientists.

“All this should be left to scientists, not journalists or the public. We really want to know the answer“, — he added.

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