Stop politicizing COVID-19 origin tracing, WHO and diplomats warn

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called for all governments to depoliticize COVID-19 origin tracing and work together to develop a common framework for future emerging pathogens of pandemic potential.

COVID-19 origin tracing

Following the publication of the WHO-China joint report of the phase-one studies on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in March 2021, the WHO has outlined the next series of studies that need to be undertaken and continues to be in discussions with Member States and experts on next steps, the organization said in a statement.

The WHO’s priority is for scientists to build on the first phase of studies, implement the recommendations outlined in the March 2021 report and accelerate scientific efforts on all hypotheses, the statement added.

“China will continue to support efforts to trace the origins of COVID-19. We’re actually implementing and will continue to practice relevant suggestions based on the China-WHO joint research report,” said Ma Zhaoxu, China’s deputy foreign minister at a news briefing Friday morning on the subject of tracing the origins of COVID-19.

Ma explained Beijing’s stance that the work to trace the virus is a scientific issue and should only be the job of scientists.

“What we oppose is politicizing the tracing of the virus, tracing against the WHO’s resolutions, and tracing that abandons the China-WHO joint research report,” Ma added.

Over 160 diplomatic envoys and representatives from international organizations joined the discussion, and most of them echoed Beijing’s stance, including the Russian ambassador to China Andrew Denisov.

“My country, Russia, for its part, firmly opposes and condemns who politicized the situation around COVID-19. What we all really need at the moment is coordination and for our actions to promote transparent multinational efforts, saying that the new coronavirus origin tracing. That’s what can be helpful to overcome the pandemic,” Denisov said.

Somalia’s ambassador to China, Awale Ali Kullane, said his country is one of the 48 nations that have sent letters to the WHO in opposition to the politicization of the probe into the origins of the virus.

“At the moment it seems that we have scientific cooperation and medical cooperation, but the lack of political cooperation of the fear of politicizing may jeopardize us recovering from the COVID-19 crisis,” Kullane added.