A top World Health Organization official said Thursday that China is blocking the WHO from participating in China’s investigation into the origin of coronavirus.
Dr. Gauden Galea, the WHO’s representative to China, told Sky News that the WHO has made repeated requests to join the investigation to no avail.
“We know that some national investigation is happening but at this stage we have not been invited to join,” Galea said. “We are expecting to get in the near future a briefing on where that is and to discuss possible collaboration.”
He added: “WHO is making requests of the health commission and of the authorities. The origins of [the] virus are very important, the animal-human interface is extremely important and needs to be studied.”
When asked whether China had a good reason for excluding the WHO, Galea answered: “From our point of view, no.”
China’s refusal to cooperate with the WHO — which has aligned itself with China throughout the pandemic — came as the U.S. Intelligence Community is investigating whether the virus could have leaked from a Wuhan lab.
“The [Intelligence Community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement Thursday.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that information he has seen leads him to believe the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?” a reporter asked Trump at Thursday’s press briefing.
“Yes, I have,” Trump answered. “And I think the World Health Organization should be ashamed of themselves, because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an “independent assessment” into the origins of the deadly virus — a statement that sparked backlash from China.
“This is a virus that has taken more than 200,000 lives across the world. It has shut down the global economy. The implications and impacts of this are extraordinary,” Morrison told reporters Wednesday.
“Now, it would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment.”
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton has similarly argued that the virus most likely leaked from a Wuhan lab in the area where the outbreak is believed to have first started.
“This evidence is circumstantial, to be sure, but it all points toward the Wuhan labs,” he wrote.
“Thanks to the Chinese coverup, we may never have direct, conclusive evidence — intelligence rarely works that way — but Americans justifiably can use common sense to follow the inherent logic of events to their likely conclusion.”