After dismissing the lab leak theory and praising China for being so transparent, the director of the World Health Organization changed course on Thursday.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted that China had been less than forthcoming about requests for information related to the source of the pandemic and called for their cooperation.
He told reporters that the WHO was “asking actually China to be transparent, open and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.”
Tedros went on to admit that experts had been too hasty in ruling out the possibility that the coronavirus had leaked from a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan.
“I was a lab technician myself, I’m an immunologist, and I have worked in the lab, and lab accidents happen,” Tedros explained. “It’s common.”
The lab leak theory had been ridiculed by many experts and those in the media as a right-wing conspiracy theory animated by racial animus against Asians and political expediency.
Public opinion turned toward the possibility of the laboratory leak theory after a team of online amateur sleuths trudged through official documents online and undermined the official narrative from China and the Wuhan lab. Scientists and experts were forced to reluctantly admit that there was evidence enough to investigate the hypothesis.
In May, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. intelligence community to reassess the lab leak theory.
Many accused the WHO and its director for not taking a strong enough stance against China. Some critics have claimed that China aided Tedros’ campaign to become WHO’s director in 2017 despite his problematic past.
In February, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. had stopped cooperating with the WHO because they believed it had become corrupted.
“It had been politicized. It was bending a knee to General Secretary Xi Jinping in China,” said Pompeo. “I continue to know that there was significant evidence that this may well have come from that laboratory.”
Although Tedros asked for greater transparency from China in the investigation for the source of the pandemic, he framed it as an opportunity to exonerate the communist government.
“We need information, direct information on what the situation of this lab was before and at the start of the pandemic,” the director said.
“If we get full information, we can exclude (the lab connection),” he added.
Here’s part of Tedros’ statement:
Tedros urges China to be more transparent in COVID-19 probe