European Union External Action

Local EU press release on the WHO-led COVID-19 origins study

30/03/2021 - 17:40
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We welcome the release of the joint WHO-China study entitled “WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part”.

 

Only through a thorough review of the origins of the virus and its transmission into the human population, will we be able to better understand and control this pandemic, and to better prevent and prepare for future health emergencies,” says Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “Since the outset we expressed our support for a science-based, transparent and independent WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2 virus,” underlines Ambassador Stevens and adds “Timely access to data and field missions play a critical role in this.

While regretting the late start of the study, the delayed deployment of the experts and the limited availability of early samples and related data, we consider the work carried out to date and the report released on 30 March 2021 as a helpful first step.

As outlined in the report, further work will have to be pursued to understand the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and its introduction into the human population. This will require further and timely access to relevant locations and to all relevant human, animal and environmental data available, including data from the first identified COVID-19 cases and cases picked up by surveillance systems, as well as further serologic testing of blood samples,” states EU Ambassador Stevens. “We request the WHO to continue the study.“

Global health is a common responsibility for all WHO Member States. Every lack or delay in sharing public health information can have worldwide adverse impact and we call on all Member States to continue sharing public health information with WHO as soon as it is available, in order to better inform and drive responses. The identification of the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will require full and transparent cooperation by all WHO Member States and a collaborative effort by scientists from various disciplines. Open scientific debate is crucial to reach a high standard of conclusions.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the EU and its Member States have been a driving force for the mobilization of the international community to support WHO’s leadership role in the health response to the pandemic, which remains the global priority,” underlines Ambassador Stevens. “The EU will continue to support the strengthening of international preparedness and the response to pandemics, including through universal and equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. A better understanding of the virus, including its origins, is also essential in that respect. Ultimately, pandemic preparedness is not only about response capacities; it is above all about how countries act when a threat arises.

Please find the full statement of the EU at the WHO Member State briefing on the WHO-led COVID-19 origins study here: https://europa.eu/!mG79pN