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Business News/ News / India/  WHO study into Covid-19 origins important first step: Govt
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WHO study into Covid-19 origins important first step: Govt

It also said that India joined 'other stakeholders in voicing their expectations that follow up to the WHO Report or further studies'

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (REUTERS)Premium
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (REUTERS)

New Delhi: India on Thursday said a World Health Organisation study into origins of the novel coronavirus pandemic was an important first step. India’s statement however added that New Delhi supported the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ expectations that future studies include timely access to information.

It also said that India joined “other stakeholders in voicing their expectations that follow up to the WHO Report or further studies, including on an understanding of the earliest human cases and clusters by the WHO on this critical issue, will receive the fullest cooperation of all concerned."

The Indian reaction comes days after more than a dozen countries in a joint statement expressed concerns that the WHO report on the origins of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was delayed and lacked access to complete data.

Though issued separately from the joint statement the governments of the US, Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom the Indian statement supports many elements of the combined statement. The the joint statement issued by the 14 countries mentions China by name but the Indian statement is carefully worded. It does not name China but supports some demands made by the 14 countries including on transparency and the need for China to give access to information.

“The (WHO) report represents an important first step in establishing the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic," India’s statement said. “It has listed four pathways concerning the emergence of the disease but has stressed the need for next-phase studies across the region. The report also stresses the need for further data and studies to reach robust conclusions," it said.

Drawing attention to concerns expressed by Ghebreyesus, the Indian statement said it was “pertinent to note" that the WHO chief had “raised the issue of delays and difficulties in accessing raw data for the team conducting the study."

India “fully support(s) the Director General’s expectation that future collaborative studies will include more timely and comprehensive data sharing. In this connection, we also welcome his readiness to deploy additional missions."

“​We share the need for a comprehensive and expert-led mechanism that would expeditiously investigate the origin of Covid-19 in cooperation with all stakeholders," the Indian statement said.

“We will continue to work with the WHO to strengthen capacity and improve global health security so that the present report and further studies will provide valuable inputs on developing protocols and building a knowledge base and expertise that facilitates genomic surveillance to track virus mutations and pro-actively respond to the next global pandemic," it added.

The joint statement by the 14 countries had said that it was “essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples."

“It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged," the joint statement had said.

Establishing such guidelines for investigations will help countries detect, prepare and respond to future outbreaks, it had added.

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Published: 01 Apr 2021, 09:45 PM IST
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