World Health Organization scientists likely to reconsider China lab origin theory of Covid-19

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

In hopes of uncovering the origin of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) led an worldwide investigation to Wuhan, which produced a report indicating that "SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have had a zoonotic origin... a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely" by the end of March.

The demand for more investigation is in stark contrast to the start of the pandemic, when scientists quickly came together around the idea that the virus crossed over from bats via an intermediary animal. Former Food and Drug Administration director Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday that he didn't want to give it a try.

Citing a USA intelligence report, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that a trio from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with a seasonal illness in November 2019.

This handout picture made available by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivering remarks following the speech of US President's chief medical adviser during a World Health Organization (WHO) executive board meeting on 21 January 2021 in Geneva.

Beijing dismissed the Journal report as "totally untrue".

He also said "scandalous inequity" in vaccine distribution is perpetuating the pandemic and urged WHO's 194 member states to support a massive drive to vaccinate at least 10% of people by September.

"There has been a persistent, albeit relatively quiet, focus on whether that was the origin of the virus, and it is compounded by the fact there have not been clear answers from Chinese officials about it, and investigators trying to find out the origin have been stymied", Haberman said.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus himself fuelled the theory, calling for further investigations into the Wuhan Institute of Virology despite the highly-anticipated joint report stating the theory was "highly-unlikely".

"Many have themselves become infected, and while reporting is scant, we estimate that at least 115,000 health and care workers have paid the ultimate price in the service of others".

"We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data", a group of researchers from top U.S. universities wrote in a letter published by the journal Science in mid-May.

The lab leak claims were dismissed a year ago as a fringe conspiracy theory, after then-President Donald Trump said COVID-19 had originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

"To me it was obvious from the beginning but I was badly criticized, as usual. Now they are all saying 'He was right.' Thank you!"

However, many experts are still cautious.

On Tuesday, she told reporters, "We need access to the information that the Chinese government has in order to make a determination through the global bodies that would do this investigation".

"It is absolutely accurate the intelligence community does not know exactly where, when, or how Covid-19 virus was transmitted initially", US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said last month during a congressional briefing.

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo had previously stated the US had significant evidence to indicate the virus had leaked from the lab.