Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has called on China to be more transparent and provide greater access to Chinese labs to aid investigations into the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and the origins of SARS-CoV-2, Science reports.
The WHO is "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 said during a press conferences, according to the Associated Press.
The AP adds that Tedros also said it was premature of the health agency to rule out the lab-leak theory for the origins of the virus. Earlier this year, a WHO-led team determined that that scenario was "extremely unlikely" and noted that the virus probably passed from bats to people through an unknown intermediary.
Science reports that researchers who have been critical of WHO's handling of the viral origins investigation are encouraged by Tedros' sharper stance, but that others say he has given in to pressure — particularly from the US where President Joe Biden has called on intelligence agencies to investigate the virus' origins — to give the lab-leak theory more credence.
According to Science, Tedros also announced the establishment of a new WHO International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens to take part in the next set of studies of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and any future pathogens.