The release of a World health Organization report on the origin of the new coronavirus has been repeatedly delayed, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Sunday, expressing concern about China’s involvement in writing the report.
In an interview with CNN, Blinken, who is visiting Brussels, Belgium, said, “The WHO will be releasing a report soon. We have real concerns about the methodology and process of this report. For example, the authorities in Beijing apparently helped write the report.”
Blinken said there is concern about the report and the need for accountability for past issues related to the outbreak, but he stressed that the focus should be on how to build a strong international system to avoid a recurrence of similar outbreaks and reduce the damage from possible future crises.
He said, “The problem we face is that just as we try to deal with this current outbreak, we also have to make sure that we do everything possible to prevent another pandemic, or at least make sure that if we do have another outbreak in the future we can mitigate the damage in a more effective way.”
Blinken said the international system, including the World Health Organization, needs to be transparent, able to share information and grant access to international experts to investigate similar outbreaks at the outset.
In the interview, Blinken did not respond positively to the question of whether he would continue to “punish China. But he said China has an obligation to meet its obligations.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to make China “pay” for what it did in the outbreak.
Blinken said China has obligations that need to be met. He said the future requires a number of reforms that “require China to do what it has not done in the past.
Chinese officials last Friday (March 26) preempted the official release of the WHO report by briefing foreign diplomats in China about the study on the traceability of the new coronavirus. This was interpreted as Chinese officials setting the tone for the WHO’s findings.
Chinese officials said experts investigated four possible channels of virus transmission to Wuhan: direct transmission from bats carrying the virus to humans; transmission from bats to some intermediate host and then to humans; transmission of the virus through cold-chain Food; and leakage of the virus from a Wuhan laboratory due to a related accident.
Chinese officials said the animal route of transmission and cold-chain food transmission were the most likely scenarios. A laboratory leak, on the other hand, is the least likely.
Robert Redfield, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said he believes the new coronavirus was leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.
In an interview with CNN after he left office, Redfield said he believed the virus was made in a Wuhan lab and then leaked, but that the leak was not necessarily intentional.