China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) sent to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic which allegedly started in Wuhan in 2019.
The Chinese government denied the WHO team entry into that country on the ground that the visas of the team members were yet to be approved.
WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was not pleased with China’s blockage, expressed dismay over the development.
In a statement issued yesterday, he urged China to allow the WHO team to enter the country.
Ghebreyesus said, “I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already begun their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute”.
“But I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials. And I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team”.
For the past few months, WHO has been attempting to send a team of health experts from across the world to China.
The organisation has been engaged in talks with Chinese government since July regarding this.
Scientists have repeatedly stated that finding out how the virus jumped species into humans is extremely essential, according to The Guardian.
The WHO team was expected to visit Wuhan where the first cases of the virus had emerged in 2019. The team also intends to investigate the claim that the coronavirus originated from a Chinese lab.
Dr Mike Ryan who works for WHO has stated that the team had been working very closely with their Chinese colleagues for planning the trip to China.
Meanwhile, WHO) has said it is in countries’ self-interest to shun vaccine nationalism and work toward equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, noting that people must come first over short-term profits.
WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at the first COVID-19 news conference for the year at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Vaccine nationalism is when a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries.
This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.
In a series of tweets posted on the UN health agency twitter account @WHO, Ghebreyesus also urged all governments to be committed to equitable distribution of the vaccine.
“I urge all governments to work together and live up to their commitments to equitable distribution globally and all pharmaceutical groups to boost supply as quickly as possible and to fully participate in COVAX,’’ he said.
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