A Truly Independent COVID-19 Origins Investigation Must Be Conducted, says AHF

May 31, 2021 14:35 UTC

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS care globally, calls on the World Health Assembly (WHA) and world leaders to do everything necessary to conduct an entirely new and independent investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus. The world deserves a credible international effort guided by a distinguished panel of unbiased global experts – not the World Health Organization (WHO).

The previous WHO-led investigation into COVID-19’s origins was flawed from its outset: Access blocked by Chinese authorities, an apparent conflict of interest between a key team member and the possible outbreak source, and prematurely dismissing origin theories, including a potential lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

“AHF and many others gave the initial investigation a resounding vote of no-confidence when it began in January. It was clear that the team was not going to be allowed to access early case data and the frontline medical staff needed to conduct a diligent examination of how the virus originated and started spreading,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “The world is now faced with even more questions than answers on COVID-19’s origins – a truly independent investigative team that is completely transparent must be granted unfettered access to all data, facilities and personnel that are relevant to the early days of the outbreak. It’s the only way we’ll know how to prevent disasters of this magnitude in the future.”

Before the previous team produced an official report, it hastily dismissed a potential lab leak hypothesis, which has recently gained increased credibility. A conflict of interest also mired the inquiry, as team member Dr. Peter Daszak had worked closely in the past with a leading virologist at WIV on the study of bat viruses. And from the start, Chinese authorities took steps to limit transparency by delaying the investigation and tightly controlling access throughout the entire process.

“The WHA and world leaders have the opportunity and obligation to provide the world what it needs to help stop this and future pandemics. The essential information the world deserves can only be obtained by examining the preliminary data,” added Weinstein. ”What has been a charade to this point, where COVID-19 origins are concerned, is a clear example of why the world needs a new Global Public Health Convention on pandemics. Diseases know no borders—countries must be transparent, accountable and mandated to coordinate with other nations and international health institutions on matters that affect everyone worldwide. AHF urges WHA member states to demand that a new independent investigation be conducted immediately by scientists and intelligence experts.”

The 74th World Health Assembly is slated to end its session on Monday but has seemingly stopped short of calling for the much-needed re-do of the first faulty investigation primarily due to pressure from China and its allies. The WHA removed any explicit reference to an "investigation" of the virus origins from its draft resolution; however, that critical term appeared multiple times in an earlier version in April.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210531005199/en/

Contacts

US MEDIA:
Ged Kenslea, Senior Director, Communications, AHF
+1.323.308.1833 work +1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org

Denys Nazarov, Director of Global Policy &
Communications, AHF
+1 323.308.1829
denys.nazarov@ahf.org

Source: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

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