A top World Health Organization official on Monday said that the WHO cannot compel China to divulge more data on the origins of COVID-19.
Mike Ryan, Director of the agency’s emergencies programme, said at a news conference that the “WHO doesn’t have the power to compel anyone in this regard”, reported Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, he expected full ‘cooperation’ from member states.
“We fully expect cooperation, input and support of all of our member states in that endeavour,” Ryan said.
He also proposed that studies are needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”.
There are competing theories that the virus jumped from animals, possibly starting with bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.
The Wuhan lab leak theory has recently become the subject of renewed public debate after several prominent scientists called for a full investigation into the origins of the virus.
The hypothesis that the virus was accidentally leaked from the lab was largely disregarded by scientists in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
China has repeatedly denied that the lab was responsible for the outbreak.
Members of a WHO team that visited China earlier this year hunting for COVID-19’s origins have said they did not have access to all data, driving continued debate about the country’s transparency.