EU adds to pressure on China and calls for full investigation into origins of Covid

·2 min read
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 9 June 2021 (EPA)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 9 June 2021 (EPA)

The European Union has called for an investigation into the origins of Covid-19, adding pressure on China, which is already facing a barrage of calls for renewed probe into the pandemic.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said it was necessary to know the origins of the virus and that “investigators need to have full access to sites which could shed lights on the matter,” according to Reuters.

The first Covid-19 case was detected in China before it spread around the world, infecting 173 million people and causing more than 3.7 million deaths.

Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, also said: “The world has the right to know exactly what happened in order to be able to learn the lessons.”

This comes as leaders of the G7 are expected to call for a new, transparent investigation led by the World Health Organisation into the origins of the coronavirus, according to a leaked draft communique.

A European Union diplomat told Reuters that the group “doesn’t have intelligence services, and we are not going to try to do this origins search through our member states agencies.”

The diplomat said that the US can still talk to European services in member states, but the EU is not going to get involved.

The Joe Biden administration had last month ordered intelligence agencies to inquire into the origins of Covid-19.

In a statement, Mr Biden had said that he has asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyse information about the origins of the virus, and report back to him in 90 days.

He said: “As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China.”

Mr Biden’s order followed a report that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became so sick in November 2019 that they had to be hospitalised.

China responded to the US order by accusing it of politicising the origins of Covid-19. It also called for “a comprehensive study of all early cases of Covid-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world.”

In March, the WHO released a report saying it was "extremely unlikely" that the coronavirus leaked from a lab. The investigation has been criticised with 14 countries calling out the UN health body for a lack of transparency in the report.

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