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WHO appreciates China's openness to joint efforts to identify source of COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-05-26 10:36

Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme attends the news conference on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland Feb 11, 2020. [Photo/Agencies] 

GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that it appreciates China's openness to joint efforts by the international science community to identify the source of the virus, and that such a scientific mission should consist of "the right mix of scientific experts from a multinational perspective".

"We've been in discussions day-to-day with our colleagues in China about putting together the necessary scientific inquiries into the origin of the virus," Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said in a press conference in Geneva on Monday.

"I think the authorities in China, governments around the world and ourselves are very keen to understand the animal origin of the virus itself. And I am very pleased to hear a very consistent message coming from China, which is one of openness to such an approach," he added.

"So I think we will be very pleased to continue for those discussions. I don't believe there is a date yet for a scientific mission, but we will be looking forward to doing that as so on as possible and with the right mix of scientific experts from a multinational perspective to join such a team," he said.

"We have been in regular contact with our colleagues in China and they have all the expertise in country to do this. We welcome the opportunity to work with them and with the international community, to really understand the virus' origins and the animal human interface," said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead COVID-19 of WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Meanwhile, Ryan said he was "pleased" to see the publication of the first peer-reviewed journal publications of the vaccine studies from China.

"I think in terms of the number of scientific publications that have come from China over the last number of months is very good and the number of scientific collaborations between Chinese institutions and institutions all over the world is also a very positive sign," he said.

On Sunday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China was open to joint efforts by the international science community to identify the source of the virus, and the process must be professional, impartial and constructive.

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