EU joins Biden’s call for fresh probe into coronavirus origins – POLITICO

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The European Union is backing a push by U.S. President Joe Biden to launch a renewed investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, urging China to grant researchers “complete access” for that matter.

“We need full transparency in order to learn the lessons. And that’s why we support all the efforts in order to [create] clarity,” European Council President Charles Michel told reporters on Thursday ahead of traveling to the G7 summit in Cornwall, U.K. “The world has the right to know what exactly happened in order to be able to learn the lessons.”

The comments come as leaders of the G7 club of wealthy economies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union — plan to call for a new and independent investigation by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the origins of the coronavirus, according to a leaked communiqué from the G7 summit.

Biden late last month ordered U.S. intelligence services to conduct a review of the pandemic’s origins to find out whether the virus originated from human contact with an infected animal, as China claims, or potentially from a laboratory accident. Beijing has fiercely rejected the second hypothesis, and it received backing from a World Health Organization (WHO) probe earlier this year that discarded the laboratory accident theory. However, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization’s probe was not “extensive enough,” expressing concern that researchers didn’t have full access and arguing more work was needed to examine all possibilities.

In addition to the G7 communiqué, the EU and U.S. also plan to use their joint summit next week to call for “a transparent, evidence-based” probe “that is free from interference,” according to a draft of conclusions seen by POLITICO.

The growing international chorus pushing for China to fully cooperate on a coronavirus investigation reflects a broader coalescing of western allies in solidarity against Beijing. On issues ranging from human rights sanctions to advanced tech investments, western countries are increasingly joining forces to counterbalance China’s rapid ascendance as an economic and political powerhouse.

Speaking alongside Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that it “is of utmost importance that we learn about the origin of the coronavirus.”

“There is this horrible pandemic, a global pandemic,” von der Leyen said. “We have to know where it did come from in order to draw the right lessons and to develop the right tools to make sure that this will never happen again.”

She added: “Therefore the investigators need complete access to whatever is necessary to really find the source of this pandemic.”

Depending of the findings of such an investigation, she said, “we have to draw conclusions.”

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.





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