The Hill Update - April 8

Dean discusses the recently released report by the World Health Organization – the WHO – on the study into the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Dean also discusses how Canada is managing in this pandemic with special guest Glen Pearson.



As you may have heard, the World Health Organization – the WHO – recently released its report on the study into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.


The report found that the virus likely spread to people through an animal, but researchers were unable to rule out other hypotheses.


Chinese Communist officials both delayed the start of the study, and prevented researchers from accessing complete, original data and samples. As a result, we still do not have conclusive evidence about where the virus came from.


The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been at the center of the theory that the COVID-19 virus had accidently escaped from the lab by infecting one of the lab workers. This theory, although marginal, has still not been ruled out, according to Peter Ben Embarek.

Many have expressed serious concerns about the Chinese government’s efforts to limit the WHO investigation.


First, Beijing delayed its start, which in and of itself, is detrimental to obtaining accurate results. When it comes to figuring out where a pandemic came from, some of the most critical clues can be found in the case files of a disease’s first victims. In February, it emerged that China refused a request to turn over 174 health records from COVID-19’s first patients in Wuhan.


Second, Beijing restricted access for WHO investigators who were trying to gather scientific evidence. Every step of the report was conducted with strict Chinese government supervision.


In fact, nothing happened in this investigation that didn't have the tacit approval of Chinese officials.


The investigation was conducted by a team of 17 Chinese scientists and 10 non-Chinese investigators that spent two weeks conducting interviews under the constant supervision of the People’s Republic of China.


No interview occurred without several representative of the Chinese government at the table.


In February, Peter Ben Embarek, a team member of the investigation, had this to say about the study: “The politics was always in the room with us on the other side of the table”


Jamie Metzl, a former senior advisor under U.S. president Bill Clinton, told 60 Minutes that the investigation was “essentially a highly-chaperoned, highly-curated study tour … this group of experts only saw what the Chinese government wanted them to see”


In addition to all of this, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was almost completely excluded from scrutiny.


Many of you have heard of this facility.


The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been at the center of the theory that the COVID-19 virus had accidently escaped from the lab by infecting one of the lab workers. This theory, although marginal, has still not been ruled out, according to Peter Ben Embarek.


Experts say that it’s critically important to determine the exact origin of the virus if we’re to prevent the next global pandemic.


There’ve been calls for our federal government to make it clear to Beijing that its lack of cooperation in determining the origin of the virus is unacceptable.


There’ve also been calls for the federal government to work multilaterally with allies to seek the reform of the WHO.


Many have expressed concerns that too often during this pandemic, the WHO has given in to China’s demands, thereby undermining the global response.


As a response to the Chinese government’s restrictions on WHO investigators, it’s important that the world unite and put pressure on Beijing to lift the veil of secrecy.


To this end, 14 countries, including Canada and the United States issued a joint statement expressing concern with the delayed study and lack of access to critical data and samples.


The joint statement goes on to say that its “[signatories] underscore the need for a robust, comprehensive, and expert-led mechanism for expeditiously investigating outbreaks of unknown origin that is conducted with full and open collaboration among all stakeholders and in accordance with the principles of transparency, respect for privacy, and scientific and research integrity.

One can only hope that the Chinese authoritarian government will come around and see the importance of conducting such studies.


What we learn now could help the world in case of future outbreaks. Working together for the health and well-being of all people should be a priority of all countries right now. Hopefully China will eventually join this effort.


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