As one of his first acts as president, Joe Biden rejoined the World Health Organization. But a top WHO official’s recent comment about the origins of the novel coronavirus call the decision into question.
Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a press conference last week that it’s “too early” to say that the coronavirus originated in China.
“I think we have to say this quite plainly; all hypotheses are on the table and it is definitely too early to come to a conclusion of exactly where this virus started either within or without China,” he said.
Ryan was responding to a reporter for NBC who asked about China's denials that the virus originated in Wuhan or elsewhere in the country.
“Let’s step back, let’s follow the evidence, let’s follow the science. Our team are on the ground, they’re having a good experience working with our Chinese colleagues. We’re working through the data. The data will lead us to the next phase, where we need to go next to look at the origins of this virus,” Ryan said.
In November, however, Ryan said it would be "highly speculative for us to say that the disease did not emerge in China."
Former President Trump moved to formally withdraw the U.S. from the global health organization, accusing the world body of being in China’s pocket.
"The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government," Trump said, adding that China pressured the WHO to “mislead the world” about COVID-19. "China has total control over the World Health Organization," he added—a claim the WHO has denied.