European Commission supports calls to investigate coronavirus origin

Ursula von der Leyen
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European Commission expressed support for calls to investigate the coronavirus origin. They believe that the process must involve China.

Legislators in countries like Sweden, Germany, and Australia called an investigation into how the virus began. The coronavirus pandemic already infected more than 3.2 million people and killed over 230,000.

Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive arm, told CNBC she would like China to work with her organization, and others, to trace the emergence of the virus.

“I think this is for all of us important, I mean for the whole world it is important. You never know when the next virus is starting, so we all want for the next time, we have learned our lesson and we’ve established a system of early warning that really functions and the whole world has to contribute to that,” she said during an interview with CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore on Thursday.

She also emphasized the importance of transparency in the future. She added that governments must learn lessons from the current public health crisis.

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“One of the lessons learned from this pandemic is that we need more robust data, overall, and we need more centralized than an entity that is analyzing those data so that the early warning mechanism is way better,” she said.

“For example, at the level of the European Union, we know that we need a more robust data system for such situations as we see it right now with the coronavirus. And for building up a system that is, that you can count on.”

Criticisms against China

The first report about the COVID-19 outbreak emerged in December in Wuhan, China.

China sent medics and equipment to countries battling with the coronavirus. Experts claim the virus originated in a wildlife market or wet market.

Chinese authorities imposed a temporary ban on the trade of wild animals in wet markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms in late January.

Critics raised the issue on China’s lack of transparency throughout the crisis. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against blaming countries for the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Le Yucheng told NBC on Tuesday: “China has been open, transparent and responsible in its COVID-19 response. We did not cover up anything, and did not delay any efforts. We have already publicized the timeline of how we have shared the information on COVID-19.”

Le Yucheng stressed no international law covers blaming a country for being the first to report a virus outbreak. “Neither does history offer any such precedent,” he said.

In the US, President Donald Trump said he is confident that the coronavirus outbreak sprang from a laboratory in China.

EU-China relations

Von der Leyen does not believe the investigation will weaken EU’s relationship with China. “No, I don’t think so, because it’s all on our own interest. I mean, this this pandemic has caused so much damage,” she told CNBC.

“So it’s in our own interest, of every country, that we are better prepared the next time. We will, we do not know when such a crisis occurs again, but we should be better prepared now.”

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