WHO says it is seeking ‘access to all data’ in pursuit of lab-leak theory

Organization had previously discounted possibility that COVID emerged from lab.

Updated: August 14, 2021 - 5:49pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The World Health Organization says it is actively pursuing evidence in support of a possible “lab-leak” origin of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, a notable contrast from an investigatory team’s earlier confidence that the theory was highly unlikely.

In a statement this week, the world health body said that “in order to address the ‘lab hypothesis,’ it is important to have access to all data and consider scientific best practice and look at the mechanisms WHO already has in place.” 

“WHO is only focused on science, providing solutions and building solidarity,” the statement said.

Earlier this year an investigatory team charged with determining the origins of the virus concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that the pathogen emerged from a Chinese coronavirus lab. 

Leaders at the WHO quickly clarified that the hypothesis had not been taken off the table. Intelligence officials in the U.S. have also been looking into the possibility of a lab origin of the virus.