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WHO spokesperson underlines importance to fight against “infodemic”


By Zhang Penghui, People’s Daily

Available evidence indicates the novel coronavirus originated in animals and was not manipulated or produced in a laboratory, the World Health Organization (WHO) told a UN press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland on April 21, local time, in response to the false information circulating on the internet about the origin of COVID-19. The false information has recently sounded an alarm for the international society.

Both the WHO and global medical titans believe that the source of the virus is a matter of science which shall never be politicized.

WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib underlined at the conference that the WHO is combating two pandemics – one with the virus and one with information which is also called “infodemic.” She called on the international society to stand against the “infodemic” and oppose the fallacies and conspiracy theories on the origin of the novel coronavirus.

She pointed out that the virus was not artificially made, which is a consensus reached by all sides, stressing that the world’s collective focus needs to be on facts, not fear. The WHO is now probing into the origin of the novel coronavirus with science-based approaches, and multiple teams, including the Chinese, have started relevant investigation.

It’s not the first time for the WHO to call for science- and facts-based approaches to address the origin of the virus. Executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program Michael Ryan told People’s Daily that the organization has a very clear stand on the origin of the virus, and stigmatized languages shall be avoided, in response to the stigmatization of China by some politicians under the excuse of the virus.

The fallacy that the novel coronavirus was manmade was also disapproved by global medical experts. Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity department of France’s Pasteur Institute, noted that the family tree of this virus indicates the virus is derived from viruses that circulate in nature, which has been verified by many laboratories.

Russian epidemiologist and microbiologist Alexander Semenov revealed that it’s totally possible for researchers to tell whether the virus was originated from nature or artificially made from genetic sequencing. The statement that the novel coronavirus was artificially inserted with gene segments goes against facts, said Semenov, adding that such practice was intended to disguise the incapability of certain countries’ health systems.

Australian news website ScienceAlert reported that scientists have explained for many times why the COVID-19 virus was not made in a lab. The emergence of a new coronavirus with pandemic potential is not a surprise, and scientists have been warning governments for years that a new disease was on the horizon, it said.

People have to be careful not to aid those people who irresponsibly use the global crisis for their own political point-scoring by giving any oxygen to rumors, said the news website, citing La Trobe University epidemiologist Hassan Vally.



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