Australia Says World Needs to Know Origins of COVID-19


Australia Says World Needs to Know Origins of COVID-19

Australia has received international backing for an independent inquiry into coronavirus as its trade tensions with China face further strain.

Powerful global leaders including the UK, Russia, India and Japan are among a coalition of 62 nations supporting Australia’s call for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus ahead of a vote at the World Health Assembly.

The demand for an “impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation” of the international health response to COVID-19 is expected to be the most controversial motion in a draft resolution written by the European Union, due to be put to the Assembly this morning.

It tasks World Health Organisation director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with launching the evaluation “at the earliest appropriate moment” to review the “lessons learned” from the deadly pandemic.

The Australian government does not expect China to oppose an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus on Tuesday, senior Morrison government sources said.

While they won’t know for certain until the motion is called, Australian government officials do not expect Beijing to oppose the motion which now has the overwhelming support of over 100 countries.

Australia was an early supporter of the draft resolution, which, in addition to having the support of the EU’s 27 member states, also has the backing of 35 other countries.

The inquiry motion does not mention the origins of the coronavirus, but does call on the “actions of WHO and their timelines pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic” to be among the issues examined.

It also does not set out a specific method for an inquiry, suggesting using “existing mechanisms” for review as an option.

The review would then make recommendations to “improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said there was “positive support” for an independent review into the pandemic to help the world “learn the lessons necessary to protect global health”.

“This is about collaborating to equip the international community to better prevent or counter the next pandemic and keep our citizens safe,” Ms Payne said.

“Australia and a significant number of countries are co-sponsoring the EU-led resolution, which includes a call for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, to be presented at this week’s World Health Assembly meeting.”

The resolution also calls for global co-operation and collaboration to step up at “all levels” to “contain, control and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic”.