Wuhan | Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China on Wednesday, as part of their investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, against which the EU plans to adopt vaccines Chinese and Russian.
• Read also: WHO team visits Wuhan Institute of Virology
This institute, which has several high-security laboratories where researchers are working on coronaviruses, had been accused by the previous US President Donald Trump of having leaked the virus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic.
The accusation has been firmly denied by Beijing, which seeks to evacuate any responsibility for the outbreak of the epidemic in 2019 and suggests, without demonstrating it, that the virus could have been imported into China.
The experts stayed about four hours at the Institute of Virology and left without making a statement, AFP found.
The communist regime waited more than a year before allowing the WHO visit.
Many analysts doubt that the dozen international experts will discover revealing signs of the outbreak of the epidemic after such a delay.
Last week, a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy said the WHO’s visit to China was part of a research project. “It’s not an investigation,” he said.
Beijing insists on its success in containing the contagion and on its production of vaccines, exported to several countries.
In the global race for immunization, these Chinese products could see their use extend to the European Union, which on Tuesday expressed its interest under conditions.
The medical journal The Lancet also gave a favorable opinion on Tuesday for the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Russia, judging it to be 91.6% effective against asymptomatic forms.
“If the Russian and Chinese producers open their files, show transparency, all their data (…), then they could have a conditional marketing authorization like the others”, declared the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, according to parliamentary sources.
Strategy under attack
The first 40,000 doses of Sputnik V arrived Tuesday in Hungary, the first EU country to have authorized it, without waiting for the European Medicines Agency to rule.
In addition to Russia, this vaccine has been approved in 17 countries: former Soviet republics which have remained close such as Belarus and Armenia, allies such as Venezuela and Iran, but also South Korea, Argentina, Algeria, Tunisia or Pakistan and, urgently on Tuesday, Mexico.
In the turmoil, Ursula von der Leyen had to defend her vaccination strategy on Tuesday before the main political groups in the European Parliament, during a series of closed-door hearings.
She had previously spoken in several European newspapers, recalling that “the Commission and the Member States agreed not to compromise with the safety and efficacy requirements which are linked to the authorization of a vaccine”.
In the EU, 12.7 million doses of vaccine were administered to 2.3% of the population. Malta leads (5.4% of the population), followed by Denmark (3.2%) and Poland (3.1%).
The announcement by several laboratories of an increase in their deliveries should allow an acceleration of vaccination in the EU.
German BioNTech on Monday announced an acceleration of deliveries to the EU of the vaccine developed with the American Pfizer, promising up to 75 million additional doses in the second quarter.
Britain’s AstraZeneca, which is under the wrath of European leaders because of delays, will finally increase by 30% in the first quarter of deliveries of its vaccine, authorized last Friday on the European market.
600,000 dead in Latin America
French and Swedish health authorities said on Tuesday that they were not recommending AstraZeneca for people over 65, for lack of available data on its effectiveness in this age group.
In Europe, Italy and Poland relaxed their anti-Covid system on Monday and reopened their museums, but their neighbors on the whole continue to toughen restrictive measures, especially in terms of travel, to fight a pandemic that has more than 2.2 million deaths to date and leaves again because of the variants of the coronavirus.
Europe at large remains the most affected area in terms of deaths with 747,887 deaths. Latin America has just exceeded 600,000 dead, a month after Europe, according to a count made by AFP Tuesday at 22:00 GMT from reports provided by the health authorities. Following this same calculation, the United States / Canada (464 204) and Asia (241 391).