EU chief backs investigation with China into origin

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Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, delivers a speech during a special address on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.

Bloomberg

The president of the European Commission backed calls for an investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus and said China should be involved in the process. 

Lawmakers in countries like Germany, Sweden and Australia have called for a probe into how the virus started, which has so far infected over 3.2 million people and killed over 230,000. 

Speaking to CNBC, Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive arm, said she would like to see China work together with her organization, and others, to get to the bottom of exactly how it emerged.

“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 told Geoff Cutmore in an exclusive interview Thursday.

She called for more transparency in the future and said governments needed to learn lessons from the current crisis.

“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.”

When pressed on whether a probe could lead to a weakening of relations with China, she disagreed that would be the case: “No, I don’t think so, because it’s all on our own interest. I mean, this this pandemic has caused so much damage. 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.”

Her comments came just as the top spy agency in the U.S. stated that the country’s collective intelligence community does not believe the virus was manmade or genetically modified.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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