New Delhi: In a decisive shift in stance, India has joined 62 other countries in backing a draft resolution that seeks to probe the Covid-19 outbreak and its origin even as China continues to vehemently resist such a move, ThePrint has learnt.
India has co-sponsored the resolution, which is being led jointly by Australia and the European Union (EU), aimed at finding out the origin of the virus and its transmission to humans.
The resolution, which calls for an independent probe under the aegis of the World Health Organization (WHO), will be considered as an agenda item at the two-day meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) that begins in Geneva Monday.
WHA is the main decision-making body of the WHO.
While the resolution does not mention China or Wuhan, the city where the first case of Covid-19 was reported, it is clear that the 62 countries want an independent inquiry into the matter.
The motion has urged the WHO and its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions, which will enable targeted interventions and a research agenda to reduce the risk of similar events as well as to provide guidance on how to prevent SARS-COV2 infection in animals and humans and prevent the establishment of new zoonotic reservoirs, as well as to reduce further risks of emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases”.
According to sources, this is the first time since the outbreak that India has taken such a stance that is bound to upset Beijing.
Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK, Russia, Canada, Turkey, and Ukraine are some of the other countries that have supported the draft resolution.
China and the WHO have come under considerable criticism for the pandemic and its spread that forces countries into a lockdown for around two months, leading to a massive global recession.
Beijing, which has vehemently denied that the virus originated from the city of Wuhan, has condemned Australia for its intention to carry out the probe.
India’s tense tenure at WHO
India will soon assume the chairmanship of the WHO’s executive board, a decision on which will be taken at a meeting of the multilateral body on 22 May.
It has already come under a diplomatic tussle between the US and China to recognise Taiwan’s older status as an ‘observer’ in WHA.
New Delhi and Canberra are on the same page in strengthening the WHO and having an international independent review into the into the genesis and spread of Covid-19, Australian High Commissioner-designate to India Barry O’Farrell told ThePrint in an interview earlier this month.
The matter is also going to be discussed during a virtual summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, which is going to be held later this month.
At the G20 virtual summit in March, Modi had spoken about strengthening the WHO and empowering it so that it can deal with future pandemics more effectively.