Singapore’s foreign minister says Covid’s original research requires transparency

SINGAPORE – It is important to know the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic – but this is not possible without “radical and complete transparency”, said Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

“Let me speak as a scientist, or as a doctor: What we need is radical and complete transparency. Without everyone sharing the data and not being able to analyze it critically, it will be almost impossible to really get to the bottom of it. of this, ”Balakrishnan told CNBC’s“ Squawk Box Asia ”Thursday.

“It’s important, the etiology is important, not for political or diplomatic reasons – it’s for the future. We need to know how these things happen, where the next focus will be, what will be the likely dynamics of these future pandemics,” he added. .

Balakrishnan was a doctor before entering politics two decades ago. In May, the minister told CNBC that Covid is endemic and will not go away completely – an assessment increasingly shared by governments and health officials around the world.

The virus that caused Covid infection is emerging for the first time in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

An international team of scientists led by the World Health Organization said in February that the “most likely” coronavirus originated in animals before it spread to humans. The WHO has proposed a second phase of investigation, which will examine whether the virus could escape from a Chinese laboratory – but China has rejected the plan.

In May, President Joe Biden gave the U.S. intelligence community 90 days to further investigation into the origin of the virus and report the results. The deadline was Tuesday. China has also criticized Biden’s move and accused the United States of “capriciousness.” reported Reuters.

Balakrishnan said knowing the origin of the virus “is in the collective interest of all mankind.”

“I just hope I can get rid of politics and superpower rivalry from there and focus only on science and health and human well-being,” the minister said.

Singapore is approaching 80% of the vaccination rate

“Even with 80%, it’s still a million people without vaccines. And that’s why … as we seek to gradually and safely reopen society and reopen our borders, we will have a fight enough on hand to keep the numbers low. , ”he said. he said.

Singapore has added social distancing measures several times in recent months as the most transmissible delta variant spreads into the city-state.

As of Wednesday, the Southeast Asian country reported more than 66,800 Covid infections and 52 deaths, health ministry data showed.

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