China always shares COVID-19 data with intl community: FM
Published: Jan 05, 2023 09:58 PM Updated: Jan 05, 2023 09:55 PM
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Since COVID began, China has shared information and data with the international community including the US in an open and transparent manner, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning said on Thursday, in response to the international community’s concerns over China’s epidemic situation and requests for more detailed and accurate information.

In response to the requests from the World Health Organization (WHO) for more comprehensive data, Mao said at Thursday’s press briefing that China has carried out close cooperation with the WHO over the years. Preliminary figures show that since COVID was first reported, the two sides have had over 60 technical exchanges on COVID containment, treatment, vaccine research and development and origins-tracing, Mao said. 

“We shared the genome sequence of the virus at the earliest opportunity, making important contribution to the drug and vaccine research and development in countries around the world,” Mao said.

Recently China’s relevant departments have shared the genome data of the virus from COVID cases in China via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), Mao said.

On December 9, 2022, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) held a special meeting with the WHO Representative Office in China, during which the NHC informed the WHO of the containment and treatment of the disease in China. On December 30, China and the WHO held another technical exchange meeting on COVID-19 prevention and control during which the two sides exchanged views on the epidemic situation, medical treatment, vaccination and other technical issues. 

On January 3, at the invitation of the WHO, China dispatched experts from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention to attend a meeting of the WHO Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution, where we provided a comprehensive update on the recent developments and COVID variants in China. On Thursday, WHO will hold a briefing with member states. China has asked relevant experts to attend the meeting where they will further inform the WHO of epidemic containment in China in detail and respond to technical issues that are of concern to other parties, said Mao.

The WHO has told China on many occasions that the technical exchanges between China and the WHO have achieved positive results. The information and data provided by China has helped scientists around the world to understand the evolution of the virus and has built confidence among the international scientific community in China’s prevention and control methods, Mao noted.

“Facts have proven that China has always maintained close communication with the WHO and shared information and data on the epidemic in a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with law,” Mao said.

The epidemic situation in China is under control. China will continue to conduct technical exchanges and other activities with the WHO amid the adjustment of the epidemic prevention and control policies. It is hoped that the WHO Secretariat will take a science-based, objective and just position and play a positive role in addressing the pandemic globally, Mao said.

US President Joe Biden has raised concerns about China’s response to the epidemic. Mao noted that China’s epidemic is under control and China will continue to closely monitor the mutation of the virus, releasing epidemic information in a timely manner and working with the international community to tackle the challenges of the epidemic.

The genome data of the virus provided by China’s National Health Commission shows that the predominant variant in China is in line with the genome sequence from travelers from China infected with the virus submitted by other countries, and no new variant or mutation of known significance was noted, according to a WHO release on Wednesday, said Mao.

For all countries, COVID response measures need to be science-based and proportionate. They should not be used for political manipulation, there should not be discriminatory measures against China, and measures should not affect normal travel and people-to-people exchange and cooperation, Mao said in response to a question about remarks from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The WHO chief had said it’s understandable that some countries are taking steps regarding travelers from China as China’s comprehensive data has not been forthcoming. 

A senior official at the WHO said on Wednesday that “the current numbers being published from China underrepresent the true impact of the disease,” according to the United Nations.