WHO / TEDROS PRESSER

03-Mar-2023 00:06:12
The World Health Organization’s Chief said, “I wish to be very clear that WHO has not abandoned any plans to identify the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to recent media reports and comments by politicians.” WHO
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STORY: WHO / TEDROS PRESSER
TRT: 06:10
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT WHO ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 03 MARCH 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, exterior WHO Headquarters

03 MARCH 2023 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press conference
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Yesterday I returned from my visit to Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic. I was deeply shocked and saddened by the devastation and suffering I saw and heard.
In the Hatay province of Türkiye, almost every building has either collapsed, or is leaning dangerously.”
4. Wide shot, briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“The suffering is impossible to describe in words or even in pictures. Nothing can convey the depth of grief and loss so many people are feeling.The destruction is immense; but so is the response of the Turkish government.”
6. Wide shot, briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Since the first day, the Minister of Health has been leading the response on the ground in the most affected areas. The entire Ministry of Health has relocated to the affected zones, and is living in tents, containers and cars, side-by-side with health workers and other responders. I was so impressed by the dedication and hard work of health workers, both in Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic.”
8. Wide shot, briefing room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“The challenges health workers are facing are similar on both sides, but on the Syrian side they are facing them with far fewer resources. Twelve years of war has destroyed infrastructure, homes and hope. Drought, economic collapse, the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing cholera outbreak have heaped misery upon misery. Even before the earthquake, more than 90 percent of the Syrian people were living in poverty.
The NGOs in the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic welcomed my visit, but expressed their disappointment that I was the first high-level UN official to visit since the beginning of the war.”
10. Wide shot, briefing room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“For the past decade, WHO has been providing about one-third of medicines in opposition-controlled areas in the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic. That has now risen to two thirds. On the day of the earthquake, we were able to release supplies quickly from our local warehouses. So far we have distributed more than 200 tonnes of aid to health facilities in north-west Syria, and we continue to deliver as much aid as we can in any way we can, whether across borders or across lines of conflict.”
12. Wide shot, briefing room
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“I call on the international community to dig deep to lift up those in Turkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic, in two ways. First, for humanitarian support for both countries, and to support a political solution to establish a lasting peace in the Syrian Arab Republic. At the same time, I call on the leaders of all sides of the Syrian conflict to use the shared suffering of this crisis as a platform for peace.”
14. Wide shot, briefing room
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Over the past few days there has been renewed attention on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
16. Wide shot, briefing room
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“As we have said before, if any country has information about the origins of the pandemic, it is essential for that information to be shared with WHO and the international scientific community – not so as to apportion blame, but to advance our understanding of how this pandemic started, so we can prevent, prepare for and respond to future epidemics and pandemics.”
18. Wide shot, briefing room
19. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“I wish to be very clear that WHO has not abandoned any plans to identify the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to recent media reports and comments by politicians.”
20. Wide shot, briefing room
21. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“WHO continues to call for China to be transparent in sharing data, and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results. To that effect, I have written to, and spoken with, high-level Chinese leaders on multiple occasions as recent as just a few weeks ago. Until then, all hypotheses on the origins of the virus remain on the table.
22. Wide shot, briefing room
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO):
“The continued politicisation of the origins research has turned what should be a purely scientific process into a geopolitical football, which only makes the task of identifying the origins more difficult. And that makes the world less safe.”
24. Wide shot, briefing room
25. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Until we have answers to these questions, we can’t move this forward. So we will continue through all of our technical partnerships, all of our advisory groups, all of our networks, through diplomatic channels, as the DG has mentioned, to pursue this because studies need to be continued, to be followed up in China and elsewhere. And the mission continues, our work continues on this space, looking at studies in humans, looking at studies in animals, looking at studies at the animal/human interface and also looking at the potential breaches in bio-safety and bio-security for any of the labs that were working with coronaviruses, particularly where the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China or elsewhere.”
26. Wide shot, briefing room
27. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We have made requests to senior mission officials here in Geneva from the US mission for request for information from the lates report from the Department of Energy but also of the additional reports from different US agencies. We’ve also reached out to HHS to make those requests and we will be making formal requests to get that information. As of right now, we don’t have access to those reports or the data that is underlying how those reports were generated.”
28. Wide shot, briefing room
STORYLINE
The World Health Organization’s Chief said, “I wish to be very clear that WHO has not abandoned any plans to identify the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to recent media reports and comments by politicians.”

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (3 Mar) Tedros said, “Yesterday I returned from my visit to Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic. I was deeply shocked and saddened by the devastation and suffering I saw and heard. In the Hatay province of Türkiye, almost every building has either collapsed, or is leaning dangerously.”

He continued, “The suffering is impossible to describe in words or even in pictures. Nothing can convey the depth of grief and loss so many people are feeling.The destruction is immense; but so is the response of the Turkish government.”

According to Tedros, “Since the first day, the Minister of Health has been leading the response on the ground in the most affected areas. The entire Ministry of Health has relocated to the affected zones, and is living in tents, containers and cars, side-by-side with health workers and other responders. I was so impressed by the dedication and hard work of health workers, both in Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic.”

He also said, “The challenges health workers are facing are similar on both sides, but on the Syrian side they are facing them with far fewer resources. Twelve years of war has destroyed infrastructure, homes and hope. Drought, economic collapse, the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing cholera outbreak have heaped misery upon misery. Even before the earthquake, more than 90 percent of the Syrian people were living in poverty. The NGOs in the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic welcomed my visit, but expressed their disappointment that I was the first high-level UN official to visit since the beginning of the war.”

The WHO chief continued, “For the past decade, WHO has been providing about one-third of medicines in opposition-controlled areas in the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic. That has now risen to two thirds.”

Tedros explained, “On the day of the earthquake, we were able to release supplies quickly from our local warehouses. So far we have distributed more than 200 tonnes of aid to health facilities in north-west Syria, and we continue to deliver as much aid as we can in any way we can, whether across borders or across lines of conflict.”

He also called on the international community “to dig deep to lift up those in Turkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic,” in two ways.

Tedros said, “First, for humanitarian support for both countries, and to support a political solution to establish a lasting peace in the Syrian Arab Republic. At the same time, I call on the leaders of all sides of the Syrian conflict to use the shared suffering of this crisis as a platform for peace.”

Over the past few days there has been renewed attention on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tedros reiterated, “As we have said before, if any country has information about the origins of the pandemic, it is essential for that information to be shared with WHO and the international scientific community – not so as to apportion blame, but to advance our understanding of how this pandemic started, so we can prevent, prepare for and respond to future epidemics and pandemics.”

He continued, “WHO continues to call for China to be transparent in sharing data, and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results. To that effect, I have written to, and spoken with, high-level Chinese leaders on multiple occasions as recent as just a few weeks ago. Until then, all hypotheses on the origins of the virus remain on the table.”

Tedros also said, “The continued politicisation of the origins research has turned what should be a purely scientific process into a geopolitical football, which only makes the task of identifying the origins more difficult. And that makes the world less safe.”

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead COVID-19, WHO Health Emergencies, Programme also addressed journalists.

Van Kerkhove said, “Until we have answers to these questions, we can’t move this forward. So we will continue through all of our technical partnerships, all of our advisory groups, all of our networks, through diplomatic channels, as the DG has mentioned, to pursue this because studies need to be continued, to be followed up in China and elsewhere.”

She noted, “And the mission continues, our work continues on this space, looking at studies in humans, looking at studies in animals, looking at studies at the animal/human interface and also looking at the potential breaches in bio-safety and bio-security for any of the labs that were working with coronaviruses, particularly where the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China or elsewhere.”

According to her, “We have made requests to senior mission officials here in Geneva from the US mission for request for information from the lates report from the Department of Energy but also of the additional reports from different US agencies. We’ve also reached out to HHS to make those requests and we will be making formal requests to get that information.”

Van Kerkhove concluded, “As of right now, we don’t have access to those reports or the data that is underlying how those reports were generated.”
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