UK, US back 'timely, transparent' WHO-convened Covid-19 origins study

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This comes as calls to investigate further the origins of Covid-19 have intensified. AP Photo

LONDON: The United States and the United Kingdom on Thursday extended support to a "timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process" for the next phase of the WHO-convened Covid-19 origins study, including in China.
US President Joe Biden, who is in the UK for the Group of Seven Summit, met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.
This comes as calls to investigate further the origins of Covid-19 have intensified.
The origin of coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has remained a mystery even after over 1.5 years the first case of infection was reported in the Wuhan city of China.
Now, scientists and countries calling for further investigations to figure out whether the virus originated naturally or leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
"We will also support a timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process for the next phase of the WHO-convened Covid-19 origins study, including in China, and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future," a joint statement issued after two leaders talked, read.
According to the joint statement, Biden and Johnson set out a global vision in a new Atlantic Charter to deepen cooperation in democracy and human rights, defence and security, science and innovation, and economic prosperity, with renewed joint efforts to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, biodiversity loss, and emerging health threats.
In a joint statement, Boris Johnson and Biden said they are determined to work together to overcome the current pandemic, which has reversed progress on improving the human condition, and to be better prepared in the future.
Reflecting US and UK shared strength in science and technology, the two leaders are committed to enhancing the cooperation on tackling variants of concern and emerging infectious disease threats with pandemic or epidemic potential.
"We will work together to help increase global vaccine supply through investments in manufacturing of safe and effective vaccines and the materials needed to produce them. We will promote the timely availability of vaccines, key components and equipment by encouraging bilateral trade and investment and avoiding export restrictions or other supply chain disruption," the statement read.
The joint statement noted that the UK and the US will work together and with like-minded member states to implement the WHO strengthening resolution adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2021.
Besides health, the two leaders held a discussion on a range of issues including, trade, climate, science, defence.
On defence, Boris and Biden agreed to work together to further strengthen and modernise NATO, and increase its common funding.
"We will work together to further strengthen and modernise NATO, and increase its common funding, so the Alliance can harness the full range of military and non-military capabilities to contest existing and new threats, including malicious cyber activity and attacks that test the resiliency of our societies," the statement read.
On climate change, the two leaders said they are committed to achieving an ambitious outcome at COP26 and to the collective developed country goal of mobilising USD 100 billion annually through to 2025 from a wide variety of public and private sources in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation.

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