A spokesperson for the World Health Organization on Wednesday cautioned against singling out countries with high death tolls for criticism on their individual responses to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders with WHO held a news conference on Wednesday. Watch their remarks in the video play above.
Dr. Margaret Harris was answering a question on what Britain had done wrong in its response as it became the European country with the highest death toll from COVID-19.
Harris said the mortality figures in Britain were “heartbreaking” but added a whole host of factors were involved in death rates such as age, mixture of population and large numbers of people with underlying illnesses.
“These kind of comparisons cannot be made at this time,” Harris told Sky News, adding “We will all learn from each other but I don’t think just saying one country has got it wrong is going to work.”
Harris said work needed to be done to identify the source of the outbreak “but we see it very much as coming from the animal kingdom.”
She also said it was important to understand how the virus had jumped from animals into humans, “because if it’s coming from the animal kingdom, it’s going to come back again.”
She explained that unless that link is understood “you’re not going to be able to send it back to where it came from.”
Harris expressed hope that a vaccine would be developed, saying all the work scientists had done on previous outbreaks of coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS had given them a head start.
Britain’s official coronavirus death toll, at more than 29,000, on Tuesday topped that of Italy to become the highest in Europe and second-highest in the world behind the United States.
The official number of dead worldwide surpassed a quarter-million, by Johns Hopkins’ count on Tuesday, though the true toll is believed to be much higher.