The United Nations health agency will not release an interim report on its recent mission to the Chinese city of Wuhan, reports the WSJ.
A World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of COVID-19 plans to suppress an interim report on its recent mission to China amid growing tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and d ‘a call from an international group of scientists for a new investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
“The full report is expected in the coming weeks,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters news agency.
No further information was immediately available on the reasons for the delay in releasing the findings of the WHO-led mission to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first human cases of COVID-19 were. detected at the end of 2019.
In an open letter (PDF), a group of 26 scientists on Thursday called for a new international investigation. They claim that “structural limitations” have made it “virtually impossible” for the WHO mission to properly pursue its investigation. Among other questions, the scientists questioned the scientific independence of the “Chinese citizens” who make up half of the team.
“We therefore came to the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, independence or access to conduct a full and unrestricted investigation into all of the original hypotheses of SARS-CoV-2 – qu ‘it’s natural fallout or lab / research incident,’ read the letter.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology collected numerous samples of the virus, which led to claims that it could have caused the original outbreak by causing the virus to flee into the surrounding community. China has firmly rejected this possibility and has promoted other theories that the virus may have originated elsewhere, including the United States.
The team is considering several theories about how the disease ended up in humans.
China refuse to provide raw data on the first cases of COVID-19 to a WHO-led team investigating the origins of the pandemic, Dominic Dwyer, one of the team’s investigators, said last month, which could complicate efforts to understand how the epidemic started.
The investigation was marred by delays, concerns over access and feuds between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticized the conditions of the visit, as part of which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.
The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks researching the origins of the outbreak, limited themselves to visits organized by their Chinese hosts and were unable to contact members of the community, due to health restrictions. The first two weeks were spent in quarantine at the hotel.
On February 9, WHO food safety and animal disease expert Peter Ben Embarek said the origins of the coronavirus pandemic were “extremely unlikely”Having fled from a Chinese laboratory.
However, on February 12, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared all assumptions about the origins of COVID-19 stayed on the table.
The previous US administration of President Donald Trump said it believed the virus may have escaped from a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan.