Investigators with the World Health Organization have visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a facility at the center of speculation about how and where the coronavirus pandemic began.
The WHO team's mission while in China, they said, was to gather facts and information about how the virus spread across China before spreading to the rest of the world.
A pool of journalists followed the team as they inspected the institute, including a reporter from The Associated Press.
“We’re looking forward to meeting with all the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked," team member Peter Daszak said, the AP reported.
China has faced criticism for not being fully transparent about the origins of the coronavirus, which is widely believed to have started at a so-called wet market in Wuhan.
And the World Health Organization has also faced accusations that it has not held China accountable for the pandemic. Last year, former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE pulled U.S. funding to WHO, citing what he said was its sympathy to China during the pandemic.
"We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs," Trump said in June.
President Biden announced this month the U.S. will rejoin the global alliance.
“The W.H.O. plays a crucial role in the world’s fight against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic as well as countless other threats to global health and health security,” Biden said in a letter to the United Nations. “The United States will continue to be a full participant and a global leader in confronting such threats and advancing global health and health security.”
Chinese leaders have, at the same time, said attacks from the U.S. and other nations are unfounded and have floated their own conspiracy theories about how the virus spread.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said WHO investigators met with experts at Huazhong Agricultural University.
“It should be noted that virus traceability is a complex scientific issue, and we need to provide sufficient space for experts to conduct scientific research,” Wang said, according to the AP. “China will continue to cooperate with WHO in an open, transparent and responsible manner, and make its contribution to better prevent future risks and protect the lives and health of people in all countries.”
The coronavirus has infected more than 103 million people around the world and led to an estimated 2.2 million deaths, including 447,000 in the United States.