Chinese officials are reportedly blocking efforts by international experts to study the origin of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that investigators and researchers have been assisting Chinese officials as part of a World Health Organization (WHO) mission to search for the origin of COVID-19, only for Chinese officials to go silent and refuse to release updates on the project.
Data from that mission, including a map detailing the possible spread of the virus in the Huanan seafood market, has been kept secret by China's government.
U.S.-based groups such as the EcoHealth Alliance told the Journal that their offers to assist in the investigation of the Huanan market have been rebuffed or ignored, resulting in the possible destruction of evidence.
“It’s really so sensitive now because of the conspiracy theories being put forward in China and the USA. In any case, I suspect it’s simply too late,” EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak told the Journal.
“The problem is that this should have been done in late December or early January,” added a professor with the City University of Hong Kong. “It is now too late, which means we will have to rely on other indirect evidence, and therefore proof of cause will be close to impossible.”
China's National Health Commission told the newspaper in a statement that questions on the virus's origin should be left to scientists. Officials at the commission as well as the Chienese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to the Journal's questions about access to the Huanan market.
“The virus should not be linked to any particular country, region or people,” the health commission reportedly said. “Every country in the world should join forces and work together, rather than blaming each other and shirking responsibility.”