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WHO team finds China did little to investigate coronavirus origins: report

WHO team finds China did little to investigate coronavirus origins: report
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Internal documents from the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Chinese government had done “little” to look into the origins of the coronavirus, The Guardian reports.

The two-page travel report seen by The Guardian is dated Aug. 10, and shows that the WHO team that went to China last year said they received limited information from their Chinese counterparts. They were not given any documents or written data during their discussions with Chinese officials according to the report.

The documents are a summary of mission leader Peter Ben Embarek’s trip to China, The Guardian reports. The mission was done to “review work done so far on the origin of the virus."

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The WHO team reportedly met with multiple government ministries including those in charge of market regulation, agriculture as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“Following extensive discussions with and presentation from Chinese counterparts, it appears that little had been done in terms of epidemiological investigations around Wuhan since January 2020," the report read. "The data presented orally gave a few more details than what was presented at the emergency committee meetings in January 2020. No PowerPoint presentations were made and no documents were shared."

The news outlet notes that further trips to China by the WHO have taken place since the August 2020 trip, but China's cooperation in providing data on the pandemic appears to have remained limited. Australian infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer, who was part of a WHO investigatory mission in January 2021, told reporters that after requesting raw patient data from their Chinese counterparts, they were instead given a summary.

“In July 2020, [the] WHO was invited by the Chinese government to send a preliminary team to China to prepare for the work of the team of international scientists. The joint team of Chinese and international scientists began virtual meetings in the autumn of 2020," a WHO spokesperson told the Guardian, though they did not address the internal documents obtained by the outlet.

“They visited Wuhan in January-February 2021. In the early days of an outbreak, the absolute priority is to save lives, understand the disease and suppress the transmission," the spokesperson continued. "But we also believe that the work to understand the origin of any outbreak should start early, when certain clues can be found more easily.”