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China did ‘little’ to hunt for Covid origins in early months, says WHO document | World news

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The 2-page inside journey report is a abstract of the WHO programme supervisor and mission chief Peter Ben Embarek’s journey to China between 10 July and three August 2020, which was described as an advance WHO mission to examine the Covid-19 virus and “overview work performed thus far on the origin of the virus”.

In its abstract, the journey report stated the mission began with a two-week quarantine adopted by 10 days of face-to-face conferences with related ministries, together with the nationwide well being fee, the state administration for market regulation, the ministry of agriculture and rural affairs, and different businesses together with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“Following intensive discussions with and presentation from Chinese language counterparts, it seems that little had been performed in phrases of epidemiological investigations round Wuhan since January 2020. The information offered orally gave a couple of extra particulars than what was offered on the emergency committee conferences in January 2020. No PowerPoint displays had been made and no paperwork had been shared,” the report stated.

A WHO spokesperson declined to touch upon “inside paperwork”. The Chinese language embassy in Washington did not reply to a request for remark.

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When a reporter from Science journal requested WHO officers in regards to the July-August 2020 mission at a 21 August press conference, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious illness professional and technical lead for the WHO on Covid-19, stated the staff had just lately returned from China and had been there to “study” from Chinese language counterparts in regards to the work that “has been ongoing”.

Dr Michael Ryan, government director of the WHO’s well being emergencies programme, then added: “It’s necessary that the mission goes forward, however there are additionally plenty of preliminary research that want to be carried out as nicely, and our colleagues in China have mentioned these in depth with the advance staff and we hope that these research can start as quickly as doable.”

Additional questions on China’s cooperation in finding out the origins of the virus emerged following a newer journey – simply final month – to China to study the origins of the virus. Dominic Dwyer, an Australian infectious illness professional who was a part of the investigation staff, just lately instructed reporters that the WHO had requested raw patient data from Chinese language counterparts throughout its January 2021 mission however was solely given a abstract.

Dwyer told Reuters that sharing anonymised uncooked information was normal apply for an outbreak investigation. He stated uncooked information was notably necessary in efforts to perceive Covid-19 as solely half of 174 preliminary circumstances had publicity to the now shuttered market the place the virus was first detected.

“That’s why we’ve continued to ask for that,” Dwyer stated. “Why that doesn’t occur, I couldn’t remark.”


In a press release to the Guardian, the WHO stated it had confused the necessity to perceive the origin of the virus “from the very starting” and had mentioned the necessity to examine and share info with China all through 2020.

“In July 2020, [the] WHO was invited by the Chinese language authorities to ship a preliminary staff to China to put together for the work of the staff of worldwide scientists. The joint staff of Chinese language and worldwide scientists started digital conferences in the autumn of 2020.”

The WHO spokesperson added: “They visited Wuhan in January-February 2021. Within the early days of an outbreak, absolutely the precedence is to save lives, perceive the illness and suppress the transmission. However we additionally imagine that the work to perceive the origin of any outbreak ought to begin early, when sure clues could be discovered extra simply.”

In future, the spokesperson stated, conducting research into the origins of a illness ought to occur in parallel with urgently suppressing a virus and saving lives.

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